What if there was one simple act that could cultivate more happiness, peace, success, health, and love in your life?
There is! Cicero said, "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others."
The gratitude holiday, Thanksgiving, stems from the tradition of holding harvest festivals to give thanks for the bounty and celebrate all the hard work with the community. While the vast majority of us are not involved in the harvest anymore, we cultivate gratitude when we love what we eat.
Food: The Great Connector
While we may be far removed from the origins of our meal, food connects us in ways that we probably take for granted. While a national holiday dedicated to thankfulness is wonderful, how would our lives change if we took a few moments to express gratitude every time we ate?
The ability to experience gratitude starts with your awareness. Imagine throwing a pebble into a pond and watching the ripples spread outward, first noticing your immediate experience then expanding in ever widening circles.
Food connects you to …
… your five senses: sight, smell, touch, tastes, and hearing and your ability to fully experience the appearance, aromas, textures, flavors, and even the sounds as you eat.
… your body through physical acts like cutting with a knife, lifting your fork, opening your mouth, chewing, swallowing, then trusting your body to digest your food and absorb its nutrients without any conscious involvement on your part.
… your body wisdom, including your sensations of hunger, satiety, thirst, and fatigue.
… your mind through your awareness of your thoughts, memories, opinions, comparisons, and choices.
… your feelings ranging from anticipation, pleasure, and enjoyment, to disappointment, regret, or even fear.
… your past through your cultural traditions, favorite foods from places you’ve lived and visited, and cherished (or forgotten) memories of the thousands of meals before.
… your future through the immediate consequences of your choices and the long term effects on your health.
… other people through conversation and the shared experience of eating together.
… those who contributed their time, energy, and talent to get the food from farm to table: people who planted, tended, harvested, produced, packaged, transported, and sold your food and people who selected, purchased, prepared, and served your food.
… local and world economies through the sale and purchase of raw ingredients, packaging materials, manufacturing equipment, transportation, food service, and even marketing. Think about it…the money you spend to put food on your plate puts food on the plates of families everywhere.
… nature through the soil, sun, water, air, and weather. These natural elements were transformed into the bite of food in your mouth and will soon be transformed into the energy you'll use to contribute to the world in whatever way you choose.
How's that for a ripple effect!
Whether dining by yourself or striking up a conversation with your dining companions, these questions are like a pebble in a pond.
What physical sensations, thoughts, and feelings am I aware of while eating?
What memories do I have about this particular holiday, meal, food, recipe, or table?
Where did this food come from and how did it get here?
What else am I grateful for?
Let Thanksgiving be the beginning; build the simple yet powerful act of gratitude into every meal you eat.
Eat Mindfully, Live Vibrantly!
Michelle May, M.D.
P.S. Visit us on www.AmIHungry.com for more articles, great resources, and to take the Eating Cycle Assessment.