“Don’t chew your worries, your fear, or your anger. If you chew your planning and your anxiety, it’s difficult to feel grateful for each piece of food. Just chew your food.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindful Eating: The Secret to a Delicious & Healthy Meal
Some of us experience eating without knowing what we are eating. Sometimes we eat with phones in our hands or the computer in front of us. Our mind isn’t present. We look but don’t see, we listen but don’t hear, and we eat but don’t taste the flavors.
The secret to a delicious meal that can nourish our mind and body is to stop the wandering mind.
What is Mindful Eating?
Most people are juggling with busy schedules in the modern days, running from one task to another with a never-ending to-do list. We often eat too fast or too much with too little time. Eventually, humans become so isolated from the present moment. In addition, we also eat foods that damage the planet and our health.
When you put a piece of food into your mouth, most people immediately know it is a piece of vegetable or fruit chewing. However, during the mindful eating process, we open our minds and sensation to a little bit more than that.
You are capable to observe more details and feel more profound through eating mindfully. Where does this food come from? How has it been taken care of before presenting on the table?
There is no secret that eating well is beneficial to our health. Sometimes foods are delicious, but they may not be healthy for our bodies and negatively impact the Earth. While other times that it may be beneficial but doesn’t taste delicious. Eating well should have both in contents – delicious and healthy.
Eating well doesn’t require fancy cooking, premium restaurants, or expensive ingredients. Mindful eating is a practice of putting your worried thoughts, busy schedules away and bringing your mind to the present moment. We shall eat with care and be the “caretaker” to our bodies rather than the “owner.”
We need to know how to choose, prepare, eat and clean up food properly and mindfully.
Mindful Eating is a chance for us to pause and eat mindfully in the present moment without rushing. It is also a chance to be aware of our food choices to nourish our bodies and soul by preserving mother Earth. These foods we consume daily combine hard work, clouds, sunshine, rain, farmers, suppliers, buyers, and sellers to chefs. There also comes an emotion of joy from harvesting or frustration in the production phase. In other words, the food we are chewing in our mouth is more than just a piece of food.
Choose Foods Mindfully
The value of a good meal does not determine by the money you have paid, and a good meal doesn’t mean it contains pricey ingredients. In fact, the best foods are often very simple. The joy of eating and the deliciousness are generated internally. Only with mindfulness and concentration can you fully experience a truly rich meal. There is so much hard work before the food turns into a dish, from growing, harvesting, distributing, and cooking. We want to choose the food that can nourish our body & mind and sustain the Earth. When we select our food mindfully, we can contribute to climate change.
Before each meal, we ask ourselves, “are these choices help or harm the planet? Should I eat it?”
Organic & Vegetarian
The planet suffers deeply because of how many of us eat now. Several documentaries, such as Food, Inc, discussed the modern food system is causing some damage to health, the environment, morals, and the economy. Injecting hormones into chickens, forests razed to feed livestock, and water pollution from the waste.
The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations proposed that the meat industry should reduce by at least 50 percent to impact climate control. Therefore the simple act of becoming vegetarian can make a difference in the health of our planet.
you don’t need to become a vegetarian completely if you are a meat lover. Instead, you can be a flexitarian, where you choose your meat consciously or cut back your meat diet to probably 10 days a month instead of every day. with that decision, you are already reducing meat consumption and making the world a better place; Whether organic food is healthier or not is a personal preference. However, choosing organic foods minimize chemical exposure to our body. Organic farming is also better for the environment because it produces less pollution and uses less energy.
Cooking Mindfully – with Joy, Patience, and Peace
Cooking mindfully can bring us a lot of joy and peace. When food is prepared with awareness, it is delicious and healthy. Because you have put your care into the meal and chosen the food wisely. Therefore, the energy of love and harmony in the kitchen will penetrate the food you’re offering to your loved ones and yourself.
The kitchen is a violent space that often has knives, hot water, and fire. It is also a safety measure to cook mindfully. While chopping or cooking, give yourself enough time and energy. This awareness will guide you through cooking healthier foods with the highest concentration and without tension.
How to Eat Mindfully?
Sitting Down & Slow Down
Sometimes we rush so much in our day that we eat only as we’re running from one place to another. We eat in our car or as we walk. Please sit at a proper place when you eat. When you sit, that is a reminder to stop. To create an even higher quality, slowing down is essential to enjoy food. When you allow yourself to slow down, you become aware of your surroundings and be more present in your dining community.
In our hectic life, if we all can find the time to have a meal together. Mindful eating can help us become more aware of all the work and energy that has gone into bringing food to us. Also, notice how wonderful it is to have these people sharing a delicious meal together.
Setting the Table and Mood
Many people eat with TV, radio, phone, and newspaper. If these devices are on, you won’t be able to eat mindfully. What’s in your head could be the tv, radio, or whatever you read on the phone. Eating meal mindfulness is an important practice to switch off the communication in your head.
When the food is on the table and everyone is seated. The first thing is to turn off the tv and put down the newspaper. Take a deep full breath to recenter your mind, and focus on the food in front of you and the people eating with you.
Chew Your Food, Not Your Worries
Sometimes we eat, but we aren’t thinking of our food. We’re repeatedly thinking of the past or the future or mulling over some worry or anxiety. So stop thinking about your business, office, or anything that isn’t happening right now. Don’t chew your worries, your fear, or your anger. If you chew your planning and anxiety, it’s difficult to feel grateful for each piece of food. Just chew your food.
Try to be present with your food and the people sitting around the table. Don’t close your eyes or look down while you chew. When we chew with awareness, we’re not just nourished by the food; we’re nourished by our practice of mindfulness, peace, and happiness.
Mindful eating is also about listening to our body and eating just enough food. There is no need to over-prepare and over-eating. When we eat mindfully, we know that the food is produced from a stream of hard work. Be mindful not to waste food. Pay attention to each spoonful of food, and listen to your body.
As you bring it up to your mouth, use your mindfulness to be aware that this food is the gift of the universe. The food serving before us is the collaboration between soil, water, air, and more natural resources. When we rush through a meal, it takes away our chance to appreciate the food and process. It would be spoon after spoon without feeling. Food nourishes our body and mind. It is the most natural “medicine” to keep us healthy and going. Take time to enjoy your meals. Stop thinking, and be there fully – body and mind. Ultimately, you should fill with the joy of satisfaction.
Sometimes, it can be helpful to have a silent meal to help us practice mindful eating. That way, we can focus on our breath, the food, and the company around us to become fully present in the here and now.
Mindful Eating is a Practice, and Wellness is a journey
The wellness journey is a daily practice and a journey. We should show up for that meal 100% when we eat our meal. Eating mindfully is a practice. If we choose to drink a cup of tea in mindfulness, the moment of drinking tea will be pleasurable.
One silent meal per week.
Happiness is possible during the meal, and silence helps enormously. You may want to pick one meal a week to eat in silence. A silent meal helps you to focus on recentering and be in the present moment. A truly silent meal includes turning off the noise in your head and finding a quiet place to enjoy a meal. Silence creates awareness of your breathing and can provide moments of peacefulness.
Prioritize Your Eating Time
Arrange enough time for meal preparation and appropriate dining space for eating. When, where, how, and what we eat is very important. Eating well is as important as sleeping well. Our bodies and minds rely on us to take full care to thrive in life.
Mindful Eating brings our body and our consciousness to the present moment. A meal is an opportunity to show gratitude to those that came before us and those that will come after we are gone.
Mindful eating can physically and spiritually nourish you.
How To Eat?
In the Mindfulness Essentials series by the Zen master – Thich Nhat Hanh. He explains how we all should be aware of what to consume to keep our bodies, minds, and the Earth healthy without suffering ourselves and others.
“Spend time with your food; every minute of your meal should be happy. Not many people have the time and the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a meal like that. We are very fortunate.”