Eating lunch at Whole Foods the other day, a group of university girls sat at the next table playing cards. One of them pulled out a chocolate bar and proceeded to facetiously read the instructions on “How to Enjoy” said chocolate. It started with yogic breaths, then engaged all 5 senses in order to get a full experience out of one square of chocolate.
They giggled, and some of them shyly tried to follow the steps. I stopped and sat back from my own meal.
There I was, scarfing down my quinoa and broccoli salad, thinking about the airport shuttle I needed to catch in half an hour. I noticed that I wasn’t even using the one sense I’d expect to when eating.
I love food and I love eating. I love eating good food. My favourites usually involve a full sensual experience:
The crisp, tart, juicy bite of a freshly picked apple in the orchard, bees buzzing, sun filtering through the branches.
The way a dollop of beet-chile sorbet ironically heats up a bowl of avocado & cucumber gazpacho with both colour and spice.
The aromatic marriage in any stew or curry that elevates the whole to be sublimely greater than the sum of its parts.
If you’re anything like me, you expect a lot from your food:
- Make you happy
- Make you thinner
- Keep you full for hours or at least keep your cravings at bay
- Help you celebrate your wins
- Comfort you when you lose
- Give you more energy
- Reduce your inflammation
- Heal your pain
Before you can expect food to do anything for you, you need to open yourself to your food and to the experience of eating.
With all 5 senses.
With your entire Being.
Without the joy, the pleasure, the love, then everything we put into our mouths becomes nothing more than a parcel of nutrients and calories. Another thing to count. Another item to add to the overflowing To Do list.
Reduced this way, good food and nourishing yourself becomes a burden.
Maybe it’s not such a far-fetched idea after all, to need directions on how to eat a chocolate bar. Perhaps we would do well to have such instructions on all our food labels. A reminder to slow down and enjoy the food, not just consume it.
Rather than daily values and percentages on product labels, I propose that Health Canada, in reviewing its principles for the new food guide in 2018, tell you to
- take a moment to breathe as you sit down;
- appreciate the time and effort it took to grow the food you see, prepare the meal in front of you;
- take the time to smell and savour your food;
- admire the colours and composition – my son’s into Master Chef and other cooking shows, so he’s all about the plating;
- hear the crunch, feel the creaminess;
- open yourself to the possibilities of what each mouthful has to offer you, for your health, for your pleasure; what sweetness does this meal evoke in your life?
- tune in to what your body needs, and recognise when you have received it.
I propose that by paying attention to your deep wants and your true needs, your body will guide you to the right balance every time.
When was the last time you enjoyed a meal with your whole being? I’d love to hear all about it. When you share in the comments, you open the possibility for others.
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