mental wellness

Reclaiming Food

A necessity.

A joy.

Fuel.

Excitement.

A comfort.

A pleasure.

A dirty secret.

We all view food and consumption in different ways, but one thing I’m sure we can agree on is that recently, the topic of food and nutrition has become near impossible to navigate.

Foods that we once turned to without a second thought are now shrouded with negativity and a strange guilt. People are swapping rice for crushed up vegetables, pasta is being throw aside to make room for sliced up courgettes and the newest substitute for meat is cut up cauliflower.

There’s a pressure surrounding food choices that can’t go unnoticed, people panicking about the impact that certain food groups will have on their diet, dinners with friends are now filled with ‘I shouldn’t’s’ and ‘oh but’s.’

What happened to eating just for fun? What happened to listening to our cravings instead of ‘drink some water, you’re probably just thirsty.’ What happened to really tasting our food? Not just eating, but really committing to the experience.

I want you to think back to a time when the mere thought of an ice cream made your tummy swirl with excitement. The heat from a hot summers day warming your bones, the ice cream melting, hastily dripping down onto your fingers, sticky and cold. You’d hurriedly lick up the dribbles and bite into the soft scoop, causing your teeth to tingle and your jaw to throb. The cream delicately dancing on your taste buds, the sugar causing and explosion of sweetness on your tongue. All finished off with the crispy wafer and the last joyous part of ice cream which trickled to the bottom of the cone. A food choice which held no nutritional value at all, but it made us feel wonderful.

Those are the days we remember, the ones filled with sticky, sugary, sweet treats. The days spent at the funfair getting tangled up in candy floss mountains, battling through spun sugar that squished around your chin, just for the fluffy cloud to melt on your tongue. Or the times where you’d sneak a packet of crisps before dinner, just the thought of those golden, salty bites of joy filled your mouth with saliva and lets face it, they always tasted a little better when forbidden.

Those are the days we remember, not the ones where we’re eating a bowl of mushed up courgettes pretending it tastes as scrumptious as pasta. Or the times when we’re deciding which salad to have at dinner because we’re worried about our calorie intake instead of getting what we really crave.

I want to fall back in love with food, heck, I want all of us to. I want to marvel at the colours and revel in the smells. I want to reclaim carbs, fats and sugars as something to be enjoyed, not shoved to the back of the cupboard in fear or bypassed in a supermarket for a ‘healthier alternative.’ I want to be able to see food as both a pleasure and a fuel because right now it feels like it’s either one or the other and that taking pleasure from food is wrong and greedy.

Of course, not every concoction will be a culinary masterpiece, sometimes it will be a soggy sandwich on a lunch break just to keep you going, or a pile of pasta doused in tomato sauce because there’s nothing left in the fridge. Maybe it will be a boiled egg and soldiers when the nostalgia of childhood creeps in, or possibly a simple bowl of cereal when you just can’t face cooking. Not every meal that passes your lips needs to nutritionally beneficial to fill you up, to nourish your soul.

And that’s okay.

But I also want the comfort of baking, to fill my home with delicious smells of spices and fruits and buttery crumbles. I want to enjoy as many warm mouthfuls of banana bread without someone muttering ‘you’re eating again?!’ I want guilt free food and I want to love every moment, every mouthful and want to stop panicking when I eat bread more than once a day.

So, bring on the soggy sandwiches and the towering piles of pasta. Fill me up with creamy, cheesy potatoes and vegetable that glisten like jewels. Give me warm loaves of bread and cookies straight from the oven which are still gooey in the centre. Let me have many more days where food is the focus, the enjoyment, the excitement and not the fear.

Join me in reclaiming our relationship with food!

On that note, I’m off to bake a cake!

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