It’s in gratitude that we take a look at what is valuable and meaningful in our lives. Gratitude is an internal experience. It involves slowing down, thinking about and feeling the abundance that’s come our way. Sometimes we can get so caught up in our drama that we forget we really are blessed beyond measure. Whatever our circumstances, there is always much to be thankful for.
The holidays seem to bring gratitude back into focus though and rightly so, with Thanksgiving at the onset. It’s a time of celebration – with lots of friends and family and food. Delicious, mouth-watering foods are the very essence of a celebration and they are what many of us look forward to. It’s also a time where we can unconsciously binge on foods that aren’t as good for us.
Perhaps though, this year could be different. Maybe we could use the holidays as a time of examining our relationship with food through mindful eating. Challenge yourself to consider that eating really is a sacred act. In doing so, the experience becomes sacrament instead of just a heedless act of consuming the food on your plate.
Listed below are some suggestions that may help you eat in a much more conscious manner. Select the ones you prefer or use them all but select with the intention of eating at least one meal a week, mindfully.
Research has proven that we aren’t as good at multi-tasking as we once thought. This is especially true when consuming meals. Make an effort to sit down at the table with a focus on your meal. Step away from the computer. Turn off the television. Make eating a more sacred experience by lighting some candles and perhaps enjoying a glass of wine with your dinner. Take a glance at the clock. Try to make your meal last for at least twenty minutes or more if possible.
Before you begin eating, check in with yourself. How are you feeling? Are you relaxed or anxious? Are you present or is your mind going in a million different directions? How hungry are you? Are your emotions playing any part in your desire for food? Pause for a few deep breaths and say thank you for the food you are about to eat.
The pleasure of eating lies in slowing down and fully experiencing all of the elements of your food. Savor it. Eat slowly by engaging all of your senses. Take in the different colors within the foods, smell the different scents. Taking a bite, remain aware of the food in your mouth. How does it taste? Is it sweet or sour or juicy? Digestion actually begins in your mouth. As you start to chew, the food begins to break down. Chew slowly – aim for at least 30 times per mouthful. This is essential to achieve the maximum absorption of the vitamins and minerals within the foods.
As you swallow, follow the food down your stomach and give thanks for the organs within your body. Throughout your meal, think about the people it took to put this food on your plate. The farmers, the truckers, the grocery store clerks and the ones who prepared it. Think about the sunshine, soil and water that were shared to create your meal. Feel your appreciation and give thanks to it all.
At the end of the meal, check in with yourself again. How are you feeling? Do you feel satisfied? How was this meal different than previous ones? Developing a practice of eating mindfully can create a more satisfying and richer relationship with food – not to mention better health. The main thing though is to have fun, learn something and understand yourself a little bit better than you used to.
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Tammy Batcha is a life-long resident of the Shenandoah Valley. A long-time commuter, she seeks to reconnect to her community. A board certified, health and wellness coach, she continues to study integrative nutritional theory while guiding others on a path to wellness.