One of the things I love about health coaching is that it encourages people to step back and look at everything differently, and I have really enjoyed having a very different conversation with people about food this week.
I could talk about food all day, but many people don’t share my passion for food and nutrition. There is plenty of information available about what to eat, but many people still really struggle to make healthy choices.
Perhaps we have too much information about what to eat. Perhaps we could take a moment to consider the importance of how we think about food, and how it makes us feel.
For many people healthy food is often shrouded in negativity…. some consider it boring, tasteless, expensive. It is also often associated with restrictive diets and strict weight loss regimes… And then when we think of cooking… it’s too difficult, time consuming, boring, messy…. and the kids won’t eat it anyway…. And then there’s the guilt…’I should be eating healthier…. I shouldn’t have eaten that; I’ve been very naughty…’
My goodness, no wonder people are drained and exhausted just thinking about it…. No wonder there is such resistance…
So, how about we start a new conversation about food…
What else could be possible… What if I told you that good food has the potential to nourish you in so many more ways than you thought possible…
A good way to create healthy habits is to associate them with pleasure. So, maybe how we approach food and mealtimes could really help us to associate food with pleasure…
Just imagine what else might be possible if you simply allowed yourself time to sit down to lunch each day…what if also gave you an opportunity to slow down, relax, and pause from your busy day. What if it gave you time to spend time with your family and friends?
What if when you cooked you were able to switch off from the world for a moment and immerse yourself in the creative experience, put a record on, lay the table mindfully, and really lean into the experience…. Could that be possible?
What if you allowed yourself time to slow down, to savour and enjoy your food…? Maybe you would start to discover for yourself which foods really energise and nourish you? Maybe it would help you discover your own hunger and fullness signals, so that you learn to eat when you were hungry, and finish when you were satisfied?
Food, cooking and mealtimes really do have the potential to bring us so much pleasure if we just allow ourselves the time to prioritise it, and make a conscious decision to do it!
When we are relaxed, we are more able to digest and absorb all the nutrients from our food. We can eat the healthiest meal on the planet, but if we are busy obsessing over calories and worrying about our weight, we will be switching on the stress response and shutting down digestion. The same is true if you find yourself endlessly stressing about food & viewing it in a negative light… Our relationship with food impacts our health more powerfully than the food we eat. 30-40% of our digestive power is in response to the cephalic phase digestive response (what is happening in the brain)
So where do we start… well to me it’s important to let go of all those negative associations with food…. let go of those difficult diets, and complicated recipes and start simply… one step at a time…. that is how we create healthy habits that last….
Without doubt the best diet is one that contains a variety of natural, whole, REAL foods. However, the best diet is also the diet that you will eat. So why not take a pause to really consider what is one healthy food that you really enjoy?… Start with ingredients… add one healthy ingredient in one by one, and as you add those foods in the unhealthier foods will start to fall away naturally…
If you don’t know where to start, adding in colourful vegetables is always a good idea! If you were to ask me what my favourite food was it would be sweet potato every time.
So, I’d like to share a recipe from my very first Nuffield Food group many moons ago……
Sweet Potato & Chickpea Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
4 cloves garlic, crushed
600g sweet potato, chopped
3 cups veg stock
1 cup chickpeas
salt, pepper, chilli flakes, & lime juice to taste
- Cook the onion garlic and cumin gently in the olive oil & a little water until soft
- Add the sweet potato and stock & bring to the boil
- Simmer for about 20 minutes until the veg are soft
- Transfer half the soup from the pan & blend
- Return to the pan with the chickpeas & season to taste
If sweet potato is not ‘your thing’, do yourself a favour and add one vegetable you do like into your menu this week, or try a different soup.
But promise me one more thing, please take the time to sit down, and enjoy it… you might be surprised just how much it nourishes you….
Please let go of the resistance, be kind to yourself and make a conscious decision to take care of yourself and your family, one vegetable, one meal at a time…. and just imagine what else might be possible…