Mindful Eating as Food For Thought About Whom We Consume

Mindfully eating a burger could easily result in far more humane meals

Posted Feb 07, 2012

A recent essay in the New York Times called "Mindful Eating as Food For Thought" caught my eye because in addition to the warm (some might say "fuzzy") take home messages it offers it missed a significant one, namely, using mindful eating to change your diet. Some suggestions for being mindful about who and what goes in our mouth include:

"WHEN YOU EAT, JUST EAT. Unplug the electronica. For now, at least, focus on the food.

CONSIDER SILENCE. Avoiding chatter for 30 minutes might be impossible in some families, especially with young children, but specialists suggest that greenhorns start with short periods of quiet.

TRY IT WEEKLY. Sometimes there's no way to avoid wolfing down onion rings in your cubicle. But if you set aside one sit-down meal a week as an experiment in mindfulness, the insights may influence everything else you do.

PLANT A GARDEN, AND COOK. Anything that reconnects you with the process of creating food will magnify your mindfulness.

CHEW PATIENTLY. It's not easy, but try to slow down, aiming for 25 to 30 chews for each mouthful.

USE FLOWERS AND CANDLES. Put them on the table before dinner. Rituals that create a serene environment help foster what one advocate calls "that moment of gratitude."

FIND A BUDDHIST CONGREGATION where the members invite people in for a day of mindfulness. For New Yorkers, it's an easy drive to the Blue Cliff Monastery, about 90 minutes north of the city: bluecliffmonastery.org/ on the Web."

Surely, an important aspect of being mindful about eating is to reflect on where your food comes from.

The essay also offers, "Mindful eating is not a diet, or about giving up anything at all. It's about experiencing food more intensely - especially the pleasure of it. You can eat a cheeseburger mindfully, if you wish. You might enjoy it a lot more. Or you might decide, halfway through, that your body has had enough. Or that it really needs some salad." Or you might decide not to eat nonhumans who suffered pain, abuse, and torture on the way to your mouth. 

Many people eat on the run or on the drive and hit fast food places because they're always rushing around. They don't really eat, even when sitting at home, they inhale their food and move on to "more important" things. The food they choose to eat is horrific and if they ate mindfully or even 1/4 mindfully they'd come to realize that the meat they the put in their mouth suffered immensely and underwent torture on they way to their takeaway container or plate. And it's really tasteless unless they embellish it with all sorts of toppings. 

So, everyone who chooses to eat a cheeseburger - really a dead cow - or any other former animals, should indeed eat mindfully and use the feelings that emerge to change to a more humane vegetarian or vegan diet and a healthier one at that. And you can feel better about yourself in that you didn't cause any uncessary pain or death to satisfy your hunger.