I may need a ladder to get up on this soapbox, but I’ve felt this way since I started learning to cook, even before I was diagnosed. So here it goes…
Anyone who is in charge of organizing a meal does meal planning, even if this involves deciding to order take away. In meal planning, we make direct decisions about how to spend our money, obviously, but we also make more indirect decisions about our health, our environment, and the welfare of people. Since food fuels our bodies, we can’t live without it, and yet we can count ourselves blessed if we have enough of it. Even worse, in the way that most food is currently produced, people, animals and the earth suffer in order for it to arrive on our plate. This should give every one of us pause.
We owe it to ourselves and the world to make wise decisions about what we eat. If you’ve never done this before, then this can seem overwhelming. Thankfully, it becomes second nature quite quickly. My own approach is quite basic. I don’t have loads of money available to buy the best food out there, but I make sure that the money I do spend is well spent. I buy locally produced food, even if it costs a smidgeon more, because it tastes better. (If you don’t believe me, buy an apple produced in New Zealand and another produced in Kent or wherever close to you and let me know.) When the food you eat tastes better, you eat less of it because you feel satisfied. I might also take this moment to remind everyone about the fragility of the food chain and the need to increase food security, which really hit home during WWII, when no shipping line was safe.
The powers that be during WWII also realized that food is a powerful weapon, especially given what had been learned about nutrition since the beginning of the 20th century. Civilians had to be fighting-fit in order to not be starved into submission. MoF pamphlets abound with talk of body building foods (protein), energy foods (carbohydrates) and protective foods (vitamins). The housewife was encouraged to serve at least one raw vegetable a day and a well-cooked (meaning not overcooked) vegetable on top of that. Fruit was scarce, so vegetables had to step up to the plate, literally. Protein was also not as abundant as previously, and had to be used wisely and fairly in order to ensure that people stayed healthy. Finally, locally produced carbohydrates such as oatmeal and potatoes were favored over those that had to be imported, such as rice and wheat. (Okay, I know the GF diet relies a lot on rice, and I agree, but we can easily boot wheat out, can’t we?)
We still need to be GF fit, even though we’re not fighting, so my guidelines are these:
1. Eat locally as much as possible.
2. Serve vegetables at every meal, even breakfast.
3. Be careful with meat especially, but with also eggs and cheese. Use them well, remembering that overeating these things is expensive and tends to lead to health problems.
4. Serve (almost) exculsively whole grains, because the GF diet tends to lack fibre.
I’ll post more details about each meal of the day in the weeks to come, and perhaps eventually also post some more meal plans. Now, if I can just find that ladder so I can get down…