Eating is a sacred act. And as sacred as it is, it isn't for most of us because we are disconnected not only from the food we eat but from the act itself. During my 5-day juicing journey early this year, I spent a day observing the way people ate and it was an illuminating experience. I saw people stuffing food into their mouths absentmindedly, the way you stuff a garbage can that is filled to the rim. People ate standing, walking and many talked, read, texted, emailed, or played games on their mobile devices. I noticed that they rarely chewed. Most everyone paid attention to a million other things besides the meals that were in front of them.
After a day of watching the sometimes gross habits of strangers around me, my view of eating dramatically altered. As I observed others, I turned the lens on me: Where do I fit in this picture? What are my eating patterns? Do I chew right? Do I pay attention to the meal in front of me and fully enjoy the meal? Am I rushing through my food to get to the next thing on my list?
Observing others made me want to be even more mindful of my own eating habits.
What are your eating patterns? Spend the day watching the way others eat and it's a guarantee that you'll learn not just about others but glean insight into your own patterns.
When you eat mindfully, you are engaging not just taste and smell, but all of your senses. If you care to listen, food has a sound, if you care to touch, food feels delicious. And it is visual explosion to the eyes when all the colors of live foods are present on a plate! Mindful eating is about connecting all the senses, all the time.
How to eat to feed the senses
1. Start with thanks
Being thankful before every meal is something that can transform an ordinary meal into something fantastic. The pause to be grateful before each meal is graceful. In his tiny book, "Be Still and Know," Thick Nhat Hahn writes that before every meal in Buddhist monasteries five contemplations are recited:
"This food is the gift of the whole universe--the earth, the sky, and much hard work.
May we live in a way that is worthy of this food.
May we transform our unskillful states of mind, especially that of greed.
May we eat only good that nourish us and prevent illness.
May we accept this food for the realization of the way of understanding and love."
This grace is beyond the Christian Lord's prayer. If you don't already, before digging in, try contemplating the food you're about to consume. Pause. And ask, is it healthy? Is it nourishing? Where does the food come from? Do you know the farm, the country where it was harvested? These are not questions to meant to make you lose your appetite, but rather are meant to engage the soul and connect you to the food that you are about to take into your body. Being thankful and offering blessings to all of the hands that touched the food that we consume--the farmers, distribution people, retailers, cooks, whether it was made by a professional chef or someone you know, the sun, earth and rains is a humbling act. It brings home the fact that it does take a village and a planet to feed one person. It also connects you to the source of your nourishment.
2. For the eyes
Choose colorful foods and make it pretty. The more beautiful plating the more delicious a meal will taste. Decorate your plate. Make it a special meal even if it's a simple PB&J sandwich, As Oprah says, love is in the details!
3. For the sound
Crunch? Pop? Not rice Krispies, I am talking about a blueberry. You know what a blueberry looks like, deep blue most of the time, but have you heard of the sound it makes when it bursts in your mouth? Not all blueberries pop, some dissolve immediately but you would not know that if you don't stop and listen.
4. For the touch
What's the rush? Eat slowly, savor it. How does it feel in your mouth. Is the texture rubbery, hard, or soft. Does it feel like liquid?
5. For scent
Smell it? Can you smell the countryside? Does it smell like the earth? I love eating local greens and I swear I can smell the earth in the greens I buy at the local farmer's market. The smell of cilantro is one of my favorite, followed by basil. Amazing.
6. For the taste
Close your eyes and chew, try to decipher the different ingredients. I've done with my sons during breakfast. I have them close their eyes and see what they taste in say, french toast. Its fun for them and it directly connects them to what they are eating. It can be a sexy experience to do with a lover too. In t
7. To improve your sex life
Eat in the dark with lover with eyes closed and feed each other finger foods, fruits that are very sensual are mangoes, blueberries, strawberries, but anything you love is tiny bites is great. Have a small assortment and take turns feeding each other with eyes closed in the dark.