One of the top health tips you can do right now and hack your own biology to obtain optimal health is…are you ready?
Eating at home.
Now stop—don’t leave. Don’t roll your eyes or say I can’t cook, I don’t want to cook or you can get the same quality food at a restaurant.
Know this: you CAN cook, you can even learn to want to cook. And I hate to say it, but, no you cannot get the same quality food at a restaurant.
There might be one or two restaurants out there whose ingredients are as stellar as those you’d pick out–maybe.
But there’s also a whole host of other restaurants that seemingly have great stuff on their menus only to use super crappy oil in the preparation of those healthy, tasty meals.
The point is the ingredients—each and every single one of them from the olive oil in the salad dressing to the salt and pepper used in the making of your meal, have to be of top quality in order to get the most nutrition out of each meal.
We need to remember that each ingredient is a building block for a cell—it’s how we feed our mitochondria, the mighty energy centers of each cell. Given lousy fuel, our mitochondria perform in a subpar way, hindering health and paving the way for disease.
Given great fuel, our mitochondria respond positively, giving us the energy and joie de vivre we all desire.
But beyond ingredients that are above reproach, is the sheer joy of creating something beautiful, delicious and that feeds your soul as well as your tummy.
And listen—I get it.
Not every meal can be like that, but pretty much nearly every one of them can be when you take on the family cooking as a family, and not a one-woman show.
The Europeans have it right—they eat a wide variety of wonderful foods. They shop the open-air markets for the freshest ingredients; they bring it home and create magic in their kitchens.
And it’s not like Europeans have it easy, either. They work like we do too—they don’t have time to fool around and act like a celebrity chef—they have to get down to business and get food on the table just like we do—a simple meal with amazing ingredients, is the secret to making dinner time happen.
So when it’s time to sit down for the family meal, they open a bottle of wine, enjoy each other’s company, teach the little ones table manners and polite conversation and talk about everything from Artificial Intelligence to Zanzibar.
The reason is they have a different relationship with food then we do. They see food as a proper gateway to relationship. They understand by the way they procure and cook their food that it is an important element of their day—not just another thing to check off the to do list.
And while it may seem a little romantic and out of touch (yes I know that not all Europeans are alike in this daily pursuit) it’s a lesson to be grasped by all of us—food, the art of acquiring it, preparing and enjoying food with family and friends around the table gives rich meaning to our lives as people, families and communities.
The bottom line is that every meal counts. We need to get out of the habit of just getting something to fill the empty hole that is our collective tummy. At the end of the day, we are feeding souls.
It all boils down to a relationship.
In particular, our relationship to food—we need it several times daily so it really needs to be a good one.
Connecting with the right kinds of foods and understanding that food is more than mere fuel, but actual data our bodies collect to decide what to do. Given the right nutrients, we turn on the right hormones and signals for our bodies to repair and correct. Given the wrong data (anti-nutrients), our bodies go into emergency mode, starting fires (inflammation) and neglecting the necessary repair.
Eating great meals always begins with great ingredients—the easily recognizable, one-word ingredients that we all know and not the stuff in bags and boxes with words we can’t pronounce or identify.
It’s a simple thing, yet it’s not easy. It takes work and a sustained effort to have this kind of relationship with food.
And yet it’s doable—so doable.
For many of us that means we need to turn one thing off to turn another thing on—maybe instead of vegging out in front of the TV, you veg out with your partner in the kitchen preparing a meal that will not only give your bodies something to work with to help you live your best lives, but give you an opportunity to connect, breathe and become more conscientious of the life you really DO want to live.
This isn’t a lecture, nor is it shaming of any type that’s meant to make you feel guilty or bad about your current state of the dinner table.
It’s truly food for thought—drilling down to who you are and who you want to become. Understanding that the connection to your community comes with the simple basics of life, not the big hoorahs like holidays, weddings and such that merely decorate a well-lived life.
Let’s live each day in the present, giving each moment it’s due—even when it’s something as simple as feeding the family their nightly meal.
It’s high time we relish the little things—these are the things that illustrate our lives, each and every single one of us.