It’s natural to want the healthiest, most nutritious food for yourself and your family. Growing concerns over food-sensitivities, the use of pesticides, animal welfare and GMO-products sometimes make it feel like food choices are limited. How often do we say, or hear others say “I can’t eat that” or “that kind of food is bad?” Sometimes the quest for the best possible versions of food make us forget to be grateful for the simple fact that we have easy access to it. Not everyone does. There’s no need to feel guilty if we’re fortunate enough to have a full pantry, but forgetting to be thankful when our basic needs are met is bound to create an imbalance in the mind-body-spirit connection.
Incorporating a few new ideas into our shopping or meal-time habits can help develop a deeper sense of appreciation for our daily bread. Whether you’re setting a table for one, or serving it up family style, try some of these tips for increasing food gratitude:
A word or two of thanks at the beginning of a meal puts us in a state of gratitude, and it may even help digestion. According to Everyday Health, research shows that people who express gratitude on a daily basis report fewer health problems, including gastrointestinal upsets. Saying grace can be reciting a traditional prayer, giving thanks to the earth and sun or the farmers and laborers responsible for getting food to your grocery store. Even taking a moment to visualize how the nutrients in your meal will benefit your body can increase feelings of gratitude.
Pick Your Own
An outing to a “You Pick It” farm is a wonderful way to increase food gratitude in children. First, it’s fun! Not everyone gets to ride a hay wagon out to a field of corn or eat hand-picked strawberries still warm from the sun. Secondly, learning where food comes from and what it looks like before it’s neatly lined up in rows at the grocery store, gives children--and adults--a better appreciation for the earth and all it provides.
Volunteer at a Food Bank
There’s nothing like helping those who don’t have food security to make you more appreciative of yours. Volunteering at any level increases feelings of gratitude, but seeing how thankful others are for receiving plain, simple food can help us regain perspective about expensive gourmet food fads and must-have “super food" trends.
They say hunger is the best appetizer, but thankfully most of us never have to experience real hunger. Embarking on a mindful, 24-hour fast is an interesting experiment for a healthy adult to try. Resisting the urge to eat whenever you want may shine a light on how much you take the presence of food for granted. After being hungry for a day, you’ll not only feel more gratitude, you may also feel more empathy for those who live with hunger on a daily basis.