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Receiving the full experience

When was the last time you tasted your food? Like, really tasted it?

Oftentimes we move through our days not fully engaged in what we’re actually doing. We’re thinking about something else or only half paying attention. Our body is doing one thing while our mind is elsewhere.

When it comes to eating, for many of us it’s a means to an end. The need to keep the body going and not be distracted by hunger. Concern about balancing blood sugar and not letting it get too low. Preference to eat “healthy” in an attempt to avoid illness or disease.

These agendas take the joy out of eating. They also put an expectation of a certain outcome on food. “If I make the right choices about what to eat, then I won’t get sick” or “If I skip meals and eat less, I’ll lose weight.” And when these outcomes don’t always manifest, we can get more frustrated ... or even more rigid about what we’re consuming. Either way, it ticks up our stress levels about what to eat and we start paying even less attention to how what we’re eating is actually feeling in our bodies.

What if you honored the fact that each time you sat down to a meal, you’re actually in a different state than you were before? That what you require at this meal might be nowhere near what you thought you would need hours or days before. How often have you brought something to eat for lunch and simply not had the desire to eat it?

When the expectations of the mind take over, they can rob us of our full experience. Maybe you’ve eaten blueberries hundreds of times and you’re expecting a particular flavor and not paying attention to how it actually tastes at all. However, not all blueberries taste the same! Some are sweet, some tart, some bland. Depending on where they’re grown and the varietal, some taste more intensely and have a totally different flavor profile than the ones you may be used to.

Last year when I had COVID-19, I lost my sense of smell but not my sense of taste. I expected everything to taste bland. So, when I popped a slice of clementine into my mouth and it was a literal explosion of flavor, I was shocked and amazed by what I was tasting. I giggled and couldn’t stop describing my experience to my husband. I was in wonder. It was as though I had never tasted a clementine before.

What would happen if every time you ate it was as though everything on your plate was brand new and an entirely new experience laid out, just for your enjoyment?

Allowing the ritual of eating to be a moment of presence is such a gift. It provides multiple moments each day when we can sit down and connect into ourselves in a deep way. Eating is also a way we can connect to each of our senses – smelling, seeing, tasting, touching and even hearing our food before we consume it. When we are more fully engaged with our senses and this present moment, we are more fulfilled and experience more joy – even the simple things like lunch can become an opportunity to feel pleasure and appreciation for all that is in front of us.

Nicola Dehlinger is a naturopathic doctor at Pura Vida Natural Healthcare in Durango. She can be reached at 426-1684 or www.puravidahealthcare.com.