My plate, empty now
Will soon be filled with precious food.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
It's a new month, and so it's time to move on to a new kaizen category. This month we will be looking at mindful eating and encouraging good food choices for nourishing our bodys and minds. Kaizen 改善 is the Japanese term for continuous growth or improvement. Each week of the month, as we reflect on the impulses behind our negative food habits, we will be encouraged to take one small step towards more balanced living.
As our lives become more and more harried, we become less and less conscious about our relationship to the foods we eat. The plethora of convenient food choices makes simply daily food preparation with simple ingredients an increasinly rare experience. We eat quickly, distracted by other activities, with food as one task among multi. Meals offer fewer opportunities for fellowship.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, radical diets that promise "get thin/beautiful/strong quick" are adopted as doctrine, the focus being food as a key to our ego. Here we lose the holistic presence of food in our lives, with the result often being that our negative cravings holding that much more power over ourselves.
In her book Freedom in Your Relationship with Food: An Everyday Guide, Myra Lewin states that "when eating and self-care become habitual and unconscious, the result is a feeling of emptiness and disconnection." (p.5) Our first step in regaining a healthy relationship with food then is to begin to examine why we eat, what draws us to certain foods and habits of preparation, and to become conscious of our relationship to food.
This week, I encourage you to take one single step towards a deeper connection with your food. If you never cook at home, cook a single meal. If you cook all the time, simplify the ingredient you use, choosing less processed foods. If you eat in front of the television, eat a meal or two without the extraneous stimulation of television or background music. As you eat be mindful of the nourishment that is being provided.
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