It seems that many of us have forgotten one of the most fundamental lifestyle activities. I don’t know when it happened… perhaps after the Baby Boomers, before Gen Y but after Gen X?
We’ve stopped cooking. No, I’m not talking about heating up a microwave dinner or chucking in a Dolmio sauce into some mince. I’m talking about real cooking. Call me crazy, but I mean, chopping up herbs, baking, roasting… creating. Food has become, dare I say it, scary.
The more I learn about health, fitness & nutrition (which is an uphill battle I can tell you, the more I learn, the more I realise there is to learn and it just keeps getting more complicated!), the more I actually become fearful of food. And, if, as a “Fitness Professional”, I am fearful of food, then what hope does Joe Public have?
What do I mean when I say “fearful”. Well, it’s gotten to a point, where, honestly, I am almost afraid to eat. I mean, I still eat, I love food don’t get me wrong! But the enjoyment of eating has become paralysis by over analysis. “What’s there to be confused about?” you ask. If fat loss is the goal, then “Must create a calorie deficit to lose fat”, the science has confirmed that. But….How does the average person know what that magic number is, and second to that, within that calorie limit is an extraordinary amount of rules, do’s and don’ts. Here’s just some of them;
- Eat fruit, but not too much
- Eat fruit, but only this, this and this
- Don’t eat fruit
- Eat dairy, but make sure it’s low fat
- Eat dairy, but full fat is ok
- Eat dairy, but only raw dairy
- Don’t eat dairy because the cavemen didn’t
- Eat nuts, but not too many
- Eat nuts, but only these, these and these
- Don’t eat nuts
- Eat soy, but only if it’s fermented
- Don’t eat soy
- Don’t eat carbs, the body doesn’t really need them
- Eat carbs or you’ll end up a catabolic, ketogenic pile of bones
- And that’s not even the half of it
Shit. I mean… really?
This is my expression of frustration, as A CONSUMER. “What the hell can I actually eat then? And when? And in what ratio?”.
Last night, I made mashed potato for myself, the 2nd time only since I started living by myself 10 months ago. Firstly, I guess I can’t be bothered making mash for just me, I find quick stirfry’s and omelettes much more convenient. But last night, I wanted some good old mash, steamed vegies and steak. And what did I do? Instead of sitting, relaxed, enjoying my comfort food after having done my workout for the day and also taking others through theirs, I sat there and thought, “Geez these carbs…”
Now, call me uneducated if you will. And don’t even think of suggesting I have disordered eating. “Nadine, if you understood nutrition, you wouldn’t be worried”. But that’s my point exactly. We aren’t all nutritionists, and understanding the right approach is daunting, if not impossible. What’s disordered, is the confusion surrounding food these days. The general public are more confused than ever. It’s really no wonder I find nutritional compliance with clients is the hardest part of my job as a trainer. People give up and buy trolley loads full of ready-to-heat & eat packet pastas & rice & frozen meals, which promise to provide all the nutritional benefits, without the effort or thought.. “But it says it’s Heart Foundation approved!”
Since when did we forget how to prepare a nice meal? Since when did even just eating a good old fashioned home cooked meal of meat & 3 vege become, ..well.., bad for us? Why don’t teenagers today (and even some 20 & 30-somethings) not even know how to prepare scrambled eggs for breakfast? Or a roast lamb? Show of hands who can make a chicken crock-pot meal from scratch, knowing everything that’s gone into it?
I was very lucky to have a Mum who taught me to cook. If it’s the Women’s Weekly old fashioned favourites, I can cook it and then some. I buy fresh herbs & chop them, crush my garlic, make my pasta sauces, chop vegies… dang, I even had a crack at making some of these awesome Endurance Crackers today from http://ohsheglows.com/ and they turned out awesome, with my homemade hummus & sweet spiced gerkins :)
Personally, I have found that calorie control, sensible portion sizes and guidance by a registered dietitian has helped me to maintain fight weight throughout my time as both an Amateur and Professional Boxer. I eat carbs, I eat protein, I take fish oil, I eat real fish, I eat almonds, I eat meat, I eat fruit, I add fat to my food, I over eat sometimes, I eat chocolate and I love a cup of hot chocolate occasionally. And I LOVE to cook. It’s one of my most favourite things to do. It takes away the mindless monotony of just eating. I can’t see why it needs to be harder than that.
Maybe the answer isn’t another diet book or diet program or healthy eating plan. Maybe the answer is teaching people how to actually cook, how to be passionate about their food, having an appreciation for the preparation, the bonding time it creates with husbands, wives & kids, the satisfaction of creation. What if we devoted just as much energy into shopping for fresh foods and preparing wholesome foods from scratch? What if we stopped looking for the magic pill, the quick fix or guaranteed fat blaster method.
Is it naive of me to think this way, to think that in this world of ever increasing convenience and fast pace, that people will actually return to love cooking? Possibly.
Would home made cooking & proper awareness of calorie controlled eating eradicate our obesity & chronic disease epidemics? I doubt it, but it would sure go a long way to improving it.
Will I eat home made carbo loaded mash potato again in the future? Absolutely, and next time, I’ll enjoy it dammit.