Food is important. And this, to me, is a rather obvious fact of life. Yet many people don’t see this ‘importance’ as anything more than a means for survival.
When I say food is important, I mean something beyond the biological need to consume energy. I mean that enjoying food is important: sitting down to something tasty, balanced and satisfying is essential for happiness. Perhaps not everyone will plan their life around mealtimes, but they should certainly give eating the attention it deserves.
As someone who, no matter how busy, will always make time to create enjoyable dinners, I find myself preaching about the power of a happy stomach more and more. I know that if I was anything less than enthusiastic about the food I put in front of me, I would become miserable within days.
Not long ago I realised that food was my most important form of self-care. I was always hearing people talk about ‘self-care’, and I associated it with duvet days and scented candles: neither of which seemed particularly important to me. I then realised that the effort some people put into painting their nails, watching their favourite TV shows, or going to the gym, was the same kind of effort I put into my mealtimes. It’s that thing I always prioritise, even in times of stress, because it keeps me sane, calm, and fully functional. Feed the body, feed the mind, and all that.
By putting the same effort into feeding myself as I would into feeding a group of guests, I sometimes wondered if I was wasting time and energy. My colourful plates of food would only be appreciated by me, so why bother? In the same instance, I would remind myself that this is how I look after myself. I don’t just use food to stay alive, I use it to stay happy; and the results don’t have to be broadcast to the world, or kept for special occasions, for this to work. This being said, food will make me even happier – blissfully so – if I can share it with friends and family, and see them enjoying it too.
I’m aware that at this stage I’m sounding pretty confident about my cooking skills. I am by no means a chef, nor am I a nutritionist. I’m not even a particularly experienced cook. But my life has revolved around mealtimes for over two decades now, and in that time I’ve gained a relatively good idea of what tastes good. I’ve also become confident that it’s not just me: food is an essential part of anyone’s happinness, as well as their health, even if they haven’t quite realised it. Whether you make it yourself, devour it in a restaurant, or order it from a steaming street vendor, I think food is important. I think it’s powerful, often underestimated, and I think we should all talk about it a whole lot more.