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OK, so it wasn’t always good but society did have a better relationship with food ‘back in the old days’ compared with today. Somewhere along the line, many of us have become disillusioned and have a warped view of how we should be growing, cooking and consuming our food.

Traditionally, families would grow their own food. Organic farming wasn’t even a ‘thing’, it’s just the way things were. Vegetables were picked from gardens or allotments and families took pride in cooking the foods that they had grown; people knew where the food they were eating came from– from field to fork, if you like. Families ate together every day, devoid of the pressures of modern day life and had the time to discuss their day while enjoying the food they were eating. Convenience foods didn’t exist and people were happier and healthier. A sweeping statement if you like, but let’s take a closer look at why.

Remember Sunday being your traditional meat roast and fish on a Friday? Maybe you don’t but it’s almost bittersweet to remember a time where there were no expectations to consume a certain amount of macros or protein each day, you had your homemade food each day and it nourished and satisfied you–maybe it was a bit predictable but at least we could trace where our food came from and it was in moderation. How about the memories you made over these dinners, moments with your family?  Times that may even have seemed mundane but now you look back on with fondness.

If we go back decades, the demand for luxuries such as meat and fish was considerably lower, which meant less mass production and more environmentally friendly. Of course, industry farming has sadly existed for a long time and standards are slightly better now then they have been but consider there not being such a huge demand for meat, fish and eggs? I would hope that the standards would be higher, the quality better and we would be healthier for it

Our food is now over processed: pesticides and preservatives damage the natural goodness of our food. We consume these chemicals and additives, our bodies are then unable to know how to process them and can potentially make us ill in the long term. I mean, not all ingredients can even be pronounced! Here’s a sobering thought for you: the over-processing of dairy and gluten products has led to major food allergies that didn’t exist 20-30 years ago!

Another key factor here is portion distortion. Oh boy, our portions are huge in comparison to years ago. We can’t even blame this entirely on greed, as food manufacturers sell bigger portions of their food compared with twenty years ago and these bigger portions are now the norm. We expect them, too, and see it as value for money. Over consumption of these foods means that we’re now bigger than ever, with life-threatening diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity at an all time high.

Theoretically speaking, we should be the healthiest we have ever been but on the contrary, the majority of people have an unhealthy relationship with food. Subjective disagreements in the ‘food’o’sphere’ leave many confused as to what and how they should be eating. Big corporations and celebrity endorsements promise quick-fixes, which only damage metabolisms and lead to a feeling of failure. Here lies a vicious cycle and where marketing and companies capitalise on societies insecurities.

How do we solve this food riddle? Surely with the pressures of our modern day lives, things can’t be like they used to, or can they… Of course they can. There are an endless variety of ingredients to experiement with and recipes to get excited about. Take yourself and your children away from the screen and into the kitchen, play with recipes, textures and tastes and get creative. Make the time to sit down with your family for meals, discuss your day and enjoy food without any of the guilt.  Think of it as soul food; nourish your body and mind.

With a little bit of my guidance and your self-belief, I want you to know that it is possible to find the time to prepare and enjoy fresh, nutritious food. You can find that balance and what works best for you and your family. I know you can do it, it’s just up to you to do it!

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Author Jay Halford

I am a health-conscious chef specializing in plant-based cuisine that incorporates juice programmes, food programmes, online cooking courses, recipes and educational resources that inspire the pursuit of a healthier way of living. I believe that your diet is supposed to be your greatest ally, supporting you to feel strong, look good, think clearly and achieve your goals, nothing less. A consistent healthy plant-based diet does that 100% - and I am committed to helping you experience its real healing power so that once you discover it, you'll never want to look back.

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