Mindful Eating for Children: Connecting with Nature

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Eat Local and In Season.

It’s natural to become more mindful the more we connect with nature. By eating local foods that are in season, our bodies adapt to our climates and we connect more with the area in which we live. We also become more mindful about the rhythms of the seasons and the increase in active and expansive energy in the summer and the inward reflection of winter. Most children are still naturally connected to these rhythms.

There are a variety of ways to help children feel the connection between nature and the food they eat. Visit farms to see how food is grown. Participate in a CSA, particularly one where you can visit the farm and older children can participate in harvesting. Plant a garden, even if it’s just one plant to start. Find a u-pick berry farm. Visit a Farmers Market or local farm stand. Educate yourself about buying local, seasonal produce and talk with your children about it. Eat a variety of whole foods that still reflect where they came from. It’s kind of hard to tell which farms and plants a box of cereal came from.

Visit a local community garden during a full range of seasons so they can see first hand what happens to plants as they cycle through the seasons. We had so much fun last winter walking around and squishing cherry tomatoes laying on the ground, left behind after the harvest. Invest in full rain gear if you live in a place as rainy as Seattle. Make it a point to get outside daily no matter what the weather.

Engage all the Senses.

Smell, touch, sight, taste, sound. There are so many ways to engage the senses when connecting with food. Smell. Floral, earthy, sweet, rotten, stinky, fruity, spicy, smokey, musty, toasty. Taste. Sweet, sour, salty, pungent (including spicy), bitter, astringent, umami, fatty. Touch. Rough, soft, jagged, stringy, squishy, smooth, wet, dry, bumpy, cold, hot. Sight. Purple, round, green, oblong, loopy, skinny, trailing. Plants and food can also look wrinkled, bruised, ripe, limp, smooth. Sound. A watermelon that sounds hollow when thunked. The splash when pouring a drink. The sound of the sprinkler watering the garden. Bees pollinating. An apple falling from the tree. The pop of popcorn or seeds toasting. The crunch of a carrot. The sizzle of a stir fry.

It is fun to close our eyes, too, while engaging our other senses like smell, taste and touch. Make a game of smelling a variety of different foods, plants, herbs or spices with eyes closed. Have everyone really savor each smell before moving on to the next. Try to identify them. Do the same with taste and touch.

Have fun!

Read Mindful Eating for Children to get started with this series.
The series continues with Mindful Eating for Children:  Eat Meals Together.

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