This festive season adopt Japanese practice of Itadakimasu

In the hustle and bustle of the festive season, as tables groan under the weight of sumptuous feasts, there’s a Japanese concept that invites us to pause, reflect, and appreciate the bounty before us—Itadakimasu. At its core, Itadakimasu is more than a mere phrase uttered before a meal; it’s a profound expression of gratitude and mindfulness deeply ingrained in Japanese culture.

Translated as “I humbly receive,” Itadakimasu acknowledges the collective effort that goes into bringing food to the table—from the farmers and producers to the hands that prepare the meal.

According to chef Vaibhav Bhargava, CHO Vietnamese Kitchen and Bar, the phrase sets itself apart from the more common ‘Arigato Gozaimasu’ by encompassing a broader spectrum of thankfulness.

“When someone uses Itadakimasu, they are not merely expressing thanks to the individuals responsible for growing, preparing, and serving the food; they are also acknowledging the divine entities and the intricate web of relationships and efforts that contribute to the food’s journey from source to table,” Bhargava explained.

He noted that this Japanese tradition shares some similarities with the Indian custom of offering prayers and thanks to God before partaking in a meal. “In both cases, there is a shared sense of humility and recognition of the importance of nourishment in human life. The act of thanking a higher power, whether in Japan or India, underscores the deep spiritual connection between food and sustenance.”

Dr Sushma Kumari, Dietician, CARE Hospitals, Hyderabad, emphasized that the concept of Itadakimasu can also help indulge in mindful eating, especially during festive celebrations when one tends to overeat, and even reduce food waste.

“Be mindful of portion sizes and try to minimize food waste. Show respect for the resources that went into producing the food by making an effort to consume what you serve.”

Dr Kumari advised applying the mindful eating principle of Itadakimasu to your daily life to promote a more conscious and enjoyable relationship with food. Here are some ways to do this.

a. Express gratitude: Take a moment before each meal to express gratitude for the food on your plate, the people who contributed to it, and the resources that made it possible.

b. Eat with awareness: Slow down and savor your food. Pay attention to the colors, smells, textures, and tastes. Avoid distractions like TV or smartphones while eating to fully focus on the meal.

c. Portion control: Serve yourself reasonable portion sizes and avoid overeating. Listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues to help you maintain a balanced and healthy relationship with food.

d. Mindful cooking: If you’re involved in food preparation, approach it with mindfulness and care. Pay attention to the ingredients, the cooking process, and the love and effort you put into your meals.

e. Reduce food waste: Be conscious of food waste and try to minimize it by planning your meals, using leftovers creatively, and composting food scraps when possible.


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