The photos I've used in this post bear absolutely no relation to the subject. Because today I'm mostly writing about food. I tried to think of a snappy title but failed. Sorry. Hopefully the content will be more inspiring.
I'd love to share photos of my dresser, filled as it is with baking paraphernalia and jars of dry goods. Or beautifully-styled shots of my cookery book collection, artfully strewn with flour and bunches of herbs and so on. But with the light being what it is (dim) you'd have got a lot of grainy, blurry pictures.
So instead it's the usual little visual journal of our recent wanderings. I hope the disparity between the words and images doesn't prove to be too off putting.
I'm always a bit unsure about these type of posts; I'd hate to come across as preachy or sanctimonious. It's just that once I start thinking about things, and these things start to form a bit of a thread, they can end up here on Mitenska. So, without (hopefully) coming across as a bit of a bore, here goes.
I've written before about food being medicine (and medicine being food, as Hippocrates wisely said). I truly believe this. So I'm trying to get healthier. It's not a 'New Year, New Me' type of thing - which, let's be honest, would probably fall by the wayside after a few weeks.
I'm not ditching any major food groups (I believe carbohydrates are completely necessary). And I'm not following any 'trends', despite what I read about or see on Pinterest and the like. Matcha this, chia that.
But the whole idea of healing is really important to me. I have an autoimmune condition: nothing scary, but it's there and it needs controlling. And rather than dealing with the symptoms using prescription drugs (as I have for the past almost 30 years) I've decided to try and address the actual cause, to treat the reason it's there in the first place.
Nutrition fascinates me. I love reading about it; surprising, considering my complete aversion to anything even vaguely scientific. And I've read about some really compelling, if grim-sounding, stuff like leaky gut syndrome, adrenal fatigue and food sensitivities. Much of it I can identify with.
I know for a fact that I have a real problem with gluten. I struggle to avoid it because I love bread, cake, biscuits, dumplings... the list goes on. And on. But when I've given it up for reasonable amounts of time I've felt well again. My fingernails stop flaking. My stomach stops hurting. My 'brain fog' disappears. The aches and pains in my joints go away.
So I'm now absolutely determined to avoid it for good. And, ideally, to avoid the gluten free snacks and 'treats' you see on the supermarket shelves. Because they're full of sugar and all kinds of additives and ingredients I don't even recognise.
I now make my own bread and pancakes and sweet things using buckwheat flour, ground almonds, psyllium husks and whatever else works. I play around with recipes. Brown rice pasta tastes just like the usual stuff. As do gluten free porridge oats and oatcakes.
I've also cut right back on the dairy. No, my bones aren't about to crumble. I eat a lot of leafy greens and other good sources of calcium. And I made a truly beautiful discovery the other day: that hazelnut milk makes the most incredible-tasting cocoa.
I've ditched the booze (for now) and am going low-sugar. I avoid processed food, which isn't really a hardship as we cook from scratch anyway. Yes it pains me to hear what Joe eats for his school dinners sometimes, but he's four. I'm not going to impose any kind of regime on him. We don't have sweets in the house but chocolate is fine. He doesn't have crisps or fizzy drinks but we do bake biscuits together. He has toast with jam and the odd portion of trashy stuff if we're having something that's a bit out-there for him.
Fresh fruit and vegetables. Juices and smoothies. Beans and pulses, brown rice, certain grains. Nuts. Eggs, avocados, fish, chicken, the odd bit of lamb or beef. Nut milks. Vegetable crisps. Hummus, nut butters, olives, artichokes in oil, coconut. Stuff I bake myself. Honey, herbal teas, (very) dark chocolate. Herbs and spices, soups and stews. Interesting recipes I find online and in books.
It's far from the old image of wholefoods, with everything looking and tasting like sawdust. Well, apart from those psyllium husks. I love a good health food shop, but most of our provisions come from the local weekly market and little supermarket. A very small proportion comes from M&S Food (we don't have a Waitrose in these Northern climes, and Booths is a bit of a way away). That's mainly organic meat - not that we eat a lot of it - and dairy, for Joe.
I'm determined to feel better than I have in a long time. So by ditching the food that bothers me, and by adding that which is nourishing, coupled with brisk walks and supplements, good sleep and the odd bit of precious downtime, maybe I'll get it right.
The mug of cocoa has become a daily thing, by the way. And you can never underestimate the healing power of a good novel...