Full disclosure, this is rather new to me, and very much a work in progress. I’m not religious so I never grew up saying a prayer of thanks for food. We did, however, thank my mom for dinner every night when we got up from the table (thanks for all the cooking, mom).
And we’d throw in a “rub a dub, dub, thanks for the grub” every once in awhile 😉
But I never really focused on being thankful for food while I was eating it.
I grew up scarfing down cereal before rushing off to figure skating or volleyball practice (anyone else do that?). It’s so second nature to scarf food now that I’ll find myself inhaling food without even noticing I’m eating. Or realizing with slight shock that I’m done, because I’ve been too consumed by something on my computer to pay attention to my plate.
I know I need to stop this (I say as I eat pasta while writing this…ok I’m not perfect).
Practicing gratitude for anything is cool, because it activates the dopamine centres in our brains – your feel good centres. Studies have also found that if you practice gratitude on a regular basis, it can help you stay happier & healthier. Who doesn’t want that?
And practicing gratitude for your food has some added benefits:
1. It makes you appreciate your food (obviously).
Sudan is on the brink of a massive famine, according to the UN, as the food situation is becoming more and more dire. The World Food Programme estimates that 7 million people there are dealing with “acute food shortages”. We are so lucky to live in a place where food is plentiful, and we have the means to acquire it. It’s important that we take the time to reflect on that.
2. It makes you more aware of what you’re eating.
Are you eating something healthy? Is it fuelling your body or making you tired? Take note of how you’re feeling while you eat the food, and afterwards. Do you feel energized or sluggish? If you’re grateful for the nutrients you’ll probably be more inclined to eat healthier, because you’re focusing on what’s good for you. Or if it’s a cupcake you’re delighting in, awesome, appreciate it, enjoy it, live in that moment. Some suggest that if you’re going to eat that ice cream, it’s better for you to do it without guilt, so just enjoy the process. One lick at a time.
3. It helps you slow down.
If you take time to be grateful for each bite, you inevitably slow down (or at least don’t scarf). Eating slower is better for your digestion, and therefore your health.
So instead of just woofing down a muffin as soon as you buy it, take some time to reflect on it. Be grateful you get to have every bite. Many aren’t so lucky.
Try just sitting down to a plate of dinner, and just sit there while you eat. Without looking at your phone, or talking to someone. I bet it’ll be harder than you think. It certainly is for me. But it’s worth doing.
Note: One thing I struggle with in this whole process is eating cold food. Like eggs for example. Cold eggs. Runny, slimy, wiggly, cold eggs. Ugh. Seriously, mad props to anyone who can eat them like that, they’re worse than cold fries (that’s obviously my opinion, feel free to argue against me if you wish). Eggs cool so quickly that if you take time to feel gratitude for each bite, your eggs will be cold well before you’re finished…
If you have any tips on how to approach this particular quandary, let me know!