In many cultures meals are an event and a meaningful part of daily life because it is believed that there is much more to eating than satisfying hunger. In our modern world, we’ve forgotten that food is supposed to be an experience connecting us with each other and all of life. Meal preparation and eating should be an expression of love, paying attention and care. Giving that gift of love means preparing real food that is grown with the elements of nature; earth, water, air and sunshine.
I started cooking when I was a young girl. In my family, food has been a way to connect with each other. Making a meal has always been a time to celebrate life, have fun, enjoy the process of creating, then eating a magnificent meal, not just because of the ingredients but because it’s infused with love. My mom had no idea how to cook when she got married; she was an eager and willing student ready to try anything, we all learned so much from her. My sister, late brother and I all cook, we always talk about food, what we’ve made, how we made it, the way it tasted and why we made it. There is something very magical about a meal made with love and passion.
People have created mealtime rituals around the holidays and special occasions, but for the remainder of the year in most cases, meals are disjointed and forgettable. Adopting rituals around food makes meals more memorable, brings us into the present moment and helps us focus our intention.
Even if cooking isn’t at the top of your list for fun things to do, it can be when you add meaning to it. While adding meaning and ritual to food can be intimidating, according to William Doherty, PhD, an advocate of shared mealtimes, “a ritual is just an emotionally significant practice one undertakes routinely“.
Mealtime practices can be as simple as giving thanks for what you’re about to eat or celebrating the meal for no reason. Food made with the addition of ritual and meaning tastes so much better than something store-bought or thrown together to fill an empty stomach.
A few suggestions to make mealtime more meaningful and strengthen connections with family and friends:
- A couple of my mealtime rituals include shopping for the food and coming up with a recipe for the meal. For me, creating a meal is a conscious practice that I equate with my health and happiness.
- No matter where you eat, unplug from technology, put away your cell phone, computer and turn off the TV so you can focus on the meal.
- If you have children, put notes with their lunches so they’re reminded that you’re thinking of them or make their favorite food so they feel connected to their family.
- Invite friends over to share in the mealtime experience, perhaps form a group with people who enjoy making meals and eating as much as you do.
- Eat on a cleared space so it is a peaceful, undisturbed place to enjoy the meal.
- Leave work issues and stressful subjects out of dinner conversation, tension and stress inhibits digestion.
- Serve meals family style to give everyone a chance to connect with each other when passing dishes around the table.
- Slow down, savor each bite, enjoy the food you’ve so lovingly made.
- Share the preparation experience, it is much more fulfilling and enjoyable.
- Create a pre-meal ritual such as taking a deep breath, expressing appreciation or saying a prayer.
- When you’re mindfully cooking it will make meal preparation pleasurable instead of a chore, playing music adds a celebratory, festive feel to the creation process.
- Create a theme around the meal such as French or Fifties Friday, Thai or Throwback Thursday, etc, whatever sparks your imagination.
Bringing meaning and ritual in food is more than technique and eating, it is being in the moment, respecting the ingredients, the planet, making people happy, learning to enjoy the process and finally how to bring good energy into the food.
Thank you for stopping by.