Food may be essential to existence but to me is representative of love and nurturing. The biggest joy I have experienced during the pandemic is baking and cooking. One of the rewards of creating culinary delights is the eating. I have half heartedly lamented the weight gain of lockdown lifestyle but reconciled and accepted my decision making and consequences.
For people closest to me there are strong associations between who I am and providing food, which I miss hugely. The reward of producing good food is somewhat diminished by the inability to share beyond the immediate household but can still feel like a tangible positive reward from effort put in. I choose to ignore negative connotations of or labels of being “a feeder.” Cooking for your nearest and dearest is a demonstration of love and care. Cooking for me is also a therapeutic process, where for others it may be physical activity or a creative hobby. I never cease to be amazed by the sheer alchemy and magic that occurs when baking, the transformation of innocuous ingredients into a fluffy sponge or golden pastry.
Food associations and relationships are formed in childhood, this is not to say that these are set in stone for life as with all relationships we have the power to take control, make choices, set boundaries and make it work for us. Speaking from experience, problems can be created in early years when mealtimes become a battle of wills. Food is evocative and not always in a positive way there are some foodstuffs that have associations with unhappy times or acute episodes of sickness, which can trigger physical revulsion. The mention of certain (alleged) meat products and milk based puddings have the capacity to activate my insides to a full spin cycle in recollection of school dinners.
Relationships with food are complex, eating may be a physical requirement but has strong emotional ties. It is not uncommon for food and feelings of guilt to coexist. Variable levels of Internalised guilt feelings related to overindulgence, greed, potential weight gain are not uncommon but can lead to savage self criticism and low self worth.
Once upon a time there was faith and belief that what was on our plate had been reared humanely, grown without hindrance, stored and prepped in sanitary conditions. Food could be eaten in blissful ignorance, however, quite rightly we now question food sources, harmful, unethical and immoral practice. There is also the issue of packaging and wrapping and the catastrophic impact on the environment. Choosing what we eat is bigger than likes and dislikes. Our diets are now a reflection of values and beliefs. For people facing financial struggles the primary concern is putting food on the table which can also prompt people more fortunate to wrestle with their choices and situation. Throughout the pandemic there has been a nationwide effort to redress balances and provide for people in need.
Imagine my delight in having the good fortune to encounter someone whose speciality is creating desserts and sweet treats all gluten free, vegan and made from natural unprocessed ingredients. Guilt free puddings and confectionary, the stuff dreams are made of! Initial euphoria gave way to healthy scepticism, which thankfully was instantly banished after my first mouthful of glorious chocolatey cheesecake. This company was created for the prime purpose of averting guilt with the additional bonuses of raising nutritional awareness and dispelling myths about healthy and ethically sourced ingredients not being tasty or indulgent. I confess to deriving great pleasure from previous gatherings where these wondrous cheesecakes and cakes have taken centre stage and can be enjoyed by all including those with dietary restrictions.
Having had covid, my global feelings of gratitude have increased. One of the symptoms of loss of smell and taste is now slowly returning, I hadn’t realised the power of these senses and the impact of their loss would have on not only my enjoyment of food but the pleasure and motivation to cook. I can genuinely say my appreciation for many things has increased massively and the luxury of sitting at a table eating a home cooked meal with my partner and one of my children is right up there.
Check out this website for indulgent, guilt free treats.