When I first encountered the idea of infusing love into food in the book Like Water for Chocolate, it seemed far-fetched. Then, Ayurveda taught me that infusing positive emotions into food by preparing it with loving attention and blessing it with gratitude before eating it added nourishment. Food became healing medicine. Dr. Vasant Lad, one of my Ayurvedic teachers, said, “If you eat when you’re upset, you digest sadness.” And, “Who you share your meals with is as important as what kind of food you eat.” These are ancient insights.

Many cultures have traditionally prayed over food and considered the act of eating to be a sacred communal activity. Twenty-five hundred years ago, Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” More recently, Masaro Emoto performed experiments showing that human energy and consciousness affect water’s molecular structure. He showed that positive thoughts, words, intentions, and prayers produced harmonious crystal formations in water, and even cleansed polluted water. And negative thoughts, words, and feelings produced fragmented, disharmonious crystal formations. Most foods, like human bodies, are made primarily of water. And our thoughts, feelings, and intentions affect them—and reside in them—at energetic and molecular levels. Our states of mind and emotions as we prepare, serve, and eat our food affect the energetic, nourishing quality of our food, and similarly affect us for good or ill.

You can develop sensitivities to how foods influence you physically, emotionally, and energetically. Different foods make you feel heavy or lethargic, light or energized, restless or anxious, content or happy. Try paying attention to what you eat, how you prepare your food, whom you share it with, and how you feel physically and emotionally—during and after eating. Notice the quality of the food, the preparation, and the company. We’re always infusing our food with our consciousness—feelings and thoughts—when we prepare it and as we eat it, and we’re equally digesting any emotions, intentions, and thoughts infused into our food during its production, preparation, serving and eating.

Dr. Lad told a story about asking a flight attendant on his flight for some cranberry juice. She was out of cranberry juice on her cart and didn’t want to go back to her station to get more, so she urged him to choose something else. He politely declined and said he’d wait till she could get it. Visibly irritated, she retrieved a glass of cranberry juice and rudely handed it to him. Again, he politely declined, saying, “I can’t drink it now, for you’ve given it to me in anger instead of love.” He wasn’t willing to drink her anger with his juice.” He had too much respect for his bodily temple.

This highlights another key idea: Loving vibrations of the people sharing a meal enhance the spiritual vibrations of the meal. This idea underlies “sacred meals” such as Thanksgiving, Shabbat, Passover, Christmas, and so forth. Most ancient cultures saw food not simply as a gift from God, but as God offering him/herself to us in celebration. Therefore, every meal had to be eaten in a spirit of deep reverence. This understanding of food can transform our relationship to food, and inform our most basic relationships with others, allowing ordinary meals to become the sacred occasions they truly are.

Can you remember when you felt deeply nourished by love that went into your food? Did your mother or grandmother prepare food with love for you as a child? When I was a little girl, my grandmother prepared and fed me borscht when I was sick. It was the most delicious food and comforting medicine I’ve ever had. I tasted her love. We can all give the gift of love-infused food to the people around us by cooking with loving awareness. We can all reclaim the primal pleasure and the shared sacred occasions made possible with good, wholesome, delicious foods consciously prepared and eaten. My goal is to show you how you can infuse love into your food, taste love with every bite you eat, and turn ordinary dining experiences with family and friends in your own home into sacred, loving, communal occasions. My hope is that your transformed relationship with food will nourish you in the fullest sense of the word: in body, mind, and spirit.

I’m Anya El-Wattar—and here’s to a happier, healthier us!

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