Note: For more information on the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program, look here or at www.amihungry.com.
I’ve been leading an Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating workshop series this fall, and by happy coincidence, this week’s session is on “how” we eat. As I reviewed the materials, it struck me how appropriate this was in leading up to Thanksgiving, since the session includes expressing gratitude for our food, focusing on the present moment, and enjoying the whole experience.
It seems particularly relevant this year, when more than ever I feel like I’m being rushed through Thanksgiving, that it’s simply an obligatory pause on the way to Christmas. I’ve been seeing ads for Black Friday, holidays lights on houses, and Christmas specials airing even before Thanksgiving. This breathless feeling reminds me of why it’s important to slow down and truly enjoy each holiday (and day!) as it comes, not just as a race to get to the next.
With that in mind, I’ve been thinking about all the things for which I’m grateful. In no particular order, here are some of the items that come to mind related to food.
I am grateful to have food, and enough of it. Although I’ve never met someone who’s gone through a famine, I know it’s still a reality for many people in the world. I am privileged to have enough to eat on a daily basis, even if I don’t always remember to acknowledge that.
I am grateful for everyone who provides me with food. Among these are: a friend who has been my “kale supplier” for the past two years, which in turn has gotten me to experiment and enjoy kale more than I ever would have guessed; another friend who shared some of her garden’s abundance with me and prompted me to find a recipe that used beet greens that I enjoyed; the vendors and workers at the Farmer’s Market, where I can buy seasonal, local food on a regular basis; the wonderful Rosemont Market, just a few minutes walk from my house, that also carries a lot of local produce, meat, fish, and dairy; and all the other people involved in the planting, harvesting, packaging, and shipment of all the food I eat.
I am grateful to the land that produces this food, and the animals that live off it so I can also live off of them, for the rain and sun and microbes and worms and all the other countless beings that help us all to grow and live.
I am grateful for the kitchen gadgets and utensils that help make cooking a joy instead of drudgery – my fridge and freezer to keep things cold, my Cuisinart to easily chop and puree things, my stove with its harnessed fire to cook things (even if I’d prefer gas over electric), my knives and forks and spoons, my plates and bowls and cups, my ice cream machine and cookie sheets and so much more.
I am grateful for the Internet, to be able to search for things to make that fit my allergy restrictions, and also to find numerous options for food preparation so that I can experiment with almost anything I can think of. (For instance, I’m looking forward to trying cranberry sorbet on Thanksgiving.)
I am grateful to live in a place that loves and celebrates food, with many wonderful restaurants that focus not only on a menu that tastes delicious but is thoughtful about how those meals are sourced.
And as always, I am endlessly grateful that I now find food a cause for joy and pleasure, instead of shame and guilt. This is something that I discovered a bit late, but in many ways that makes my appreciation all the greater.
As we approach this Thanksgiving holiday, I hope that you, too, can pause a moment to savor it for what it is, to think of everything for which you’re grateful – and then to enjoy the meal and people you’re with and create a day full of warm memories.