My thoughts on food.
Food Makes Me Happy
As a child I did not think much about the food I was eating, but simply ate what was put in front of me (as I was not allowed to leave the table until my plate was clean!). When I moved to London for university, I suddenly had to budget, shop, and cook. Therefore whether I wanted it to or not, food became a much bigger part of my life.
Things did not start so well as I recall once a month my housemate and I would go to Borough Market between lectures and spend our entire weekly food budget on one meal. One term I also spent the last of my student loan eating out at a new restaurant because I was fed up of sharing halls with other students who ate my food after a night out, and left me the washing up as a thank you!
When I moved to Peckham in 2013 I began working, my spending habits had to change and the local area showed me many opportunities to cook with different flavours and ingredients. In particular are the numerous African food shops, and Persepolis, a Persian supermarket run by a wonderful woman called Sally. Having less time, longer shifts (with an awful hospital canteen) and a commute, also meant that I needed to be organised with meals, so I began thinking a little more about what I was cooking. With thought and care came enjoyment, and now I love to sit and plan my weekly meals, or where I want to eat out, and maybe what cake I want to bake for work.
Food makes me curious
When I was a child, people told my mum that she should avoid feeding me certain foods such as peppers, aubergine, citrus or tomatoes, in case it would flare up my Arthritis . A book that she bought about Arthritis and diet also confirms this, despite showing no clinical evidence. Martin Lau, a nutritionist who specialises in Rheumatoid Arthritis, told me last week when I met him that these ‘good and bad foods’ are just not backed up scientifically and I can thankfully go on eating my aubergines!
Many authors of recipe books in the last few years claim to have changed their diet after a new illness developed and was not improved by western medicine, and although it goes against what I’ve spent the last decade being taught, I was feeling desperate and curious to see if anything really would change.
So, 3 months ago, curiosity got the better of me and I decided that as my diet was something I had some control over, I could potentially improve my symptoms. How or in what way, I would have to wait and see!
I decided to cut out dairy. I also cut down on meat (particularly red meat), reduced my alcohol intake, and began taking various supplements, which I shall write about another time.
Being vegan/gluten free/dairy free, has become something of a fashion in the last few years and I was slightly wary of becoming a bit of a cliché: I had begun making my own cashew milk before Christmas, and I started making my own almond butter and hummus. Days were being spent roasting nuts and vegetables in the oven, driving my husband mad. He would refer me to this video by Jimmy Kimmel a few years ago, which is hilarious (and a bit of light relief to a much-discussed topic!).
Food makes me passionate (and a bit geeky!)
I am currently putting together an evidence-based blog post about the myths of certain dieting and what is actually true. In the meantime though, we all know that we are at higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and hypertension if we follow a poor diet or sedentary lifestyle. As a doctor, I always try to discuss these things with my patients when I can, as public health is still not at the forefront of medicine and it’s part of my job to spread the word!
Food can bring us together
When I worked on a stroke ward in South London, every week I made a cake for the multidisciplinary meeting. The occupational, speech and physio therapists were my most honest critics, and the nursing staff were my biggest fans! I loved every second of it and have been baking a little for the secretaries in my current department, but they have seen some disasters too!
Some of my happiest times have been around my parents dinner table, or in a restaurant with wonderful friends. My very dear friend Diane and I see each other once or twice a year and always treat ourselves to a very special restaurant meal, planning it sometimes months in advance, which creates great excitement and anticipation. I will always thank Di for teaching me so much about food, wine and the finer things in life!
Food starts conversations, creates and develops friendships, and can sometimes break the ice in difficult situations. It has helped me to feel more confident when in unfamiliar environments, built my self-esteem when I’ve had feedback on my baking, and it has also inspired me to learn more about what I eat and where it comes from.
I hope that through reading my posts you can sense my passion and feel the same way too. I am no top chef, no author of a recipe book, and it’s my sister with the cooking qualifications. The ‘Eating’ section of this website will hopefully show you that you don’t need to be any of those things either!