How much thought do you give to your food as you prepare it, and especially as you eat it? If you’re like most people, it’s not very much. In fact, chances are high that you sometimes get to the end of a meal wondering how you ate all of it without even really noticing.
Part of the problem is that we have all lost the role of ritual in eating. We eat on the fly, while stressed out, and while engaging in other activities. I’d like to suggest to you here today, that you may want to consider adding a layer of ritual to the beginning AND end of your meals. Doing so will not only help you to be more present, but it can also help you to enjoy your food more. Researchers at Harvard and the University of Minnesota discovered that people who engaged in small rituals before eating found that their food was more flavorful.
Here are some ideas for creating a beginning-of-meal ritual…I know some of them aren’t completely realistic all the time, but the point is that you’re signaling to your body that it is about to eat and that you can relax. Everybody has time to take a couple deep breaths beforehand OR say a quick note of thanks.
· Clear off counters.
· Set the table. Use real placemats ;)
· Plate your food – don’t eat it out of the pan (and hopefully not out of a box) hehe
· Turn off your phone/TV
· Turn ON some nice relaxing dinner music
· Sit down at the table
· Set a timer for 1 minute to notice the colors and smells of the food you are about to eat
· Take a couple of deep breaths
· Sit up tall – improve your posture
· Take a moment to acknowledge where your food has come from
· Make a toast to someone at the table (or a loved one not there)
· Smell your food
· Do a mood scan (how am I feeling right now?)
· Light a candle!
· Sound a bell
Some ideas for the end of meal ritual:
· Ask to be excused
· Blow out the candle
· Do a body scan (how does your body, stomach feel after eating?)
· Sit for one minute in gratitude
· Brush your teeth
· Wash dishes and turn out kitchen lights – you are done in the kitchen for the night
I’d love to hear any other ideas you may have for mealtime rituals. I am going to make a better effort at implementing some of these myself. I like the idea of taking a few deep breaths and saying a note of gratitude for the food I am about to eat. I also really like the candle idea, but not sure I would do that every day. I also like the idea of doing a quick body scan afterward, as well as a note of gratitude again. Which rituals resonate with you?