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Green Is The New Black

OPINION: Soulful Eating, Soulful Dabba

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dabba soulful eating

You may have heard of mindful eating but have you heard of soulful Dabba? In this guest post, Geetika Ghai shares some prompts for a more soulful experience with how we prepare and enjoy our daily food.

I have been conscious of the season of indulgence overload of pies, cookies and candies. Being new to sobriety, I am in a dilemma with fast and furious approaching the feasting season. Anticipating fierce conversations around food and body is already giving me nightmares of unrealistic standards of body image and I have started paying close attention to all perfect desirable body types in the commercials.

Following my overpowering and confidence shattering thoughts, I stood up in front of the mirror today. I found my own image a bit murky. I thought the mirror had picked up dirt and I tried to clean it up. But I looked at myself again in the mirror and the image was still cloudy. I tried washing and cleaning up my face and thought this would bring a change in the image. But I still couldn’t see any clearer. It was a time to pause and reflect. My foggy self reminded me of driving the car. Constantly I need to keep checking the rearview mirror to be able to drive carefully on the road. No matter even if the mirror is unclean, broken or tainted, I must focus on going forward despite what I see in the mirror.

The mirror is meant for reflection.

But most of us just give a quick glance at our very appearance, body types, imperfections and not our existence. Children recognise their appearance in the mirror before they see themselves. But as adults, we look in the mirror with a preconceived judgement. It takes time and consideration to get a real beautiful image of yourself in the mirror but the journey itself could be rewarding. Over time dirt might have accumulated on the mirror and might be affecting how you see reality. But that can be changed. All you need is to believe that even one small step can bring change.

Often it’s said, ‘You are what you eat’.

Have you ever felt happy, excited or the opposite after consuming certain foods? Food affects all aspects of our life – mood, energy, sleep, weight, development and health in general. What we put in our bodies can be a reflection of what we want to be. To change the way we think, we need to assure ourselves that our body needs to be nurtured. Thus it makes it a vital component of our “routine of eating”. Focussing on nutrition should be a priority and food should be soulful, offering a deep sense of fulfilment, pleasure and conscious love and living.

What are we packing?

One fine day, as I made my way home, I saw a young girl, almost my daughter’s age stopping by the bin emptying her Tiffin or Dabba (lunchbox) near the condo gate. Thereafter I have seen the same girl on many occasions doing the same before she heads for her home. The mother in me was quick to be furious at the act but I just let it pass thinking about my own childhood days when I fed the glass of milk every morning to the Money Plant on the first storey, away from my mother’s discern. But when I witnessed that on many occasions this girl just didn’t throw the leftovers but the whole food, it made me wonder the reasons for her actions and compelled me to pause and reflect as a parent. 

Do I want that Tiffin to be finished or am I packing it with an appeal for my kids to enjoy the meal while deriving nutrition from it at the same time? Is that Dabba offering food for thought, appeasing the taste buds, calming the mind, and rejuvenating the soul? Well for an eleven-year-old girl, I think offering her choices and nutrition and asking what does she want might do the trick.

What is a Dabba?

According to Collins Dictionary, A Dabba is a container or a box with packed meal(s) that could be transported from one place to another. Tiffin on the other hand has its early origins in British in India conversations. The word Tiffin comes from ‘tiffing’, which referred to taking a sip of liquor alongside food being consumed. It was with the Indians and the British that the tiffin carrier reached other parts of the world including Raffles Hotel in Singapore, where Indianised food is served in them. 

My daughter shares her preferences for the week which makes it easier for me to plan ahead, and to add wholesome captivating varied foods in her Dabba. Preparing a Dabba might be a ritual experience, but we add the personal. Whether it’s a bento box, sectioned for different portions of food or multi-layer carrier for keeping dry and wet foods separately or thermal pots to keep the food warmer for longer, all are convenient and can be a panacea ailing the soul.

Enter the need for a soulful Dabba.

Preparing a soulful Dabba is all about taking slow thoughtful and sustainable steps into preparing meals with love. Soulful eating is more than just the act of mindful eating, it is looking at the entire procss. It is listening to the body’s wisdom and reaching for spiritual experiences through the Dabba. For that, we need to rethink a few steps in the journey.

We often just quickly take out or cook what is available to save our time and fulfil our gastronomical delight. Little do we know we consume food to nourish our body and soul. It is a spiritual connection of body to heart. Packing your Dabba, a box with food is a conscious choice of your preferred taste and flavours. Hence, the most important ingredient, Love should be integral to all corners of it. Infuse it with passion, colour and culinary aesthetics and voila, a Dabba turns out to be your true personality.

1. Buying

Should be a treat for all your senses. Here are a few pointers:

1. Make a proper budgeted list keeping in mind the meal plan for a week.

2. Choose the ingredients carefully that can provide nutrition and are wholesome.

3. Pay attention to the longevity of the items and include fresh items (fruits and vegetables, less processed food). Store the food correctly and identify perishables to be consumed first.

4. Buy what you need and what you intend to use immediately. Overbuying leads to overconsumption or wastage or both.

5. Preserve what is extra. Use techniques like pickling, drying, freezing, fermenting to give foods longer life and varied taste.

2. Cooking

Should be like a meditation, a path of self-actualisation and self-realisation. Food cooked with love is consumed with love and minimises wastage.

1. Pay attention to portion, size and appetite.

2. Be wary of nutritive value for consumers of varied age groups, workstyles and dietary restrictions.

3. Use the skin, peels in your cooking as far as possible. Most of them contain vitamins and minerals which get lost due to inadequate knowledge.

4. Use the ugly looking, wilting vegetables and foods. No one is judging.

3. Packaging

Most packaging is single-use and is typically thrown away. It is discarded and lands up in the landfills or carried by winds to pollute land or water. Besides its hideous appearance, it spreads out far and beyond.

1. Choose a container that keeps the flavours intact, invites the consumer to open it and eat the food.

2. Buy less packaged food items.

3. Carry Reusables – cups, bottles, straws, containers as far as possible. Go strawless if possible. 

4. Eating

This part of the food preparation process is often short-lived and overlooked. But it can be harnessed to drive deeper inspiration and connection. in our lives. Eating can be a magical transformation, from a dining table or a seat in a restaurant, to a whimsical world of unreachable shores and borders, from basic conversations to an enlightening experience. Eating can bring peace to a stormy mind, energy when lethargic and joy when sorrowful.

1. Pay attention to where you seat when eating. It should give a sense of belonging and comfort.

2. Disconnect with all other activities like phone, television and sometimes even talking. It is your time to be with yourself.

3. Connect with food as it is laid on the table. Food has many components elevating myriad thoughts. Noticing just the things as they are, vibrant colours, pungent smells, fresh fragrance or sticky spots, add to the rich experiences of the food journey.

4. Show gratitude to each bite you consume slowly, savour the flavours and respect the source of the food.

5. Find Joy in this everyday ritual of eating. Find rejuvenation in this practice and achieve inner self-care.

6. Share your Dabba with others, at home, at work. Not only you enjoy the company but you bring joy to many more. Donate your leftover food to people or organisations who need it the most.

This eating ritual will help to foster a deeper appreciation for food, flavours and taste, as well as be nourishing for your body, mind and soul. You may feel enthusiasm and positivity uplifting your life. And find yourself making better choices for food and better choices for living sustainability. 

5. Disposal or Recycling

Even if you managed to follow all the above steps carefully, there might be unseen leftovers or scraps that need your attention. Recycle food or dispose of what is leftover with thought to complete the soulful process.

1. Save the seeds from scrap and use them to create your green garden.

2. Make homemade stock with scraps of vegetables or chicken or meat bones.

3. Composting is a great way to turn food scraps into wealth for the family.

4. Use your coffee grounds to make a natural mosquito repellant.

5. Turning Food Waste into useful products


Dabba has come a long way from stacked boxes for storing butter to aluminium and stainless steel for cooking and storing food. Next time you pack that Dabba, pause and reflect on how you wish to master the art of preparing a soulful Dabba. Not only will it have a love-lasting effect on your loved ones, but generations later will thank you for your sustainable efforts and taking some pressure off Mother Nature. 


Read more from the author at Geetstrivium.

Lead photo by Gagan Kaur from Pexels


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