Mindful Eating: Conclusion

Falafel wrap - mindful eating

Eating mindfully is one of the most exquisitely simple things we humans can do. Allowing the swirling world inside your head to fall away – your planning, your fears, your regrets – is liberating like nothing else is. Being there with the meal and truly experiencing it can change your relationship with the food you eat, not just in the moment, but every day.

If we are to live simply and mindfully, there is one thing we must do above all others, and that is to be true to ourselves, to the things we believe and hold dear. Making decisions this way is not always easy, but it is always simple.

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Mindful Eating: Cleaning with Intention

Knife being washed - eating mindfully

Now that you’ve finished eating, it is time to wash up. Do not put it off until later; take good care of this present moment. Cleaning is a way of returning objects and spaces to their original state so that they are ready for the next meal, the next family night, the next impromptu snack.

Cleaning the kitchen (the dishes and utensils used, the cookware, the food left over, the counters, the linens, the floor) in mindfulness is a way of recognizing that you will prepare food again soon. There is abundance in your life. It is a hopeful act.

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Mindful Eating: Experiencing the Meal

vegan meal - mindful eating

Now that you have taken several moments to look deeply at your meal and at your companions sharing this meal with you, it is time to eat.

First, breathe in and out mindfully several times, and come home to your body. It takes only two or three or four breaths like this, and you are able to leave the swirling thoughts in your head behind and truly experience the world around you.

As you put the first bite of food into your mouth, allow yourself to taste it as if for the very first time, even if this is a food you’ve enjoyed since your childhood. Notice the flavor. Is it different from the scent? Is it surprising to you, or familiar? Is it pleasant? Is it intense, or is it subtle? Can you identify the various herbs and spices? The salt? Can you taste each individual ingredient? How does the food feel in your mouth? Is it soft, or is it difficult to chew? Is the texture crisp or chewy? Dry or juicy? Does it seem to melt away on your tongue?

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Mindful Eating: Preparing to Eat

Eating mindfully is naturally a very simple act, but because we are not used to eating this way, it takes time for the practice to become comfortable and easy for us; it takes time for it to become second nature.

Eating mindfully is fundamentally different from the way most of us have eaten throughout our lives. While many of us give a great deal of thought to what we eat (will this taste good? will it cause me to gain weight? can I afford it?), most of us have given very little thought to the way we eat. But, if we are to be healthy and happy, we must eat with the intention of caring for ourselves. When you care for yourself, you treat yourself well. You don’t rush through your meal without savoring each bite. You don’t get tangled in your swirling thoughts, not recognizing the warm and spicy soup or the crisp apple you are eating.

While eating, pay attention to three things:

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Mindful Eating: Serving Food Thoughtfully

breakfast - mindful eating

Before you sit down to eat a meal, there are several things to be done first. You must prepare the space where you will eat so that it is conducive to eating mindfully, with your full attention and awareness. When you are serving, you must choose how much food you will eat. If you are with others, you must connect with them, joyfully, understanding how precious it is to have friends and loved ones with whom to share food. And, you must look deeply into the food you are about to eat, recognizing that it is truly a miracle that it has come to be on your plate.

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Mindful Eating: Cooking with Awareness

Preparing food is an especially sacred act. It is how we nourish our bodies and minds. It is how we show that we care for others, how we help. It is an elemental part who we are as humans. When you choose your foods carefully, when you boil the water, when you peel the onion, slice the carrot, sauté the garlic, when you spice the dish, taste it, add salt, you can do these things with mindfulness.

Staying present with the food – the aromas, the textures, looking deeply into a potato or a fig or a clove of garlic – this is such a simple act. In fact, there is little that is simpler. Taking care of the present moment, though, takes practice. First, you must be aware of what you are doing – slicing peppers or washing fruit or adding pasta to the water. You must look deeply into the food and understand its connection to you, to other beings, to the Earth. You must recognize that this food will nourish your body and mind and that it will become a part of you.

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Mindful Eating: Choosing the Foods We Eat

Supermarket fruit - mindful eating

One of the most important things we do for ourselves and for each other is to choose what foods we will put into our bodies.

But, choosing what foods to eat is becoming more and more difficult, with so many new food products appearing every day. This choice, though, is one that we all must look into deeply if we are to change our relationship with food.

Mindful eating allows us to see deeply into the foods we eat, and we come to understand that there are three main considerations when choosing what foods will nourish our bodies and minds – morality, healthfulness and frugality.

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Mindful Eating: Thinking About Food

peaches on tree - mindful eating

How do you think about food? Do you see a miracle in a cucumber? The whole Earth in a plum? Do you see preparing food as a loving way to nourish yourself and others? Do you choose the foods you eat carefully, knowing they will become a part of you? When you look at an acorn squash, do you see the farmer who planted it? The rain and the sunshine that helped it to grow? The tired worker who harvested it? The driver of the truck who traveled through storms to deliver it to your town? The young produce clerk who set it so tenderly on the supermarket shelf? Do you see other humans around the world and around the corner who don’t have enough nutritious food to eat?

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Mindful Eating: Learning to Eat Mindfully

Apples - Mindful eating

When I meet a person for the first time, I imagine which foods they love the very most, which foods delight their senses, which ones embody their childhood, which they choose when they are sick, which remind them of their grandfather, their first love, their firstborn. I wonder which they choose when they are in a grocery store or at a farmer’s market surrounded by so many different foods – plump, ripe fruits, bright and glistening vegetables, grains, spices…. I imagine preparing a simple, sublime meal for us to eat together, because we are humans working and playing and living together on this planet, and sharing food is one of the ways we care for each other and care for ourselves.

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