As part of our mindful eating series, we have been exploring the seven hungers, as discussed in Jan Chozen Bay’s book, “Mindful Eating.” Eye hunger, nose hunger, mouth hunger, stomach hunger, cellular hunger, mind hunger and heart hunger – each provides a unique lens through which you can investigate your relationship to food and the body. By noticing your eating through the seven hungers — from a place of curiosity, as opposed to judgment — change is possible. – Barbara Meyer, PhD, Green Mountain at Fox Run Program Director
We begin our exploration with eye hunger. Most of us can relate to situations when we felt drawn to eat something, not because our bodies were particularly hungry, or that we needed food, but rather because the food was there and it looked good. Watching a commercial for gooey, cheesy pizza, or a steak sizzling on the grill can definitely override our stomach’s signals and create a strong desire to eat that particular food or to overeat. While the eyes may stimulate a desire to eat, many times eating occurs without really seeing what we’re eating at all. We are physically there, but not present. Eating mindfully helps us to create some space, so that the intention to eat and the experience of the food may be more conscious and less reflexive.
The eye is fed by beauty. Feeding our eyes can greatly enhance our experience of and satisfaction from a meal. Raising awareness in this way can also add to the nutrient value of a meal, according to Marc David, author of the “Slow Down Diet.” Before eating, we can feed the eye by spending a moment taking in the colors and shapes of the food, as well as how the food is arranged on the plate. At Green Mountain, we take care in our food preparation to consider beauty and balance on the plate. Preparing a beautiful plate of food for ourselves, or eating at a beautiful place setting, is both an act of kindness and great self-care.
In class, we begin to explore how we can feed our eyes without food. Personally, I notice that being present to what my eyes are receiving is another way for me to practice mindfulness and to be more alive in the moment. As I am experiencing my first spring in Vermont, I have been feeding my eyes with the richness of the nature here, the landscape. Seeing the amazing variety of trees, the play of light through the leaves, the many shades of green, feeds my soul in ways food cannot.
How will you feed your eyes?