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Healthy Foods and Mindful Eating

Updated on May 30, 2013
Buffett style eating is not always mindful, especially when the restaurant is busy. Patrons often rush through and gorge.
Buffett style eating is not always mindful, especially when the restaurant is busy. Patrons often rush through and gorge. | Source

Do We Think Before Cooking and Eating?

Mindless cooking and eating are not words meant to be an insult. Mindless Cooking is not a condition of frivolous lack of attention, but more a condition of lack of knowing.

How often have you heard parents tell their kids to "hurry up and eat" or seen them bribe children to eat their meals with the promise of candy afterwards? Consequences of this type used long term are probably not considered or even realized by some parents. We may begin life being hurried through eating by paretns and then find ourselves hurrying through food as an adult. We become to busy to enjoy our meals.

Are You What You Eat - Without Remembering?

Ernie Kovacs' Suggestions

Life Is Too Fast and We Have No Time

Mindless Consumerism is a way of life that has insinuated itself into a segment of America, defined by a hectic life full of work or job-seeking, becoming too tired and consequently eating too much or filling up on fast food, scheduling too many activities and "catching up" late-time with drive-thru food runs, purchasing new clothing items or because everything else is in the laundry or at the cleaners and one has nothing to wear for that big meeting tomorrow, and so on.

Some individuals shop for food, clothing, music, and computer items from a place of boredom or even an addiction to making purchases. Some feel that they are being punished if they cannot regularly spend money either in personal purchases or gifts, or in dining out several times a week. Sometimes, they cannot remember purchasing the packages sitting in their bedrooms or remember tasting their restaurant meals.

This can all add up to the rat race that people deplore but cannot often enough escape. We were warned by Franz Kafka in The Metamorphosis and by other 19th and 20 century writers pointing out the possible consequences of over-industrialization and commercialism and the inordinate competition that stems from it. With fast food and prepared food items from the supermarket designed to make more time for the competition of work or idleness of leisure time, Americans have little to taste and enjoy if this is all that is ingested. TV dinners of the 1940s and 1950s have been supplemented in the 2010s with 5-minute microwave processed rice and 40-second pudding cake substitute microwave desserts full of additives.

Personally, I would prefer a bowl of sticks, twigs, and leaves with textures and flavors.

Alternatives To Fast Living and Fast Eating

Slow Food is a trend in America of returning to preparing foods on the stove top and in the oven - using the microwave less often, and fast food not at all. In addition, simplifying daily life is a trend gathering additional followers this decade and even more converts as a recession at the end of the 2000s forced millions around the world to cut back on purchases. Some people realized that thousands of dollars they previously spent on things, activities, or processed foods did not make them happy or healthy. The hectic pace and unhealthy food eaten without consideration even made some of them sick. For a searing example of this, go and see the film Repo Men with Jude Law and Forest Whitaker.

In the film Repo Men, a company called The Union produced computerized mechanical body parts and sells them for hundreds of thousands of dollars on credit. Consumers that cannot meet their payments after three months have their organs repossessed on the spot by company repossession agents that have access to clients’ homes. The film shows a long sequence of clients that purchases artificial organs, only to return immediately to unhealthy eating and drinking habits. When organs are repossessed, families can purchase am even high-priced neural net to keep the victim's brain in an extended dream for decades. How less expensive, painful, and unhealthy it would be to eat a nutritionally sound diet and enjoy it.

An unexamined life is not the best life and the unexamined daily diet can be the worst diet. Mindful Cooking and Mindful Eating can change one's life without magic or mysticism and result in more effective nutrition, fewer diseases and adverse health conditions, and a longer lifespan with a greater number of healthy years. These things are not a religion, although elements of them are much like Zen and can compose a philosophy. If there is sitting meditation and moving meditation, then there can be eating meditation. The Bible speaks of meditation on all that is good and beside rivers, so considering and enjoying healthier food need not offend those of faith.

A Bowl Or Plate Can Create An Atmosphere

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A variety of colors, flavors, and textures set in white.Fried Shrimp Curry with Peas.Thai Green Chicken CurryPotatoes, chillies, and quail eggs.Asian Noodles, Chicken and PeasRice vermicelli salad with fresh vegetables, ground red chillies, sweet barbecued pork, ground peanuts, and chopped pickled vegetables.Beef Noodle DishLamb Chili with Microgreens
A variety of colors, flavors, and textures set in white.
A variety of colors, flavors, and textures set in white. | Source
Fried Shrimp Curry with Peas.
Fried Shrimp Curry with Peas. | Source
Thai Green Chicken Curry
Thai Green Chicken Curry | Source
Potatoes, chillies, and quail eggs.
Potatoes, chillies, and quail eggs. | Source
Asian Noodles, Chicken and Peas
Asian Noodles, Chicken and Peas | Source
Rice vermicelli salad with fresh vegetables, ground red chillies, sweet barbecued pork, ground peanuts, and chopped pickled vegetables.
Rice vermicelli salad with fresh vegetables, ground red chillies, sweet barbecued pork, ground peanuts, and chopped pickled vegetables. | Source
Beef Noodle Dish
Beef Noodle Dish | Source
Lamb Chili with Microgreens
Lamb Chili with Microgreens | Source

One Bowl Can Be Enough

In some homes, mealtimes include setting the table with every plate, dish, glass, and utensil in the cupboards. However, for many years, I have used only one bowl for my meals, and one cup or glass.

The book One Bowl shows us that in adopting a single bowl for meals, we can become more aware and mindful of the foods we put into it. We can attend to how wee eat and note the vicious effects of specific foods on our bodies, our spiritual status, and our general physical health. It is also simpler than a table full of plates and silverware and thereby suits me well. I always want more time to think and cutlery and dishes sometime interrupt me.

For those unfamiliar with using only one eating vessel for an entire meal, this book is helpful. Don Gerrard explains the step by step process of switching to one bowl. He tells us how to select a bowl, how to choose what to put in it for a meal, and how to attend to each stage of eating and afterward, digestion. Illustrations are simple and eye-catching at once, in black and white. Mr. Gerrard has 40+ years in publishing and is interested in health,homeopathy, and food awareness.

Although not a Buddhist book, readers may see elements of Eastern traditions in Mr. Gerrard's ideas. It is said that the Buddha ate from one bowl and was silent during his meals, whether alone or while eating with others. This time was used for being mindful of the food, the eating utensils, and even of digestion. The flavors, textures, and temperatures of the foods in the one bowl were considered and appreciated, eaten without interruption or haste or digestion-disrupting cacophany. The foods of this era were simple, natural, local, and healthy.

Mindless Eating

Zealous Food Safety

Snack Attack

The Last Supper Meal Becomes Larger

The Director of the USDA Food Policy and Practice division has been studying 52 paintings of The Last Supper scene produced in the last 1,000 years and the study has been interesting. The foods in the various paintings of the supper have changed and become larger, as have the plates.

Dr. Brian Wansick (humorous videos to the right) of the USDA and Cornell University used a computer program to compare the size of the food to the size of the heads in the paintings. The size of the main dish increased 69% and the plate by 66% from 1000 AD to 2000 AD.

Brian’s brother added the Biblical background, Craig Wansink being a professor of religious studies at Virginia Wesleyan College, Norfolk VA; and ordained in the Presbyterian church. The Bible says The Last Supper occurred on an evening during Passover, but does not detail the food except for the bread and wine that now represent the Body and the Blood on Resurrection Week’s Maunday Thursday and other Communion days.

The brothers studied the book of paintings, Last Supper; Phaidon Press (2000). Their full findings will be released in the April 2010 issue of the International Journal of Obesity. Wansink and Wansink feel that through 1,000 years, or a millennium, progressive increases in food portion sizes in the paintings might speak to the parallel increases in food portions enjoyed by Americans. Consumers eat more of food that are not filling enough in regular sizes, perhaps without realizing it (see the film Supersize Me).

Thus, President Barack Obama’s daughters gained weight and Michelle Obama instituted the Let's Move program for healthier kids and schools. Mindful cooking, following changes at the largest school foods distributor, ARAMARK, can help that program and perhaps all our lives become healthier.


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