Gratitude After the Meal: Mindful Eating Practices
Create a sense of gratitude at your Shabbat dinner table with Birkat Ha’mazon.
By: Dr. C Tova Markenson
After the Meal Blessings: Mindful Eating Practices
If you bring to mind the best meal that you’ve had recently, what stands out? What were the flavors, textures, smells, or ingredients? How did you feel before you ate? And after?
Judaism is one of few traditions that blesses food before and after eating. For me, this is an invitation to practice something that I easily forget — to eat while knowing that I am eating. Not scrolling…or texting…or working…but eating.
The grace after meals (in Hebrew Birkat Ha’mazon or in Yiddish bentching) is an opportunity to notice the signals that my body gives when it’s hungry and when it’s full. To dwell in gratitude for a moment before moving on to what’s next. And, to regularly appreciate the gift of having had enough to eat.
To add some extra intention to your Friendsgiving Shabbat experience, you might consider giving this practice a try and see how it feels. (As a note, this blessing practice can be done after any meal during the week.)
Why Offer a Blessing After Eating?
The practice of offering a blessing after meals comes from a passage in Deuteronomy:
“When you have eaten and are satisfied, bless” (Deuteronomy 8:10)
Notice that the source above does not name any specific foods – it addresses the experience of feeling satisfied that eating can bring.
How to Bless
There are several different versions of birkat ha’mazon. Some recite the full long version after all meals that include bread.
There’s also a short and sweet Aramaic version of the blessing that you can read more about in the OneTable guide for blessings after the meal.
What are some ways that you can integrate gratitude into the end of your Shabbat meal?
Is there a poem or a song that inspires gratitude in you? Or maybe it could be meaningful to pause for a moment after eating to check in with the body, and explore whether or not you are truly full.
Invitation for This Week
As you prepare for Shabbat, consider if there are any special foods that might bring you joy to prepare and to eat. Near the end of dinner, see if you can remember to tune into the body as you eat, pausing to consider your level of hunger and level of enjoyment. Do you feel satisfied? If so, bless!
Our After the Meal Blessing Guide will help you host a Friday night dinner, creating a sense of gratitude at your table. Share your reflections with us on social @onetableshabbat.
About the Author
Tova Markenson, PhD (she/her) is the Jewish learning consultant and has been with OneTable since 2022. Her work grows out of 10+ years of experience and research in the fields of collaboration, communication, and creativity. She has designed and taught courses on mindfulness, storytelling, and Jewish history to non-profit professionals, rabbinical and cantorial students, young adults, and life-long learners.