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A Change of Perspective | Eating Healthy

Award-winning from cutting board to pre-dessert, home-cooked meals are a winner. I am definitely not cut out to win over the hearts of food aficionados of the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson, or the whip-it-together-in-a-spiffy-and-a-jiff Jamie Oliver. But there is something extraordinary gratifying about using all the pots and pans you can find to cook up your own masterpiece.

There were times that I had a stove, a microwave, and apparently a saucer, yet they were excellent in eating dust. Stacked and packed in my kitchen without any chance to see the light of day, the adventure of Niels and his apron ended with making toast. Boiling an egg, perhaps, but that was highly advanced in my books.

Living in a land where food is worshipped, where one can get a stunningly delicious meal from the street for a dollar, who wouldn’t dig in the delights of Thailand’s gastronomical world? And besides that, time was money. There was no time to waste when business needs to be conducted, right?

During business meetings, I regularly fell prey to the fine-dining menus of lavishly decorated restaurants and eateries with names that alone would score high on the Michelin list. Travel was the name of the game. Inspections were a part of my job descriptions so why not merge food and talks together? It is a common fact that golf courses and business opportunities go hand-in-hand for certain countries. My battlefield of getting the best out of deals was with food.

Good food.

And lots of it.

Had I any idea what I was eating?

When thinking back about these scrumptious times, I actually did not.

Buffets were among the most sought-after venues to reload and reload my plates. The number of goodies from across the world was winking sensually to me. That feeling of those delicious dishes asking me silently to give it a try. Grilled or deep-fried, drizzled with chef’s special sauce or loaded with cream, unbuckling my trousers to allow my belly to catch a breath was a regular occurrence.

I fell for it.

Coming back to the question of what I ate on such an evening, I stay with my first answer. I had no idea! What my eyes saw, my mouth welcomed with open arms.

Digging deep in food that is not prepared by ourselves may be an easy choice when time is not on your side. We eat what we feel we enjoy that specific moment, and these master chefs who tantalise our taste buds understand that it is their job to make us eat. Just like street food, we do not always know about the “what” and “how” food is prepared from some of these culinary establishments.

When I changed my nutrition plan, I changed the way I had a relationship with my meals. This included cooking up what I believed befitted my diet. Spicing it up to my liking and carefully chosen ingredients that filled my macronutrient split. Aside from finding it extremely relaxing, my task to eat better and be more controlled was all that mattered.

When going out for a meal at any restaurant, I still tend to control my nutrient intake. Business meetings still occur, and I keep my principles in opting for healthier menu choices. My choices do not always match what was decorating my plate in a previous life. I changed because I want to keep this as a habit I am proud of. This included my home-cooked meals – loaded with vegetables, boiled eggs, lean meats, fish and dietary fats are my to-go meals. 

This does not always come with understanding. 

The feedback doesn’t lie.

During a recent meal with someone who I hadn’t met in a long time, the question rose “Are you on a diet?”. The reason was that I ordered a decent salad with my favourite drink – soda water – as my main course. After reminiscing about my voluptuous eating and drinking style, the question was why I did not go for all the deep-fried goodies and the swimming-in-sauce steaks. The talks continued about how I changed my life around, choosing wisely about my intake to stay on top of what I want to achieve.

The person in question used the opportunity to go all out on the menu because “the company paid for it”. That is fine. I enjoyed the company and the deliciousness of a variety of green leaves, loaded with all kinds of goodies. Some olive oil drizzled on top, and I am a happy camper! I am not going wild because I don’t get the bill.

Once we amicably left the place and went our separate ways, I started to think further about this question. And also what I get from my clients when sharing images of what I have when I need to replenish. The comments about their interpretation of scoring my home-cooked meal on their health scale connect to this same thing. Am I still on a diet?

In today’s society, is eating healthy food, and in moderation, now associated with being on a diet?

When looking back on the broad array of hotel buffets and a-la-carte menus I could choose from without swiping my credit card, I had no idea. Those things of what I eat, and in what quantity, are now pillars connected to my ‘why’. I want to know what I am eating as much as I can without going completely sterile. Going all picky on that what I do not know or is falling out of line. I keep my 80% in my crosshairs.

I haven’t been to a hotel buffet in a very long time. Should I be invited again, I will take the same stance as I take when I cook myself or when I fine-dine the night away. Skipping the dishes that once drew me like a moth to a flame is a decisive choice based on why I choose what I choose. If steaming or wok my veggies are considered diet food, so be it.

I am not bothered by it.

On the flip side, is the amount of food we eat and the new norm of what may not be a healthy balance in reaching one’s goal now the barometer of eating ‘normally’? Should we add a mix and match of food as a term showing that we are NOT on a diet? Has the definition of dieting entered the realm of not eating ‘around the world’ (read, international buffets) as something normal? Next time, I hit the a-la-carte restaurant or whip up some of my own at home.

I am sure that you all have been in this situation before. Making a conscious food choice and eliminating the less favourable dishes from the waiter’s notebook to choose what we really need to eat. Skipping dessert, not taking seconds, kindly declining that top-up; it is all part of an individual’s preference and goal.

The awareness of what one wants to eat and what one sees and eats anyway should never be connected to being on a diet. Our society has changed the way we interpret food and how it has found a place in our lives. Be it quality or quantity, the perception of what one eats may well be turning into a sort of labelling of that person. 

On one side, I can understand this. 

On the other side, I may not accept that my food choices may fall under your definition of “dieting”. Whether society believes this may well be the right description, I don’t care. I am more conscious of what I am eating because I care for my body. 

Some food for thought? 

If you keep good food in your fridge, you will eat good food | Errick McAdams

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