I’ve spent a good proportion of the bank holiday reading about food and quite specifically how to eat food.
I started with the seriously irritating Allen Carr and his Easyweigh to Lose Weight. I’ve read this once before and threw it out in disgust but I have to cut Allen a lot of slack as I’m into my tenth year as a non smoker thanks to his EasyWay methods. Still, when it comes to food and nutrition he drives me nuts.
His main premise is that we should look to wild animals for advice on what to eat, after all they don’t get sick or obese. Somehow he manages to jump from wild animals to the instruction to eat a vegetarian diet with fruit and nothing but fruit for breakfast. I can cope with all of that and resist the temptation to argue the point of predation and age-related conditions but when he starts on slugs and snails I’m afraid the book has to go into the charity pile again.
I know about slugs and I’m not too enamored of them. Allen likes to use the example of the slothful slug and snail to illustrate his suggestion that exercise is overrated. You don’t really need to exercise as, after all, have you ever seen an obese snail? That sets me wondering. If I match sluggy slime trails to body length, I reckon our squidgy friends are really quite active critters, especially of a damp evening and if we are going to be critical, I’m not sure I’d consider them the slenderest of creatures either. Quite podgy I’d say.
Next on my list was Savor, a Buddhist guide to mindful eating. This book attempts to fuse nutritional advice with the buddhist concept of mindfulness through the discussion of the four noble truths and a series of exercises or meditations that encourage a focus on the present. Mindfulness is not restricted to eating and Thich Nhat Hanh takes us through mindfulness for eating, exercise and living.
The eating messages I’ve taken home are:
- Eat at the table
- Avoid multitasking – so no TV, work or magazines
- Appreciate your food by use of all the senses
- Chew and take it slowly
- Quality not quantity
There is a particularly useful exercise on appreciating the apple and I’d encourage anyone to spend 10 minutes with a Discovery apple, reacquainting yourself with its joys.
I’m a big fan of food and this time of year is particularly conducive to appreciating food. The plot is so productive that I can’t help but serve up meals that are at least 70% home grown and it is such a delight to look at the plate and remember the soil turning, seed sowing, weeding and watering that led to the harvest.
We’ve snuck a few yellow courgette plants into the flower border at home and I find their unexpected presence on the plate extremely satisfying.
Not content with the first two books on food, I’ve turned now to Michael Pollen for the down to earth advice succinctly wrapped up in the title of this post: Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants. Homespun advice that would make your mum and grandmother nod their heads in appreciation.
In Defense of Food, contains Michael Pollens manifesto for eating and attempts to find the commonsense lost in the nutritional world that has become hijacked by commerce and the food industry.
In addition to the above advice you’ll find tips such as:
- Only eat food your great grandmother would recognise as food
- Avoid products with unpronounceable ingredients or more than 5 ingredients
I’ve been overdosing on common sense, so now it’s time to set the table and enjoy the products of our labour.