Life beyond diets
Read this and let the calories take care of themselves.....
Having recently read latest books by two of my favourite food writers (or cooks who write?) Bee Wilson and Nigel Slater, I was so happy and relieved to realise that we are all singing off the same song sheet. Both write so beautifully about the pleasures of food and the joys of eating.
Listening to some of my wonderful middle years friends continually bemoaning their bodies deeply upsets me. They are so hard on themselves as the live in endless turmoil over their next meal and what it might do to them. Some are so consumed with calories and guilt that they cannot possibly experience one of life's most fundamental pleasures. Us mid-life folk aren't alone in this either, as we hear the horror stories about how teenagers are persecuting themselves as they strive for that elusive perfect body by starving themselves and cutting out essential nutrients and energy that their developing bodies need to grow and survive. Why are we so, so hard on ourselves?
The pleasures of eating
Finding pleasure in eating is nothing to be ashamed of whatever your age and physique. At this stage of my life I can honestly say that I am feeling physically stronger than ever before. I am eating better and possibly more than at any other time of my life and my weight has been stable for some years now - from what my clothes tell me anyway as I rarely weigh myself and don't own a scales. As with many others, his was not always the way as my relationship with food (and alcohol) was quite different during my young adult life.
I love my food as my family and friends know. I fill my plate with colourful, fresh, nourishingfoods (mostly) just as nature intended. I also enjoy the pleasures of freshly baked bread, cakes and biscuits. I love top quality chocolate too but, in contrast to my younger years, a smaller amount is enough. I rarely even think about the calories or fat in my food as my plate is overflowing with deliciously filling, soul-satisfying goodness, how could it harm?
I move...a lot. From yoga to brisk walking and jogging (when my ageing body allows!) I move my body everyday, without fail. No, I'm not perfect but I have learnt through the years what works for me and should work for most of you too, if you allow it.
Life beyond diets
In This is Not a Diet Book (4th Estate) Wilson says that 'in this new life, a life beyond diets, there is no fail.' She cites 2013 consumer research suggesting that more than half of all adults in Britain had tried to lose weight over the past year, surmising: 'the sad fact is that, much as we dislike dieting, we dislike out own bodies even more.' How sad.
Wilson urges us not to be virtuous but to adjust our tastes and habits - or enough of them anyway - so that the overall pattern of what we eat consists of real foods, especially plant foods, eaten in regular instalments and with pleasure. "If you manage to do this, the calories will take care of themselves."
A Year of Good Eating
Nigel Slater sums this up succinctly in his truly inspiring A Year of Good Eating (HarperCollins) as he expresses his concern about the current victimisation of food: "Historians may look back on this generation as one in which society's decision about what to eat was driven by guilt and shame rather than by good taste or pleasure. Yes i eat cake, and ice cream and meat. I eat biscuits and bread and drink alcohol too. What's more, I eat it all without a shred of guiit. And yet, I like to think my eating is mindful rather than mindless. I care deeply about where my good has come from, its long-term effect on me and the planet. That said, I eat what you might call 'just enough' rather than too much. My rule of thumb - just don't eat too much of any one thing."
So be kind to yourself....and the calories just might take care of themselves.