3 Ways to Stay Grateful for the Joy of Food
After dinner on Thanksgiving, my uncle handed around pieces of paper and pens and asked everyone to write down at least five things that made them happy. Then we went around the table and shared what we’d written.
It was a nice thing to do for Thanksgiving, but it was interesting that only a couple of us mentioned anything food-related, even after having a good meal. Of course, I was one of the people who listed food, specifically the joy of eating warm chocolate chip cookies.
It got me thinking about how easy it can be to take food for granted, and to consider how we can hold onto a deeper appreciation of it. Here are a few things that help me.
1. Letting yourself experience hunger
In the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating program, we talk a lot about how hunger is the best seasoning. A friend of mine who recently had a colonoscopy said that it gave her a whole new appreciation for food, which makes sense after not being able to eat much for a day.
But this applies to normal hunger, too, not just the I-haven’t-eaten-for-ages kind. It’s one of the reasons I like being hungry in the morning, to fully enjoy my breakfast and start to the day.
I know this can be challenging for some people because hunger can also feel scary. But if you can remember that it’s natural and will help you enjoy your food, maybe it will feel a little less frightening.
2. Acknowledging food’s origins
It can also help to think about where the food comes from. This is trickier with more processed foods, although you could consider it a good challenge.
I like to channel my nephew for this. He’s very good at asking questions and wanting to know more and more. So you could experiment with pretending you’re a young child and wanting to know about where food comes from. Then see how far you can go with it.
For example, consider an apple.
Maybe you bought it at the grocery store. Where was it before that? Well, it probably came to the store on a truck.
How did it get on the truck? Someone picked it from an orchard and then put it on the truck to take to the store.
How did the apple get into the orchard? It grew on a tree after a bee (or something else) pollinated the tree’s flowers.
How did the tree grow? It got energy from the soil and rain and sun.
But where did the tree come from? It grew from the seed of an apple – an apple just like the one you’re eating.
For me, at least, this helps wake me to the everyday wonder of everything around me. (Note that I took out some of the side questions my nephew might have, like where did the rain come from, and how does the sun give energy to the tree? But you can explore those, too.)
3. Eating mindfully
And finally, eating slowly enough to truly taste the food helps me appreciate it. To chew and savor each bite, focusing on the different textures and flavor combinations. This helps me recognize how delicious it all is – or realize I don’t like it, so I can go on to something else.
Even if you can’t do this all the time, any amount helps.
Food is life
All this boils down to remembering that food is life. It gives us energy, so we can keep doing the things we enjoy – including the act of eating itself.
So in this season of giving thanks, maybe think about if you have any foods you’re especially grateful for. If you do, I’d love to know what they are!
And I hope that you’re able to find joy and gratitude in your meals, today and every day.