Food Glorious Food

November, food and gratitude go hand in hand in this country. Here at Refuse to Diet we are taking that gratitude to a different level with our mindset…so why not for the food we eat as well?

Of course we are grateful that we have abundant food. That we are not starving is definitely something to appreciate and be thankful for. That sort of gratitude about food reminds me of “Grace” said at the table every day; some days it was sincere, other times it was by rote, but it was generally about food in general. Sure it was about the food on the table, but it could have been ANY food.

The gratitude exercise for this month is more specific and involves your paying attention. This is part of eating mindfully. Being conscious when we eat and aware of the various foods that we put into our bodies via our mouths.

When I am having a time when cravings are super strong I sometimes wish I didn’t have taste buds. At those moments I think that maybe if food didn’t taste good it would be easier to eat less of it. While that may be true, I know that the majority of the time overeating has little or nothing to do with the taste of food.

Armed with that knowledge, I recognize a tastebudectomy is not the answer and it would deprive me of a lot of pleasure that I get from having to eat to live.

Rather that wishing I had no taste buds, now I get to practice being grateful for them and how they allow me to appreciate a variety of foods—for a wide range of reasons, from simple pleasures to the variety we have to specifics.

For this month, find in every meal at least one thing to be grateful for that goes beyond just having a plate with food on it. It might be a specific flavor, texture, smell or even how something feels in your mouth. Perhaps it is a combination of things rather than one isolated sensation. It could be something new or an old favorite that is just coming into season or is not “in season” but because of the age in which we live it is still available.

Whatever it is, recognize it and allow yourself to feel gratitude for it…and to really enjoy that moment. Notice if, like me, you seem to require less of it because you are savoring it.

Here are some examples of my gratitudes over the last couple of days.

Simple pleasures: I am sitting here at my desk sipping my morning coffee as I type this. And it is a wonderful cup. By stopping to recognize that my pleasure level actually increases. I look out the window and enjoy nature…and I notice the sunrise is looking beautiful reflecting on the water, so I’m going to take a quick break and finish savoring my coffee while watching it climb higher for a bit…be right back!

I’m consistently amazed how taking just a moment to really appreciate what my mouth is tasting and feeling I am satisfied with less of it! I felt grateful for the warmth of the liquid, the creaminess of it…just the right blend of coffee and milk, the smell and slight steam as I lifted the mug to my face, the rich coffee flavor. I like how good it feels rolling over my tongue and slides down my throat. A good, simple cup of coffee is something I am very grateful for—and it isn’t even the caffeine!

Variety: we are so fortunate to live in a time where we can have just about any food we want, at any time of the year. We can have fresh produce that is flown in from other climates, we have frozen, canned and dried foods as well. There are a plethora of grocery stores and food costs as a percentage of our income are at an all-time low. I am grateful for this variety and how that lets me nourish my body with different foods so I don’t get bored.

A few nights ago I made a big batch of chili, some to be eaten that night, some later after the flavors had “melded,” and some to be frozen for an easy meal later in the winter. I generally don’t follow recipes…I look around to see what I have in the house, what sounds good together to me, and I punt! When in doubt I’ll look up a recipe that I may use for guidance…more to assure myself that I haven’t totally gone off the deep end. I find it a fun way to cook. I’m grateful to have certain canned items available (and that I didn’t have to can them myself is a big bonus in my book) so that I have the flexibility I desire when cooking.

When I took a spoonful of that chili I was struck by the different textures and how they felt on in my mouth. I was thankful for those tastebuds as I appreciated the different flavors and the unique combination I had created.

Specifics: whether it is biting into a juicy peach or broiled vegetables or a moist and flakey piece of salmon, it is so wonderful to notice and appreciate the specific sensations foods bring to our lives. Some of my favorite meals are super simple—no sauces, nothing added, just the natural flavors shining all on their own.

I’m grateful that cooking doesn’t have to be fancy or difficult. I’m grateful that foods like chicken have gentle flavors that can be enhanced in lots of different ways, but that they can also stand on their own. I am grateful for the texture of broccoli, for the crunch of almonds, the way blueberries burst in my mouth.

Being grateful for our food is one, important, step in conscious eating that will help us to lose weight without counting calories. It doesn’t matter so much WHAT the food is…by truly enjoying it, savoring it and being grateful for the experience we will be healthier for having the experience. If you find that you want something that you traditionally would have placed “off limits” or restricted because you were trying to lose weight, then let yourself have it…and use this exercise to help you really enjoy it. By making all foods “legal,” enjoying them and expressing our gratitude for the flavors/textures/etc we open ourselves up to a happier, more joyful…and much healthier…relationship with food!

And that is something else to be grateful for!

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