Before sitting down to eat the food prepared in front of me, I pause, take a breath, and silently give thanks. For me, this is part of a spiritual practice, but there is longstanding research on the numerous benefits to practising gratitude regardless of spiritual beliefs/faith – being grateful makes you happier, healthier and more mindful over time. Here is my most common form of gratitude:
Thank you for the food I am about to receive. Thank you to all the farmers who saved the seeds, and the generations of knowledge on how to grow and tend to it. Thank you to the water, the earth, the sun and the wind that combined to grow this for me, and to the fuels that carried it over distance to this plate. Please bless the farmers, the truck drivers, the grocery workers and the cooks that brought this meal to me today. May this food nourish me and move me forward in a good way today.
This week, I encourage you to incorporate a blessing into every meal, from a small “I am grateful for this food!”, to a longer one like the blessing above. Notice if the attention paid to the meal changes after pausing. Do you taste it more carefully? Eat more slowly? Savour the colours, spices and smells more completely?
If you share food with others and you feel comfortable, consider sharing your blessing with them to allow them the gift of pause and gratitude as well.
As the pre-meal gratitude becomes routine, begin adding gratitude words as anything enters the mouth. A pause, with a quick silent word of thanks before the first bite (or partway through eating if that’s when you remember!), creates a connection to your food and to the entire chain that brought it to you. This not only prepares your physical body to receive the nourishment it contains, but also invites you to be mindful about where your food comes from and how the people, land or waters that brought it to you were treated in that process. From this awareness, you can send healing prayers to any areas of the food chain you know or sense were imbalanced; you may also feel called to take action to repair one section of the food chain, by volunteering with a human rights organization, donating to water protectors, or visiting a local garden, farm or water treatment centre to learn more about how your nourishment moves from the earth to your mouth.
Here are a few other simple words that benefit me:
[before drinking water, tea, coffee etc]:
Thank you for this [water] I am about to receive. Thank you for the deep connection I feel to water, for the beautiful fact that both I and the earth are 70% water.
[before eating a snack]:
Thank you for this [apple], all the land and people who grew and transported it here. I am so grateful to have access to fresh, delicious fruit!
Let me know in the comments if this works for you, what your favourite gratitude words are, or how you remember to be grateful throughout the day!
And don’t forget: Tomorrow is the last day to sign up for my new course Healing Your Relationship to Money