Savor Book Review – The Connection Between Mind, Body, and Food

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Thicht Nhat Hanh (the bestselling author of Peace is Every Step) is a monk on a quest. He’s showing how Buddhism can enhance a modern Western-style life. In Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life, he partners up with nutritionist Dr. Lilian Cheung to describe how the practice of mindfulness leads to better health – specifically weight loss.

Can a meditation technique really help people lose weight?

It seems farfetched, but the concept of mindfulness meditation becomes clear as the authors and relate it to diet and health. Then the book gets practical with advice for nutrition and exercise. Put the two together, and you’ve got a recipe for healthy lifestyle using the power of your mind and your body.

But this is not an instruction book: it’s up to the reader to answer some hard personal questions and ultimately take responsibility for becoming healthier.

What it’s about

The first half of the book is an introduction to the Buddhist practice of mindfulness: what it means, what you do, and how it fits with the Buddhist belief system. How does mindfulness relate to weight loss? Mindfulness affects your mind, which controls your choices, which control your weight. To lose weight, start with your mind.

This second half is about putting the first half into action, and the nutritional advice and exercise suggestions are solid. The authors propose several methods for fitting good nutrition and exercise into a busy Western life.

What it’s really about

“Savor” is about how you can achieve weight loss through a mindful lifestyle. It’s a guidebook to health, which has the reader creating a personal action plan for improved health and fitness by the end.

The first half may be a little much for people who aren’t familiar with Buddhism or meditation (some of the ideas seem kind of cuckoo). For practical types, there are plenty of resources for further reading (online and offline).

What I thought of it

I liked the way the authors connected Buddhist practices to everyday modern life, and I could see myself applying some of the nutrition and fitness suggestions in my own life.

Although it was a short read I found the book wasn’t exactly enjoyable. It was dense, repetitive, and the ideas were sometimes difficult to visualize. Some of the more ambitious suggestions had me rolling my eyes (petition my city council for more paths just so I can start jogging? Uh, nope).

I recommend “Savor” if you’re ready to put some effort into losing weight, changing your habits, and asking yourself hard questions. If you have an open mind when it comes to meditation, and soul searching you’ll get something out of “Savor”.

If you’re of the opinion that meditation is bunk, or you’re looking for an instruction book to walk you through every step to losing weight, then this isn’t the book for you.

Food should be a big part of your travel. Read about it in Food & Travel: Connect the World to Your Stomach

What do you think?

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