Reinventing the Meal: A Path to Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is about much more than simply understanding the health impact food will have on your body.

| November 2012

  • Happy Food
    Mindful eating can be as simple as taking a moment to think about the path your food took to arrive at your plate.
    Photo By Fotolia/WONG SZE FEI
  • Reinventing the Meal By Pavel G. Somov
    "Reinventing the Meal," by Pavel G. Somov will ultimately change the way you view your meals—as not only sustenance for the body, but for the soul as well.
    Cover Courtesy New Harbinger Publications

  • Happy Food
  • Reinventing the Meal By Pavel G. Somov

In Reinventing the Meal (New Harbinger Publications, 2012), you’ll learn how to reconnect with your body, mind, and world with a three-course approach to mindful eating. Inside, you’ll find mindfulness exercises to help you slow down and enjoy your food, pattern-interruption meditations to infuse presence into your eating life, and unique stress management tips to prevent emotional overeating. In Chapter 4, "Third Course: Reconnecting with Your World," author Pavel G. Somov, PhD, offers a variety of ways to connect with your food, such as pattern-interruption strategies.

"Every rite has its irrational, mystical center, its acme of concentration, its moment out of time… Its purpose is ecstatic union, however fleeting, with transcendent reality, with the ultimate, with what is beyond mutability."

—Thomas Cahill, The Gifts of the Jews

The old-school meal begins with food, proceeds with mindless eating, and ends with feeling stuffed and existentially empty. The new meal begins with a first course of relaxation, proceeds with a second course of self-awareness, and then progresses into mindful, conscious, intimate appreciation of the world at large through food. As such, the third course of the new meal is about both mindful eating and mindful interbeing with all that immediately is. Having reconnected with your body and then with your essential self, the challenge is to stay in touch with the world as you consume it. Remember, when you’re eating, you’re  eating Earth and becoming Earth. So the goal is to stay humble and not let your mind wing you away to the heavens of abstraction. The goal is simply to just eat. However, while it’s easy to say “just eat,” it can be hard to do. The point of this chapter is to make it easier.



Mindfulness Is Awareness of Choice

Habits preempt choice. Once a given behavior goes on autopilot, we just keep on flying on the course set by habit. Making choices is work, and the mind often doesn’t want to hassle with it. So it leaves the dirty work of making choices to the memory of the body. Mindless eating is basically muscle memory, whereas mindful eating is a series of mini choices.

The body itself makes no choices, it just repeats what it has done previously as trained by the mind. In terms of eating, we have pretty much trained ourselves to ignore eating. Watching TV or checking email is the steak we have for dinner; the food itself is just garnish. That’s the wheel of automaticity, the wheel of mindlessness. Eating is one of the most overlearned voluntary behaviors in the human repertoire of skills. So let’s breathe some mindful choice into this mindless choicelessness. In the meantime chew on this: mindlessness is choicelessness, whereas mindfulness is an awareness of choices, that is, choicefulness.