Food and I go back a long way.
And it’s fair to say we’ve had our ups and downs........
CHILDHOOD: mixed memories veering from excruciating family meals where I tried desperate evasion tactics from the task of eating vegetables and meat (especially the kinds with rubbery bits or tubes in…) to frantic over-consumption of 1970s party food (yes, I do mean you - twiglets, minirolls and fluorescent fizzy drinks).
TEENDOM: aside from the doldrums of appalling school food where I ended up largely living on cheap packs of plastic white bread with butter - I discovered the bliss of the high street cheeseburger, fries and milk shake. And quantities of cider. I felt ill and was often sick.
TWENTIES: Alcohol and cigarettes figured bigtime. As a student, I expanded my intake of fast food to fried chicken outlets and kebab kiosks. I felt sicker and gained weight. In a desperate bid to feel better I started to cook more, eat more vegetables and subsequently lost interest in eating meat. My weight dropped and I experimented more with vegetarian cooking whilst working as a teacher in Tower Hamlets and then in Hounslow.
THIRTIES: I spent this decade having 3 children. I had extreme pregnancy sickness – vegetables tasted of mould and I could only tolerate a small eclectic range of food items. As a consequence my babies were probably largely composed of scotch eggs, smoked mackerel and chewy sweets. Catering for my family’s various needs and health issues developed my knowledge and curiosity in food and different ways of preparing it. Moving to the beautiful Cotswolds I gained a garden to look after which kindled my interest in gardening and in growing organic veg. To my amazement, I discovered that I actually felt best when I was outdoors........
FORTIES: Spent feeding my family and attempting to navigate everyone’s different schedules and tastes. I trod that tight-rope between my growing children’s affection for processed food (see above) and my hard-won conviction that foods as close as possible to their original state served their interests better. I decided I wanted to find out more and to do a short cooking course. So I went back to university (Oxford Brookes) to spend 6 years studying Nutrition instead.
FIFTIES: So here I am at last. And, as regards Nutrition, where is that? Pretty sure about a few things, and especially about diversity. We are all different not just in our food preferences but also in our physical responses to foods. There is, as they say, no one size fits all: what works well for one person may not do so for another. Human health is profoundly affected by diet but also by many other factors such as our environment, lifestyle, occupation, genetics, age and attitude. There is no one super nutrient, food or action: as with cooking it is the synthesis of all the ingredients that creates magic. Most often, our health is best promoted by a broad, varied and, let’s not forget, delicious dietary intake. I like the words of writer Michael Pollan:
“Eat Food, Not Much
– Mostly Plants”