Tips for mindful growing and eating your garden harvests.
What is the heck is mindful vegetable gardening I hear you ask? To me it simply means slowing down and being observant of, and thankful for what is going on around you. Take your time to appreciate the wonder that is a vegetable garden and the food gifts it provides. As importantly, it also means savouring the ingredients you take from the garden for your meals.
Over the last year there have been many times when our edible garden has felt like another thing I had to do, another thing I had to take care of. It was a chore, a competing priority rather than something of beauty, a food source and a sign of achievement and input to our family meals.
I have recently realised that mindful gardening and eating the resulting harvests has a huge impact on your mental and physical health, specifically your gut health. This week I was interviewed on Casey Radio 97.7 fm in Melbourne and the host Linda told me that when she collects fresh ingredients from her garden she takes a moment to think about and be grateful for the harvest and the joy that it brings to the table.
If you are a regular reader you will know that I have been diagnosed with SIBO, a digestive disorder that has placed restrictions on the food I can eat as part of the treatment. In addition to the treatment from my Naturopath I have been supported by Rebecca Coomes from The Healthy Gut. Rebecca helped me understand that one of the main adjustments I needed to make for my health was my approach to eating during the day. I needed to stop working, slow down and take the time to enjoy my breakfast and lunch.
These two meals have been an issue for me as they fall within the limited time I have to work when the kids are at school. In the past 12 months it has felt as if I don’t have enough hours in the day to get everything done I would like to do. I am sure you can relate to that feeling.
Dinner time is a different story. I allocate time planning that meal so the family can sit and enjoy it together. I incorporate ingredients from our garden in each meal and acknowledge those additions. If one of the kids has been involved in growing the plant we have harvested we celebrate that. I needed to mimic our dinner routine in my other meals and stop focusing on time.
Mindfulness from the garden to your meal :
The simple process of stopping and focusing on my food prior to eating is something Rebecca has been working with me to implement. This stimulates a trigger from your brain to your digestive system to allow it to commence its important work.
Why am I telling you this? Most of you will not have to ever deal with this revolting digestive disorder but the practice I am working to implement is something anyone can incorporate into their day. I am sure you can apply some of these principles to your day. When I was in a corporate job I rarely had a lunch break, I ate at my desk and rarely went outside for a walk to clear my busy mind and recharge. I was doing the same thing I do now. Does this sound like you?
Try implementing some of the tips below and see how your day and mood changes. The impact of implementing these things has surprised me. I feel more relaxed and less stressed even though I am doing less. I am enjoying the things that I do and the joy of my productive garden has returned. I hope my digestive health will follow.
- Move away from the desk to eat during the day
- Focus on and be thankful for the food you are about to eat
- Take deep breaths prior to eating. Slow your mind and focus on meal time beginning
- Avoid using your phone or tablet – this means no emails or social media
- Enjoy your food, savour the flavours of your meal
- Choose a nice location to eat, sit outside or look out at the garden. If you are in a work place outside the home enjoy lunch with a friend or work colleague in a park
- Include fresh ingredients in your meals, if you can collect them fresh from the garden
- Focus on something small in the garden and really take a minute or two to look at it and think about how it has evolved. I never get sick of watching seeds germinate. It is a magical to observe and play a tiny part in the process.
- Plant some of your favourite things and enjoy just looking at them. This may be your favourite flower, a herb or simply a collection of colours.
When I was first diagnosed with SIBO I planted a section of my garden with vegetables and herbs I can safely eat on my treatment plan. They are now available to harvest daily. Adding an additional trip to the garden into my day to collect ingredients for my lunch has been a lovely way to slow down my day.
At first I was rushing in and out to get what I needed. Now I am taking more and more time to walk around the garden and simply look around at each area of the garden and the progress of the plants as the season shifts and they grow. If it is a nice day I often stop, sit on the steps at the top of the garden bed and enjoy just soaking in the colours, the texture of the different plants, the smells and sounds. I have been enjoying watching the bees and bugs as they go about their activity in the garden, unrushed but with a very clear purpose. I have started taking my camera out with me to capture the small details and elements of beauty I see.
Do you take the time to really appreciate and enjoy your vegetable garden and the ingredients it brings to your table?
Do you have any additional tips to add? I’d love for you to add them below in the comments.
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