Savor: Mindful Eating for a Mindful Life

Given that I have so much downtime, I’ve been reading a lot of books. While I was in japan, I got a Kobo Touch for, like $50 USD, and it’s proven to be a good investment.

At the time, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make the transition from paper books. But having finished some of the Song of Ice and Fire books on my phone, which has a teeny-tiny screen, I figured I’d give it a shot.

E-readers are the shit. Not only do I have a stack of 115 plus books (and counting) not even scratching the surface of the built-in memory (2Gb), it has two SD slots, dictionaries in different languages, basic internet browser, annotation capabilities… I mean, imagine trying to carry all those books travelling around the world, as I am wont. Not ergonomically feasible.

So given all this free time and a portable library at my fingertips, I’ve gotten into the habit of downloading different epub files for books that look interesting, whether or not it’s something I’m going to read right away.

On a whim, I started reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s Savor: Mindful Eating for a Mindful Life (there was this and a book about Jesus and Buddha being brothers or cousins or something, and I’m a little more into food than Jesus at this point, thank you very much Mr. Catholic Up-bringing).

I generally stay away from books on diet or spirituality because, well… I mean, I’m interested in spirituality as it relates to humanity, but those kinds of questions I tend to seek answers for in my own ways. And with dieting and exercise… trends tend to change from year to year, and common sense generally dictates the best practices in most cases (don’t eat too much, eat more vegetables, use less sugar and salts, get off your ass and move from time to time.)

What little I’ve read of Thich Nhat Hanh isn’t preachy and relates Dharma to everyday life in a very simple and accessible way. Again, not that I’m looking for answers, but being a teacher, understanding how to make ideas approachable is part of my job.

So in this book, he takes a look at eating from a zen perspective, suggesting the practice of mindfulness can help in examining and changing unhealthy eating habits.

It’s a fine line between applying ancient wisdom to modern life and sounding like new age exploitation. Without crossing that line (sometimes barely), the book manages to touch on the four noble truths and apply it to the complex relationship with food and exercise someone trying to lose weight might have.

I mean, sort of.

So, while I’m reading this, I’m at a no-name fast-food restaurant eating a fried chicken sandwich, and right when he starts talking about poor ingredients effecting our minds/bodies. I realize that the bread has moldy spots on it and I’m like, "ewwww".

And right about when the book starts talking about how vegetarianism is a diet for a better planet, and it is, I’m not disputing that, I start wondering if there’s any statistical data showing that a vegetarian diet HAS impacted the meat trade anywhere. Cynical me. Always playing the devil’s advocate.

In sum, it’s not as strong as the previous work that I’ve read, but it makes some interesting connections. For anyone interested in either topic, it’s worth a glance. But I wouldn’t necessarily use it as a weight loss guide or the be-all, end-all of texts on mindful eating.

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