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Why Mealtimes Are Key to Our Self-Care Routines

By Marah Lidey & Naomi Hirabayashi, co-founders and CEOs of Shine

Food has always held a special place in our hearts.

There’s the comfort of hot ramen, the joy of fresh collard greens, the satisfying crunch of a perfectly fried french fry—but there’s also the time we spend eating the meal, whether alone in our apartment after a long day of work or at a dinner with family, that can make it feel transformative.

In fact, late-night delivery dinners and early-morning pancakes at our local diner were some of the key moments when we got together to dream up Shine, a daily self-care app and company we co-founded three years ago. 

But now—in the busyness of being co-CEOs, best friends, and two humans with full personal lives—so often our meals are a blur of answering emails, responding to texts, and working on presentations… all while simultaneously lifting our forks to our faces. 

Feel familiar?

It’s easy to let mealtimes become something we have to check off our miles-long to-do list instead of something we savor. 

So when Grubhub came to Shine and said they wanted to work together and help people get intentional about mealtimes—it was an easy yes.

The first thing we thought about is how ordering food always comes with some kind of mood. Maybe you’re feeling hangry and impatient—or, maybe you tried a new spot in your neighborhood and you’re feeling spicy and adventurous.

We thought: How could we help people notice how they’re feeling when they’re gearing up for a meal? And then help them care for themselves?

So we worked with Grubhub to understand the most common emotions people feel when ordering food—and we created a Mealtime Mood quiz to help you notice how you’re feeling. The best part: Your quiz results will guide you to a free meditation in the Shine app to help you explore that feeling and check in with yourself.

Our hope for you (and ourselves as well): When mealtimes come around, you can start to see them as your cue to check in with how you’re feeling and what you might need. They can become a moment to care for yourself and a perk rather than another task to check off your list.

Curious what your mealtime mood is? Take the quiz and find your mood and meditation today. 

And if you’re looking for more ways to make mealtimes more intentional: Here are a few things we’re trying.

1. Give yourself permission to not be productive

Thanks to our hustle culture: It’s easy to attach our worth to our productivity. A moment when we could be getting something done but don’t? It can feel like a failure. 


But what studies show is that taking breaks can actually boost our productivity. Taking a break gives us a chance to recharge, and it helps us come back more focused, motivated, and energized than if we tried to power through.


At the start of your next mealtime: Give yourself permission, mentally or even out loud, to *not* be productive. Your to-do list will be there for you afterwards, and giving yourself a moment to breathe will help you tackle it in the long run.

2. Create a distraction-free zone

We know unplugging is easier said than done—especially when those email chimes start coming in. Set a physical boundary during mealtimes by closing your computer or going on Airplane or Do Not Disturb mode on your phone. 


When the things you have to do are out of sight, it’s easier for them to be off your mind for a few moments.

3. Bring in some meaningful questions

Some of the most meaningful and vulnerable conversations we’ve had as friends and co-founders happened over meals. If you’re dining with someone else, break out of the typical “How was your day?” with some questions that help you dig a little deeper.


Some of our favorites:

  • What felt meaningful to you today?
  • What’s brought you joy recently?
  • Where could you use support right now?
  • What are you looking forward to in the future?


And if you’re dining alone: These are great self-reflection questions to help you look inward as well.

4. Tune in to your senses

Savoring is an incredible self-care tool we tend to overlook when we’re busy. But when we take time to really reflect on the moment we’re in—with all our senses—it can help us feel more grounded and present. 


Take a moment when you’re eating to intentionally savor the meal with each of your senses: The taste of the dish, the texture as you chew, the smell coming from your plate, the sound as you move your fork around, the colors of the ingredients. 


It can help you focus on the moment and the gratitude that comes from nourishing your body. Each mealtime is truly an act of self-care—and you deserve to savor it.