It goes without saying that “conscious eating”, also called “mindful eating”, is an increasingly popular term in the world of food. Nutritionists and dieticians use the word, which generally refers to having greater individual responsibility for your overall health. It is not just about eating well, but about establishing a healthy relationship with the food we consume. This philosophy has become so well-received that it is sometimes touted as the “new solution” to weight loss. While weight loss may be a direct consequence, the principle of conscious eating cannot be reduced to this single benefit. We invite you to explore the broader meaning of conscious eating by providing you some ways to gradually integrate it into your life.
What is conscious eating?
Conscious eating is first and foremost linked to the way of eating: eating according to your true satiety, following the physical signs of hunger, eating slowly, eating without guilt, eating without suspicion, contemplating, savouring the food, enjoying meals in good company and, why not, eating in silence, in a state of contemplation and gratitude.
These practices and their health benefits are no longer the precepts of avant-garde nutritionists and naturopaths. They are more and more widespread. We think of Canada’s new Food Guide, which now includes more holistic principles in its recommendations: “Be aware of your eating habits,” “Cook more often”, “Enjoy your food,” “Eat your meals in good company.” This is an important step towards making conscious eating more popular.
Let’s get back to the basics. Being mindful means being knowingly attentive and lucid. In addition to paying attention to our feelings during the meal, such as observing the meal, its tastes and textures, our salivation, our chewing, and what we feel, why not focus on the origin of the food we have in front of us, how the food was prepared, and its effects on us?
5 principles of conscious eating to explore
At Le Monastère, the concept of mindful eating is present before, during and after a meal. This is why our culinary approach at Le Vivoir is based on conscious eating principles, which promote kindness and clear-sightedness. Here are five great principles to explore:
1. Eat as much organic food as possible to develop a caring conscience towards nature, our loved ones and ourselves.
2. Choose local producers by questioning a product’s traceability, its cultivation methods, breeding, processing and marketing. At Le Monastère, we maintain close ties with our producers and make sure they share our values. By knowing the farmer’s family values and the way animals were raised on the farm, we show a caring awareness of the product and the people behind it.
3. Learn about foods’ nutritional values and how to optimize their health benefits, such as by reducing processing, opting for slow-cooking and cold-pressed oils (to conserve more nutrients), favouring whole grains, etc. Knowledge of foods’ virtues helps to be caring towards your family and yourself.
4. In the kitchen, use resources responsibly, plan your meals to use what you already have and prevent waste as much as possible during preparation. Prepare your dishes with love and have fun cooking! Stay in the moment and cook in a positive atmosphere; cook in a positive atmosphere avoiding automatisms and without the feeling of being obligated to impress.
5. When eating, be aware of your sensations, the surrounding environment, and whether you are alone or with others. Breathe and eat slowly, enjoying the present moment.
In this broader perspective of mindful eating, remember these three words: lucidity, benevolence and love. Isn’t this a great way to approach eating three times a day?