Ask any one of my friends what food means to me and you would probably get this answer…. Food = Love…. closely followed by the fact that I Love Food!!
I love nothing more than cooking tasty, wholesome, smile enducing food for my friends and family and then having them falling asleep on my couch in bliss!! You can see a few of my recent favourites above. It’s my way of showing them how much I care. 😍
I’m asked frequently to pass on my recipes, food inspirations and ‘nutrition’ tips so I’m going to devote a post a week to this – one of my favourite subjects on the planet!
I have much to chat about on the subject of food and nutrition as being a health and fitness enthusiast, having amassed 46 years of age and the metabolic age of someone less than half of that (not to mention the energy levels), being a mum , being fitter than most people half my age AND recovering from major surgery …. I feel averagely justified in passing on my thoughts, beliefs and some hopefully inspiring recipes! These are just my thoughts and beliefs though – and they are gathered through trial, error, experience and time.
Today’s post is going to focus on the relationship we have with food and ensuring its a positive one.
There is so much information out there on what constitutes a ‘healthy’ diet and each one of you will have a range of chefs, nutritionists, fitness gurus, websites, Facebook pages, instagrammers etc that you follow. I do too and I have also tried and tested many of the practices they preach (a word you may hear me use a lot in posts to come) and come to my own conclusions.
What does concern me most in the marketplace now is the ‘attitude’ to food and what it constitutes to peoples lives. You are either healthy or not healthy by cutting out large groups of foods or being part of a ‘movement’ which follows a strict diet principle – raw, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten-free, refined-sugar free, dairy free, detoxing, juicing/liquidising etc etc. I’m just gonna say this now – I detest judgement! This will be another post at some point on mental attitude, but I am starting to believe enjoying food these days comes with judgement and this I do not agree with.
Food is fuel and food is medicine… I am testament to both of these and will explain further shortly, but food is also something we should enjoy, relish and savour .
Its a way of creating strong connections with friends, partners and family – it brings people together . Some of my best memories with friends and partners are around food -cooking together and eating together. It is a vital ingredient to having a healthy relationship with your children – especially if they are girls (as conversely an unhealthy relationship with food in front of children is VERY dangerous) and the right attitude to food adds to our own personal happiness …. its good for the soul.
I detest words like ‘guilt-free’ in cookbooks, blogs and feeds – why on earth are we associating the word ‘guilt’ with food!! Life’s bloody hard enough! We all know that too much chocolate (although personally I think this is just a cruel joke!! 😜), burgers, ice-cream, sweets, fried food, pizza, crisps, biscuits, cake etc etc isn’t good for us but turning around and saying cakes made with copious amounts of dates and nuts are ‘guilt-free’ is quite frankly bollocks!!! Its pure marketing and its just not true! These items, if eaten daily, will cause you to gain just as much weight as a chocolate bar quite frankly. If you enjoy them, (as I do!) then great, but eat them in the same moderation you do normal cake.
And don’t even get me started on liquidised smoothie bowls, with copious amounts of fruit, nut butter, coconut cream etc in them – heralded as some kind of ‘guilt free superfood’ and created to look good on instagram! Thats for another post…. but please… if weight loss is a goal … don’t think one of these a day, or even several of these a week is a good idea!
I have one tip when it comes to supposedly healthy, liquidised food – smoothies/juices etc…. if you can put all the raw ingredients on a plate and consume them in one sitting without feeling like you’ve been blown up like a helium balloon – then go for it! If not – it’s too much food… simple! And unless we are poorly or missing a full set of teeth – we were designed (for the most part) to chew our food. It makes us enjoy the taste and savour each mouthful. This, in itself, can stop you feeling bloated and encourage you to portion control better.
I have ‘juiced’ once in my life. I absolutely hated it – but it was essential. After my surgery, I found solid food quite hard to digest and I wanted to cram my body full of nutrients to counteract the harsh drugs my body had been pumped with during and after the operation. Juicing made this possible. But I wasn’t juicing fruit – just green veggies. And I can honestly say I cannot understand anyone that enjoys pints of green juice – its like drinking yesterdays grass clippings!!!! But I did it when I was ill and I would do it again. Ask me to drink that stuff now and you’ll see my fist very, very close to your face!
Food is medicine to me and when I have needed to – I have used it as such. When it comes to critical illness you do whatever you can and whatever you believe in – and to me – food can boost the immune system and help you fight these brutal diseases. Around serious treatments like surgery, chemo and radiotherapy – there are huge schools of thought and research around supporting the body’s defences…. but thats a personal decision and although I have done a lot of reading and research around this topic and followed my own beliefs – I think each person is different. Trust is the most important factor in fighting critical illness – trust gives you the positive energy you need to fight as hard as you can. Every individual needs to chart their own journey…. but learning from others who you are inspired by, can provide invaluable support.
I do eat a very ‘healthy’ diet, but it is also very balanced. Food to me has to taste good as well as be healthy – this is key to all my cooking. I’m also a very visual person – probably comes with working in the fashion industry all my life – so food also has to look good! It has to have ‘style’!
My daughter definitely inherited this from her mum, as when she was a baby and I tried to get her to eat baby rice porridge – she suddenly looked like an extra from Twilight (her name is Bella!!! 😱) , developed red eyes and fangs and just glared at me!!!! Don’t blame her – it looked and tasted disgusting! I was one of those mums who worked out that I could buy time with (aka.. bribe) my toddler by sticking them in a high chair and serving up colourful morsels of food (enter peas, grated cheese, carrot pieces, berries, broccoli florets etc). As earth mother and angelic as this sounds (I am so not any of these!) …. it did create a bit of an issue later on when she went to a ‘play date’ and was served up fish and mashed potato or macaroni cheese… or any plate of food that was one colour…. it was a no-go zone! I would love to now tell you that my veritable fabulousness as a young mother, has meant that my now 17 year old daughter only eats highly nutritious meals filled with salad, veggies and lean protein …. yeah right!!! Actually – I am really happy Bella has a fantastic relationship with food. She loves it, she enjoys it and she is totally disinterested in following some fad diet that restricts and denies. She also loves her muma’s cooking – just as well…. if she didn’t she’d be disowned!!!!
I have tried low carb, no carb, high protein, high fat, paleo etc in the past. All I was left with was low energy and really bad digestive issues…. not to mention the feeling of denial of foods I really enjoyed eating. And as you’ve read in previous posts – after what I’ve been though, denial is not a word I need in my life.
I do think the most important thing is ‘know your own body’. A good nutritionist will look at your diet in a very holistic way. They should get you to look at a huge variety of foods you eat and ask you how you feel after eating each of them. This is really important on top of any real intolerances or autoimmune diseases you may have around food. I have coeliacs, but am lucky enough not to have any other food intolerances. However – I do have a very sensitive digestive system so I have worked out, over the years, what foods I really can’t eat unless I want to be in pain or very uncomfortable. This increases my enjoyment of food – it doesn’t detract from it.
If there is any restriction in my diet, it is around processed food. I do have a real issue with it and as someone who has been dealt a brain tumour – that is very much my personal choice, but I am pretty sure its one you are best to also avoid.
I like to know whats in my food – so I buy ingredients – not meals. This became very important to me when I was ill and then in recovery. I was very strict about cooking everything I ate and knowing exactly what was in it during this phase. I made EVERYTHING myself at this point in my life – but honestly, unless you have endless time in your life, this is hard to keep up. I do read ingredients labels religiously now and make the best choices I can ( I will include these going forward) but life also has to be about convenience and speed sometimes. I always say – if you look at the food label and there are things on it you have never heard of – don’t buy it! I’m still very careful though as to me, this is just one element of control I can have over the unwelcome guest in my brain returning.
So – my first message about food is learn to love it and enjoy all it has to offer. Have a healthy relationship with it and know what it can bring you – happiness, positivity, energy, vitality and good health.
Food = Love