Meal time – Chore or Ritual
I have just returned home after my weekly grocery shop & it had me thinking about our meal preparation & how often it can feel like another thing on the to-do list. From the task of getting the shopping done, deciding on what to cook, to actually doing the cooking itself, the joy of food can be destroyed by the very task of it all. Some might experience that more than others but the reality is, taking care of ourselves takes time, effort, preparation & planning. The biggest problem is, we often place everything else ahead of the task rather than starting with the basics of establishing a good food routine. When we set about preparing our food, we can feel stressed, tired & hungry. We often just want somebody else to put something in front of us, much like our inner child seeking the good nurturing mother. This is however our task to fulfill for ourselves as adults. Can we rise to the task & how can we do it with more ease?
When I give talks on Food & Mood, I like to remind people about how we tend to a baby.
We concentrate so much on the food routine & on being consistent. We recognise how important routine is for the baby to feel secure & nourished. We also recognise they need nutrients to aid their growth & development. As adults, we are exactly the same! Our bodies love the security of a food & sleep routine. Like a baby, we need the nutrients in order for our bodies to function, to create good mood chemicals, to stabilise our hormones, to replenish our cells, to detoxify our bodies etc. Our food is literally our fuel. We don’t expect anything else in the world to function if it’s fuel has run out, so why do we undervalue this aspect of ourselves so much?!
The therapist in me theorizes about our ancestral legacy from the famine which means our unconscious beliefs about self worth, food, lack & abundance may be all tied up in a big ball of unprocessed ancestral trauma. The results of which may reveal themselves in low self-worth behaviours around food & nourishment. This can present as not valuing the effort it takes to produce food & also not recognising the reward. On another vein, we can have so many unconscious connections between mothering & our nourishment or even gender related beliefs about food preparation & nourishment. It can be interesting to explore what it means to us on a personal level & work through those unhelpful beliefs that prevent us from taking care of our bodies.
On a less conceptual level I see the mundanity of day in day out meal prep & cooking. It is not very exciting is it?! So I thought I’d share how we can bring the sacredness & joy back into our meals with a few ritual prompts:
- Breaking our fast: Breakfast is our kick-starter of the day & I know many of you don’t bother. So how about creating a morning routine to get your metabolism started. A lovely way to begin the day is a hot drink. My go to is hot water with a slice of lemon. A hot drink goes down easy & is a lovely way to transition the body from sleep to awake. To ritualise the morning drink, how about sitting in a light filled space & say a nice affirmation like; “I welcome the day & all it holds for me with gratitude” or even just listen to the morning sounds while sipping the hot lemony treat.
- Shop in places of connection: Our weekly shop can be a ritual if we make it into one. Visit the same place on the same day once a week & I guarantee you will strike up a connection. How meaningful it is to be in a reciprocal relationship with those who feed our families. I love visiting my butcher on a Saturday morning & having a little bit of banter. It builds social capital & enhances my experience of connection & community.
- Mindful preparation: This can be a lovely time of self-care. Play some nice music, listen to your favourite podcast, an audiobook, or just the sounds of preparing your food. Smell the produce, sample & taste, feel the textures on your skin & breathe while you do. Allow time to slow down as you engross yourself & connect with the experience. You will not only destress but you will also activate the digestive enzymes in your body in anticipation of the meal to come. I take time on a Saturday to prepare food with joy in my heart & the intention of putting love into the food.
- Serve with grace: I love to light a candle & set an intention for the meal. “Let us be nourished in love with this food.” Usually you will also hear me make a noise of appreciation when I eat my first bite too. Mmmm mmmm mmmm This reminds us to actually taste our food & to feel appreciation for the efforts made. Consciously chew the first bites 30+ times to see if you can slow your pace which again will enhance your digestion & allow your body to destress a little more.
- Share food: This is one for my vision board!!! I used to grow food but stopped due to other commitments & it is something that I am looking forward to returning to. The aspect I loved most was being able to share fresh produce from the garden & it is such a treat to receive it. If you have an apple tree or a berry hedge, which of your neighbours or friends would appreciate your bounty?! Granny might even like to make one of her apple pies!!! If not food produce then why not meet some friends for a walk & a picnic. Each bring something to share with the group & you have a gorgeous feast before you with little effort.
I hope this inspires you to reframe the task of food prep into the joy of nourishing your body, the pleasure of the food experience & the sacredness of maintaining the precious life you have been gifted.
To help you along the way a little more we have collaborated with Glasrai, our local organic veg producers, who are offering 20% off your first market veg box order!!!
The Habit Store also are kindly continuing to offer 10% off their delicious produce to our subscribers for the month of June. I have attached coupons below.
We had intended to meet up at The Habit Store for the Mayo Organic monthly meeting on Monday June 12th but unfortunately this meeting has been postponed until July. Instead we are attending an open day at Meara Glas organic veg farm, tomorrow Sunday, June 11th from 12.30 – 2.30pm. Feel free to come along & meet us there.
Finally Carina will bring her workshop “Let food be thy medicine” this coming Wednesday, which will be filled with great food tips on how to aid the body to destress & cope in our busy world.
Until then, eat well & be nourished,