I am so excited to have Paola as a contributor to my blog, we have known each other for a number of years now, and both being Euopean like to discuss the way food is interpreted. This post is a great addition to that conversation. I hope you all enjoy reading it.
Thank you Paola for being here.
I’m french, therefore, I’m the recipient of a lot of cliches and questions regarding my country and how we do things differently. I will spare you the french chic, Edith Piaf and the city of lights. What’s relevant here is how the french eat. I say “how”, not “what”. With 300 cheeses, a daily consumption of wine and 5 hour meals, the french still come out with a healthier life average than the people in the U.S.. Why is that?
First of all, we love food!. We embrace it, worship it even! Food in my country is almost like a religion. We eat at specific times, food is served in a specific order, there are rules and regulations. And there is a reason to that madness. The scientific reason is that your body will absorb, or bypass, food differently depending on the combination of ingredients and the order in which it enters your body. The French have dedicated themselves for centuries to food. A well digested meal is a fully pleasurable one! After 20 years in the U.S. I still have a hard time glancing at plates that include appetizer, main course and dessert all at once.
“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”
Second of all, we love food! A research delivered a study including french and American women and their reaction to the idea of chocolate cake. 70% of french women reacted with pleasure, almost the same percentage of American women reacted with guilt. What’s wrong with that picture?
At the energetic level, eating something AND feeling guilty about it will make it more likely to be rejected by the body. Eating under stress translates to the body as a difficult period of time coming up and it’s time to store fat. The body goes in panic mode.
At the emotional level, eating a slice of cake is catering to your pleasure which I endorse. Eating the whole cake, or a bigger portion than pleasurable, is catering to compensating, addiction or numbing. Knowing the difference is crucial to developing a healthy and productive relationship with food.
One simple rule that I put in place is: eat everything you want, in moderation.
I remember the story of a french chef that was struggling with his weight. His job required that he tasted everything that was created in the kitchen, including new recipes, for quality control purposes. He one day decided to switch to a smaller sized spoon he used to try the dishes. That was a little detail that helped him shed the extra pounds.
Another simple trick is to remember to use a fork. Sandwich, wraps and pizzas are lovely. They also deliver a lot of food, hardly chewed, in a very short period of time, down to your stomach. Choosing a dish that requires a fork will deliver food slowly. You’re more likely to chew it, and your body will digest it better.
Poorly digested food can go two ways: right through you, or it will be stored by your body in the form of fat. Fat is like a savings account in case you get sick or are hungry. A lot of activities not recognized by the body such as overindulgence, stress or unnatural food combination, will be considered by the body as a threat and fat is more likely to be stored.
‘Because of media hype and woefully inadequate information, too many people nowadays are deathly afraid of their food, and what does fear of food do to the digestive system? I am sure that an unhappy or suspicious stomach, constricted and uneasy with worry, cannot digest properly.’
I mentioned earlier that I support eating everything, in moderation. I want to add an extra level of moderation for food that doesn’t serve your body. It may taste good to you now, however, there is no nutritional value to it at all. For the record, there are nutritional values to coffee and wine as well as butter and bread. What I refer to here are GMOs and over processed food.
I believe in the closest frequency possible to your natural body to be the most productive choice. Different foods for different seasons, specific dishes for each time of day, everything is linked. Unless you are yourself a genetically modified organism, I encourage you to stick as often as possible to what is the closest to your true self: nature.
I do support several forms of diet from vegan to meat lover as long as it serves your health.
Reevaluating a diet is hard! I encourage you to look at it one item at a time, one choice at a time. What you eat and when you eat it will have an impact on your energy level and your sleep quality. One of my golden rule is to work on one item at a time. Maybe you want to revisit your coffee consumption or your lunch routine. There is no right or wrong way to do this, whichever improvement you wish to put in place will serve you. Therefore, just pick one and dedicate yourself to it. Once the changes are in place, go to the next one.
I credit my youthful looks to my genetics but also to the fact that I’ve always been an avid water drinker. Even during my heavy tequila consuming period, I did drink a lot of water, which my skin and liver are thankful for.
Water hydrates, we all know that. You can calculate the exact amount of water required for you body mass with many apps nowadays.
Something I’d like to stretch is that water also helps your body process other things. Some foods may require you drink more water. Drinking alcohol will dehydrate you therefore you will need to drink more water to balance that consumption. Some teas and coffee are also dehydrating therefore must be compensated by an additional intake of water. Drinking liquids doesn’t count as hydration and with a plethora of multicolor drinks available, I encourage you to do your homework and choose carefully what you put in your body.
I invite to play with your food in the sense that you have a lot of space to experiment with herbs, spices, tools and techniques. When was the last time you visited the spices racks of a specialty store and wondered what you could do with just a few of them! Something that has completely changed the way I manage my food is essential oils. Some companies in the U.S. produce essential oils of such purity that they can be used as flavoring in drinks, pastries and sauces! And they come with fantastic health benefits as well. They are an exciting complement to herbs and spices that may not always be fluid enough to be mixed in some dishes. Essential oils are very powerful and only the ones of the highest quality are considered food grade.
In conclusion, eating well is not rocket science, it does require intention and diligence. Food is supposed to be fun! Let’s thrive to keep it that way!