Living a healthy life includes serious reflexion about our food intake:
- What to eat ?
- Where to buy ?
- How much to eat ?
- How to eat ?
- Todays choice: Lentil soup
A lot more to reflect about, though i will only do a short write up and focus on these four points. Reflexions…
- What to eat ?
You like meat? Are a vegan? A vegetarian? A pescatarian? … etc….
We humans like to give a name to everything and to put it in a box.
Well, you decide what you chose, by ethical means and for your health.
In this blog i will not go into details about the different ideas, what is ethically “better”, what is more “sustainable”, what is healthier…. The ideas about that vary a lot and can be a topic of long discussions.
I am simply focussing on our health, in the most basic and simplest way.
Depending on the season, where you live and what kind of work you do, you will need different kind of food, that simple it is.
We all know, that in hot summer our body cries for light food such as salads, vegetable soups, fruits… lots of liquid as well.
In winter time we like heavier food, more fats, more carbs, the soups change for stews etc…
When you cook yourself – what i strongly recommend, because one of the worst problems in our every-day-diet is processed food and the sugar in it (sugar generally), important is that you chose FRESH, and preferably LOCAL ingredients. If possible, also ORGANIC, but something local and fresh is sometimes healthier than something organic, which has been on a long journey until it reached your kitchen. Fruit and veggies from the SEASON are full with nutrients and you get never tired of it, because every month there is something new on the market.
No time for shopping? Well well… in my experience, EVERYBODY has time to do their shopping. There are always options, it only needs to get organised at the beginning: markets, farmers who deliver to your door, supermarkets who open until late night etc. Or, why not join in with some neighbours to organise your shopping TOGETHER, means everybody takes care of some aspect of it. Might need a bit of creativity at the beginning, but after a while it will save you lots of time (and probably money) and you might even get to know your neighbours better….
No time for cooking? You might be surprised, how fast you can prepare a good, healthy and tasty meal. I made the test by myself for a while, buying processed food because i thought it is faster, and realised two things (and that very quickly): 1. I always felt “funny” after a pre-prepared meal; stuffed, weak, tired… and never really “satisfied” afterwards. I actually can now give a list of names of well-known chains (English) that focus on this kind of food and i can whole heartily say, NEVER AGAIN. Always felt bad after eating one of their meals. 2. When i eat freshly prepared food with proper ingredients, nothing artificial added, i feel (happily) filled up, not hungry anymore and not stuffed either, feel energised and actually content and happy. Time wise it actually does not make a big difference (except may be the shopping, but that can also be organised, see before). Lots of pre-prepared food needs a lot of time in the oven as well, needs to be stirred in between etc. I actually love cooking, it is very relaxing and might even be meditative. And no, microwaves is not an option, is a totally NO WAY!
Which leads us to point 2: Where to buy ?
I already mentioned: LOCAL-farmers markets, health shops, super markets (why not, if they have a good selection of FRESH food)… though, NEVER ever pre-prepared or processed food from the grocery store. Simple. Nothing in plastic, which is a problem, though it gets better from day to day and more places decide to cut down the use of plastic for their goods.
3. How much to eat ?
Simply said: never more than you need until you feel “full”, but not “stuffed”. Means, that you´re not hungry anymore.
Which gets us to 4. How to eat ?
As important as the QUALITY of your food, the way how to prepare and then how to eat it is as much as important.
In our fast way of living, our life style is concentrated on : lots lots lots…. and that also includes, to do a lot of things at the same time. PRODUCTIVITY….
Though really, r e a l l y : DO YOU REALLY NEED TO WORK WHEN YOU´RE EATING? Or watch TV, be on the phone… etc…………….If you don´t SEE nor TASTE and SMELL your food, that is when you DON´T FILL UP WITH THE GOODS OF IT. And eat bad food without noticing, eat too much… literally: you don´t eat healthy.
Take your time to prepare your table (yes, even in work!), your food. Sit down QUIETLY, LOOK at your food, ENJOY your food. You will be surprised, how much better your breakfast, lunchtime etc. will be. And how your overall wellbeing and even your weight will start to change….
And something i learned during my long Taoistic training: CHEW. As one of my teachers, Mantak Chia tend to repeat, over and over: CHEW. Whatever you take in: fluid and solids… CHEW…until you only have salvia in your mouth and then, only then swallow.
You also don´t need water or other drinks DURING your meal. One hour before and one hour after is ok, but not during your meal.
The way you eat will change your health as much as what you eat, don´t forget. Try my recommendations for a while and you will feel the difference.
Talking about food, how to eat and health in connection with food:
here a really yummy, super healthy dish which is good for summer time as well as for any of the other seasons. You can eat it hot, cold, as a salad, side dish or as a full meal.
One of the dishes i hated in my childhood (together with cod liver oil, Brussels sprouts and giblets… all a nightmare) has been Lentil Soup. The way my late mum prepared it in her Russian style, was very sour and lots of meat stuff in it; simply not what i liked.
Moving to Spain i shared an apartment with a bask teacher for a while and she taught me lots of Spanish dishes, one of them a Spanish lentil soup. Actually more a vegetable soup with lots of different kind of vegetable (though she also added “chorizo” and other meat, which i nowadays neither use).
Since then i got more creative myself and lentils are now some of my favourite veggies, for several reasons:
They are LOCAL. – You can literally make EVERYTHING from lentils, there is no limit to it. I actually also had them in a sweet version with figs and dates, absolutely delicious. They are very INEXPENSIVE. And the most important, they are so HEALTHY, PROTECT the cells, are
- full of vitamins (e.g. E, B1, B6, folat…)
- full of minerals (e.g. potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphor…)
- rich on trace elements such as iron and zinc
So much better than some of the fashionable SUPER FOODS….
An easy to prepare, very basic lentil soup for 2-4 people can be:
50g lentils, 1 big carrot, 1 big potato, 1-2 big onions, some garlic toes, a leek, some tomatoes, 2 leaves of laurel, salt + pepper
Let the lentils soak over night, clear the water, change with new water (just covering the lentils). Add the laurel, a dash of salt, small cut onions, leek, garlic. Cover the top. Let it cook on a small flame for about 15 minutes, then add tomatoes and potato. 10 minutes later the carrots. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes more, until the potatoes are ready, everything else should be fine then as well.
Season with another dash of salt (if necessary) and some pepper. Ready!
Fast, inexpensive, healthy and very yummy. You can be creative, depending on the season i like to add some pumpkin, raisins, courgette, aubergine etc….Eat it hot and cold…. if you like meat, as well lots of options…
By Nabila G. Welk, therapist, nutritionist and coach.