Today is the official start of summer here in the northern hemisphere. The longest day of the year. Summer for me is full of wonderful childhood memories. Trips to cottages with family friends, days spent swimming in our backyard pool (which for me was often floating in a chair reading a book), backyard BBQ's, going to the trailer and picking strawberries with my grandma Kay. In fact my grandma plays a key role in many of my greatest memories- summer and otherwise. She would let me sit in the berry patch and eat as many strawberries as I wanted while she crouched beside me picking quarts and quarts of strawberries for us to eat later or turn into jam. She never told me I had enough or I was eating too much. Her only request was that I didn't eat so many that I would throw up. Valid request. I remember thinking how much better the strawberries tasted sitting in those fields. They were sweeter and warmer than the ones from the grocery store. They were made even sweeter by the company I had while enjoying them. I can remember the explosion of flavour in my mouth. Food for pure pleasure. This is concept that I think is not explored enough any more, we do everything so quickly and with a bunch of distractions around us. When was the last time you took a bite of something and let all the flavours in your mouth be recognized. When was the last time you slowed down, focused on the food in front of you and mindfully took in all the tastes and smells. I did it Sunday.
It was Fathers Day (shout out to my dad who I think reads this or my mom tells him what I say so "Hey!!") and I had made a cheese tray as that is one of my husbands favourite things. As I prepared it the smell of the Gorgonzola wafted towards me. The house was quiet so I did a little mindful eating exercise with this lovely piece of cheese. I sat down at the kitchen counter with the cheese- no tech, no kids, nothing except me and stinky yummy cheese. I took a bite and let my mind think about all the flavours, the texture and smells. As I slowly ate the piece of cheese I realized I felt satisfied. I believe this comes from fully experiencing the food in front of us.
I realize in today's fast paced world we do not often have the time or the capacity to sit and eat everything mindfully but it truly helps to check in with ourselves while we eat. Am I enjoying this? Do I even taste it? Am I starting to get full? Am I over-full? I would encourage everyone to try this exercise at some point- Take a food you feel either out of control with, fearful to eat or a food that you are scared to enjoy. Sit with a small piece of your food choice, no outside distractions. Look at your food, smell it, put a bite in your mouth, taste it, slowly chew it and think about the texture and the flavours in your mouth. Check in with your body. Do you feel anxious? Relaxed? Swallow your food and again check in with your thoughts and your body. I often do this with groups when I teach mindful eating and we use chocolate (or raisins if people are unable to eat the chocolate). The most common feedback I hear is "I have never enjoyed a piece of chocolate that much in my life".
My Grandma Kay taught me many lessons during her time on this earth. Many that I will probably write about eventually. I am not sure if she realized it or not but by allowing me to eat with pleasure and freedom in those strawberry fields so many years ago she taught me about nourishing my body in a positive pleasurable way. One of the many things I am eternally grateful to her for.
I think I might need to go pick some strawberries soon, with my kids
Until next time be unapologetically you while I be unapologetically me.