Cultivate a food gratitude attitude

Regain a joy of eating by being grateful for all food choices and by being mindful of how we eat and where we get our food.

Have you ever been around someone who grows their own food and is passionate about it? Perhaps a grandparent who not only had the garden out back but also made their kitchen an open classroom where recipes and lessons were freely given and pure joy filled the room and that joy turned into a joyful eating memory.  Most of the joyful memories we have around food were more than likely provided by someone who was grateful for the food they were preparing. 

According to Jan Chazen Bays, MD in her book "Mindful Eating- A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food," countries that have an abundance of food often have a disharmony with food and eating. In a survey she conducted, she found that Americans worry more about food and derive less pleasure from eating than people in any other nation surveyed. This preoccupation with food is fueled by information overload, by listening to scientists and advertisers rather than learning to listen to our own bodies. She mentioned that other countries associate food with pleasure and Americans associate food with health, yet the United States is far from the healthiest nation. 

What happened to that joy of cooking? Passing down recipes and eating healthy made-from-scratch foods? Mindful Eating is a practice that can help us get back to being grateful for our food, no matter if we purchase it or grow it ourselves. 

When food and drink are abundant, it is easy to take them for granted. When we take them for granted, it is easy to stop paying attention to what is on our plate or in our mouth. When we stop paying attention, we stop smelling and tasting and get less of an experience from the meals we eat. Then, when eating more doesn’t make us feel satisfied, we try turning up the intensity of taste sensations rather than slowing down and savoring the taste sensations already available. Being grateful for all the choices we have for food on the grocery shelves or being grateful for the farmers and chemical engineers who grow and develop the foods we eat can also help increase our appreciation for what we eat and gain more satisfaction from each mouthful.

Imagine how grateful you would you be for just one slice of bread if you had to weed and plow the field, sow and raise the grain, grind and sift the flour and cut and burn the wood in order to bake the bread? 

As Dr. Chozen Bays explains, “through mindfulness, we can look more deeply into everyday things. It is an aspect of wisdom not to be fooled by superficial aspects of things, even the most ordinary things, things that we encounter many times a day. Food is one of these things.”

Slow down and notice the foods you are eating and how your body communicates and reacts to the food. Cultivate gratitude for the simple things and you will see more positives. You can be that person who helps create a joyful food memory for another by sharing your love for food and a grateful attitude. 

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