Food Preparation: Ritual or Chore?

A few months back, inspired by a blip in my own health I reviewed my life balance. I bought all the fashionable eating books of this current time: Deliciously Ella, Kris Carr and Madeleine Shaw. I also picked up a book by Bear Grylls called Fuel for Life. On top of these, I thought I had better have some real scientific background rather than just the ones with pretty photographs in them, so found books by scientists and researchers like Alejandro Junger, Catherine and Luke Shanahan and Geoffrey Cannon.

Now the books by Ella, the Hemsley sisters and the such are starting to get a bad press – this Sunday Times headline caught my attention. Are these books promoting what the authors call ‘clean eating’ encouraging many, reportedly vulnerable people, to have a bad relationship with food? Has a backlash begun?

Interestingly, the one thing that ran through all the scientific books was that fat was good for us. Fat does not make you fat. What has caused a generation of overweight and obese people was, for a significant portion of them, the promotion of low-fat foods. Low-fat foods as we now know are laden with sugar and sugar substitutes.   The low fat, fast food, processed alternatives that were manufactured to suit our ever busy lifestyles were convenient. They were quick, easy. Even our salads got washed for us and vegetables begun to get chopped and sold in plastic packets for us. How wonderful, we thought. Really?

There was another strong key message in these scientific books – the social aspect of food. There were certain key criteria to a healthy lifestyle that research has discovered. People who live the longest and healthiest life live by certain rules: food preparation takes a long time, it is a ritual, not a chore, they eat with the family or friends around a table, they enjoy the social aspect that being together with food brings, there is a strong belief in family and community values. They have support and food brings them together – much like in generations before. There are no TV dinners. They eat diets rich in omega 3 fats, wholefoods and fresh produce. There is nothing new here – yet we seem to have lost the essence of simply being, spending time together. We are always doing, rushing, never here in the moment.  I even read this weekend of a new combo of soya and lentils that are being sold as complete food to save the techies in Silicon Valley from wasting time actually eating!   What!!!  This is just crazy.

But back to these healthy people who enjoy food as part of a whole wellbeing to life. Everything in life has to be balanced – any diet over reliant on a particular food stuff is going to have unfortunate consequences. I prepare the foods in the Ella recipe book  – I enjoy the preparation and the taste, BUT it hasn’t stopped me eating the odd steak, hamburger or bar of dark chocolate. I would love one of these true healthy people to write a blog or recipe book. These are the real lifestyle bloggers. They embody it.

Oh, and of course the final element of these people who live the healthiest life cannot go without a mention: they moved a lot every day. Sedentary people are going to become fat over time  – it’s inevitable. These people understand the importance of daily movement of some kind. Needless to say, I would put Pilates on top of the recommendations list!

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