February 06, 2008

Food Rules

I adore food. I don’t really believe in dieting and I don’t appreciate being served so-called health foods. Dieting and counting calories evidently works for some people but I think it’s usually just too painful to ever do myself. Also, it seems to me that food is about pleasure and good health without making oneself miserable spending large amounts of time counting calories.

When it comes to food, these are the rules which (obvious as many of them are) work for me:

  • Stay away from super-sized meals unless you’re sharing them with someone or you plan to trek or some such thing within the next few hours and actually need them.

  • Don’t eat anything synthetic if it has a natural equivalent. I stay away from butter substitutes, for example, which contain ingredients which I’m not sure that my body can actually process and which usually taste much worse than real butter.

  • If something can be boiled, steamed or poached, then boil, steam or poach it.

  • Grill meat, if possible. Skin chicken, always.

  • Don’t have fast food if it can’t be avoided although the occasional burger won’t do you any harm.

  • If you happen to like some form of food which is high on cholesterol or some other ‘unhealthy’ constituent, don’t not eat it for months so that when you accidentally wind up with a packet in front of you, you finish it at one go. Eat it whenever you want to; just make sure that you eat it in small quantities. Eating groundnuts by the kilo is not going to get you anywhere except possibly to a consultation with a cardiac surgeon in a few years’ time.

  • If by some chance you pig out on something, take it easy for the next few meals. For example -- I do this sometimes -- if you have half a litre of ice-cream one evening, there is no reason on the face of the earth for you not to have a light breakfast the next morning and possibly a light lunch too.

  • Don't cook anything which doesn't need to be cooked. Find out what the effect of heat on food is -- the natural oil in almonds, for example, is destroyed if almonds are roasted.

  • Don't confuse stress with hunger. Don't eat when you're bored. Don't treat a break to eat as the only break you can legitimately take when you're working; if you want/need a break, just take one.

  • Green leafy vegetables and wholegrain wheat are good but they aren't the only good food. Eat fats. Eat high cholesterol foods. Eat high calorie foods. Eat sugar. You need them. Just don’t eat too much of them.
The key to eating well as far as I’m concerned involves eating what you want, when you want to. It just has to be in moderate quantities and balanced out.
Someone once said -- I can't remember who -- that all you need to do to be able to sample any dish is to take three bites of it. I like the idea although, of course, since greed is a part of my equation, it's always quite a few bites more than three.