SLOW FOOD – Cooking memories

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It’s the summer holidays and BBQ season is well and truly upon us, but what will you be putting on your grills?

In fact, how much do you think about what you put in your supermarket trolley? What you fill your fridge with? What you line your stomachs with? What you fill your family’s plates with?

Never ever has there been a time that there has been so much pressure on parents. The internet is full of contradictory advice and social media adds to the illusion that we are all constantly being judged. Whether you choose to buy all organic meat, heat up ready-made meals, or serve vegetarian food, there’s an article on the internet somewhere telling you that you’re doing it all wrong. (Oh, and that BBQs give you cancer.) However, we all have something in common. We are all time pressed, or so society tells us. The media convinces us that we all need everything fast. Most current recipe books put the emphasis on “quick and easy”. What is this deal with speed? Fast cars, fast weight loss results, fast facts, fast answers, fast dating, fast internet, fast food, the list goes on. It’s an age of convenience. Ironically, these days people spend more time watching cookery shows than preparing meals.

As Michael Pollan shares in his book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation: “The ads have helped manufacture a sense of panic about time, depicting families so rushed and harried in the morning that there is no time to cook breakfast, not even to pour some milk over cereal. No, the only hope is to munch on a cereal bar (iced with synthetic ‘milk’ frosting) in the bus or car.”

Is it time that we learnt to slow down?

Claudia Le Feuvre, Nutritional Therapist and Eating Psychology Coach touched on this subject as she gave her talk at the Gibraltar Health and Wellness Day on “Why is it so hard to keep eating healthily?”.

I asked her to share some advice on slowing down with The Gibraltar Magazine readers.

“Slowing down around food benefits everyone. In particular, it is such a simple solution to two key issues I see in my clinic: weight gain and IBS. We eat less when we slow down and it is less taxing on the digestive system. When we are in a relaxed state while eating, more blood can flow to the digestive system to support the digestive process. So many of my IBS clients have fewer symptoms at the weekends or on holiday because they are slowing down. When you make the connection it’s easy to put a plan in place to slow down in the week.”

Claudia’s top tips:

Carve out time to eat

So many of us end up eating on the run, gobbling a few bites for breakfast while prepping the kids lunches, or maybe a sandwich at your desk between meetings.

Enjoy every mouthful

Stay present with food. You will eat less and enjoy it more.

Create a slow down competition

If you are a family of fast eaters, challenge yourselves to slow down and see who can savour their food the most.

Set the mood for family meals

Turn off the screens and put on some music. Create quality family time every day.

The junk food challenge

As you begin to slow down and savour your food, you become more discerning about what you are eating. If you have kids or a partner who love junk food, tell them the one condition for them to eat it is they have to slow down and savour every mouthful. Fast food doesn’t taste good when eaten slowly! It will soon put them off.

At a time when gadgets and the internet have such an intrusive presence within family homes, mealtimes are a wonderful opportunity to reflect, interact and bond. Mindful eating and conscious eating is something we should all think about. It’s not a luxury, but a necessity for a healthy gut and healthy relationships.

Slow eating also gives us time to think about and appreciate what we are eating. Since proactively attempting this practice in our own household, I have found myself veering further towards vegetarian dishes. I simply feel better when I eat less meat, both ethically and physically.

It was also a pleasant surprise to notice how fast it was to put together vegetarian meals and to see my grocery bill shrink significantly. We made time to allow our toddler to “help” with cooking and suddenly greens were much more appealing to her. Soon, we weren’t just making dinner but making memories too.

I am taking part in The Kin Project challenge to change one habit every week for the betterment of ourselves and the world around us. While this isn’t one of the challenges that has been set (at least not so far), I invite you to trial slow eating for a week. Everyone can manage one week.

Life flies by, kids grow up faster than we can keep up with, we’re all working longer hours, seasons come and go in the blink of an eye. Carve out some quality family time on a daily basis, and create habits that can be passed down from one generation to the next. We only have this one life. Don’t rush it.

Visit www.thekinproject.com to start changing your habits for the better now.