Tonight I was present at an auspicious event. I witnessed my 2 year old grand-daughter partake of a bowl of raspberry jelly. It was her first time to encounter the joys of jelly. She said in her rather new language – ‘it’s squishy’…. I said ‘it’s wobbly’…. thinking that was the more appropriate adjective. She looked and tasted and relished the new food. She was practising the art of mindful eating!
I have noticed the term ‘Mindful Eating’ lately and have thought that somehow this could have some sort of significance for our SoulKitchen. Mindfulness in our eating habits means using as many of our senses as possible whilst eating. We should notice the texture and the feel of the food as well as the smell and the taste. We might consider really taking our time to enjoy that first bite. To savour the feel of the food in our mouth. Mindfulness means we should take time to notice. To pay attention to what we are eating.
I like this idea and I do think it is a practice that we can promote in our work. We want to find ways to encourage our guests to really take time to enjoy the food on their plate. Especially those who may have experienced decades of eating only what is put in front of them or given out at food banks or food lines. When you are always on the scrounge for a meal – anything – the joy of eating is actually reduced to its most basic place. Instead we want to teach others to learn to celebrate not only the procurement of food but the experience of eating. Those volunteers who assist us with the purchase and preparation of the meals begin to use more of their senses when eating. They are more appreciative of the process and the results.
We can introduce these new habits of mindful eating when we sit around a table and enjoy, not only the company of others and a discussion about the food on our plate, but also develop a culture of gratitude for the provision. We can savour our time to eat together and the sensation of eating good and healthy food.
Some general tips for the practice of mindful eating:
1. Tune yourself to understand hunger and notice it
2. Spend time on the first bite
3. Limit distractions whilst eating
4. Learn to separate your thoughts between exercise and food
5. Consider leaving a morsel on your plate
6. Be grateful for the food and where it has come from and the hands that have made it