Making a meal of it

Making a meal of it

We sort the myths from the must-dos, the food fantasies from the facts, in order to help you buy smart and eat well.


Photo of dinner

By Ally Juchnevicius

RECENTLY, I’ve had a culinary breakthrough that has changed what and how I eat. It’s come after years of curiosity about food; where it comes from, how it is made, what effect it has on our bodies. I’ve done my research and discovered lots of ideas that, funnily enough, seem to contradict all the messages I see in the supermarket.

Food and diet issues get loads of press at the moment. And after trawling through countless blogs, watching just about all the documentaries on Netflix and reading piles of books on the subject, I’ve realised there is bottomless ocean of information out there.

Despite this though, there is no clear, simple answer. One reason is the complexity of the subject and diversity of the world; different climates, cultures and bodies. But also it is because there are so many different voices.

These days, the food and nutrition industries are all too happy to break food down for us into components and categories; low-sugar, low-GI, percentages of daily intake, calories per serving, grams per bite. It’s overwhelming and frankly, confusing.

There are thousands of guides out there, from market research led adverts to individual bloggers. Voices that all have an agenda. Raw, paleo, no-carb, high-carb, organic only, sugar free, fat free, you name it.

Despite all the noise though, one idea stuck out to me and after testing it for a few months I can say I feel healthier and happier than ever before. Fortunately, this is not another quick fix but a way of approaching food that just about everyone can achieve and ironically, has little to do with food itself.

It’s simple: eat meals.

I’ve been eating healthy stuff for a while but it always had to fit around whatever else I was doing. Breakfast was on the go, lunch was ‘al desko’ in between emails. Dinner was at my desk again on a bad day, at home in front of the TV on a good day. I was eating healthy food, but I wasn’t eating meals.

Is there a difference? I think there is. A meal, a proper, homemade, wholefood, prepare-and-sit-down meal invites you to do a few things.

It invites you to prepare. To wash the leaves, chop the vegetables, roast the meat. If you do that, you can’t help but develop a more intimate knowledge, and concern, for what you’re eating and where it came from.

It invites you to sit at a table. To have better posture, more space and quite likely more time spent enjoying the fruits (and veggies) of your labour.

It invites you to talk. This assumes you are eating with others, which if you can you always should. Research shows eating with company not only slows you down, but you eat less.

While these changes sound largely abstract, they have an enormous effect on digestion, on our mood and on our choices at the shop. Buy some food, cook it, share it and enjoy it. Eat a meal.