Delve into your food psy­che

Healthy eat­ing starts with the mind and rewiring your think­ing

Central and North Burnett Times - - YOU - BY An­drea Davy

BE­FORE read­ing Jes­sica Se­pel’s lat­est book, the only types of steaks I knew about were the red meat va­ri­ety. I also thought food came in two forms – good stuff you should eat and bad stuff that rots your teeth and makes you over­weight.

I started read­ing her Liv­ing the Healthy Life with a per­sonal chal­lenge to give the meth­ods a red hot go. I would cook the recipes, ac­tively fol­low her ad­vice and vowed to keep an open mind through the whole process.

My three-week, dare I say, trans­for­ma­tion, has not re­sulted in dras­tic be­fore and af­ter pic­tures of me in my bikini, but I do feel it has made a dif­fer­ence.

Think­ing food

The thing about Jes­sica’s (pic­tured) book is it’s not just a cook­book. As some­one who would de­scribe them­selves as “sort of healthy”, front cov­ers with brightly coloured veg­eta­bles or green smooth­ies were not some­thing I would nor­mally pick up.

I guess I was naive in think­ing I knew it all. How­ever, The South African-born nu­tri­tion­ist dives deep into her own trou­bles with food. Much of her writ­ing ex­am­ines how neg­a­tive thoughts about your­self, and to­wards food, can im­pact your health.

One of her tips was to talk to your­self as you would a three-year-old: “would you tell the lit­tle you that you are fat, stupid or ugly? No way. Be kind,” she wrote.

This one bucked me straight off my healthy high horse. While my BMI says I am nor­mal, I of­ten talk to my­self us­ing words like fatso, big fatty and chun­ker, or chunks for short.

That’s right, I even gave my per­sonal in­sults nick­names. I find it some­what sur­pris­ing that it wasn’t un­til read­ing this very point in the book that I con­tem­plated how odd it was that I speak to my­self so cru­elly.

I won­dered if ev­ery­one was like this. She also ex­am­ined the see-saw of feel­ings one gets from eat­ing un­healthy foods then feel­ing a wash of guilt. Her book goes deep into why we may have these thoughts and il­lus­trates ways we can re­wire our brain so we nat­u­rally opt for a bal­anced diet, one that does have

Eat­ing chal­lenge

The first day of my chal­lenge started with me quickly tak­ing a photo of a recipe on my phone then rush­ing off to work. By 6pm that night I was stand­ing in the gro­cery store, in my usual shop­ping mood of hun­gry and tired, won­der­ing what harissa paste was and where it was in the su­per­mar­ket.

I was not off to a good start. The recipe I planned to cook was harissa chicken with cauliflower steaks. I felt a lit­tle em­bar­rassed that my food knowl­edge (mostly learnt from MasterChef) didn’t stretch far enough to know what this key in­gre­di­ent was, so I ended up leav­ing the shop with­out it.

I would sub­sti­tute it. Jes­sica is all about find­ing what works for you so I am sure she would un­der­stand. When I was back in my own kitchen, and with the cook­book in front of me, I can hon­estly say it was the first time in a long time I ac­tu­ally looked for­ward to cook­ing. There was a nov­elty in mak­ing some­thing that sounded as trendy as “cauliflower steaks”. Ba­si­cally the cauliflower is cut into thick sec­tions, quickly seared in a pan with oil and fen­nel seeds then cooked in the oven for about 10-15 min­utes.

De­li­cious and very cool. I found most of the recipes like this one, pretty easy to make but with an end re­sult that was very much In­sta­gram wor­thy.

Fol­low­ing on from ex­am­in­ing neg­a­tive thoughts about food, read­ers are also en­cour­aged to fo­cus on feel­ings of grat­i­tude. Be­fore tuck­ing in, I took a few deep breaths, fo­cused on how lucky I was to have a hot meal in front of me and ate in slow bites.

This ac­tu­ally does work. Ev­ery­thing tastes a whole heap bet­ter. I now use this as a su­per power, as it even makes my boyfriend’s overly spicy stir­frys come up a treat.

Mov­ing for­ward

Over­all, read­ing the Liv­ing the Healthy Life was an eye opener. Lots of what Jes­sica wrote clicked with me.

I feel I am one of the peo­ple who falls into the trap of be­com­ing overly ob­sessed with food when I try to diet or lose weight. Count­ing calo­ries makes me feel dis­heart­ened.

I seem to take it per­son­ally that my favourite snacks, muesli bars and peanut but­ter, go into the calo­rie high pile. It is like they be­come a hid­den en­emy that is plot­ting against me the whole time.

Ob­vi­ously these are not healthy thoughts and I have some work to do in this depart­ment. There is a lit­tle bit of work to get on board with Jes­sica’s meth­ods, but with baby steps I think this steak-lov­ing girl can be­come chic enough to also serve up the cauliflower va­ri­ety.

‘‘ This ac­tu­ally does work. Ev­ery­thing tastes a whole heap bet­ter. I now use this as a su­per power, as it even makes my boyfriend’s overly spicy stir­frys come up a treat. guilt-free treats.

PHOTO: THINKSTOCK

WEEK­END ROADTESTS JES­SICA SE­PEL’ S LAT­EST BOOK, LIV­ING THE HEALTHY LIFE Jes­sica Se­pel’s tips on how to make healthy food choices, and oc­ca­sion­ally in­dulge, prove use­ful.

Liv­ing the Healthy Life, by Jes­sica Se­pel, pub­lished by Pan Macmil­lan, RRP $39.99, is avail­able now.

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