A few years ago the shock of an unexpected illness made me realise how lifestyle was central to health. I changed my diet, started exercising more regularly and saw a welcome increase in my wellbeing. Like many of us, I was confused by the continuous stream of contrasting nutritional advice on the media. I couldn’t see how being healthy could be defined by a continuous cycle of juicing and fasting, how a gluten free, dairy free (food-free?) diet could be synonymous of health. And after a few years, I think I finally began to see things more clearly.
I don’t gorge on food and strive to eat well. I eat very little sugars and a lot of probiotic and alkaline foods. I am not one of those people who are born skinny and stay skinny whatever they eat so I need to exercise regularly.
But my love story with food will never end. And I commit all my diet sins with no regrets.
Food is a source of joy, it brings people together and it tells stories of where it comes from. It should also be treated with respect. Stop and think how much energy it took for the plant, the fruit, the fish on your plate to grow and reach maturity. It is a gift to you from the land. And the same goes for wine.
Luigi Veronelli, the anarchist writer who was the spiritual father of Italian gastronomy (and also incidentally my godfather) remembers the first time he had wine as a 10 year old. “Drink it with respect – his father said – because in this wine are all the efforts of the farmers who made it”.
This is why I believe food is so immensely better when it’s prepared with care and love and eaten with awareness. Manipulating it, processing it and putting it in plastic wraps before reaching your distracted mouth and being munched in a hurry is an insult to the effort it made to grow and this is why it’s ultimately bad for your health.
Although I am careful about what I eat, I am becoming less concerned about nutrients and increasingly more about the provenance of food. I am convinced the root of chronic disease is to be found in chemicals, industrial scale agriculture and in particular in processed foods. Eating organic, wholesome ingredients allows you to commit many more dietary mistakes (bad fats etc…) with your health escaping relatively unscathed. If you don’t believe this, just think of what your great grandparents ate.
All the recipes you will see in this blog have a health mark, which is definitely not a scientific assessment, but just an indication of how healthy I consider the dish to be. If you are concerned about weight management, please remember that for every hearty meal you will see on the site, my other main meal of the day would have been very light (either a soup or a salad with some quality source of protein).
I wake up every morning with a cup of warm water and lemon, then wait at least half an hour to have breakfast. Generally I follow Michael Pollan’s rule “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”.
So here is my secret to healthy eating: know your food, enjoy it, and eat with awareness and respect.