Mindful eating is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness while fulfilling a basic need. Mindfulness can help repair an unhealthy relationship with food and improve our attunement with the body’s requirements and signals. It can also help us find greater enjoyment in one of life’s simple pleasures. Meals are often acts of service we provide for others as well as times for connection and fellowship.
If we pause to consider with gratitude the origins of the ingredients we are preparing, the gifts of the Earth that made them possible, and the many hands that cared for, harvested, and delivered them to us, mindful eating can connect us with something greater than ourselves and inspire us to remember our deep interconnection with other people, the planet, and the cosmos. This may motivate us to share our good fortune with others and be good stewards of the environment upon which all our lives depend.
Many of us in mainstream US culture – maybe especially those who identify as women – have developed a poor relationship with food. As a younger person there were many factors that contributed to my own lack of healthy nutritional self-care:
- seeing food as an enemy to be resisted due to cultural and gender based standards of beauty and behavior
- not having enough resources (money, transportation)
- feeling like there were more important things to do with my limited time
- being intimidated, inexperienced and unskilled
My partner likes to cook and his interest in creating tasty dishes began to pique my interest in food preparation. My mindfulness practice also helped me cultivate the patience to spend time planning and experimenting. I began to find joy in the flow of cleaning, peeling and chopping, savoring sights, sounds, smells and tastes, and sharing my creations with others.
Nourish Bowls (also called Buddha, macro or gratitude bowls) are a flexible and satisfying mindful food prep and eating recipe – inexpensive, non-harming, and offering a cornucopia for the senses. Not only do these bowls offer many colors, aromas, textures and flavors, its the perfect practice in patience to clean, cut and cook each ingredient, You can store the prepared ingredients in air tight containers in the fridge and create your bowls as you’re ready to eat them.
This above pictured bowl (in process) used grilled sweet potatoes, rainbow carrots, and collard greens, broccolini, roasted red onions and cauliflower, quick pickled onions, and a spicy garlicky tahini sauce. But, you could use any combination of produce that is in season or on hand. Simply clean all your veggies and herbs, peel what should be peeled, chop into uniform bite sized pieces (for easy cooking and eating), and grill, roast, sauté, or steam as appropriate. I find it appealing to offer something starchy (potatoes, grains), green (greens, cruciferous vegetables), protein rich (beans, seeds, tofu, tempeh, nuts), and herbs and spices, selecting a variety of colors, and contrasting crunchy with soft, sweet with spicy. hot with cool, and creamy with tart or acidic. A complimentary sauce or a selection of toppings (such as avocado, pickled vegetables, brewers yeast, or nori) can help add interest and tie everything together. Here is the recipe for the sauce I used with the above pictured Nourish Bowl.
Greenie Tahini Sauce
Blitz until smooth in a blender:
- 10 oz container of tahini (or make your own by processing toasted sesame seeds with olive oil until it becomes a paste)
- 2 crushed cloves of garlic
- 1 seeded jalapeno, finely diced
- juice of 1 lemon
- salt to taste
- for greener sauce add a bunch of chopped parsley or cilantro
The Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness occasionally offers classes and workshops on mindful eating – check out our offerings page to see what might be upcoming.
As we make ready to eat this food
we remember with gratitude
the many people, tools, animals, and plants,
air and water, sky and earth,
turned in the wheel of living and dying,
whose joyful exertion
provide our sustenance this day.
May we with the blessing of this food
join our hearts
to the one heart of the world
in awareness and love,
and may we together with everyone
realize the path of awakening,
and never stop making effort,
for the benefit of others.
– Zoketsu Norman Fischer, One Heart Grace