Do you eat to live (eat out of necessity) or live to eat (enjoy your food)? Some people fall firmly into one category or the other. Many others are somewhere in between. I had a conversation with someone recently who definitely falls into the former category. He genuinely doesn’t like food, so much so that he only eats what he has to in order to survive. He’s a vegan, but only because he hates the taste of meat and other animal products. “I’m envious of people who can eat many different things and enjoy their food, but I just can’t do that.” Admittedly, cases like these are quite rare. After all, most fussy eaters still have a favourite meal of some sort that they look forward to eating, don’t they? But for me there is one other category that really concerns me: those who do like food, but shove all sorts of things down their necks as long as it “tastes ok”.
As a massive cook and foodie with an interest in nutrition, it always worries me how people don’t care about what they eat. So many cases of heart disease, diabetes and other health problems arise because of a poor diet. I also never fail to be astounded by the fact that for a modern nation in the 21st Century such as United Kingdom that people on the whole can eat so badly, despite the fact that more precise information about food and nutrition is available than ever before. So much scientific research has gone into food that we now know small details such as that chicken eggs are a rare type of food that supply all essential amino acids for humans. Yet despite the fact that all this information is a click away on any search engine, many people in the UK are content with eating nutritionless deep fried stodge or shoving some rubbish in a microwave (often a cheap ready meal that contains all sorts of horrors and was prepared God knows when). And don’t get me started on the horrors of McDonalds!
What’s that? Most people don’t have the time to cook in today’s busy world? No, elaborate meals that take a lot of time to prepare is certainly not realistic. But quick and easy meals that incorporate a combination of fibre (fruit and/or vegetables), carbohydrates and protein is certainly within everyones grasp. A very busy few days coming up? Then make something in advance-like a stew-and freeze it in portion sizes, then defrost when hungry. Not as fresh as cooking it on the day, but it will still be nicer and more nutritious than a cheap ready meal. The fact is that young people especially are not interested in learning how to cook, nor are they encouraged to watch what goes into their food. I find this very sad and disheartening.
But aren’t poor people forced to eat bad food, as good food is expensive? Buying organic Aberdeen Angus beef and dining at Michelin starred restaurants is certainly very expensive. However, there is one unshakeable fact: vegetables are generally cheap, meat is generally expensive. In fact, cabbage-the humble cabbage-is one of the cheapest food ingredients on supermarket shelves. It is also a fantastic source of fibre and vitamin C. Onions and carrots are other examples of vegetables that happen to be cheap and affordable; both are also highly nutritious.
In the UK we generally eat too much meat and not enough vegetables. If everyone swapped out some meat for extra vegetables their budgets would be eased. But vegetables and healthy food are boring, right? Aren’t chips and chocolate much nicer? Well my answer to that is this: prepared in the right way, meals can be healthy while at the same time bursting with flavour that will taste better than any junk food. I will be sharing many recipes with you that are quick, easy and healthy. And if we took a little more time to learn about cooking and nutrition, we wouldn’t have such big health problems as heart disease, diabetes and the biggest one of all, obesity. Food is the foundation of our health, and any doctor worth his or her salt will tell you that without a good diet it is hard to attain truly good health. For this reason I believe that we should all live to eat, not eat to live.