We are knee deep in the season of gratitude, a time of year where we are nudged to reflect on all there is in our life for which to be thankful.
And, what a wonderful nudge because we know the importance of gratitude.
It is well-documented that gratitude has massive benefit in multiple areas of our life, including, but not limited to, our mental health, physical health, social bonding, resiliency, and more.
Specifically, when we couple gratitude practice with our relationship with food, we gain the ability to:
- More deeply experience our body’s connection with the food we are eating, which makes us more attuned with our intuitive needs, what works well for our body, and what does not serve us in a meaningful way.
- Connect with the Earth body on a regular basis. Even when it is difficult to get out to connect with a natural environment, food is a way for us to experience gifts from the Earth on a regular basis.
- Reduce anxiety and increase feelings of optimism, joy, pleasure, and other positive emotions, which induces a greater sense of relaxation promoting better digestion and feelings of satisfaction.
Clearly there is good reason to incorporate gratitude practices into our daily lives and, even more, specifically as it relates to food and eating.
Here are a few favorite ways to do just that…
- Simply take three deep breaths prior to eating and focus on gratitude for your breath, for the food in front of you, and for your body’s ability to be nourished. A pre-dinner moment of prayer has long been incorporated across cultures and traditions due to the powerful effect it has on dropping one into a deeper place of gratitude. However, one need not have a religious/cultural practice in order to reap the benefits of this sacred pre-meal moment. Simply taking a few deep breaths with intention will bring you the same benefit.
- Doing a gratitude journey with your food. By the time food has reached our table, likely many hands and plentiful energy has been a part of making this happen. It can be a fun and interesting practice to take yourself (alone or as a family) on the journey of the foods you are eating, sending out gratitude to all involved, such as the land on which the food was grown, the people who harvested the food (including if it was you!), the transportation and grocery workers (if purchased), the collector and preparer of the food, and beyond!
- Dinnertime sharing circle. Sharing something for which we are grateful with ourselves or others has an immediate effect on shifting our energy and mood into a more positive place. Speak aloud and reflect on at least one thing about that day that brought joy, satisfaction, and warmth. A fun activity can be to do “Rose, Bud, and Thorn”, sharing one thing you are grateful from the current day (rose), one thing you are looking forward to the following day (bud), and one thing that was difficult about the day (thorn).
- Eat with presence. Gratitude can often be experienced more deeply when we bring our full attention, and thus potential for appreciation, to a given moment. When possible, choose a meal or snack to eat with full mindful awareness, setting aside any distractions and fully focusing on the food in front of you and the experience of it in the body.
- Plant a garden or visit a local farm. We can only appreciate something to the degree that we know it. When we grow our own food or become more familiar with how it is grown, we are able to honor it more deeply, thus growing our capacity for gratitude. Immerse yourself in the process and notice your care for the food, in terms of prepping it, not wasting it, eating it, and enjoying it grow.