What comes to mind when you read: chocolate cake, cheesecake, thick slabs of bread with garlic butter, baklava, fettuccini, and paella? Somewhere along the line, Americans forgot how to love food. Everything decadent comes with a price tag and/or punishment (hours at the gym, days without anything sweet or fatty, weeks of juice cleanses and more). Dr. Linda Bacon writes in Health at Every Size, “When asked what came to mind upon hearing the words ‘chocolate cake’, Americans were most likely to connect it with ‘guilt’ while the French connected it with ‘celebration.’” 2018 is a year to celebrate! And during the month of January, I’m going to offer resolutions everyone can stick to. For my first blog of the New Year, I want to remind you of the pleasure of food and how a step to becoming healthier is not necessarily based on what we eat, instead how we eat. It’s time to fall in love with food again. Here are four ways to fall in love with food again, as an individual, as a family – no more guilt, just pleasure in every bite.
- Make mealtime sacred: Every time we sit down to eat, it should be a time to be mindful of what is on our plates, how it got there, and how we can savor each bite. Yes. This means no more eating in the car and on the run. Whether we’re alone or with family and friends, take the time to sit, savor, and eat.
- Unplug: Silence is a rare commodity in our world. Everybody’s so busy taking photos of their meals and posting them, it’s almost as if we’re judging our meals by other people’s responses to the image of them as opposed to how they actually taste. So many live life through a screen. But when we’re distracted, not only do we overeat but also miss out on a lot of the stuff happening right then and there. So, instead of being distracted by the TV, our cell phones, computers and more, why not focus on what’s on our plates? Even if we’re alone, we should practice mindful eating by sitting at the table, enjoying the flavors, textures, and colors of our food, and immersing ourselves in a moment of silence.
- The meal doesn’t begin at the table. In Buddhist philosophy, the meal doesn’t begin when you have a steaming plate of food in front of you at the table. It begins during preparation. I’d argue it begins at the grocery store, and even before. When we consider where our food comes from, who grows it, who harvests, boxes and ships it, it’s a moment to reflect and be grateful. And when our children participate in the preparation of meals, it’s a powerful moment to teach gratitude, appreciation and awareness.
- Food is history. Oftentimes the meals we prepare come from family recipes: our parents and grandparents. Some may come from recipes from trips we’ve taken or friends we’ve made along the way. Food is the way we can tell our family and life stories – one bite at a time. And sharing these flavor traditions with our children, friends, and people we love is a great way to celebrate life and food.
2018 is a year to celebrate flavors, our bodies, nutrition and health! Start the celebration by falling in love with food again. No more guilt! Happy New Year!