Discovering the ‘new’ meaning of food

I am not home. I am a few thousand kilometres away from it. Understandably, I am longing for familiarity. However, I am here to experience and explore everything that is outside of my comfort zone – which includes the most basic human necessity: FOOD. It’s borderline obsession given the amount time I spend thinking about food on a daily basis. You see, I was known to be a that person who’s always hungry; always munching on something; always wanting to get something to “snack on”. Was I eating because I was hungry? Most of the time, no. Was I eating because I was bored? Most of the time, yes. I finally realised that I wasn’t always hungry. That wasn’t the case at all, I just never had a clear understanding of what food is and how to properly nourish my body.

Two days ago, I had an epiphany and it’s liberating. I am done thinking about food as entertainment, I am done thinking about food unless I am hungry. I want to start thinking about it purely as a source of nourishment.

The light-bulb moment occured on the topic of simple living and how to achieve it. This meaningful conversation was over breakfast so it was fitting to use food as an example.

As soon as we wake up, why do we immediately set expectations as to what we WANT to eat? We fantasise and reminisce about it and we let emotions take over our senses.

As our bodies begin to wake up, we begin to already picture what our first meal has to look like before we can even recognise true hunger. It’s 7:30 AM – time for breakfast so you must start thinking about food, but shouldn’t we rather ask ourselves if it’s actually time to eat because we are hungry? Not because it’s that specific time of the day to eat?

Back home, I used to prepare most meals for the week, the routine takes up most of my Sunday. For the most part, I enjoyed it but honestly, just before our trip I started resenting the process. I felt unmotivated and uninspired. Fast forward to now, where everything is foreign, I noticed myself craving for the familiar tastes of granola, oats, nut butters, seeds and fruits.
These foods are not readily available here and if they are, they’re either of not the same quality or unaffordable. I did succumb to these cravings plenty of time over the past month. I was the complete opposite of being mindful. I didn’t even bat an eyelid on how much they would cost even though we should be sticking to a budget on our trip. I am 100% guilty of prioritising my desires over what was available. I completely ignored why I went on this trip, the reason why we are here – to experience things outside of my comfort zone.

It has taken me a month to re-evaluate my purpose and commit to challenge myself to truly be mindful and immerse myself to what’s going on around me. I am not home so it’s fine to miss certain foods but for that same reason, I should be welcoming and accepting what the locals eat and have an open mind in gaining a different perspective about food – as a source of nourishment when I’m hungry and not just because it’s that time of the day to eat.

In the morning when I wake, I will, first and foremost, ask myself if I’m hungry or not. If not, then I can happily go on with my day but if I am, then I will wholly accept what is available and set no expectations to what I think I should be eating today based on what I have been accustomed to or salivate over the foods I miss the most.

I am not home and nor will I be for another 3 months, this is the biggest lesson I have learned about myself over the past month: I am in control to nourish my body not as I desire but as I require.

This post is dedicated to Visal Phouk. An inspiring, wise man that we met on our trip to Cambodia. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and vision with us.


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