After the trip to the supermarket the other day, in the naive hope I would find the answer to my local needs, through buying things we don’t normally buy, I have to concede we’re on the right track anyway with only a few minor adjustments. We aren’t obsessive about what we do. We are just a normal – well normal-ish family trying to make our way through life as healthy as possible.
Before when we lived in the city we lived a fast paced life full of instant meals, torn from a packet and dished up with little thought. We were young, hungry and bombproof. Aside from a brief season as a vegetarian to avoid Mad Cow Disease while living in the UK. (Even so I still can’t give blood here in NZ because of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but that’s ok, I hate needles!) Health was the least of our concerns. With the arrival of kids, being healthy entered the radar, but kids are a demanding lifestyle in a completely a different way and so food in a hurry was a blessing.
It wasn’t until I received the life altering diagnoses “You have Multiple Sclerosis” that we actually began to take a long hard look at our lifestyle. We sold up our city life and moved to a fresh new existence in the country. Aside from growing our veggies, we took a close look at the contents of our pantry and decided the packaged, processed food wasn’t too good for my health. So we ditched them all.
We aren’t strict about it as that would be just as inconvenient as having as having MS. So you may find the occasional packet of chippies or takeaway pizza box lurking at our place. An easy life is just as important as a good one when your energy tanks are mostly running on three quarters full.
So we made the leap to a whole food diet, with most of the cooking done from scratch. It’s not difficult, it is how my grandmother would have done it, but I have the advantage of a food processor. It can be a bit of a pain to come home from a hard day to find nothing instant to eat, but some meals are cooked extra-large deliberately to be frozen in advance for days like these. With less ready to eat food to be found in the cupboard, snacking is seriously restricted and hungry kids are told to pull a carrot or eat an apple, and if that doesn’t appeal then they’re told “you’re not really that hungry”.
The switch was quite interesting. Our palates were more used the strong robust flavours delivered with the assistance of flavour enhances and other things to assist and disguise the presence the ingredients added to ensure the food is safe and has a reliable shelf life. Removing this kind of food in exchange for plain ordinary food seemed a little boring. The flavours were subtle and to be honest dull.
It was a little like my time in the UK. When I first arrived, the accents were amazing. Every time someone spoke it felt so different to my ears. A walk through London would be a sensory delight as the voices of a thousand cultures blended into a magnificent auditory feast for the ears. It was so powerful, I couldn’t actually hear my own accent, and as a kiwi, apparently it is pretty interesting in its own right.
After a while I got used to the voices and the magic of listening to others speak began to fade away. It became my new normal and I just assumed my voice was blended into this normal too. Then one day I began to notice my own accent, in all its wonderful antipodean twang. You don’t often get to hear your own accent as others hear it. However this was short lived as it began to evolve and pick up the nuances of the sounds around me.
Ok so this relates to food because the powerful and strong sounds are the everyday foods most people eat, with flavours from far flung places often enhanced to make their presence felt in your diet. The more simple food (not saying I’m simple – but work with me here) with its subtle flavours can get drowned out, lost in the intensity of it all. But we quickly get used to the strong flavours and don’t think of them as strong, but normal and without them it can seem like something is missing.
But in order to notice these more simple flavours without their flashy embellishments we have to change the way we eat, and remove the bold processed flavours from our diets. It can be a bit of a shock. It takes some time to adjust to what can seem plain and dull on the palate. But persevere and your tastes buds will recalibrate a new normal and suddenly these ordinary foods will take on a completely unexpected flavour profile that will delight you at every mouthful.
Since making this change to a mostly whole food way of eating we feel better, fresh tastes incredible and we couldn’t go back to our old way of consumption. When we do stray into the world of the processed, its intoxicating flavours overwhelm us and we feel hungry for more, yet it doesn’t quite satisfy in the same way as a hearty home cooked meal, made from home grown veggies.
Come again soon – daylight savings has ended. Reduced warm daylight hours somehow make me more productive.
Sarah the Gardener : o )
And once again – join me for our weekly wander through the garden.