Practicing Zen Eating

Like to eat at your desk on your lunch break while slotting in a sneaky online shop? Well we’ve got bad news for you. Even though we tell ourselves we can do everything at once – scientific truth is we can’t (yeah this is news to us too). We’re about to burst that over-productive bubble that let’s us believe we can be snap-chatting, digesting and buying that camel Vetements trench all at once. Surprise: our brains can’t actually multi-task, apparently it just flits from one thing to another giving the illusion of synchronisation! In a nutshell this means that yes we might be stuffing our face with quinoa and kale but all those good nutrients are going to waste because our body isn’t taking the time to absorb it. It’s ok finish what you are chewing right now – you can start mindfulness next meal.

It sounds like such a basic thing but since we got all zen at the dining table (with the help of food guru Paul Pritchard and his kitchen bible Healing With Whole Foods) we’ve been blissed out with a calmer state-of-mind, a happy stomach and our to-do list has never been shorter. Major plus is now all we have to do is sit down and treat ourselves to a sweet bowl of something to hit the same yin yoga class high. Sat Naam…

Make your eating time just as intimate as when you would set aside a time to have a bath. No phone calls, no books, no notes, no driving, no blow-drying and no TV. This is about you and the food. Each meal should feel like a meditation, this kind of thing goes hand-in-hand with our new discovery of incidental exercise. Why make yourself busier rushing around to zen out when you can reach that internal quiet at least three times a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Set the mood
Staring head on into a fuzzy computer screen is not exactly our favourite setting to be munching around. Keep your dining space clean and relaxing – a table somewhere away from electronics is a great start. Let’s get romantic. Think aromas, colours, conversation. There’s a reason why restaurants go all out on the decor. Even if you are eating Chinese takeout at home no harm in putting it in your milk-glazed ceramic bowls. It’s just like power dressing – look good, feel good.

We loved that The Gentlewoman covered this as one of their Modern Details because it’s something that gets so overlooked when it comes to healthy eating habits. Writer Penny Martin confesses “I’ve forgotten how to eat … I’ve lost the knack of turning the delicious food on my plate into liquid nutrition in my mouth and premium-grade fuel in my blood.” We wolf down meals so quickly before our body even has time to get the benefits. Each mouthful should be chewed 30 – 50 times without fluids. Just like breath is used to centre ourselves again, so too can chewing be an easy entry to stilling the mind that also stimulates salivation (which activates our digestive enzymes) and encourages maximum flavour.

“Eating is time to receive offerings in the form of food to nurture and revitalise your body. Nurture your thought as well,” Paul Pritchard recommends. He’s basically our kitchen god when it comes to nutrition and healing so anything he says, goes. Avoid eating when angry, tired, worried, or any of those emotions we like to class as negative. And we are the first to admit that we are not zen masters at the best of times so following the steps above is a start to getting rid of a bad mood before we polish off that tasty green-tea seared salmon. Fail safe is to wipe your mind clear of whatever has been going on for the day and think about what is in front of you. Tick off all your senses: smells, colours, tastes, textures, sounds.

Take your time
Nothing worse than ordering a Zuppa di Pesce from ACME and then all of a sudden as soon as the plates are cleared everyone is up and on the move. Have you heard of siesta – well the europeans didn’t come up with this idea just for fun. After eating it’s time to chillax. Let your body do it’s thing. Unwind. There’s nothing sexier than a woman sitting in solitude staring into space with her empty plate in front of her (maybe it was nicoise salad, maybe spaghetti bolognese?). She’s probably hell busy but who cares what’s 10 minutes out of that hectic schedule. After all what’s it all for if you can’t enjoy those little pleasures in life.

Words Olivia Drake