For lots of people, eating is something to get done. For these people, food is fuel.
But what if we ask the question: “What is the best that eating can do for us?” the idea that ‘food is fuel’ becomes a deprived way of looking at eating. (Pint of Huel anyone??)
At its very best, food nourishes the body and nourishes the soul too.
Body. At the very least, what you eat should be nourishing for the body. It should be nutrient-dense, packed full of vitamins and things that help your body function at its best. It should give you energy, help your muscles repair and help your body’s complex chemical make-up be at its optimum.
Soul. It should delight the senses. From what goes into your eyes, to what it smells like, to what it tastes like, to the texture of your food as you eat it. Some of the best food experiences are those that remind of us of what our mum cooked for us when we were kids. For me, that was freshly cooked, deep-fried samosas with chili sauce, or crispy noodles, or scaldingly hot spring rolls.
Think about where the term soul food originates from. It’s food that nourishes and feeds the soul.
What should we eat?
We should be eating as good quality food as we can afford. We wouldn’t put crap oil into a Ferrari would we? No. So why would we do the same to our bodies?
Imagine we just ate things that were terrible for us? Say bad pizza, sugary cereals, solid junk food, for a month. I guarantee you’d feel terrible.
Imagine on the other hand that we ate things that were great for us? Look to the Greeks or the Japanese who routinely live long, active lives. Their diets contain:
- Fish that are rich in protein and Omega oils
- Dark green leafy greens
- Fruit and veg
How should we eat?
“Before you eat or drink anything, consider carefully who you eat or drink with rather than what you are to eat or drink: for feeding without a friend is the life of a lion or a wolf.”Epicurus
We can surely do better than eating in front of the TV with our plates on our laps. Think about past mealtimes that you cherish. It might be family roast dinners, long brunches with friends, BBQs with friends and families, weddings with long tables of people you know and people you’re getting to know. It might be nostalgic school dinners or in the mess hall with your peers. Whatever it is, it’s likely that eating with other people is more optimal for your enjoyment and well-being than eating alone.
Does eating well need to cost a lot?
Not really. Okay free range chickens might be beyond the budgets of some people, but fresh food is available to everyone. Real markets sell fresh fruit and veg. You can get great food in tins as well. Tinned tomatoes are very often better than any fresh ones you can get (like for a puttanesca sauce).
You don’t need caviar, abalone, lobster, wagyu beef to eat well. You just need some knowledge and a will to do so. Check out this article about Jack Monroe from Lifehacker and then check out her site as well.
Does eating well require elaborate recipes?
Definitely not. Lots of great dishes require less than 5 ingredients.Cacio e Pepe has 5 or 6 depending if you put butter and oil in it, and why wouldn’t you?!
It’s mostly about timings, keeping flavours intense, putting interesting things together.
How about this for a nice meal:
- Greek salad (cucumber, ripened on the vine tomatoes, red onion, feta, kalamata olives, capers, olive oil, cider vinegar, dried oregano)
- Pan-fried salmon, with crispy skin
- Sourdough bread with salted butter
- Glass of wine of your choice
Add in a few people to eat with, some music and some laughter, maybe at a long table outside in the sun and you’re eating very well!
What does eating well mean to you? Let me know in the comments!