Mindful eating – connecting with our food system

This short video was inspired by exercises from Dr. Jan Chozen Bay’s book Mindful Eating, which I had the pleasure of experiencing during a mindful eating weekend retreat at Great Vow Monastery and also at a professional conference sponsored by UCSD Center for Mindfulness.

Mindful awareness is our passage into this moment; this one precious moment that contains much of the information we need regarding our food, as well as our body’s preferences, hunger, and satiety (fullness) cues. Clinicians call this our “internal wisdom” or “appetite awareness,” but we might as well call it our true nature.

Mindful eating is defined as being fully present during our experiences with food, while holding compassionate awareness of these bodies, which we feed.

We were born mindful, intuitive eaters, but many of us have been conditioned out of these skills. Dieting, food insecurity, systemic racism, and mental health issues can all negatively impact our relationship with food. In addition, many of us are disconnected from our food heritage, and we may feel shame about diet-related health conditions.

Mindfulness eating is a life-long journey. With each bite, we are presented with an opportunity to nourish, connect, savor, and reclaim. As long as we are awake and breathing, we can practice mindful awareness with our food.

In the SAVOR Project, we explore our experiences not only as eaters and growers, but we also acknowledge our place in the larger food system. We discuss concepts like food culture, food citizenship, and food justice. This comprehensive perspective, known as food literacy, is the perfect complement to a medicalized approach that has been historically concerned with individual food-related distress, disorder, and disease. Food literacy education serves as tools for both prevention and treatment. Everyone benefits from growing knowledge regarding our relationship with food.

Wherever you find yourself on your personal food journey, I hope you find the following exercise helpful. You can also watch this video on The SAVOR Project’s YouTube channel if you choose.