Put Bread Back On The Table
I've just finished the coursework for my masters (yay!), and yesterday to celebrate I baked some sourdough bread. I'm aware that this is a super nerdy nutritionist/student dietitian thing to do, and probably not the usual celebration that one would have after a year of very hard work, but for me it was the perfect thing to do. When I was younger my mum used to make almost everything from scratch, including bread, and now that I think about it, it was a very loving, nurturing thing she was doing - preparing good quality foods to nourish our growing bodies.
At the beginning of this year I got an idea to start making my own sourdough bread, I researched how to make a starter, and patiently fed it daily, until I had this wonderful active starter. I then used my mother's old recipe book, and took many attempts to perfect my sourdough. It's still not perfect, but it does have a delicious sour taste and a nice springy texture. My sourdough bread making is somewhat of a ritual, whereby every Friday night I take my starter out of the fridge and then start to feed it up from Saturday, to bake on Sunday, and then my boyfriend and I enjoy the bread throughout the week. Recently, however, I've been swamped with uni work and too busy to make my weekly loaves of bread. So the first thing I did upon finishing this semester was to get back to doing some baking, which is a rather therapeutic and exciting activity (how will it turn out? will it look like the loaves in the bakery? nope, oh well better luck next time, and so on).
Today, my mum and I both enjoyed ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch, with the sourdough bread I lovingly made yesterday, and it got me thinking. For many people this lunch might be considered as a bad or unhealthy option, and for many people bread is (unfortunately) a forbidden food. And I can understand this thinking. Before I started properly learning about food and the body, and when I didn't have such a healthy relationship with food (or my body), I too might have thought this. But this couldn't be further from my thinking these days. How can something that has taken days to prepare, and has been made with love and eaten with enjoyment, be anything other than nourishing? Bread is in fact, a very healthful option. Could it be that maybe it's not as much about the food we are eating, the bread in this case, but more about how we are eating it?
I for one know that when I make something from scratch I end up enjoying eating it a whole lot more, and I take the time to stop and enjoy every bite. This means my body has enough time to tell me when it's had enough, and I leave my meal feeling happy and satisfied.
I know this is not the same feeling I would be having if this was a forbidden or bad food for me. The fact that I now allow myself to eat all food, if and when I feel like it, means that I can have a healthy relationship with food and feel good and happy after eating. Perhaps if we opted for the quality option, that costs a little more, or took the time to make more of our food from scratch, we might end up taking our time and enjoying every bite, and leaving the meal happy and energised.
I think that these two aspects 1) opting for quality food and ingredients, and 2) taking your time and enjoying your food, will have a far greater positive impact on your overall health than cutting out any food that you perceive as "bad" or "unhealthy" in an attempt to eat better. So today, as I enjoy my ham and cheese sandwich, I'm asking, why don't we put bread back on the table? Choose a high quality bread, made from good ingredients, or make it yourself, and enjoy every last bite of it. If we eat in this way I think bread, and any other foods enjoyed, can absolutely have a place on any table.