As a family we’ve been focusing on food for over ten years now.
When Mrs F and I first got together I was still a full time student with a part time job. She moved from Warsaw to the UK and the plan was to start a family and divide the responsibilities. I will earn the money, she will manage the home.
Food for us then was a matter of ‘eat what you can afford’. We shopped at the cheaper supermarkets and most times bought their named brands. Even back then it was apparent that there is a difference in something as simple as good spaghetti and bad spaghetti. I think salt might be the only product you will find hard to differentiate.
We ate a lot of homemade food during those years but I remember taking to work the packaged snacks that were considered healthy. My first job was at a business park out in the sticks for a small company with no canteen. I ate at local pubs occasionally but the closest was half a mile from the office so it was not often with English weather and what I could afford.
We were conscious about food in as far as we were trying to stretch our budget and figured home cooking was a smart way to do this. If you audited our kitchen then it was mostly the standard ingredients for conventional meals. We still included sodas, juices and grain products, like breads and pasta, on the shopping list. We were never big into confectionery.
As my career grew so did our shopping list. By 2008, we were eating more packaged foods and the take away bill both at home and during lunch at work was growing. The store brand days were behind us but it was the same group of products. The medical niggles were also stepping to the fore.
At my first job, the one out in a field, I had a one hour drive each way, every day. I started to experience bouts of anxiety while on the road. Once I remember being stuck in a traffic jam and hunched over the steering wheel, cold sweating and feeling my heart in my mouth, dreading it was the end of me. I braved through that period but the threat of a blackout was always close.
My next job was in London. More money, more food. The blackouts were just one of a growing number of ailments that doctors consoled me as evidence of age. I accepted that and the medication that came with it. I can count about five major problems, some of which I hope to write about in other posts, which were plaguing me at the time.
In 2008 things came to a head when I was sent home from work after blacking out and being too ill to continue. At that point I decided I had to make some changes to my diet. This idea did not come out of nowhere but it was as a result of information I was getting online that started at an information security blog by Chris Hoff who mentioned Art DeVany and his randomness theories.
Then I read Nasim Taleb’s Fooled by Randomness and was a regular visitor to Mark’s Daily Apple and Free the Animal by this time. So the idea was to stop all the grains, although recommended by the doctors, and cut the sugars to a minimum. I also did regular fasting. I found it an easy step and Mrs F was very supportive although to this day, Pancakes on Sunday mornings remains a family tradition no one is willing to shed.
As all converts, we were very strict in the start and the recipe books were a needed guide. As time passed and the more I read and the more we practised on the subject of Paleo, the more of a mile high view we took of nutrition. Now we focus on real food but still with the proscriptions on wheat products, packaged foods and drinks.
The medical ailments have mostly disappeared. I take no medication now, no supplements and I’ve reduced visits to the doctor to an almost annual event.
We do not use Paleo recipe books but draw on our Trinidad and Polish backgrounds to put together meals made of local and imported ingredients. The macro nutrients we get can be listed as below:
Protein – eggs from a local farm, meats bred in the UK, Polish meats and sausages, fish (tinned like wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, cod livers), smoked mackerels, fresh fish, roasted nuts and almonds, coconut milk
Carbohydrates – dasheen, eddoes, potatoes, cassava, plantains, fruits, organic spelt flour (for pancakes and occasional cakes), plantains flour, gari, millets
Fats – coconut oil, butter, palm oil, animal fats, olive oil
This list is not exhaustive but it is close to what our cupboards stock on a regular basis and from this we make every effort to create new and exciting meals for the entire family. There is no weekly rota of dishes and each evening on returning home it is pretty much a guessing game of “What’s for dinner?”
Our eating is a continuous journey of taking responsibility for our health. We engage the children in the making of the shopping lists, the shopping, the gardening, the cooking and the rituals we’ve built around family meals.
The next level for us is to have more produce from our garden that we are starting this year. We bought the house with raspberry, gooseberry and apples and added strawberries and tomatoes so far. In the Autumn we want to set up some beds for produce in 2014.
There is also a plan to get a freezer now that we have more space and source our meats locally. The idea is to have a closer relationship with the food we eat in order to develop the reverence necessary to maintain our health and vitality and to better appreciate the interconnectivity of all life.
Chris Hoff – http://www.rationalsurvivability.com/blog/
Art DeVany – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_De_Vany
Nasim Taleb – http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/
Mark’s Daily Apple – http://www.marksdailyapple.com
Free the Animal – http://freetheanimal.com/