I’ve been traveling for the past few days, and that would normally mean eating out several times a day.
While I’m not opposed to dining out, and enjoyed a few nice restaurants, I also had the great pleasure of a simple picnic.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, defines picnic as:
- an excursion or outing with food usually provided by members of the group and eaten in the open
- a pleasant or amusingly carefree experience
- an easy task or feat
To ensure stress relief, heartburn and other ailments, a picnic should be all of the above. Include other people or go alone. Picnics are great for romantic getaways, family gatherings or to seek a little solitude.
The location or ingredients are not important, as long as your experience is pleasant, carefree and easy. Saturday morning, I walked through the Portland farmer’s market and picked up all the makings for a simple picnic.
- small baguette
- tiny block of Gruyere
- two honey sticks
- a bottle of Syrah by Twist Wine Co.
- one fresh pear
- two salted caramels
Even though I wasn’t in a stressful situation, as soon as I decided to plan a picnic, my mood softened.
5 Picnic Perks
- Planning. As soon as I started to plan my picnic, my steps got a little lighter and I slowed down. Instead of rushing through the grocery store, planning meals for a week, I was searching for small amounts of high quality picnic goods, from small homegrown businesses.
- Anticipation. It is often said that the anticipation of something is as good as the something itself and that was the case for my picnic. I thought about how the flavors of my meal would complement each other and what I would see and hear as I sipped spicy red wine and broke open a crispy baguette. My vision was different than the actual setting, but both were delightful to experience.
- Immediate gratification. Other than picking a few things up, there was no recipe to follow, chopping, cooking or baking to be done before I got to enjoy the fruits of my very little labor.
- Joy. I didn’t build my meal to satisfy hunger or by following any nutritional guidelines. My picnic was about small tastes of big flavors. My picnic was about pleasure.
- Health. I understand that a block of cheese and loaf of bread isn’t winning any health awards, but the way I ate it cured any stress I had lingering and prevented heartburn, and other digestive issues. I ate slowly and stopped eating when I was full. Because my picnic was about joy, not food, I had no desire to overeat. Because I intentionally set aside time, I didn’t have to finish up and get to the next thing. My slow, joyful consumption left me feeling relaxed and light, instead of stuffed and sleepy.
If you decide to indulge in this cure for stress and heartburn, keep it simple. Each step, from shopping, to prepping, eating and cleaning up should be enjoyable. I didn’t have a special picnic basket, any utensils or even a napkin. Bring only the essentials so you can focus on the flavors of your food, simplicity of the setting, and joy of the time you’ve carved out for yourself
Remember that you don’t need to hike into the woods to enjoy a picnic. You can visit a local park, go in your backyard or anywhere away from your kitchen table. I enjoyed my picnic on the train from Portland to Seattle. A picnic will lighten your mood and your meal, creating less stress and more health.
Create anticipation. Share your perfect picnic vision in the comment section below. What would you bring? Where would you go?