I’m sure I’m not the only one whose been hearing a lot of hype around mindful eating. That it improves digestion, regulates weight, increases the enjoyment of food and offers a whole myriad of other health benefits. Apparently, all you have to do is eat a little more slowly. So as a naturally curious person, I figured why not and decided to experiment.
For 6 meals I contemplated each morsel: smelling it, looking at it, putting it in my mouth, holding it there, and then finally I began to chew. The intent was to savor every moment of the meal and honestly I enjoyed each bite quite a bit more. I felt lighter after the meal and yes even digestion was, well let’s say smoother, but more than anything else I found the entire procedure excruciatingly slow.
It’s true, beneficial practices that break our habits are rarely a walk in the park, but there’s something to be said about easing yourself in. It was just too much of a shock. The first time I tried to eat in this way after five bites I wanted to scarf the rest of my meal down like a ravenous duck.
I decided to take a less intense approach and dedicate 1 or 2 minutes before each meal to thinking about my food. I thought about where it came from, the money I spent, the transportation, the time it took to grow, even the culture that created the recipe.
I didn’t always think the same things, but I kept the conscious effort consistent and tried to thank every step my food had taken before arriving at my plate. At first, it was a fun practice, thanking the animal for its life and the time it had taken for my food to grow, but as I went into further depth 2 things happened.
First I realized that I couldn’t really picture where my food had come from. I mean how does a cashew grow? Secondly, I found myself having to be grateful for aspects of this world I had previously thought that I was against.
I had to thank the means of mass production I had to thank the gas it took to transport everything to me and so on and so forth. I couldn’t help but be grateful for everything involved in bringing me this meal and that wasn’t so easy to swallow.
I was immediately confronted with my lack of connection with food. I could eat anything I wanted at any time and yet I had no idea where any of it was coming from. I was blown away that a simple 1-minute practice in gratefulness before a meal could make me question so much.
I won’t lie and say I started eating solely organic, or that I stopped buying bananas. Far from it, but I did start thinking about the history of my food before I bought it. So now sometimes I choose something seasonal or local. Not always, not even the majority of the time, but previously the thought would never have even crossed my mind. This is a big change, really it is and though I may not be putting Monsanto out of business anytime soon, for now I’m happy with eating a little more mindfully every day.