Turn your cooking into more of a mindful practice and less of a chore.
Did you know when your start to be more mindful with your food and cooking, the whole process of creating food to eat can be meditative and quite relaxing.
Cooking can sometimes feel like the last thing on your mind, especially after a long day. However, cooking mindfully and being more mindful with your food can offer loads emotional and mental reset, rather than it being just a means to an end.
The process of being mindful is switching our mental state fro being on autopilot to being more present. And you don’t need to practice yoga or meditation to learn this skill. It simply starts with a basic understanding of acknowledging when your mind is on auto pilot, so you can learnt to switch it back into the present moment.
And this is something we should all be more mindful of doing, not just with cooking and food, but in everyday life. When we are on auto pilot, we often forget to pay attention to what is around us. Bringing ourselves back to the present means, we can appreciate and understand more what is happening around us, instead of forgetting how and where we got to where we are.
When we bring this type of awareness into our cooking and with food, we begin to embed mindfulness into our daily routine. These experiences can then lead into other daily practices as well.
To start your mindful journey with cooking and food, here are seven mindful attitudes to practice.
Non-judgement: If a recipe doesn’t work out, don’t judge yourself for the mistake in the food not working out. Remind yourself it was just an experiment and that you will do better the next time you make it, knowing what not to do next time.
Patience: We all love Jamie’s 30-minute cooking recipes. And they should absolutely be part of life still, especially for those days where you really are pressed for time in the kitchen. However, for the other days, where you do have time, spending quality time on a recipe doesn’t have to be a labour. It can be relaxing as hell to make a delicious banana loaf on a lazy Sunday.
Beginner’s mind: Try approaching a familiar recipe with a different idea. Switching up some ingredients with something else to create something of your own and something new means you approach the recipe with a new mind.
Trust: Using the non-judgement method here, trust your own instincts and try switching up a recipe you already know and change it to something else. Trust your tastebuds and what you know works well together. It could be switching rice for quinoa, or using tofu instead of chicken, but keeping the same flavoured sauce. Or switching potatoes for pumpkin. This is also beneficial when cooking for others as well or may prefer different foods or have food allergies.
Non-striving: Life is already filled with goals to achieve daily, to help you strive for success in a variety of different avenues, which can range from either fitness goals, health goals, parenting goals, money goals or work goals. Don’t create these goals for cooking. Sure we all want that perfect meal, but you don’t need to add becoming a Masterchef to your already long list of goals to achieve in life.
Acceptance: There will also be that one family member who will complain about everything. Or perhaps that’s just my family LOL. If you make something and it doesn’t quite work out, they may say something. Don’t let it affect you. Just explain it’s the first time you made it and there’s bound to be areas in which you can improve.
Letting go: Acknowledge your own efforts in what you have made and don’t worry about what other people think. Accept their criticism and just move on. Often many of us decide not to cook as a way of not having to deal with other people’s opinions. My mindful practice with cooking allows me to appreciate not everyone will like what I cook, and that’s okay. AS I may not like the foods the other people cook either.
It’s finally time to cook. It might be for yourself, or it could be for others. Either way, here’s how to get started with putting your mindful cooking into practice in the kitchen.
- What dish to make: If you are cooking just for yourself, think about what you feel like. Is the weather cool, perhaps a nice soup. If the weather is warm, perhaps a nice salad or stir fry. Or maybe you have a sweet tooth and want ti bake instead. The same goes if you are cooking for others. What do they like? Do they have dietary requirements or allergies? Find out and then you can start searching for recipes that work with what suits.
- Sourcing the right produce: Being mindful with food, means you learn and appreciate where the food has come from. This could be that the food comes from a local farm, or perhaps from an ethical farm overseas who use their profit to support local farmers of the community. This type of love will always come through in the cooking, making it more rewarding to eat and when presenting with others.
- Get yourself ready: Take a moment to centre yourself and focus on the moment at hand. What you’ll be creating and how you’re planning on creating it. This can be as simple as taking a few breaths before starting, giving thanks for the product you have at hand to make your meal and thinking of the loved ones you are about to prepare the meal for.
- Preparing the dish: As you start prepping the ingredients, pay attention to the areas of tension in your body, like you lower back and neck. Try to keep them relaxed, by sinking into your hips and allowing some of the stress of standing to be evenly distributing to other supporting areas of the body, like the legs and feet. And try rolling your shoulders back a few times to alleviate any stress from the shoulders.
- Eating the meal: You’ve done it, you’ve successfully made the meal and now you are ready to sit down and enjoy it. Whether that be alone or with your loved ones. Take a moment to give thanks (not reserved for religious people or for thanksgiving), for all that is in front of you, for the company you keep (even if it’s just your cat there) and to appreciate what life has given you.
TIP: Try switching off the television whilst you’re eating, so you can enjoy the meal more. If you find the silence a little deafening if you’re by yourself, then switch on a podcast or listen to an audio book whilst you enjoy your book. My grandmother used to love listening to classical music whilst she ate, this was something which allowed her to escape a little, listening to the music, whilst enjoying her meal.
My mother growing up would never allow us to have the TV on whilst eating. So when dinner (or any meal) was served, it was tv off, sit at the table and eat, talk, have a laugh and enjoy each other’s company. Something I thank her for every day today as an adult. The importance of communication and being present in the moment.