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Food and Values - Curiosity

Note: I recently went through an exercise of identifying my highest values. This is one of a series of posts looking at how those values intersect with my relationship to food and my food choices.

I did an exercise recently to identify my top values, and another exercise to consider strengths. Curiosity came up in both. Which made me wonder, how does this value relate to food and mindful eating?

At first glance, it may not seem like there’s much of a connection. And in fact, I wouldn’t have necessarily considered curiosity a value if I hadn’t gone through the exercise. But once I started thinking about it, I realized it made sense.

To value curiosity means to approach things with an open mind. Instead of having pre-conceived ideas, or reacting to things the same way all the time, if we’re curious, we can approach everything as if it were new. We can say, “I’m curious about this” and start to explore.

At the simplest level, this could be staying open-minded about a certain food or recipe. Even if you think you won’t like it, you can try to put aside that expectation and simply experience the food.

This sounds simple, but it doesn’t make it easy. When I was in Florence in May 2014, and I tried lampredotto (i.e., cow’s stomach), my brain and emotions were at odds. I expected it to be awful, but I didn’t want to have those expectations. In the end, I managed to set that aside and even enjoy the dish.

The deeper – and even harder – piece of this goes to being curious about why we’re doing something. Why do we want to eat? Why are we reaching for that specific food? Why are we eating it in a specific way, using these dishes and utensils and in this setting? Why do we eat as much as we do?

These questions can make us uncomfortable and perhaps even defensive. After all, what right does someone have to make us justify our decisions?

But it’s not about justifying, only understanding. Only if we’re curious about these things, and open-minded, can we choose a different way, if we want to make a change. And from that perspective, yes, I do consider curiosity a great value, and I’m also happy to think it’s a strength.

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