A Note from the Chef
Have you noticed that lately, when it comes to food, we’ve become more and more fragmented? There’s a diet for almost every lifestyle – and that could be a good thing if by “diet” we’re simply referring to the way we eat – and we tend to wear our food preferences as a label to define, separate, or limit us. Everywhere we look, food is the fall guy for a long list of ailments. I thought food was a way to connect – not separate; to enjoy – not fear? Whatever happened to just eating fresh food, prepared simply and shared in good company using common sense for what we ingest?
The obvious answer might be that since our lives have gotten busier and busier, fewer and fewer people cook regularly, and so we ingest all kinds of nasty things mixed into our food. Certainly, because of the way food is produced in many parts of the world (especially in the US) we do need to make informed and conscious choices, but at times, it feels like we’ve entered a battlefield titled “partake at your own risk”. We can blame the system all we want, but unless we take responsibility for our choices, we remain powerless and a prisoner to whatever ails us.
This makes me wonder, “Are we making our food choices based on fear?” Has fear infiltrated our minds resulting in an all out war with our food? Aren’t we ourselves, part of the problem by participating in the battles…and therefore also part of the solution?
After teaching thousands of people how to cook, publishing countless recipes that are widely circulated, and entertained a large variety of guests in my home, I find I can no longer plan a simple meal or class without asking, “What do eat or not eat?” Many people have a long list. And that’s okay…I’ll still cook for you, yet the question remains, “Is this list of foods we should consume or avoid really feeding our fear and guilt? Is the divisiveness a symbol for what ails us?
I’ve never promoted any specific diet (though my recipes are certainly influenced by my native Italian) which is why you’ll see vegan, vegetarian, seafood, poultry and meat dishes all included. My criteria are to use fresh ingredients in simple ways. That’s it! The choice of what to eat is yours.
Still I can’t help but notice how many people get offended, not only by a certain type of food but by an ingredient – even if used in a minuscule quantity that wouldn’t harm anyone. Too often people argue over the merits of one diet versus another and get angry because of another’s choice in what they eat!
Getting offended and angry is always a defense that comes from fear and guilt. These emotions don’t make us healthier regardless of how much green juice we consume! In our quest to be informed, we too often choose what to eat based on what the media tells us; what studies show; or from personal experience that’s been conditioned by the “experts” as to what’s good or bad.
The problem is, what’s good or bad is always changing and not always true. And what’s always changing can’t ever come from anywhere except the ego thought system. It comes in all kinds of disguises, packages and scenarios, wrapped with hidden agendas. It’s a master mixologist combining the good with the bad; pleasure with pain. But this way is always based on fear and never good for us. Somehow we must find a way to make peace with our food, our body and our self.
I imagine as enlightened beings, we could eat anything and still be nourished…and not get fat. But until then, we need to clean up the misperceptions in our mind and take an honest look at what ideas we’ve been willing to ingest; what beliefs we hold, unquestioned…sometimes for generations. Where do we hurt?
Are we willing to see things differently – that our aches, pains and sufferings are clues calling to be healed?
Are we willing to make our wellbeing a priority and begin to question the motivation of why we eat as we do? Isn’t it possible to begin to loosen the chains around what we allow ourselves to eat and simply eat what we like using common sense, without guilt, in moderation and balance, in a space of love whether consumed alone or in company?
Can’t every meal, regardless of how humble, be a celebration simply because we have fresh food before us? Gratitude, love and forgiveness are the ingredients that trump all the supplements and nutrients we frantically look to fill our deprived diets. They’ll add the nourishment we truly need to supplement the nutrient weak food we sometimes need (or want) to consume.
What I know for sure is that nothing good ever comes from fragmentation and separation. There must be a way to eat whatever we deem right for ourselves without feeling judged or holding our choices against anyone else. There must be a way for everyone to have access to good food in a world of plenty. Food has always been a means to connect us and I don’t want to lose that. Do you?
Don’t we collectively know that there’s got to be a better way? Let’s ask for one in our minds and hearts. Sooner or later…it’ll show up.
Let me know what you think in the comments below. I really want to know.
My wife and I both love to cook. We even gave it an acronym – CIF – cooking is fun. We go to the store and pick out what looks good – luckily we have no allergies. My style of cooking is layering, building flavors as I go. Let the food do the talking with some herbs and spices playing in the background.
Neither of us can understand why all this fuss. The only thing I try to avoid is garlic from China. We love to cook from scratch so we don’t buy preprocessed foods which clearly are full of junk – common sense stuff.
And many thanks for your wonderful emails.
Scott, So great to hear from you! And thank you so much for giving us a glimpse into how you cook. Great tips and advice!!
And yes, here to more common sense! Can we just sprinkle that in??
I don’t even know where to begin to express how much this post resonates with me. I always say that guilt and food should not be used in the same sentence. You express this message so beautifully. There is a better way than what we are doing now. It does feel fragmented and broken. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, as always.
Thanks so much Elise! Here’s to finding better way. It’s coming!!
Silvia I LOVE that you wrote about this topic!
I’ve health issues and a lot of allergies and when I couldn’t find help from an allopathic Dr. it sparked my passion and interest in nutrition and I set out to research on my own.
There is so much conflicting info out there and for a while I bought into much of it. I found myself miserable and all of the pleasure and fun was sucked out of food for me (which was a big part of my life and culture I’m italian!)
I am a big believer in energetics and thought creating our reality so I started reframing how I thought and spoke to myself about the food I was eating. When I eased up on myself I actually started feeling better physically.
I still have some allergies, but as I heal (and I will) the process isn’t as painful as it once was and I can have FUN again. So glad you’re bringing awareness to this issue!
Susan, As one fellow Italian to another, if we can’t find joy in food…that’s a tragedy alert! So glad you’re finding relief.
I bought into it too – the conflicting information and then I started to see that food and nutrition is no different that anything else. Most people think that our body reacts and then we do something to fix it. I now know that it’s the other way around. Our mind believes (consciously or unconsciously) and the body reacts!
First of all, can you cook for me? hahah I actually have tried every diet in the book and you know how I lost the weight? when I ate more greens, fruits, and even meats with a joyful knowing that my life is fulfilled. That gratitude changed everything in my life (in more ways that just the weight.) Thank you for sharing this post.. definitely valid points all around.
Stacey this is so great! I’d love to hear more about this. Mindset is key. In the meantime, a switch to mainly fruits and vegetables + meat and fish is how I lost my Freshman year college weight. I was working as a server in Montauk, LI, a beautiful fishing village, and that was my diet all summer.
Come to think of it, I haven’t really been concerned about my weight ever since.
Thanks so much for your comment and so glad it resonated.
Wonderful post, Silvia! I completely agree that if it’s not fun, we’ve missed something! I love to learn from my kids and they are certainly going to make eating anything fun! Plus, they listen to their intuition when they eat and even though they may not eat something at one meal, I’ve noticed that they will have it in another. I’ve been reteaching myself how to eat with self-love, with joy, with appreciation and no rules and it’s made a world of difference – in how I feel and in my steadily fit waistline!
Amen to that Lana! When my kids were little I noticed the same thing, that they would eat according to what they felt like in the moment. Thanks so much for your comment.
Thanks for the article, Sylvia! I really love your thoughts. As a compulsive eater in a twelve step program, I’ve found myself in a place where I really need to be thinking differently about food. There are definitely things I can’t eat without triggering my compulsive eating, but that’s just about me, not anyone else. One of the things a sponsor told me is that food is just fuel for my body. I can’t think of it any other way. I’m not sure I agree with that. I know that I can no longer use food to fuel my emotions, but I feel like I still need to treat food as a blessing and create meals for myself that feel like a blessing. Your article really affirmed that for me, so thanks!
Madeleine, I’m so glad that this confirmed that food can be a joy and a blessing because it can be! If it’s simply fuel than all we’d have to do is swallow a few capsules and be done with the whole process and we would miss out on the joy of preparing and sharing a meal, which is really about connection.
You are on the right track! Keep going!!
I couldn’t agree more with your stance on food. As long as we eat whole (organic) food and listen to our bodies as to if any added vitamins/herbs are needed, we’d be happy, fulfilled and relaxed! Ive gone through being vegetarian, vegan, raw-foodist, alkalizing diets…you name it. And ive come back to wanting to find balance, ease and harmony with food. I still use a lot of the old recipes as and when i enjoy them! Without stressing about it if i have something different. Some things i hardly have since my body for doesnt themi but If i go out for dinner i dont worry about having some either. Very freeing. I like simple, plain food that i can still taste as the food it is. Thanks for your article!! Akke
So glad you’ve come back to balance, relaxing and enjoying what you eat! People don’t realize that they could be eating something totally healthy but if they’re stressed out about eating it or while eating it…it isn’t healthy any more!You’re doing great Akke.
Thank You Silvia!!! You are a breath of Fresh Air. I was a chiropractor for over 30 years and I must say… I am Changing My Mind Big time… Over the years of “agreeing’ with food fears of patients… and furthering the ‘food fear’ of many… I am pleased to say… I no longer suggest any specific food or Not… I say… Eat Without Guilt… That is the single Most important thing to do!!! Thank You Again for following Your Heart!! xoxoxox
Absolutely Calico…Eat without guilt! I can’t thank you enough for your support. It means so much to me!!!
Chef Silvia, I agree 100%. I love to cook, and eat everything that’s natural. I also love to wash it down with a little vino. I encourage everyone to do the same. I’ve lost 50lbs. in 4 months since switching back to exclusively eating fresh, natural foods. Fish, meat, cheese, olive oil, wine, whole grain breads, fresh vegetables, figs, dates, almonds and lots of Rapini sautéed with a little bit of hot sausage. What else do you need? Actually I eat a lot more than just that. But I do urge everybody to back off the processed foods that are full of chemical additives, other than that, in sensible moderation love your food
Hi Chef Steve. Congrats on all the weight loss and for eating so sensibly with such joy! Bravo!!