Last night, when I began reading Savor, I sat down at my couch with my dinner plate. The television was on, my roommates and I were having conversations here and there about what was on TV, my computer was in front of me so I could check Twitter updates and Google Reader updates now and then, I was munching on my panko-breaded chicken and green beans and all the while trying to read Savor. Then I read the introduction and took a long hard look at what I was doing and realized that I was completely ignoring my mindfulness about eating and was therefore, mindlessly eating.
The best concepts in this book come at the very beginning, with the introduction and the first few chapters, to introduce you to the concept of mindfulness to beat out mindlessness. I have been struggling with my weight since I was in the fifth grade. I have read diet books before, but I don’t think I would classify Savor as a diet book. This book is certainly more about changing your entire life and your perceptions of the world and your actions in it. Will this book change your life? It could, but even though it certainly made me more aware of what I am eating and how, it didn’t drastically change mine.
Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life is written by a Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh with the help of Dr. Lilian Cheung and it applies Buddhist principles to all aspects of our lives, from eating and choosing what to eat, to interacting with family and friends and even surviving a commute. This book is at its strongest when it is directly applying Buddhist concepts and ideas to food, but unfortunately it delves into too many other topics keeping it from having as great an impact.
For some people, like me, Savor will be a book that they glance at and take some principles from. Even though many books and magazines have told me “chew your food slower!”, Cheung and Nhat Hanh’s approach to really appreciating your food and thinking about where it came from to get to your plate struck me as a more contemplative and helpful way of eating your food slower. Savor encourages eating less meat and promotes the benefits of vegetarianism, along with abstaining from alcohol. What I liked about their approach was they never said, “Don’t eat meat!” What they ask is that readers be completely conscious of what it took to get that meat to your plate. If, after being entirely knowledgeable about the process and detriments of eating meat, you still are not interested in giving it up entirely, please only eat it a little bit. This was very appealing to me, in comparison to other books that do not take life necessities into consideration.
Over the past five months or so, I have become increasingly more conscious of what food I put into my body and how it affects my body. Over the past four weeks, I have begun to eat much healthier. It has been a combination of motivation from friends and family, books I have read and my own personal research on the internet that has made this transformation for me. At this point I really do feel as though I can call it a transformation, because I feel different than I ever have in my life and my cravings have finally left. I loved fast food. It began as a time constraint from commuting and it turned into something much worse, where I was constantly craving fatty foods, even if I had a delicious dinner to make at home. I have started eating as minimally processed foods as I can, I eat much less meat (though I’d have a hard time giving up eggs as Savor suggests), I’ve reduced my dairy consumption to two servings a day and my calorie intake is significantly lower. I’ve been going to the gym consistently for four weeks now. Do you know the last time that happened? Never.
So did Savor have much of an impact on how I’m approaching this change in my life? I’m not sure. I definitely plan on being more conscious of my food and how it got to my plate. I will be aware of how my decisions affect others, perhaps, but for the most part I think this book reaffirmed a lot of what I already believed. I think that I would love to attend one of the seminars discussed in this book and think that the information probably could have been organized better, or even in a different medium than a book. A lot of the information seemed repetitive, but in terms of actively putting it to use, I’m sure it will be helpful, especially all of the breathing exercises. Will I be passing this book on to family members? Absolutely. I’ll let you know what they think of it.
If you are interested in reading Savor or learning more about what mindful eating is, head over to Savor’s website. It’s very helpful and well-organized (I’m a sucker for a beautiful, well-organized website) and there is a community of folks who are trying to live their lives mindfully.
So go read this!: It’s hard to say. I think everyone could benefit from reading this book, but I don’t think everyone is going to get the same, or even the same number of, helpful tips for successfully having a healthier relationship with food. I recommend it, but with the knowledge that it’s not a perfect book or perfect for everyone.
Thanks to TLC tours for sending me a copy of this book to review today!
Other stops on the tour: I write in books, Bibliofreak Blog, Rundpinne, Escape from Obesity, Balanced Health and Nutrition, Pasta Queen, Happy Lotus, The Token Fat Girl, Laughing Through the Chaos, The Tippy Toe Diet, Crunches for Cupcakes, 133ov, Fit Bottomed Girls, Nutrition Unplugged, A Blog Blog.