80 – Nourishing Mind and Body: Exploring Zen Eating with Momoe (Part 2)

How can we incorporate Zen eating into our lives?

Food is an essential aspect of life, providing nourishment and sustaining us daily. However, it's crucial to be mindful not only of what we eat but also how we consume it. Amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life, we often overlook the significance of the act of eating. This is where the practice of Zen eating becomes invaluable.

In this episode of the Ikigai Podcast, Nick speaks with Momoe about strategies for integrating Zen eating into our lives.

Feeling ikigai while helping others

“Recently, I met the Dalai Lama, and he suggested that I help others. So that was heart shaking for me. So helping others is an important part of my ikigai. How I can contribute to humanity and the planet is a big part of my ikigai.” - Momoe

Podcast Highlights



Momoe is the author of Zen Eating: A Japanese Mindfulness Practice for Well-Being & True Fulfillment (Zen Eating: Sekai ga Mitometa Shiawase na Tabekata*Kasama Shoin, 2023) that introduces an accessible new meditation-based practice for supporting the well-being of busy people around the world.

Educated in Japan, Egypt, and India, Momoe has delivered ZenEating® workshops to thousands of participants in over 30 countries globally and her clients include companies such as Google, McKinsey, Accenture, Panasonic, Mitsui, Fujitsu, Duskin, and Salesforce as well as many universities.

Momoe conducts original research into comparative happiness, Zen, Japanese culture, food-related traditions, and well-being. Her mission is to help individuals and organisations build a profoundly healthy relationship with food that cultivates a sense of gratitude for the natural world for world peace.


Ideal foods for Zen eating

Momoe suggests trying food that fosters a sense of connection and vitality. She encourages to reflect on the journey of each ingredient, like envisioning the growth of rice from seed to harvest. For instance, imagine the vibrant life of a carrot as it sprouts and reaches toward the sun. By embracing this liveliness in nature, you not only nourish your body but also your soul and spirit.

Food becomes more than just sustenance; it becomes a source of life and connection with the world around you. Momoe recommends to opt for foods that evoke this sense of vitality and energy, viewing them as more than mere supplements but as nourishment for your entire being.

“Imagine this liveliness and energy where the food came from, so that you don't see food as something like a supplement. You see food as a source of life. So not only vitamin B, C, or fibre, but food nourishes your soul and spirit as well. So I recommend you to choose something where you can feel this sense of connectivity.” - Momoe

Sense of Connectivity

Ichiju Sansai

Ichiju sansai is a traditional Japanese meal consisting of soup, rice, and three dishes. This concept of eating is a good start to practise Zen eating as it engages all senses, involving various food textures, flavours, and aromas. However, beyond the specific dishes, the mindset and consciousness while eating are equally crucial. Cultivating mindfulness can transform any meal into a Zen-like eating experience.

Mago wa yasashii

Another way to practise mindful eating is through mago wa yasashii, a Japanese mnemonic device to distinguish what food groups are healthy. Each syllable represents a food group that can be used in daily cooking:

MA - Mame (Beans).

GO - Goma (Sesame seeds)

WA - Wakame (Seaweeds)

YA - Yasai (Vegetables)

SA - Sakana (Fish)

SHI - Shiitake mushrooms (Mushrooms)

I - Imo (Potato)

A book on Zen eating

Momoe recently published her book, Zen Eating: A Japanese Mindfulness Practice for Well-Being & True Fulfillment (Zen Eating: Sekai ga Mitometa Shiawase na Tabekata*, Kasama Shoin, 2023) which consists of five chapters.

The first chapter emphasises preparing the table to align oneself. The second chapter focuses on engaging the five senses to fully experience the present moment. Chapter three delves into the gut and cultivating body intelligence. Chapter four explores energy and connectivity, encouraging readers to imagine themselves as part of the food cycle. Finally, chapter five reflects on the concept of letting go and appreciating what one has.

Workshops on Zen eating

Momoe has been offering Zen eating workshops to large global corporations. Many companies are incorporating Zen eating practices into their approaches to well-being, allowing individuals to integrate mindfulness into their work lives. This approach is particularly beneficial for busy individuals, as it can be applied in brief moments, such as taking 10 seconds to smell tea before drinking it, leading to improved relaxation and self-awareness throughout the workday.

Additionally, practising Zen eating can deepen one's experience of the present moment, which in turn enhances relationships and communication within teams. Some companies also view Zen eating workshops as contributing to psychological safety, mental health, and sustainability initiatives.

“Under the concept of well-being, people can integrate Zen eating into their work-life as well. It's really helpful for busy people because you can apply it in just 10 seconds–just smelling before sipping a cup of tea. So you can have a better rest during your working day.”  - Momoe
Zen Eating

Momoe’s ikigai

Having a sense of unity and connectedness is what makes Momoe’s life fulfilling, and she experiences this through eating. Each meal serves as a channel for her gratitude, reminding her not to overlook life’s blessings. She also considers helping others as her ikigai—looking for ways to contribute to humanity and the planet.

“Subtle things turn into great gifts when you tune into appreciation. So that gives me a sense of fulfilment.” - Momoe



Enhancing our connection with food is crucial, considering its profound role in our lives. Adopting the principles of Zen eating offers a pathway to cultivate gratitude not just for the nourishment on our plates, but for the entire ecosystem that sustains us. By delving into the journey of our food from farm to table, we gain a deeper appreciation for the abundance we enjoy in the present moment.