I’ll be addressing a very large audience next week… perhaps some of you will be in attendance. The Concord Food Co-Op is launching a 9-wk. series on Monday entitled, “Real Food, Real Life,” aimed to help folks improve their health through their eating habits. (For details, check out The Co-Op’s Classes Page.) As the first week’s guest speaker, my assigned topic is “The Mindful Meal.”
I’ve been wondering how best to get my message across to a group of nearly 100 people. What I most want to convey to them boils down to this:
“Get present, and you will make mindful choices in every aspect of your life – including food.”
In other words, living in the present helps us access our deepest wisdom. We could try to memorize endless factual data on “How to eat right.” Without more, though, I have a bias that folks will not follow through – no matter how good the information. My suggestion to this group will be, let’s learn how to tap into the depths of what we already know. Once we remember how to just be, knowing what to do follows naturally ….
That’s it. In my mind, it’s that simple.
Okay, Simple Message … Now, How Do We Inspire Someone to Take Action?
In my mind, teaching is not just about conveying information… it’s about inspiring someone. My primary goal is for every audience member to drive home that evening feeling more attuned to their own deep wisdom (as opposed to thinking, “What a smart guy that speaker was!”).
The challenge in communicating deep truths to any audience is that, often, our words can inadvertently send people “into their heads.” In this case, that would be the opposite results I am intending.
Valuable Basics About Mindful Eating
If an audience is inspired to make changes in their eating habits, they will be receptive to hearing some helpful tips: For example, chewing our food thoroughly – most people chew too little before swallowing, and this mistake throws off the digestive process. Chewing (and the accompanying salivation) is a critical first step in breaking down our food so it can be utilized by our body.
If we send the food down our gullets before we have adequately processed it in our mouths, we make our stomach’s job that much harder. For example, “premature swallowing” can cause the stomach to secrete additional juices to break down the food it receives. Excessive digestive juices in the belly, in turn, can lead to issues such as acid indigestion and ulcers. More benignly – yet, still a problem — we may pass our food through (i.e., poop it out) before we’ve extracted the nutritional value from it. Truly, this is a debilitating waste of our energy.
I am sure I will also mention to my audience the importance of choosing to ingest only the foods that best support our health. And, maybe, I’ll talk about how drinking liquids with our meals can mess up the chewing/salivating process (it lulls us into swallowing prematurely).
How Will I Approach This?
I plan to focus this large audience on getting present. None of the above information will make a difference if folks are not present. If they are present at the grocery store or restaurant, they will make more conscious choices in the foods they buy, and, later, how they eat them. When we eat with presence, our whole being it is more peaceful and, therefore, more receptive to the incoming fuel. Eating food when we are anxious is sort of like pouring cold water into a car’s overheated radiator. (For those who have not had the pleasure, this causes brown, scalding hot water to spew everywhere!) Or like trying to add oil, while revving the engine. (Again, this causes a huge, splattery mess!)
“Put down your pens and paper,” I will urge them, right from the beginning. “Breathe, and feel the sensations in your body, notice any emotions or thoughts that are present….” (The lecture they were expecting to get will, instead, quickly begin to resemble a juicy meditation workshop.)
Practicing being present, I will later suggest to them, is at the heart of “mindful eating.”
I believe it’s as simple as that: Get present, and you will make mindful choices with your meals … and in all aspects of your life.
Wishing you a joyous now,