Eating. It’s actually one of the most basic and natural parts of our lives. Or at least it used to be. Until it turned into one of the most complicated and stressful ones.
I grew up in a family where good food was always celebrated and eaten in large quantities. Given the fact that “good” in our case basically meant healthy, organic and homemade, the big portions we were used to eating never caused any trouble. So I never really gave food much thought. I just ate what was there and as much as I wanted to. I occasionally (and secretly) had fast food and candy. I didn’t eat meat, simply because I didn’t like its texture, and I avoided dairy because I was lactose-intolerant. All in all I’d say my diet was pretty balanced and simple.
Then, thanks to my high school education, I started getting interested in dietetics. And I guess that’s where the misery started. Because suddenly food wasn’t only one of the most basic and natural parts of my life any more. It turned into something that could be thought about, studied even. And over the years, as my knowledge and independency grew, it started to be one of the most complicated and stressful ones. Suddenly the carbs that had built the solid base of my nutrition for 2 decades were to be avoided by any means. Suddenly the dairy I had hardly ever eaten turned into an indispensable source of the glorified protein. Suddenly I found myself infected with the “clean eating”-virus that’s mainly been spread over the internet, making me spend hours in the kitchen, preparing, evaluating, weighing what I would eat the following day.
I’m not saying that’s all bad. I firmly believe that awareness and caution regarding nutrition is one of the keys to a healthy and happy life. So I did not only allow, but also welcome this slow but steady transformation into a self-proclaimed healthy food guru. I have always loved making and enjoying food. So why not give it the time and thought a hobby deserves?
So far, so good. The problem is that a hobby followed with a certain passion can easily turn into an obsession. And that – at least when it comes to eating – is a real problem. When suddenly everything evolves around when and what and how to eat, when awareness and caution turn into constraint and stress, the potential key to a healthy and happy life turns into a lock that imprisons what it’s supposed to set free.
So as always, it’s all about the balance. I realized that, but still found it extremely difficult to achieve. There’s too many diets, too many different theories, too many “experts” stating what is or isn’t good for you.
I wasn’t until I heard the story of how bacon & eggs became (or rather: was made) the American breakfast, that I understood: It’s all bullshit. When the breakfast culture of a whole nation can be changed just to sell more bacon, where do you think this whole protein cult is coming from? Or why is milk – that seemed to be so essential to our bones, teeth and general wellbeing a couple of years ago – is now more and more found to be completely unnecessary for human nutrition altogether?
Maybe we really should stop thinking about food so much and just eat whatever the fuck we want again. The problem with that approach is: We don’t know what we actually want anymore. In this flush of “science” and “information” we have lost the ability to listen to the only one who really cares about what is good for us: Our body.
Food is no longer one of the most basic and natural parts of our lives, it’s an industry. And an industry is never – at least not primarily – about giving you the key to health and happiness. It’s about getting your money. And if that means having to convince a whole nation that the key to health and happiness is a processed piece of meat, dripping with saturated fat, packed with preservatives and salt, so be it.
So what am I saying? Should we all go back to living in caves as hunters and gatherers? Well, maybe. But considering that I said it was all about the balance, that might be a bit extreme. All I’m saying is we should maybe rethink our attitude towards food. Maybe we don’t need anyone to give us lectures about it, because we are designed to know what’s good for us. Maybe we don’t need it to be flown around the globe, processed and advertised, because that doesn’t fill us with health or happiness, but the pockets of the industry. Maybe it doesn’t have to be complicated and stressful, if we just choose food that is still what it’s supposed to be: Basic and natural.