I am all about making eating a ritual.
And let’s be real: Eating can be a loaded activity, especially if you have a history of some weird food habits (ahem, like me). Preparing food and mealtimes themselves can be wrought with fear or guilt or anxiety, calorie-counting, paralyzing decision-making, or maybe you totally numb-out.
Or it could just be a neutral activity for you. You make your food, you eat it. End of story.
Wherever you land on the spectrum of food experiences, one thing rings true over and over: We can all use a little more Holy while we eat.
I see so many people (myself included) eat in a way that isn’t exactly nourishing. We eat while we drive, in front of the computer, in a huge hurry. We eat when we’re not hungry, or too hungry. We eat food that our body doesn’t necessarily want, because we feel like we’re “supposed to” or we “deserve” it.
I used to be real off around food: I would get crazy anxiety if I wasn’t eating the same portioned-out meal that I had calculated for myself. And when I was preparing my own food, it was mechanical: I ate the same stupid salad over and over again because it was low-calorie and I read salmon was good for you. On top of it, I ate in front of my computer and completely joylessly. I doubt I even tasted my food.
Thankfully, things have changed.
Bottom line: Food and eating are sacred. We eat to nourish ourselves–it is self-care. The food we put into our bodies fuels us, not only physically, but on energetic and spiritual levels.
One of the practices that has completely transformed my eating habits is prayer. I used to see people praying over their food while traveling and thought they were nuts. And then I tried it, and never stopped.
Ideally, this is what happens:
I prepare my food carefully, imagining like I’m preparing food for a Queen, or the Goddess, or my Mom–a woman that I love deeply, because that’s what I am! I wouldn’t serve a blackened avocado to a Queen, so why would I eat it?
When I’m done, I take my food, sit down and shut off any podcasts or audiobooks I’d been listening to. Then I close my eyes and say this prayer:
I smell my food, look at its colors, smile, and take the first bite, chewing and tasting and enjoying.
Then I continue. This might mean turning a podcast back on, or listening to some chill music, but I strive to chew my food well and taste it.
If I’m still hungry after I eat, I wait 20 minutes, then check in again. Usually I’m satiated, but if I’m not, I’ll ask my body was she needs. Sometimes it’s a few almonds, sometimes it’s a nibble of bitter dandelion greens. Sometimes it’s froyo. Then I honor that.
Like I said, this is ideal. I still eat when I’m in a rush sometimes, but I strive for the above whenever I can.
How do you make your mealtimes sacred?