Think back to the meals you have eaten in the last month or so.
Have you gobbled a fast-food hamburger while driving in heavy traffic? Gulped down a slice of pizza as you read the newspaper or watched TV? Did you skip lunch in order to finish a report at your office, only to overeat later at dinner? Have you “inhaled” meals without really tasting them?
If this sounds all too familiar, you are in the company of many fellow gobblers.
The daily eating habits of many Americans seem to be a reflection of much of our culture: frantic, thoughtless, unconscious and, considering the damaging effects to our health, even personally violent.
Statistics tell us, and we hear constantly through many media outlets, that millions of Americans, both adults and children, are riddled with medical and behavioral problems related to unhealthy eating habits: obesity, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, bulimia, compulsive overeating, and anorexia nervosa to name only a few. Eating has become just another item on our overfilled “to do” lists, something to do — in a hurry — while you are doing something else.
This attitude is enormously different from many other cultures, where the act of eating is considered so sacred that specific rituals are practiced before, during and after meals.
These rituals are expressions of many deeply felt emotions — gratitude for the availability of food itself, appreciation for those who grew and harvested the food and the recognition of eating as a nourishing, life-affirming act. It’s life affirming because the food we eat is absorbed through the intestines then becoming part of our bones, blood, tissue, and organs ultimately having a powerful affect on our mental as well as our physical health by determining not only the quality of nourishment to our bodies but whether we live or die.