Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung (2010)
Goodreads Summary: Common sense tells us that to lose weight, we must eat less and exercise more. But somehow we get stalled. We start on a weight-loss program with good intentions but cannot stay on track. Neither the countless fad diets, nor the annual spending of $50 billion on weight loss helps us feel better or lose weight.
Too many of us are in a cycle of shame and guilt. We spend countless hours worrying about what we ate or if we exercised enough, blaming ourselves for actions that we can’t undo. We are stuck in the past and unable to live in the present–that moment in which we do have the power to make changes in our lives.
With Savor, world-renowned Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh and Harvard nutritionist Dr. Lilian Cheung show us how to end our struggles with weight once and for all.
Offering practical tools, including personalized goal setting, a detailed nutrition guide, and a mindful living plan, the authors help us to uncover the roots of our habits and then guide us as we transform our actions. Savor teaches us how to easily adopt the practice of mindfulness and integrate it into eating, exercise, and all facets of our daily life, so that being conscious and present becomes a core part of our being.
It is the awareness of the present moment, the realization of why we do what we do, that enables us to stop feeling bad and start changing our behavior. Savor not only helps us achieve the healthy weight and well-being we seek, but it also brings to the surface the rich abundance of life available to us in every moment.
I mentioned this book in my India Book Haul as one of the books my boyfriend brought back for me. I’d never heard of the book and was so excited to read it because I love reading about spirituality as well as ways to eat healthier and live better and this book combines the two topics.
The first part of the book presents a Buddhist perspective on weight control. It introduces the four noble truths which can be used to get perspective and solve many problems in life. There’s also a meditation on eating an apple to help you become more mindful of what you’re eating. Then there’s a powerful chapter on how you are more than what you eat and takes into consideration outside factors as well as our mental and emotional states which may cause us to overeat or use food to treat deeper issues.
In the second part of the book the authors outline mindful plans for eating, moving, and living. They address many of the common excuses for not eating healthily or exercising and provide many creative suggestions to incorporate small things which add up to a healthier life. There’s also some basic nutrition information which provided a helpful refresher course for me in some of the more beneficial foods to eat.
Overall I can’t say this book was groundbreaking for me because I don’t consider myself a person who struggles with eating healthily or losing weight. I love fitness and nutrition, exercise regularly, and eat a pretty clean and healthy diet. So in some ways I feel like I could have written parts of this book. But, I will say that I did take a lot away from this book about mindfulness.
Like I said, I think I eat pretty healthily, but I learned there’s more to well-being than just preparing fruits and vegetables and then eating them. The mindfulness aspect really hit home for me because sometimes I don’t fully taste or enjoy my food. I eat while watching TV or eat quickly, reaching for the next bite before I’ve even swallowed the first one. By applying some of the mindfulness techniques from the book, I was surprised to discover my unconscious eating behavior.
Since reading the book I’ve become more aware when I eat. I think about where the food came from and all that it took for it to travel from its point of origin to my plate. I’m more appreciative of the healing quality of the food and how it nourishes my body. I also eat slower, chew my food more, really taste it, and stay in the present moment with the bite I have instead of jumping ahead and always trying to get to the next bite.
So in that sense, reading this book has had a huge impact on how I eat. Therefore I’d definitely recommend it to anyone, even people who consider themselves healthy and fit. There’s always something you can learn and ways to improve your life and your overall health, even your mental or emotional health. I also really liked the small meditations offered in the book to help you be more mindful throughout the day. Just being aware of what you’re doing, thinking, and feeling has made the biggest difference in my life and it’s why I’m so in love with spirituality; it’s the only thing that has worked for me and continues to work and improve my life.
My Rating: ★★★★★