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One Bowl Eating

What is our attitude to food?

by Claire Law

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To encourage us to think about how we eat and our attitude to food. 

Preparation and materials

  • You will need a bowl and spoon.
  • If you wish, have available the YouTube video ‘Matt Stonie wins 2015 Nathan’s famous hot dog eating contest!’ (at: and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 2.51 minutes long. This may be uncomfortable for some people to watch, so showing it is optional.


  1. Please raise your hand if your answer to the following question is 'Yes'.

    Who likes hot dogs? 
  2. How many hot dogs do you think you could eat in one minute?

    How many do you think you could eat in ten minutes?
  3. I am asking you these questipns because, in America, there is an annual hot dog-eating contest. The winner of the competition is the person who has eaten the most hot dogs in ten minutes.

    Take a guess as to how many hot dogs the winner ate last year.

    In 2015, the winner was Matt Stonie
    He took the title from a man who had been the champion for the previous eight years - Joey Chestnut. To beat him, Matt Stonie ate a grand total of 62 hot dogs!

    Show the video ‘Matt Stonie wins 2015 Nathan’s famous hot dog eating contest!’, if using.
  4. What do you make of that? 

    Listen to a range of responses.
  5. Some see this competition as a bit of fun. Others feel quite uncomfortable watching it. 

    The competition focuses on eating without enjoying or savouring the food. It is not eating in a healthy way.Instead, the focus is on eating as fast as possible and eating as much as possible. 

    When we stop to consider that many, many people in the world do not have enough to eat, we may feel very uncomfortable watching such instances of eating to excess. 
  6. There are 795 million people in the world who do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That is about one in every nine people on Earth. The vast majority of the world's hungry people live in countries where 12.9 per cent of the population is undernourished. 

    These statistics are quite shocking and emphasize the huge divide in our world between those who do not have enough to eat and those of us who are able to eat to excess. 
  7. Next, I am going to ask you some questions. I will pause between each one so you can think about your answers to them.

    What attitude do you have to the food you eat? 
    - Are you aware of the tastes, colours and flavours of your food?
    Do you gobble down your food so fast that you don’t have time to enjoy it?
    - Are you aware of the time and skill that has gone into preparing and creating the meal or do you take this for granted?
    - Do you always eat on the go, grabbing snacks quickly to refuel, or do you take time to stop, eat and enjoy? 
  8. One thing we can do that might help us to be more mindful of how we eat is outlined in the book One Bowl by Don Gerrard (Da Capo Press, 2001). In this book, he recommends that all meals are eaten from just one bowl and we sit down in a quiet, restful place to eat.

    Hold up the bowl and spoon to illustrate. 

    Don Gerrard suggests that eating in this way stops us from grabbing food on the go, eating out of a packet or wrapper. He also suggests that the bowl should be held in one hand and the other hand used to hold the spoon or fork.

    Demonstrate the action.

    This means that it is impossible to hold a phone or a tablet or a book or anything else in our hands as we eat, so then we are more focused on what we are eating. We can then savour it and be grateful for it. 


Time for reflection

It is said that when he started his pilgrimage, Buddha - the founder of Buddhism - took just one bowl with him and relied on others to fill it up at each meal. Perhaps this approach - eating simply and with gratitude for the gift of food - is something that we can all learn from.  

Many other religions encourage us to be thankful, too. In Christianity, we are encouraged to be grateful for the food provided for us by God. Many Christians say a prayer of thanks before meals, which is called ‘saying grace’.
Are there people today whom we could show gratitude to for providing us with the food that we eat?
Dear Lord,
We are grateful for the many wonderful foods you have given to us.
We thank you, too, for the gift of our taste buds, which allow us to enjoy and savour so many tastes.
We are aware that, at times, we can take for granted the food we have. We may eat without thinking or eat to excess. 
We ask that you give us appreciative hearts. Teach us to slow down and enjoy the food we eat and the company we share the food with.
We call to mind the many people in the world who do not have enough food.
We pray that their needs can be met through the generosity of others.  


Publication date: March 2016   (Vol.18 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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