Thanksgiving presents an opportunity to express our gratitude for food, even if to say ‘Yum!’ or give kudos to the cook. But do we do that every day? Or each time we eat? I invite you to begin a practice of giving gratitude for food no matter where you are now. That’s where I’m at, too. 😉
It’s hard to give gratitude for something that we don’t appreciate. In modern society, food comes too easily to us to really honor its origin. We can grab it off a supermarket shelf or from the deli counter, we can dine in our cars – even purchasing our meal from a drive through, we can grab a bite from a vending machine, we can place an order online and have it delivered to our door. The list seems to go on and on. I appreciate convenience. But as a society, it’s time to re-educate ourselves about what it takes to bring food to the table. With all the fast food, processed food, and modified food of the last 5o years, or so, convenience has caused us to lose our perspective and appreciation for what is real in regard to food.
Another reason we may overlook giving gratitude for food is that we lose sight of the obvious: that is, we don’t fully acknowledge how important food is in our lives. That beyond the fundamental aspect of supporting our existence, our relationship with food is, arguably, our most intimate relationship of all. We all have relationships – with our partners, our children, our co-workers, our neighbors, our phones, and so on, but have you ever really considered that you are in a relationship with food? Unlike our relationships with people, food is something that we interact with each and every day of our entire life. There are few, if any, people with whom we do that. Children grow and leave the house, we move to another state or country, and we change jobs, thus changing the landscape of whom we interact with on a daily basis. But food is something that is constantly with us, throughout the journey of our lives. Further, food is something that we literally take into ourselves and that literally becomes a part of us. Now, that’s intimate! We all have a relationship with food. It’s a question of how much we are to understand that relationship and to honor it. I think it’s fair to say that many people have a broken relationship with food, leading to the consequence of addiction and obsession, epidemics of chronic disease like overweight, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, autoimmune disorders, and so on. Even our good intentions around making homemade food can dissolve into a series of complaint and resentment, huffs and gruff, leaving us with little energy to express sincere gratitude, let alone enjoy our food. It’s time to explore more in regard to the sacredness of food and giving gratitude for it.
In order to give gratitude for food, we must first recognize the reason(s) for which we are grateful for food. The reason(s) behind our gratitude may change from one eating episode to another.
Reasons to be Grateful for Food
- It tastes good.
- It nourishes our body.
- It’s beautiful.
- It’s fun to grow.
- It helps us to heal.
- It gives us energy to do our work.
- It delights us.
- It warms me up on a cold winter’s day.
- It’s fun to prepare.
- It provides a way for us to connect with our family and friends.
Ways to Express Gratitude for Food
There are many ways to give thanks for our food. Any sincere expression of gratitude will serve the same purpose, which is to slow us down enough to connect with the sacred. This alone brings tremendous benefits to our body, mind, and spirit. Given that most of us eat several times or are each day, food can serve as one of the most powerful reminders to connect with the divine.
Most cultures and religions have a way to express thanks for what is about to be eaten. Holding a deep connection to the earth, Native Americans honor the exchange of life in regard to food. They ask the Spirit that dwells in the living food – whether animal or plant – for permission to take its life. They then give thanks to the Spirit for its willingness to sacrifice its own life for their benefit and sometimes make an offering of corn or tobacco, for example, in compensation for this sacrifice. Such an act acknowledges that something has been given and received on both sides.
One of the most common ways to express gratitude is by saying grace, which is a specific form of ritual. One may choose to speak freely from the heart – even when dining alone – or n behalf of a group. One may also recite or read a specific prayer from a spiritual tradition or from literature, such as Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. If you are not comfortable saying a prayer out loud, you can practice gratitude through silence. If the expressions sincere, the offering will be effective. Silence doesn’t just happen; it has to be allowed. It requires us to make a conscious decision not only to refrain from speech, but also to withdraw from activities that fill our minds with noise, such as watching television, listening to the radio, or reading a book. Even in prayer, which people most often do silently, we can be so busy voicing our praise and requests to the divine that we often don’t allow for the space to receive the gifts and messages that the universe intends for us. As with saying grace, a moment of silence can be shared by a group of people or practiced alone. The important thing is that this moment be used to consciously appreciate the food about to be eaten.
Where are you in the process of giving gratitude for food? In what ways are you beginning to offer gratitude for food? Let us know! Let’s keep the conversation growing. We’re in this relationship for life, after all!
“If the only prayer you say in your whole life is ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” Meister Eckhart
A Registered Dietitian with degrees in Public Health Nutrition and Culture & Creation Spirituality, Lisa is uniquely qualified to help us understand, heal, and nourish our relationship with food.
To explore more about giving gratitude for food, listen to this episode of SacredExploration: https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/103760/nourishing-healthy-attitudes-about-food
To purchase The Sacred Art of Eating: Healing Our Relationship with Food: https://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Art-Eating-Healing-Relationship/dp/0988726602/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511457125&sr=8-1&keywords=sacred+art+of+eating