Culinary Gratitude

Food and I are on good terms nowadays.

These last few months of really listening to my body has (inevitably) lead me to healthier choices and I’ve stopped eating foods that disagree with me. It’s really nice to sit down to a meal without feeling conflicted about eating it, and it’s even nicer to not feel guilty after eating.  After years of fighting with my body and my conscience about food, it feels really good to feel good about what I’m putting inside me. I’ve always been a comfort and stress eater, and I’ve always loved food of all kinds, but not all of them loved me back (specifically wheat, dairy and refined sugar).

I’m not gonna lie. It  was hard to imagine giving up certain foods… I knew for years that my body wasn’t as OK with dairy as I pretended it was, but it didn’t make me feel as bad as wheat did, so I ignored that fact. I also didn’t want to live without ice cream but once I really started to pay attention to what foods made me feel good and nourished, it got easier. Once I cleaned up my eating, every time I chose to eat something my body didn’t like, I felt awful! I mean, physically just awful. My stomach protested and I felt gross. I won’t go into the details, but suffice to say, it was stinky.  Since I really hate feeling gross, the negative reinforcement has been super effective!

It’s taken 30 years, but I finally (for the most part) I pretty much only crave foods that make me feel good instead of terrible! I’m okay switching out dairy for coconut milk ice cream and sorbets, and to just go with goat cheese instead of cow’s milk cheeses. I’ve developed a taste for raw chocolate and fruit is sweet enough to satisfy me as dessert. I do need a certain amount of fat in a meal though, or I feel completely unsatisfied.

I’ve also started expressing my gratitude to my food. It’s come naturally as I’ve started to really appreciate how nourishing the right foods are to me, but I was inspired when I ate with a women in Bali who took a few seconds to bless her food before eating it. I know it’s a time honored tradition to bless food before eating it, but it’s one that I thought was kind of stupid when I was younger. Probably because it delayed the meal and I was usually eager to dive right in! I didn’t like to contemplate what I was about to eat and I’m sure part of that was because I was ignoring messages about how food was making me feel. I used to sneak food as a kid, especially chocolate and biscuits. I knew what I was doing was wrong on several levels, but sneaking it made me feel like I was getting away with something.

Now I try to remember to bless everything I eat. It’s a practice that really has been helping me with mindfulness.  I hold my hands close to the food, sending love and gratitude into it. Sometimes I use Reiki energy, and sometimes I silently say a prayer of thanks. Taking a few seconds to really pay attention to my food before I shove it into my face forces me to slow down and appreciate it. I’m pretty sure it makes it taste better too. Or maybe that’s just a function of slowing down long enough to really taste it. Either way, I’m grateful.

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