As I alluded to in a previous post, I wander up the hill to my treatment room early on a Saturday morning. As I come out onto the high street, Macdonald’s is straight in front of me. Last week it was the 30 stone woman on a mobility scooter, the previous week it was a young girl (around 10 years old) both clutching those dodgy looking brown bags of overprocessed fat and salt. They both looked sallow, overweight and generally downright unhealthy and unhappy.
I was recently asked to explain myself by colleagues (in my other profession) when I refused to eat a Macdonald’s breakfast which was bought as a treat to see a colleague off on maternity leave. My reaction was along the lines of: “Are you having an *expletive* laugh? I wouldn’t eat that *expletive* if you paid me!”
The fact is, it’s not just the food. There’s room in our balanced diets for the occasional burger and fries and I believe that, give them their due, Macdonald’s have made attempts to improve their recipes and offer healthier versions of their original menu. It’s the whole concept that hacks me off. Food simply shouldn’t be fast! I feel dismay at the fact that everywhere you go, there seems to be a Macdonald’s. You can ‘drive through’ without even needing to get out of your car. There are branches everywhere, they seem to have infiltrated our lives. Our children are rewarded with ‘happy meals’? (I’ve always found clowns sinister).
In Chinese dietary therapy, the emphasis is on balance and variety. Daverick Leggett uses the phrase: “Dietary tilt”. In other words we eat what is in keeping with our constitution and our lifestyle. A cooked breakfast may be appropriate for a manual labourer but not so for an office worker. If we are prone to certain ailments then we can eat the right types of food to prevent illness.
Food is more than just fuel. It has social and emotional elements. Mealtimes are a time for the family or group to come together and should be a positive and nourishing experience, not one full of anxiety or guilt, or wasted in front of the TV.
A relationship with food is central to our lives. It is one of the major ways that we relate to our environment: by eating it, by converting it into us, by the process of transformation. How we eat is a measure of our relationship to nature and in that relationship is mirrored the patterns of all our relating. If, for example, scarcity rules our eating, then scarcity probably also rules our relationship with other beings. If greed rules, or disrespect, then this too is likely to be mirrored in all relationships. Ultimately, in a relationship with food, there is a mirrored a relationship with self. An exploration of this relationship can be an uncomfortable but growthful journey.
Daverick Leggett, RECIPES for self -healing, Meridian press
General guidelines for a healthy approach to nutrition are as follows:
- A little bit of what you fancy does you good but all things in moderation.
- Buy the best you can afford and only as much as you really need. As much as possible cook from scratch.
- Keep it varied and interesting. A passion for food shows a passion for life!
- Eat slowly and calmly, chew well.
- Listen to your body, it will tell what it needs better than any ‘health magazine’.
Food should be treated with a certain reverence and respect, not shovelled down on the street corner from a brown paper bag.