Maintaining Practicing

The Art of Mindful Cooking and Eating

Food for thought: exactly how mindful are you of your cooking and eating habits? Do you often grocery shop while hungry, eat so much junk food that it seems almost unlawful, or rush through eating so fast that your taste buds are left in the dust? If you answered “yes,” to any of the above, maybe it’s time to be a little more mindful about those ordinary cooking and eating rituals.

This process starts long before opening the fridge, rifling through the pantry, or pulling out pots and pans. It culminates in an intentional focus that activates all five human senses. In other words, “Food Appreciation.”

  • Smell (food aromas)
  • Sight (the colors of food)
  • Hearing (the sound of mushrooms sauteing in a skillet, for example)
  • Touch (like the soft texture of a buttery yeast roll)
  • Taste…need I say more?

Mindful cooking and eating begins with purposeful food shopping (preferably on a full stomach). Pick herbs to intensify flavors and cut back on the salt. Fill your cart with items from the colorful produce section. Avoid processed foods and ignore the calls from candy and chips in the “temptation” aisles.

For many, cooking is relaxing. Paying extra attention to the process ups the benefits and makes it a lovely experience versus a “chore.” On the same note, paying more mindful attention to how we eat is also a way to manage weight. We know about mindless eating where we stuff ourselves with food when feeling angry or lonely (emotional eating).  Being mindful helps us make better choices and allow unhealthy snack cravings to pass.

When cooking, prepping, and plating, take time to notice and enjoy the vibrant colors, aromas, and sounds involved (like a juicy steak sizzling, the aroma of vegetables grilling, or the colors of fresh fruits). Make the colors and positioning of your plated meal rival that of any cooking show and feel the same excitement, only palpable.

Bring your appetite to the table, not a famished stomach. When extremely hungry, we tend to shove food down our throats instead of taking the time to savor every bite recognize certain ingredients in the meal. Take small bites. Chew slowly and enjoy your food experience. I mean, really enjoy it.

Instead of seeking an energy boost from a sugar-loaded candy bar, try a 5-minute physical activity. You may have a little bit more spark left in that body than you think. Besides, exercising is a great rejuvenator.

We miss so much when not being mindful about even such a routine thing as cooking and/or eating. With so many working from home these days, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of “mindless” eating. Why not switch to being more mindful? Your senses will thank you for it.

-Sharon Oliver

Photo: Unsplash

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