Nourishing ourselves with food and drink can really be one of life’s greatest pleasures. Far too often, we miss out on the true pleasure and sensuality of this act because we’re preoccupied with our busy lives, eating fast, drinking unconsciously and not paying attention what’s going into our mouths. On the other end of the spectrum, some of us spend so much time thinking about every detail of what we’re eating that it becomes more of a burden than a pleasure. Not so graceful, right?
Many of our YogaDates events involve food and drinks, and we want to make sure you enjoy it to the fullest. If we take a moment to really be mindful and bring more joy and pleasure to the life-giving act of consuming food and beverages, it can bring a whole new level of deep, exciting sensory awareness to our lives.
Here are a few ways to transform and elevate your experience of eating and drinking:
- Listen to your body. Are the foods you eat and the beverages you drink just part of your daily habits, or do you consume them because they give you energy and make you feel great? Begin to eat with your body, not with your mind. Instead of eating what you think you “should” eat, notice what you’re body’s really asking for. If you don’t know, experiment with different types of food and see how you feel after eating them – physically and emotionally. You’ll naturally begin to gravitate towards the ones that make you feel your best.
- Appreciate what you’re about to consume. Before you eat or drink anything, silently be grateful for the nourishment and energy you’re about to receive. Think of how the food got to where it is now on your plate. Appreciate the people and animals that were part of the process. Realize how blessed you are to have the choice to consume this food and drink.
- Stay present. Pay attention to the smells, colors, tastes, and textures of your food and drink. Close your eyes for a moment as you taste each new thing, and really let all of the flavors sink into your tastebuds. Notice the subtleties in all of the flavors.
- Eat and drink in peaceful surroundings. If you’re making food at home, light a candle, play nice music and eat in a clean, peaceful area. While you can’t always control your surroundings, do your best to not eat on the go – and if you’re in a hectic place, focus on your breath and try to get into a serene mindset before eating.
- Chew thoroughly. Inhaling food isn’t graceful, and it doesn’t feel good in your stomach afterwards. You’ll be doing your entire digestive system a big favor by chewing your food until it’s liquid. This will also force you to eat more slowly, and being present will make the whole experience feel more pleasurable.
- Stop before you’re too full. There’s nothing worse than being so full that it hurts, especially when you’re out in a social setting. It’s easy to overeat when you’re not paying attention, so take a break to feel how your body is reacting to the food and drink you’re consuming before you stuff yourself.
- Take pleasure in having treats. Eating pleasurable treats once in awhile shouldn’t induce guilt. Often when we’re indulging in foods we think we shouldn’t be eating, we can’t even give ourselves enough of a break to actually enjoy them. If you’re going to have a treat, pick something you really love. Savor it and allow yourself to enjoy every bite.
- Be mindful about your alcohol consumption. If you’re someone who regularly drinks alcohol just because it’s there and others are doing it, experiment with not drinking, or drinking less than you usually would, and see how that feels. Become more conscious about what you choose to drink. Find some non-alcoholic alternatives that make you feel great – kombucha and yerba mate are two of of my favorites! And no matter what kind of beverage you choose to drink, slow down, listen to your body and be present to the sensory pleasures of each sip.
Jenny Sansouci a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and the publisher of HealthyCrush.com, where she writes about nutrition, health and personal development.