“In mindful eating we are not comparing or judging.  We are simply witnessing the many sensations, thoughts, and emotions, that come up around eating.  This is done in a straightforward, no-nonsense way, but is warmed with kindness and spiced with curiosity.”                                                    

Jan Chozen Bays


Eating.  The holidays have been built up around the joy of sharing meals with loved ones, baking cookies, and filling bellies with merriment and mint.  I have been thinking a lot about eating lately, in part because I have my own issues of food around what I can/can’t, should/shouldn’t eat due to my endometriosis and what I feel, sometimes compulsively, provoked to imbibe and scarf down to include most things NOT on my ok foods list–soda, candy canes, meats, cheese, white flour.  The other issue that has been bringing food to the forefront is issues of eating disorders in my professional practice.  Imagine living in a world in which food was enemy and eating was a dark and sinister process.  Imagine a holiday plagued by these issues. 

In one way or another we all have our issues with food.  Whether it is just a societally imposed ridiculous standard of what is “healthy” in the form of size zero’s on magazines or eating a bag of chips or box of chocolates when we have a bad day or self-imposed ideas about having to work out or work off every last holiday calorie for New Year’s everyone has their thing.  It is hard to feel good about ourselves and everyone measures themselves in some way, at some point in their life, by some invisible and unattainable standard of perfection. 

I think this time of year is the perfect time to consider taking eating and food from a perspective not just of health or general wellness but as pleasure and mindfulness all in one.  What if we could take our yoga practice off of our mats and into not just our mind, body, spirit but directly into our mouths?  The sensory experience of food could be an intensely sensual and joyful experience but most of us hurry through our meals and few linger over the immense savoryness of flavors.  Why not pause, breath, and imbibe the world’s gastronomic pleasures in a fully centered and aware way?  Usually, we just don’t think about doing so…but what better time to start then for the New Year.

I have been given a palpable and painful reminder of how much food can be an unhealthy and sinister factor in people’s lives.  How much a life of pain and aspirations of unattainable perfection can lead to finding an enemy in food and be unable to know how to eat with pleasure.  I find myself joining, as sometimes happens, my client on her journey to rediscover food with a new awareness in my own gastronomy journey.  I want to eat what I should with pleasure and not with a sense of punishment.  I want to crave the sweet and juicy explosion of blueberries popping like savory balloons on my tongue rather than aching for soda that inevitably (as it did last night) will subsequently make me ache. 

I am on a search and exploration of gastronomical joy.  I want to explore Mindful Eating to its fullest.  I want to see the Zen in mealtime and find breath in every bite.  I challenge anyone who wishes to try to do the same.  The Center for Mindful Eating is a great resource to begin and the book quoted above entitled Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food