Author: Casey Shivers, Director of Clinical Programming for bēkn
‘Tis the season of overeating and overindulging. During the holidays, let’s set up a new and healthier mindset around food and eating. By combining mindfulness with the science of nutrition and nutritional components, we can gain a better understanding of our bodies and minds this holiday season. It is as simple as chewing.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is when you take the simple act of sitting down to eat a meal and decide to really focus your attention on every detail. Imagine taking a bite into a sweet, juicy apple. When you bring your attention to every aspect of the apple, you might consider the nuances in flavor, the feeling of chewing, the miracle of your body breaking the apple down into nutrients. Then take a step farther back and consider all of the people, animals, plants, minerals, and conditions that brought the apple to you.
Suddenly, the simple act of chewing an apple becomes a profound experience.
Bringing mindfulness to eating is also a wonderful way to connect with the planet. It helps us to think about the full journey of food getting to our plate, rather than just blindly eating food for fuel.
Consider the apple again. Bring your awareness to the fact that the apple cannot come into being all by itself. Nothing comes from nothing. The apple is dependent on many things for its existence: the soil the apple tree sprouted from, the field where the apple was grown, the amount of sunshine and water it received, the labor of the farmers that grew and harvested the apple, the supplier that shipped it miles to the store, and the seller at the store where you purchased the apple.
Mindful eating reminds us that we, too, along with the foods that nourish our bodies, are constantly being supported by the efforts of many different processes and beings.
When we eat with full awareness, we become more mindful of all the elements of the planet on which we live. We notice the effort required to make our meals a reality, and this in turn fosters a true appreciation for the delicate balance between humans and nature.
This holiday season, let’s be grateful for the full journey our food takes from the earth to our plates. Let’s slow down, chew and savor slowly, and bring attention to our loved ones over the bountiful meals that we are sharing together. Eating mindfully not only feeds our bodies and safeguards our physical health, but also helps us to slow down and pay attention to our meals without hurry or judgement, nurture the mind and reduce stress, and create a sense of connection to the rest of life on this planet.