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a book by Thich Nhat Hanh & Dr Lilian Cheung
reviewed by Barbara Wilkinson for Off The Shelf, July August 2010

Anyone who watches people guzzling food will agree with my conclusion that the struggle of weight gain is not one of enjoying food too much but rather one of not enjoying it. As a teacher of mindful eating, I encourage people to savor each delicious little morsel.  The time has come for awareness. The book, Savor, can help. Savor is a wise and practical guide, a lovely convergence of Buddhist teaching and nutritional science. 

The authours, renowned Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh and Harvard nutritionist Dr. Lilian Cheung, remind us of the consequences of our choices. The shocking Buddhist parable of a couple forced to eat the flesh of their child is a reminder to plan ahead and know that food is meant to nourish the body, the mind and our well-being. They remind us also to look at what we are feeding ourselves on every level, what we are taking in through our senses, our desires, our thoughts, our consciousness. This means TV and media choices, our reading, our thinking, our “awarenessing”.

The authours generously prescribe meditations for mindful consumption, for  wise handling of our emotions, from anger to love, for handling traffic-jams, waiting in lines, driving, holding the remote control, all geared to raise awareness. I was moved by the metaphor of handling emotions as a loving mother cradles her crying baby with affection and care.

They compare mindfulness to good sunscreen which allows us to enjoy the warmth and light benefits of the sun, while filtering out the dangers; mindfulness protects us from the corrosive messages of advertising that encourage us to view food and drink as antidotes to insecurity and loneliness.

Savor is full of thought provoking tidbits.  For example, orange juice, with sugar and calories matching a glass of coca cola, increases our risk of diabetes. Did you know that the number of overweight people is more than double the number of undernourished in our world?

What a shame to miss the moments of our lives while reacting on automatic pilot. It may be a tall order to start remembering to savor every bite of food, every bite of life, but Savor, the book, is a great place to start.

Barbara Wilkinson, MA, MEd, loves to eat! She teaches Mindful Eating and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and is available for consultation at www.barbarawilkinson.com or
519-824-9831. New classes start in September.