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3 Mindful Eating Tips from “Zombieland”

Before Halloween, I re-watched the movie Zombieland, and I discovered something surprising. It offers some tips about mindful eating.

I realize this wouldn’t seem like a movie to find tips about mindfulness in any way. Zombies, after all, aren’t known for being thoughtful.

And yet, mixed in with some of the general rules of living in Zombieland – do cardio, wear your seat belt, beware of bathrooms – the few humans in the movie offer some good advice about mindful eating, even if they didn’t realize it.

Tip 1: Don’t Take Your Food for Granted

In our current life, even during the pandemic, it’s easy to take food for granted. Most of the time, you can get what you want, whenever you want it. It’s very easy to forget how much goes into that food production.

But if you lived in a world where farmers and butchers and bakers and grocers had all been turned into zombies, you would probably appreciate food much more than you did before.

You’d quickly grow tired of canned and processed foods and long for anything fresh or newly baked. You’d appreciate any unexpected gifts you found, like trees still bearing fruit or crops gone wild that are still producing.

That seems like a good reminder at the beginning of November, a month when we often think about gratitude, especially gratitude for food. Thanksgiving is all about appreciating the abundance of the harvest before going into the winter months.

But even before Thanksgiving, it’s helpful to remember not to take all these foods for granted… to take a few moments to think about everything that goes into your food before it even gets to you… and send some thoughts of gratitude to those who make it happen.

Tip 2: Sometimes a Twinkie is More than a Twinkie

Of course, certain foods mean more to us than others. They take on a deeper meaning and association.

These foods can be anything. In Zombieland, for the character of Tallahassee, it’s a Twinkie. His nearly desperate search for a Twinkie, with everything else going on, is absurd until you realize why he wants the Twinkie.

It’s to remind him of a time before the zombies, a time when his young son was still alive, when everything was right in his world.

Maybe you have a special food like that, too. A food that brings you back to a time when your life was simple and golden and sweet. A moment when everything felt right and perfect.

For me, that food is Christmas sugar cookies. They remind me of being a kid, when my mom was alive and the world was full of possibility.

Foods like that aren’t just about the food. They’re about memories and love and warmth, which makes it all the more important to savor them when they come your way.

Tip 3: Enjoy the Little Things

And finally, another tip from Tallahassee: “Enjoy the little things.”

That applies to eating as well as everything else. From a food perspective, though, remembering that can help you stay mindful as you eat.

Notice all the little things you could enjoy. The smell of your food as it cooks or warms in the oven. The crisp sound as you cut vegetables. The bubbling of soup in a pot. The steam rising from a freshly poured cup of coffee or tea. The gleam of an apple. The sweet citrus scent of an orange clinging to your fingertips.

And those little things can extend to your dishes… your silverware… the way your food looks on the plate or in the bowl… and more.

All of these things are fleeting, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them. In fact, that’s a good reason to enjoy them while you can.

Taking Time for Gratitude and Pleasure

This is a difficult time. We’ve been living with the pandemic for months, and we don’t know how much longer it will go, but we know it will impact the holidays. All our normal traditions are upended, and we don’t know when we’ll get back to normal – or if we ever will.

It’s not as bad as Zombieland, but it’s not great, which is why it helps to do what you can. Appreciate your food and don’t take it for granted. Savor the foods that bring you joy. Take delight in the small things.

Doing this won’t make everything better, but it will bring you some comfort and add brightness to your day, and right now, that’s something we can all use more of.


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