One of the top health tips I can offer for you to take control of your physiology and achieve your optimal health and wellness is eating at home!
Please don’t stop reading or close the window, please don’t roll your eyes thinking how you are a terrible cook or have no desire to cook or you just prefer the food you can get at your favorite restaurants. I jhave seen it happen countless times – you can cook way more and more proficiently than you give yourself credit for and you CAN even learn to want to cook. In my opinion, you can very rarely get the same quality of food in a restaurant. Furthermore, the love and energy that goes into making your own plays a way more important role in its level of nourishment than you might think.
In your vicinity, there might be one or two restaurants whose ingredients are as stellar as those you would choose for yourself – maybe. Sadly, the majority of restaurants seemingly have great stuff on their menus only to use really sub-par industrial seed oil (read: canola oil) in the preparation of those healthy, tasty meals.
What I am trying to stress is that the ingredients—each and every single one of them from the olive oil in the salad dressing to the salt and pepper used in the making of your meal, have to be of top quality in order for you to maximize the nutrition you are receiving from your food.
I always like to remind people that every food you choose to eat, each individual ingredient is a building block for your cells. This is how you fuel your mitochondria, the mighty energy centers of each cell. If you give these cellular drivers low quality fuel, your mitochondria will perform in a subpar way, hindering health and paving the way for disease. Given great fuel, your mitochondria respond positively, giving you the sustained energy and drive you need to live your optimal life.
Beyond ingredients that are the best you can possibly source, is the sheer joy of creating something beautiful and delicious that feeds your soul as well as your body.
Not every meal can be like that, I understand. Life happens and there are times when you need some high quality fuel and you need it fast! I do, however believe that nearly every meal can feed body and spirit when you take on the family cooking as a family, and not a one-person chore.
Looking to Europe we can see cultures that have a positive approach. They tend to eat a wide variety of wonderful foods. They shop the open-air markets for the freshest ingredients. They bring these home and create magic in their kitchens.
I am not romanticizing the life in Europe. They work and have the same time and financial constraints you may experience. They also have limited time to play around every day and act like a celebrity chef. They too have to get down to business and get food on the table. They do, however understand that a simple meal with amazing ingredients is the secret to making dinner time happen.
When the time arrives to sit down for the family meal, they open a bottle of wine, enjoy each other’s company, teach their children and younger guests table manners and polite conversation and talk about everything and anything that is relevant and important or plain trivial and fun at that moment.
Their relationship with food differs from that experienced in North America. They see food as a true gateway to relationship. They understand by the way they procure and cook their food that it is an important element of their day rather than another chore to check off the to do list.
While I bet this seems a little romantic and out of touch I am acutely aware that not all Europeans are alike in this daily pursuit. The lesson to be understood from this behaviour is that food, the art of acquiring it, preparing and enjoying food with family and friends around the table gives rich meaning to the lives of people, families and communities.
Every meal counts rather than solely focusing on getting something to fill the empty hole that is the collective North American stomach. At the end of the day, you are feeding not only your body, but your soul.
It all boils down to a relationship, in particular, your relationship to (as opposed to with) food. You need it several times daily so this relationship counts and needs to be a positive one.
Connecting with the right kinds of foods and understanding that food is more than mere fuel, but actual data your body collects to decide what to do. Given the right nutrients, you turn on the right hormones and signals for your body to repair and correct. Given the wrong data (anti-nutrients and inflammatory ingredients), your bodies reverts to emergency mode, starting fires (inflammation) and neglecting the necessary repair.
Eating great meals always begins with the best ingredients. This means the easily recognizable, one-word ingredients that you know and not the weird, processed, manipulated food-like products you might find in bags and boxes with words you are unable to pronounce or identify.
Yes, this is simple, yet it is not necessarily easy. It takes work and a sustained effort to have this kind of relationship with your food. And it is achievable and sustainable. For many that may mean you need to turn one thing off to turn another thing on. Perhaps, instead of mindlessly sitting in front of the TV, you connect with your partner, your children or a friend in the kitchen preparing a meal that will not only give your bodies something to work with to help you live your best lives, but give you an opportunity to connect, breathe and become more conscientious of the life you really DO want to live.
Please understand that I am not trying to lecture, get on my soap box or shame anyone in any way. I am not trying to make you feel bad or guilty about the current state of your dinner routine or your relationship to making your own food.
This should serve as true food for thought. It is a possible catalyst to drilling down to who you are and who you want to become. Understanding that the connection to your community comes with the simple basics of life, not the big events or the celebrations like holidays, weddings and the like that merely decorate a well-lived life.
Live each day in the present, giving each moment it’s due, even something as simple as feeding yourself or your family their nightly meal. It is time to relish the little things. These are the moments that illustrate your life and mine, for now and all the times that follow.