Mindful Eating and Everything Everywhere All at Once
I recently watched the movie Everything Everywhere All at Once, and like many people, I was blown away by it. It covered so much ground, had so many funny parts, made my head hurt a little with all the universe jumping, and had such a touching mother-daughter moment near the end that I cried. (Although I was also annoyed by Evelyn’s comments that her daughter was getting fat.)
Even with all the different parts of the movie, it doesn’t immediately seem to have anything to do with mindful eating. But a few things stood out to me (and spoiler alert – I’m going to mention some details about the movie).
Not everything goes on a bagel
Two of the stranger parts of the movie are related to food. One was the universe where people had hot dogs for fingers – that part was so odd I’m just going to skip it.
But the other strange part was the Everything Bagel. The basic plot of the movie is that a woman named Jobu Tupaki is threatening all the universes in the multiverse, and the threat takes the form of – an everything bagel.
It’s not really a bagel, of course. In reality, it’s more like a black hole, sucking everything into it and destroying it. But it’s still referred to as a bagel, and bagels show up in other places in the movie. Followers of Jobu Tupaki put a bagel symbol on their forehead, bagels are served as snacks, etc.
And unlike a regular everything bagel, this one does include everything: hopes, dreams, old report cards, personal ads, etc.
It got me thinking about how those of us who struggle with food can put a lot of weight on a particular food item. It might be a bagel, pizza, ice cream, or something else, but sometimes it seems like we’re dumping all our emotions and anxieties onto food. Like Jobu Tupaki does with this Everything Bagel.
The thing is, though, food isn’t meant to be a receptacle for all those things. Yes, we use food to connect and share with each other, but if we put so many expectations, memories, or emotions on it, it’s not going to hold up well. We really shouldn’t put everything on a bagel, or any other food.
You can have fun cooking
Another silly part of the movie was the play on a different movie, Ratatouille. In Ratatouille, the premise is that there’s a rat who’s an excellent chef, and a young man who can’t cook to save his life. So, the young man hides the rat under his chef’s hat, and the rat treats the young man like a puppet chef, and together they make excellent food.
Except in Everything Everywhere All at Once, Evelyn mixes things up and thinks it’s Raccacoonie, with a raccoon taking the place of the rat. And then she ends up in a universe where a chef does have a raccoon under his chef’s hat.
It made me laugh, and I realized, that’s not necessarily a bad thing with cooking. Sometimes we invest so much into food and food preparation that it becomes a source of stress or at best a boring chore.
But why not have fun with it? I’m not suggesting inviting a raccoon (or a rat) into your kitchen, but you could certainly put on some fun music while you cook, or make something that’s a bit whimsical and fun. You might find that you’re more inclined to cook if you do that.
Importance of staying mindful
The biggest takeaway, though, was simply the importance of being mindful.
As we learn in the movie, Jobu Tupaki became the way she was when she got pushed too far and started experiencing all of the universes, all at once, and her mind couldn’t handle it. She became fractured, and it set her on a path of destruction.
While things aren’t quite that extreme when it comes to eating, it made me think about how easy it is for our minds to be fractured when we’re trying to eat. We may also try to be everywhere all at once if we’re reading the paper or watching news about events in distant places.
We may also end up being everywhen, in the sense that we’re so distracted by thinking about past eating events that have impacted us, or worrying about the future consequences of our eating, that we can’t focus on the present moment.
And if you let your attention get scattered like that, you won’t enjoy what you’re eating, or notice how much you’ve eaten or if you’re still hungry.
So, while it’s tempting to mentally spread out, you’ll be much more fulfilled and satisfied if you can focus on the here and now.
A reminder that food is all around us
Even though Everything Everywhere All at Once isn’t specifically about food, it crops up frequently in the movie. This includes the focus on bagels – and how excited Alpha Waymond was to have cream cheese on a bagel since they didn’t have cows in his world – to cooking to strange hot dog fingers.
But even though food is everywhere, it’s important to focus on what’s in front of us, without being distracted by the past or future or what might be going on elsewhere. Because the moment right now is all we truly have.