One of the reasons I love this quote from Luciano Pavarotti, the Italian operatic tenor, is that it shows how all of us are deeply connected to the ritual of eating. It doesn’t matter what our heritage is, what country we live in, or how we make a living. All of us take time every day to nourish ourselves. And quite often we find it a pleasurable event.
The other reason I love his observation is that it goes deeper into what meal and snack times should be. He states that we “devote our attention to eating”, which I think is true… sometimes. All too often in our busy lives we are eating on the go – breakfast is on the way to work, lunch is at our desk, snacks are on the way to pick up the kids from school, and dinner is fit in between workouts, kids’ games or social outings.
Before you get the idea that I’m going to tell you to stop what you’re doing and focus only on food every time you eat, I want to assure that I’m not going to do that! I know what it’s like to have deadlines to meet and to feel like the most efficient use of my time is to eat while knocking things off my to do list. As well, one of the reasons I love having a smoothie for breakfast is because it’s portable. I’ve had my smoothie on the go many times – on the subway, in my car, walking.
So, I’m certainly not going to suggest that you do something I haven’t done! What I am going to suggest is that we devote our attention to eating at least sometimes. Here are my suggestions on how to accomplish this:
- Try to make family dinner a somewhat regular occurrence so you can talk to the people who matter most in your life. If you don’t have an immediate family with whom you eat at home, make it a point to have dinner with friends at least once a week so you can consciously feed your body and heart.
- On the weekend, sit down and enjoy a more leisurely breakfast… or lunch if it needs to be after your workout, kids’ sporting events or church. You can encourage this by making the meal something special like a mixed veg frittata or homemade bread with fruit salad rather than the usual cold cereal.
- When you are reaching for a snack, make it a healthy snack (like a piece of fruit or plan yogurt) unless you have the time to sit and fully enjoy your little indulgence. Otherwise, you’ll chow down on that giant chocolate chip cookie and receive no pleasure at all from it before it’s all gone. I have done this many times. And I don’t know about you, but that makes me want another one because my brain didn’t register the enjoyment at all.
I know your life is packed from the time you get up until you get into bed exhausted at the end of the day. I know you have family, work and social obligations that keep you going and don’t allow time for mindfully eating each and every bite of food. That being said, we would improve our enjoyment of food, as well as the nourishment we get from it, by devoting our full attention to the act of eating as often as we can.
If you already take the time to mindfully enjoy your meals, good for you! Tell me in the comments what suggestions you have so we can all get ideas from each other.