Immune Health and Diet
Dr. Jenna Macciochi shares tips for building a strong line of defense.
No matter our backgrounds or past, we all have memories of cooking. And those memories are priceless and powerful. After all, cooking is one of the first human responsibilities—arguably the most important since the beginning of the human race.
Our experience in modern-day cooking can look like many things, including a variety of weekly sheet-pan meals, diet-focused keto, paleo, plant-based nosh, or Instant Pot dinners. And yet, you may find yourself needing to be inspired or motivated to cook.
[Read: “Cooking by the Pinch and the Handful.”]
Perhaps you look at cooking as a chore you’ve never connected to. Maybe you dabble in cooking occasionally, mostly using quick and easy recipes to get the job done. Regardless of where any of us are at in our cooking experience, one thing’s for sure: we all need to eat cooked food and probably want it to taste good!
Despite our love and need of food, somehow, as a society, we’ve lost touch with the process of preparing it. Maybe it’s because food has become so abundant in our lives, to the point where we think of cooking as an afterthought or less of a priority. After all, it’s so easy to get good take-out, delivery, or go to a restaurant.
Between this ease and being constantly on-the-go with busy schedules, it seems like everything is working against us when it comes to spending time in the kitchen to nourish body, mind, and spirit. (And in my opinion, the food corporations want us to feel like we don’t have time to cook by providing us with quick meals, taking us further away from our cooking experience.)
And yet, there is still an innate push to cook well and to feel healthy, responsible, and confident in the kitchen. Do you feel that push?
If you are struggling with motivation, inspiration, and confidence around cooking, you can rediscover this vital activity in a connected, sensual way.
In order to create passion around cooking so it can turn into something enjoyable, it’s useful to shift your thoughts to a highly conscious place: to a place of thoughtfulness, inspiration, and curiosity.
Sensual cooking is the act of cooking and nourishing while leading with the five senses. Cooking, of course, is a method of making food digestible, delicious, and healing for our bodies, but it can be difficult to be present when we cook. That said, incorporating sensuality shifts cooking to a place of presence and self-love. Eating, cooking, and nourishing our bodies are extremely sensual processes, and can be very emotional because our senses are heightened when we cook by revitalizing and clarifying our mind, body, and spirit. It’s also a way to connect to the origin of your food and your ancestors who cultivated it. Using all five senses when you cook is crucial in order to have a well-rounded, present experience.
If you work to cook in simple ways to highlight the natural flavors of the foods, they will speak for themselves and ignite your palette. You don’t need lots of recipes, extra flavors and ingredients when you cook. You only need to be present and have the desire to connect to your nourishment by honoring amazing, incredible food.
Focus on your sight. Take the time to admire the food in front of you. The food you prepare was grown in the earth to nourish and heal specific organs, your blood, and your entire body. Appreciating the way food looks and its vast variety brings positive thoughts to your body, which helps aid digestion, settles emotions, and makes you feel whole.
Take deep inhales as you cook. Our ability to smell our cooking is important because it instantly shifts our mood and feelings. When we inhale delicious smells as we cook—maybe it’s just when the sautéed garlic just turns fragrant—it heightens our confidence and ability to make decisions in our cooking and makes us feel proud and connected to what we’re creating.
Listen and observe. Sound has the ability to soothe and transform feelings. Sound also stimulates the vagus nerve, which controls our parasympathetic nervous system and helps us feel safe. Don’t forget to listen as you cook, as there are so many things to listen to: the sound of a rolling simmer or the excitement of a sizzle in a pan. The sounds of our cooking tell us that our food is being transformed and activated.
Taste as you cook. The sense of taste is important because it satisfies hunger and settles emotions. It’s a way to communicate with your body and brings happiness. I recommend using a tasting spoon as you cook and taste every step of the way.
Feel and touch your food. Appreciate the textures of how crisp lettuce is, how hard or soft your fruit is, and how smooth or bumpy a potato is. This can connect us to our humanity and to nature in a unique way. By feeling the energy of our food through the sense of touch, it brings us to a deeper consciousness and helps us ground to the present moment.
Lastly, allow yourself to use your intuition in the cooking process as a way to stay present and aware of what you’re doing. Most people like to “set it and forget it,” which has its time and place. But in order to be fully immersed in the experience, using your senses and intuition are key. Sensual cooking isn’t a fixed formula but rather a conscious practice. Try nourishing yourself through sensual cooking, to trust your intuition more, experiment, be present, and have fun.
Cooking sensually allows your food to tell a story and highlight its history. If you work to cook in simple ways to highlight the natural flavors of the foods, they will speak for themselves and ignite your palette. You don’t need lots of recipes, extra flavors and ingredients when you cook. You only need to be present and the desire to connect to your nourishment by honoring amazing, incredible food.
Find the divine—and community—by reviving the ancient practice of the Love Feast.
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