As a chocolatier and pastry chef, I’m at the forefront of creating things that are bad for you. Everything I make is made with full fat cream and refined cane sugar, and that is not going to change any time soon.
Because my goal in the end is simple: to make things from scratch, using a small number of high quality local ingredients, to create delicious treats that you only need a small portion of to feel satisfied, to have occasionally as part of a balanced and healthy diet.
It’s the time of year where gorging yourself silly on sugar and chocolate is expected and encouraged, as eggs and bunnies fill the stores (mine included). It brings with it the inevitable articles and blog posts about how to have a guilt free Easter. This concept upsets me greatly, as it creates a mindset that you should feel guilty or shameful about anything else you eat, and having shame connected to food is so terribly destructive. With years of a turbulent and tortuous relationship with food that has negatively impacted my health, both physically and mentally, it has taken a long time to grow to love food, something that I struggle with occasionally even today. Nourishing the soul is just as important as nourishing your body!
It’s nigh impossible to keep up with food trends, with a whole range of ingredients flitting in and out of lists that say it is the best thing for you in one place, and likely to give you cancer in another. It’s little wonder people are overwhelmed and happy to listen to whomever speaks the loudest, whether or not they are correct!
But what it all comes down to is to have a very simple attitude towards food.
Eat good food, obtained locally where possible, that nourishes you both mentally and physically, in suitable amounts. It aligns very closely with Michael Pollan’s famous concept, ‘Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.’ It’s shopping around the edges of the supermarket- whole fruits and vegetables (even better from your local fruit shop), fresh meat (from your local butcher), dairy, some pasta or rice if you want them- nearly every dish starts here.
If you want to have a treat, then do it- within reason. A slice of cake, ice cream or a chocolate? Buy something locally made, very high quality, made with local ingredients and not mass produced, and consume it rarely. Find the boutique stores, the high end deli’s, the quality market stalls. Serve a portion that fits in with your kilojoule intake, and sit down and enjoy it! Focus on the way it tastes, the textures and the contentment that you get from it. Appreciate each of the ingredients that go into making it, rather than just consuming empty calories from the lolly aisle.
By changing your focus to have a treat as exactly that- an occasional indulgence- perhaps we can dispel some of the negativity that surrounds food and start to enjoy it again!