In our culture, life is becoming faster and faster and we don’t have the same ability to check in with ourselves as we once did. We turn to food when we are sad, happy, bored, or in need of sustenance or comfort. Mindful awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and body can be a form of self care. We can turn our relationship to food into one that is nurturing to ourselves and others.
Food is love when we offer generosity in the gift of a beautiful meal to a friend, neighbor, or even our greater community. Food is self-love when we slow down, pay attention to our body and mind, and ascertain what we really need. Food is love when we pay attention to our natural resources. We can choose to take care of our natural environment by being conscious about what we choose to consume and how that impacts our environment.
I have been intimately involved in teaching, research, and my own personal practice of mindful eating for over a decade. What I have recognized is that being mindful of our food choices, allows us to create more compassion, generosity, and love towards ourselves, our relationships, and the greater community.
I teach the practice of Mindful Eating all over the country. In the Mindful Eating and Cooking class in San Francisco at 18 Reasons (a food community started by Bi-Rite Market) I teach the act of sharing food as a metaphor for all giving.
Three basic mindful eating tips:
- Listen to your body first and foremost. If you aren’t physically hungry let that be your guide. Mindfulness is all about getting out of our heads and into our bodies. This applies to eating as well. It doesn’t matter if the clock says its lunchtime or if you are looking at your food and thinking this isn’t a lot of food, your body will tell you when enough is enough.
- Eat slowly. The only way to truly keep that “first bite” experience is to honor eating slowly, with moderate pauses between bites. If I do anything else while I am eating, such as talking, walking, writing, or even thinking, the flavor diminishes or disappears.
- Be grateful. We are so lucky in our culture to have such an abundance of healthy food. Our grocery stores and farmers markets have options fit for kings and queens. We truly have abundance. I find that pausing to offer gratitude before eating my food makes eating a joyful process.
Three basic mindful cooking tips:
- Be mindful of your ingredients. This is your opportunity to nourish yourself in a healthy and supportive way. If you know you don’t feel great after eating a lot of starch, then choose more veggies or protein.
- Experience the adventure of cooking. I often hear clients and students being intimidated by cooking because they don’t have the confidence their food will come out well. Just as life is an adventure, so is cooking. We often don’t know how our cooking is going to come out, but if we approach each new recipe or endeavor with openness and low expectations, the process can be really enjoyable.
- Pay attention. In handling food, we can work to bring out the best in the food, in ourselves, and in one another. In cooking you can give your whole attention to what you are doing, rather than just going through the motions. Onions and potatoes, apples and lettuces are intimately interconnected with earth, sky, sun and water.
When we offer someone food, we are not just giving that person something to eat; we are giving far more. We give strength, health, beauty, clarity of mind, and even life, because none of those things would be possible without food. When we feed another, this is what we are offering: the substance of life itself.
On a daily basis, what intention do you want to practice to sustain the practice of food as love?
Generosity is characterized by the inner quality of letting go or relinquishing. Those who are truly wealthy are the ones who give generously because they don’t need to hold on. We can give to ourselves, others, and our greater community simply by paying attention to the concept of food as love.
If you are interested in learning more or integrating the concept of mindfulness and health in daily life, Intuitive Wellness has many services to support you or your company in this. Please feel free to email Carley with any questions firstname.lastname@example.org