As a food lover and professional freelance chef, I probably have a strange, and fairly intimate relationship with food. To be honest I have always had a strange relationship with food, it’s probably why I became a chef.
I am not like everyone else that I sit down to three meals a day, I have to taste food all day long to make sure it’s tasty with the right amount of seasoning etc. It’s sometimes difficult to gauge how much, or what I have eaten in the course of the day.
It’s a stressful job, which comes with a certain amount of pressure. I have to get a delicious meal on the table, on time, often to total strangers, who have very particular and varying tastes and like their meals a certain way. Like a lot of jobs, things can go wrong. As a freelancer, I show up to strange kitchens, I have to deal with old not very good ovens, crooked pans, or tiny hobs with not enough space to put four different pans. Sometimes the ingredients aren’t up to the mark which look fine on the outside but taste of nothing when cut open. Meat can be tough through no fault of the chef.
As a naturally anxious person this can make me stress and cause me to loose my perspective.
My own taste and when time allows, I like simple well sourced organic food, with lots of fresh vegetables of different colours and varieties, simply cooked, letting the vegetables speak for themselves, I feel happiest when eating this kind of food and feel as though I am caring for myself and attempting to keep myself healthy. But like everyone, with a busy working life, it isn’t always possible to eat this way and if I’m cooking for people on holiday who want to indulge, its difficult to find time to start steaming my own vegetables or preparing something healthy for myself.
I get so tired too that I reach for the sugary treats to keep me going through the long days. It’s a bad habit really and one that can easily re rectified with a little thought and effort.
Stress for me personally can have two effects, one to over eat sweet fatty foods, or not eat at all. The latter was a bigger problem in my youth and probably came from some deep seated feeling of not being good enough, pretty enough and thin meant beautiful, or just being so stressed about everything, not physically being able to stomach anything.
Combating stress and keeping myself well and healthy for me means I have to tackle it head on by doing several things on a daily basis. The following are some tactics I use to do this. When it stresss on I have to stop myself physically and mentally and take stock and breathe, just take a few minutes to myself, get perspective, how important is this situation, and is it worth blowing a fuse over it (the answer is, it never is) it’s a just a meal and its not life threatening to anyone.
Taking care of myself and my health and well being. That means eating three well balanced nutritious meals a day. Avoiding drinking too much tea or coffee.
Taking regular exercise. This can be transformative for me personally, and lift me out of the doldrums, especially a brisk country walk taking in the scenery around and appreciating the beauty of the countryside.
Taking time out everyday for myself, walk the dog, lie under a tree in the sunshine and look at the sky, sit and read a book, any thing that makes me feel calm and peaceful.
On the food front when I’m on a good roll, I like to start the day with a good breakfast. I really look forward to this, and take my time to eat it slowly sitting down and taking my time.
One of my absolute favorites is homemade Bircher muesli. It’s a thing of beauty and making the effort to make it yourself is head and shoulders superior to the store bought sugar filled granolas and mueslis, and the plus is, you know exactly what you are eating.
Here’s the simple easy to prepare recipe.