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#SelfcareSundays: Food for the soul

10 Jan 2016

Does anyone remember TV food Doctor, Gillian McKeith? She was the host of Channel 4 TV show You Are What You Eat. In each episode, she would spy on overweight people, then pounce on them in their workplace, interrogate them, and lecture them on their early graves. She would also shame them in public, and then go off to inspect their poo. Despite her extreme methods and, in all seriousness, the foods we consume do have an effect on our bodies and our minds. Whether that’s having a lack of concentration, feeling sluggish, bloated or even guilty.

Food, like music, unites people. It’s universally used for fuel, giving us energy for the day but also for enjoyment, comfort and merging cultures together. Take Chuku’s for example, a Nigerian-inspired Tapas lounge in London run by a brother-sister duo, Emeka and Ifeyinwa Frederick. They’ve managed to bring Spanish culture and Nigerian culture together, while promoting an ethos of ‘Chop, Chat and Chill’. ‘Chop’ is West African pidgin for ‘eat’ and eating should be a joyful experience.

Quinoa Jollof, Chuku's London

Image: Quinoa Jollof / Chuku’s London

The obsessive marketing of superfoods (foods with supposed health benefits) has become so prevalent in retail that Iceland has a superfood freezer where you can purchase frozen quinoa for £1.50. I’ve tried it and its quite flavoursome. I will admit that there is a correlation between eating leafy greens and having more energy. I work at a busy production company, and a vegetarian Tesco meal deal just doesn’t cut it for me.

Every morning, I start my day with warm water, cayenne pepper and lemon (not to be confused with Beyoncé’s alleged maple syrup diet/the master cleanse) it helps me with IBS to sweat out any bad stuff. My fellow plant-based friend, Ailsa, swears by sweet potatoes and oats when she’s making health-conscious comfort foods: “I bake loads of sweet potatoes, and then spread coconut oil, agave syrup, honey and baked sweet potato on toast. It’s sweet and comforting but also nutritious.”

Image by Yero Timi-Biu

Image by Yero Timi-Biu

As we cruise through the long month of January, where Waterstones’ visual merchandising team have plastered their window display with the top-selling diet-based literature of 2015, we must remember that food isn’t the enemy. We shouldn’t deprive ourselves of certain ‘junk foods’, but we should eat them in moderation. We need to use our common sense if the food we consume isn’t making us feel good. Ultimately, we should take on the ethos of Chuku’s restaurant and ‘Chop, Chat and Chill’ and just enjoy.