Life is full of journeys. The journey to the toilet in the middle of the night. The journey to the co-op when you realise you’re out of wine. The journey to see a loved one. The journey to ‘find yourself’. Journeying; it’s what we do well.
I’ve been on many journeys this year. I moved to Uni, which has been amazingly enriching and challenging at the same time. I have found so much joy and happiness in Sheffield (where I am studying) and my mind is teeming with all the shiny and new things I have learnt this year. Mainly, how to look after myself.
Learning how to not die was the first step. Cleaning I was fine with because I’ve always been a neat freak. Personal hygiene was, again, not a problem. But one thing I was worried about was cooking. At home, I baked. That was my thing. And if I ever needed to cook, I would choose a recipe and stick to it. Religiously. If it says a teaspoon, it means a teaspoon, people!
At least that’s what I used to think.
Because little by little, I discovered my love of cooking. So much so that if somebody suggested a take-away or a meal out, I would actually feel a bit emotional for leaving my ingredients unloved and alone in the fridge. I’ve always loved food, but I slowly started to find the fascination in more than just putting it in my mouth. And when I got more and more comfortable, I began to experiment. If I followed a recipe, I made it my own. I learned which ingredients worked well together as well as those which really didn’t.
Very quickly, my passion for cooking turned into a passion for wholesome cooking. A lot of the joy for me came from picking fresh produce, fresh spices, interesting grains and turning it into something that wasn’t just yummy but would also nourish my body. I didn’t want to buy the ready-made sauce or the frozen pizza, I wanted to take my time browsing the broccolis and bananas.
And I also noticed the impact on my mind and body. By eating whole foods, exercising a bit, and drinking around two litres of water a day, my body started to feel less sluggish, my mind was clearer and I felt more and more energised. I became addicted to living a healthy lifestyle, one which I’m still striving to lead now I’ve finished Uni for the summer. At home, my Mum has to wrestle me out of the kitchen, as well as restrain me from buying all the fruit when we go shopping.
With being healthy, there’s inevitably going to be thoughts that creep in about how my body looks. But i’m trying so so hard for that to not be my focus point. I’ve never had the best body-image, always being very critical of the way I look. I know that if I exercise and eat well to make myself look a certain way, I will never get anywhere. I’ve done it before, hated every second, thought it was useless and gave up.
This time, however, feels different. I’m looking after my body because of the way it makes me feel. I now eat good food because it’s yummy and nourishes my body. I exercise because i’ve found that it literally pumps me with the endorphins I need for the day (plus, stretching after a sweat-fest is one of the best feelings in the world). An important point to note thought is that I don’t – emboldened, italicised and underlined – refrain from having a bowl of chips, a chocolate digestive or an ice cream if I want them. Believe me, I can wolf that yumminess down in seconds. Oh, and you’ll often spot me enjoying a glass o’ vino. BUT, these things don’t have the nutrients I need to fuel my body, so I just don’t eat them day in day out.
And I guess that’s what I wanted to write about today. I wanted to share my love of good food, maybe to inspire you to give cooking from scratch a go. It doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, I would say the simpler a recipe is the better. I personally love taking influence from other cultures, because their traditional recipes are often made from local ingredients; whether it be a big pot of warming chilli, a spicy paella or a super quick stir fry. There are so many quick recipes out there that make looking after your body really accessible; google is your best friend (and I also hope to post a few on here)! But I promise you, once you’ve made something yummy from simple, fresh ingredients, it gets addictive and exciting. I find myself dreaming about lemongrass and coconuts.
Anyways, whatever you’re eating today, munch on it with gusto. Munch like you’ve never munched before and enjoy it, because you deserve it.