The French art of savoring life (taking pleasure from something) is a great foundation for healthy (and happy) living. And despite this crazy year and all the sadness stemming from it, each of us can find something from which we can take pleasure and for which we can express gratitude.
However, you plan to spend this Thanksgiving holiday and the long weekend ahead, please consider building these habits into your dining experiences:
- Savor the company you keep. The French art of savoring isn’t only about the food. In fact, food in France is almost like a side dish. It’s secondary to the company. Dining in France is about laughter, stories, focusing your attention on others, respect, appreciation, good conversation, reminiscing, quality time, relaxing, smiling, lingering and contentment. It’s a way of living that isn’t reserved strictly for holidays. Instead, it’s a ritual to be enjoyed daily. It helps forge strong bonds of family and friendship. And it helps foster a sense of belonging and caring. The result of dining like this can lead to better communication and happiness.
- Savor your food. Whomever is preparing your food, remember how much love and thought they’ve put into doing so. Please don’t dive in and gobble everything in sight. Spend some time savoring – taking in the wonderful aromas, tasting the marvelous flavors, enjoying the multitude of colors, the artful display of the food on your plate and the presentation of accoutrements, such as the china, tablecloth, silverware and flowers.
- Savor your time. There’s no need to rush. Chew your food well and consider how it makes you feel. This will help your body to recognize when it’s full. Sometimes our eyes bulge when viewing a buffet or a holiday meal. Suddenly we want it all! But when you feel full that’s it; time to pause and rest a moment. Do you really need to make room for more pie, stuffing or Aunt Winnie’s candied yams? Eating slowly will help you measure your satiety level as you go along. Often, we have no sense of fullness and this can lead to overeating. When you take to eating in a slow manner, it’s okay to wait twenty minutes before you reach for seconds. You may discover during that time that you feel full and don’t want more.
- Savor higher-quality food. If you’re the cook (how exciting and awesome to be making a dinner that will bring plenty of gratitude, happy hearts and hours of pleasure to those celebrating with you!), be sure to consider purchasing higher-quality ingredients. Foods are an important component of great health. Investing a bit more now will pay you dividends later. Besides, higher-quality food is soooo delicious! Also, be conscious of sugar. Almost everything has sugar in it these days. It’s addictive. Please stay away from it and processed foods as much as possible. Stick with whole foods and healthy fats.
- Savor it slow and small. If you’re the guest or family member (or also the cook), take smaller portions, eat slowly and savor every mouthful. You’ll find your body doesn’t feel deprived. You’ll find what your body craves is nourishment, and you can get that by eating real food, taking it slow and eating just what you need. And nourishment also comes in the form of enjoying your own company and/or the company of others.
- Practice savoring life. The French art of savoring extends to many things. And when we savor something, we appreciate what is good and that takes — practice! What happens when we savor something is that we focus on the positive and that diminishes those negative and unpleasant thoughts and feelings that we have. Essentially, we’re boosting the positive and demoting the negative. Take the time to savor and share your positive thoughts with your family and company. It’s good for your wellbeing and for theirs. (You also may be interested in one of my earlier posts, Bringing on the Romance in Your Life.)
- Savor snacks of joy. Instead of (or in addition to) reciting grace (if that’s your practice), you might want to ask your family and company what short-lived significant occasions they savored this year or this week. Savored moments can be anything such as a tasty piece of chocolate, a reminiscence, an accomplishment or a particularly gorgeous sunset. Whatever it is – giving voice to these fleeting bits of joy, will help everyone reflect on the good in their lives and encourage and even inspire them to take note of special moments throughout their day. Hopefully, you will make this (and they will, too) a regular habit. It’s a great way to reflect on positive experiences and to change one’s focus to the positive rather than the negative.
- Savor the outdoors. Find some time to walk or do other exercise outdoors on T-Day. Spending time in nature can improve your mood, your wellbeing and reduce stress in your body. Take some time alone or with your family group to enjoy some fresh air and get some Vitamin D.
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.