You can’t drink coffee or alcohol. Dairy and sugar are off the menu. And gluten? Are you kidding?! Forget about it! There’s apparently an ideal way to order at your local café, and it includes cashew milk piccolo lattes made from organic, $1000/kg coffee beans.
You browse websites, books and social media platforms looking for ‘regular person’ inspiration and find little that doesn’t call for cooking times worthy of a full-time job and ingredients priced for mega-stars.
This will make you fat, this is the new superfood of the future, that should be thrown out of your kitchen immediately. Only drink filtered water and buy organic everything. But then there's serious issues to be careful of such as orthorexia too.
For real? Is this all really required to nourish yourself? To thrive? To be healthy?
Short answer: no.
Long(er) answer: hell no.
When I received my very first meal plan in 2006, I didn’t know how to boil an egg. And perhaps because I wasn’t alone in the (lack of) skills department, this meal plan included a whole lot of foods that came in a packet. In fact, even the fruit serving recommendation came with a ‘fruit cup’ substitute.
Fortunate for me, I knew enough about food to know that fresh and real was best. I instinctively knew, and preferred this.
However ‘quick oats’ which cooked in 30 seconds as opposed to 5 minutes weren’t described to me as lesser in nutrition – which yes they are - being as they're no longer a wholegrain which impacts on various nutrients including their natural fibrous content. This is the stuff that helps our food move well through us (at the other end) and directly assists with the 'making' of good bacteria in our guts.
Nor did anyone talk me through being able to make my own (better) muesli bars in less than 30 minutes. Or that eggs on toast were a perfectly suitable dinner for those late nights when you really couldn’t be stuffed!
So if you’re in the same boat as I was, I’m giving you permission and letting you in on other stuff too.
Recently, Netflix has added a fairly fabulous series to its offering – Cooked - by the infamous Michael Pollan. This is the guy with many famous quotes – such as, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” and “You are what what you eat eats.”
If you don’t know his work, do yourself a favour and check it, and him out!
This isn’t a Netflix ad and so the reason I’ve brought it up is thanks to Michael’s idea that as humans we’re cooking less and less though we've become almost obsessed with watching others do it. Insert endless cooking show names here, e.g. Masterchef, Iron Chef.
Michael, and various anthropologists attribute this fact to a primitive and universal instinct within each of us to cook.
And Michael goes on to explore this notion that we often link cooking to the first time that we were cooked for. By someone we love, for something special. It’s ‘feel-good’ stuff. And the whole man-fire-evolution concept gets a look in as well, this idea that when we as humans started to cook is when we really started to develop.
As well as what I like to call, outsourcing our cooking, we’ve also gone in an entirely new direction. And that is one of rules and labelling.
Depending on who you talk to within your own world, dairy is evil, wine is good for the heart and gluten may well kill you. By no means am I trivialising those with intolerances and allergies – I love you guys! However I do want to bring to your attention, the sheer craziness that is going on around you.
Perhaps because it’s so prolific you’ve been able to somewhat block it out? Though the danger of doing so is this: it’s become normalised.
We’re bombarded with headlines and have no idea where to look. So I’m here to tell you this very simple information that will help you make sense of the above and fit it into a busy, modern life where you’re lucky to get through the day.
Keep it simple.
Listen to your insanely clever body that’s telling you all kinds of things. Respect food for the joy and nourishment that it is. Prepare the food you eat with your own hands. That way you know what goes in to it + you're minimising the icky bits in refined food. And if that's eggs on toast - so be it!
Enjoy what you love with the awareness of - having a little, being OK and walking away – for extra inspiration on this – just look to the French, total pros on this point and lacking in the hideous chronic (and avoidable) lifestyle diseases that are heavily present and ‘normal’ in the US, UK and Australia.
The organic label on a packaged product doesn’t necessarily make it better for you. Nor does gluten or sugar-free. Labels aren’t helpful at the best of times and who wants to live their life that way?
You and your beautiful body are worthy of being taken care of. Trust me on that.
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