It is customary for the Hindus to place daily food preparations before the deities and offer to God. This is called Naivedyam. We do this with dedication and thereafter the food is called prasada.
This is our Hindu way of saying “ thankyou “, to the Lord who gives us our daily food.
Learned people recite the following Gita verses while having meals so that this activity may be changed into sacrifice. This reminds us that food is not merely intended to appease our taste. Thinking of God before taking food makes it a spiritual act. This act also purifies the food.
Brahmarpanam brahma havir brahmaagnou brahmanaayutham
Brahmaiva taena gantavyam brahma karma samaadhina ( 4.24)
The ladle is God , the oblation is God, it is offered by God in the fire, which is God.
God shall be attained by him who is absorbed in God as the act of such sacrifice.
Here it is explained how food is digested through the gastric fire.
Aham vais(h)vaanaro bhoothvaa praaninaam daehamaas(h)rithah
Praanaapaana samaayukthah pachaamyannam chathurvidham (15.14)
Becoming the fire of life in the bodies of living creatures and united with Prana (ingoing) and Apana (outgoing) breaths, I digest the four kinds of food. The four kinds of food are
1 – that which is chewed by teeth – rice, vegetables etc
2 – that which is swallowed – milk etc
3 – that which is sucked – mango, sugar cane. The immovable beings such as trees etc receive food this way.
4 – That which is licked – honey etc.
We sprinkle water on the food, place a tulasi leaf and chant
Om bhoorbhuvassuvah amrutho(u)pasvaranamasi
Pranaya svaha apanaya svaha vyanaya svaha
Udanaya svaha samanaya svaha brahmane svaha
The three worlds are pervaded by the Lord, the creator.
I offer this to prana (respiratory system)
I offer this to apana (excretory system)
I offer this to vyana (circulatory system)
I offer this to udana (reversal system)
I offer this to samana (digestive system)
So, we offer food to the Lord, the life force who is within us as the five physiological functions.
Chanting the above, we offer food at the feet of the Lord. Since we offer food to god, we know it is pure and best.
To sum up, anything offered to Lord with love becomes naivedyam.
Pathram pushpam phalam thoyam yo mae bhakthyaa prayachchathi
Thadaham bhakthyupahruthamas(h)naami prayathaathmanah (9.26)
Whoever offers me with devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or even water, I accept the pious offering offered by him with love.