Donald Altman is a former Buddhist monk who has trained in mindfulness and insight meditation. He is the author of The Art of the Inner Meal and is also an Emmy Award-winning TV and documentary writer. This useful paperback is recommended for anyone who wants to bring more resolve and attention to his or her eating practices. It has been well documented that many Americans have food addictions and other issues relating to rushing and a lack of care at mealtimes.
Altman has written this day-by-day book for those who want to change unskillful eating habits, to stop struggling with diets, to make meals more meaningful, to become less judgmental about yourself and others at meals, and to discover some rituals that can be built into everyday meals. The real purpose of food, according to the author, is "to enhance the ultimate well-being of mind, body and spirit."
The 365 daily meditations are built around seven thematic categories, repeated each week: Entry, Choices, Preparations, Rituals, Eating, Community, Departure. There is a treasure trove of material here for those who want to find balance through mindful eating. Check out the mealtime rituals from different cultures, the blessings over food, ways to be more compassionate with yourself over your cravings and addictions, a look at the Hindu tradition of the three kinds of energy in various foods, the importance of taking time to graciously prepare and consume your meals, the value of gratitude and generosity as related to food, and the significance of bringing intentions to your meals so that you can savor these festive moments in your life. Altman even inserts some playful quips throughout, such as Groucho Marx's comment: "Man does not live by bread alone. Every now and then he needs a cookie." (February 20)