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Mindful Eating and Parshat Eikev

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

In this week’s Torah portion, Eikev, we learn about the blessings and the warnings given to Am Yisrael,the Children of Israel, if they don’t follow the commandments and keep the covenant that G-d made with them. The blessings include fertility of the land and the people, health, and protection from our enemies, just to name a few.

We ought to be aware of all the good we have and not take it for granted.

We should be careful not to get haughty and think that all blessings come from us.

The goodly land of Israel is described to us:

"A land of wheat and barley, vines and figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and dates. an We shall always have bread and we shall lack for nothing."

After we have filled our stomachs and feel satiated, we are commanded to

Bless G-d, who has given us this good land.”

​We​ are required to try and cultivate appreciation of all the good we have around us. B​lessing G-d , which is mentioned here, is the source for the commandment to bless our food after we have eaten (Birkat Hamazon or grace after meals). G-d is the giver of all food הזן את הכל and we are the receivers of his care.​ This food and this land that grows the food are not to be taken for granted.

This is one lesson that we need to take with us as well, to appreciate all the good around us. One way to do this is to start a mindful eating practice.

Mindful eating is about paying attention to what we eat and how much we eat by using our senses to be fully present in the experience.

This means practicing awareness before, during, and after eating to fully experience the process of eating. Mindful eating can improve body image, weight, and digestive health.

Eating mindfully centers around thoughts, emotions, and sensations during meals. Here are some examples :

Thoughts: Where did the ingredients come from? How, and by whom was it prepared? What are the colors, smells, and textures?

Emotions: What kind of emotions does this food evoke? Happiness? Disgust? Guilt? Satisfaction? Do the smells bring back any memories?

Physical Sensations: How hungry am I right now? What are the feelings of satisfaction vs fullness?

You can experience more enjoyment from the food you consume by shifting your focus from multitasking to only eating. Then you can taste your food and reflect on each bite.

How to Practice Mindful Eating:

Here are some general tips for getting started:

1.Remove distractions: Removing distractions like phones, televisions and books will allow you to focus only on your meal or snack.

2. Mindful eating can start at the grocery store: It can start with your grocery list. Look at your list of items and consider each one. How will it be used? How did the item get to the grocery store (the farmers, distributors, stock people)?

3. Pause when you feel hungry: Sometimes other emotional states like stress or boredom can feel like hunger. Pausing to consider whether you are truly hungry before eating can help sort out the difference between physical hunger and other needs. Some of us were raised to clean our plates and finish all of our food. Now might be a good time to reevaluate this behavior.

If you would like to try this practice now, take a moment to get something to eat- it could be a small piece of fruit (a raisin) a piece of chocolate , or a nut (almond) or anything

*4. Slow down before eating: Before starting to eat your snack or meal, take a couple of minutes to pause and think about the food you are about to eat. Approach it with curiosity. What colors are on the plate? What shapes and textures do you see? What do you smell? If there is handheld food, what does it feel like in your hand? Take a couple of minutes to experience the food with your eyes and nose before tasting it. If you like, take a moment to be thankful for everyone who made it possible for you to be eating this food.

Before you put this food in your mouth, take a moment and put it to your lips. Take a moment to feel what it's like to experience it with your lips. What is happening inside your mouth? Your stomach? How does it feel to eat in this way?

When you're ready, put the food in your mouth, and notice what it's like on your tongue and the roof of your mouth before your chew it. Roll it around in your mouth.

*5. Slow down while eating: Mindfulness is all about fully experiencing the present moment. The only way to do that is to slow down each action during the eating process. Chew each bite of food before swallowing. Notice the full flavor profile of your food before your swallow it. Start to chew and imagine it going down to your stomach.

Take as long as you need to in this practice.

Take pauses to check in with your hunger level.

6. Be non-judgmental: We all have different thoughts and feelings surrounding food. Acknowledge when any thoughts occur without judging yourself. Notice any thoughts as simply a thought you have towards food, and then move your attention back to all of your senses in the present moment as you eat your meal or snack.

7. Stop when you are full: Mindful eating includes focusing on hunger cues and stopping when you are satisfied instead of eating until you are stuffed or have finished all your food.

Mindful eating may not feel natural at first, especially if you are used to eating with distractions around you. Consider trying for just one snack or small meal to get started. Try it out and be open to a more mindful experience with the food you eat.

Our food provides us with the nutrition we need to survive and maintain health by nourishing each organ, tissue, and cell of the body.

Food is literally life. Whether we bless our food before and after we eat it or appreciate what we have on a regular basis and notice that it all comes from sources outside of us, mindful eating is a wonderful way to cultivate appreciation and gratitude. And that can help us be more present and fully enjoy other moments in our life.

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