Yo, Dear Reader. I have been thinking about free from food, shocking I know, but there are a lot of different sides to the preparation of foods for different diets. It’s why you’ll baulk at some very popular recipes where many others are widely enamoured. We all have different tastes, different requirements, both dietary and mental. I know, you’re thinking I’m talking about food addiction again, but it’s a slighter lighter side of that. See when we talk food, in this case free from food, there are a few common themes that I’ve found don’t fit for me now. They once did, but I’ll get to that in a moment. This is in no way an attack on anyone’s recipes, methods, but I’ve always said everything we do can become too narrow if we don’t look outside the comfortable niche we’ve carved out for ourselves. Let’s run through this quick, bearing in mind I’m not talking absolutes, just common themes. I’m also a big fathead if that helps.
Emulation: Look! I’ve replaced the flour with sawdust, but the photos look so pretty! Okay, I’m mocking, but I’ve eaten my share of starch and gum ridden lumps of supposed bread. Appearances aren’t everything.
Recreation: The better side of familiar recipes being reworked. Again, this is within the framework of the original recipe, you try to recreate the same flavours and texture, but with different ingredients. It gets fuzzy at times because it’s obvious that at times it’s vastly overstated how effect it is. Like the sawdust example above, this is you being told that the lump of sawdust isn’t pretty, but it tastes just like cake!
Substitution: The roughest, but sometimes the best. Taking out ingredients and trying to keep everything the same is interesting it can teach you a lot too, but at times it’s obviously not going to be the same. How much is subbed can vastly change what you’re making. Think of he absurd sawdust example, this time it’s just a pinch an everything else is fine.
I’m less and less into the sweet side. Partly because I know I can only derive so much pleasure from it now, and stepping back into the mire of addiction and sugar isn’t an option, but also because I’m growing as a person. I’ll never full extradite myself from the mess that was the fat-days, but I’m getting better, even if it is tinged with a sadness born of the knowledge that what I enjoyed was often enjoyed for all the wrong reasons. Sweets to feed addiction and to plug a void are very different from sweetness solely for the saccharine pleasure they can bring in moderation. Look, it’s a little dark, but that’s Jack, I’m just letting it show now to save myself the hurt of hiding. Besides, I’m in a good place with food and want to help others see there are other ways to eat.
Okay, so the above examples are extreme and I’m not offering some perfect solution. The ideal rests in the mixing of all of the above. Take anything to an extreme and you’ll lose out. I’ve always said that the best free-from recipes are the ones that celebrate the uniqueness of their ingredients instead of burying them, but also the ones that utilize the strength of those ingredients. So, if like me you’re in an odd relationship with food, the best thing to remember is that there is no one way to cook or bake. There are popular ways, again look above, which one is the mostly likely to win you followers? Yeah. See, you will see that constantly, but if you dig through thousands of recipes you’ll start to see the really great ones. The cooks who celebrate their ingredients, balance everything for taste and health and generally will stand you better over time.
So, for me, I’ve found that playing with food, ignoring the desire to force my new food to it with what was and just taking everything as far as it will go has stood me well. There’s no great ah-ha moment in this, but if you look at my recipes you’ll find so much of my story within them. There are many I can’t eat now, there are others I’ve made once, made certain they were okay to share and then moved on. Others I make again and again. I crafted recipes for myself primarily, but I look at all the ways I could use the ingredients I had, I never said I won’t eat this or that out of stubbornness. I’ve made so many failures in my time that have been blessedly forgotten, but I learned from each. The times that stick with me are the ones where I tried too hard to fit the idea of what I should be eating, when I made complicated cakes and intricate meals, not out of enjoyment, but because I felt as if what I was making wasn’t good enough. Which is silly in retrospect. But in those early days, when I was newly stripped of my old diet I was scared of food, terrified of everything going wrong and had no choice but to follow the crowd. In time I realised I still didn’t fit and gradually drifted away. It’s why there are so many unique recipes here, it’s why I push so hard to educate about eating as part of a healthy lifestyle.
I will always aver that food is complex, how it affects us is something we need to discover and rediscover again and again throughout out life. Look, I’m a weight-loss success story, a hundred and forty seven pounds lost. Eight years at this and yet, have you ever seen me try to push anything on you? Have I ever oversimplified any part of this? No, because it’s too common that that’s the case. The place I’m learning to stay in isn’t the weight-loss story, nor the super healthy lifestyle, it’s in the knowledgable about food niche. It’s complex, daunting and vital. There s just too much pseudo-science, too much lies, too many trendy foods and devious brands. I’ll keep voicing my understanding like this, if ever there is an aspect of my journey you want to talk about or have me talk about in greater detail then ask. Ask yourself this one question, again and again: Why do people fail at losing weight if there are so many options and solutions out there?
It’s because, Dear Reader, weight-loss is too often linked to self-hate. When the weight is lost that’s the end, no matter how much praise you’ve had you’ll lose it by degrees. Even if you keep it off when the focus is on weight-loss then you’ll always hate what you see because you imagine it could be better. I look at myself at times, the scar doesn’t bother me, but the idea that I could put on weight does. Not that I’m doing anything different, but the dangerous idea of weight-loss hovers over me. It’s where eating disorders come from, we push all the wrong ideas about health and food because we don’t know enough and refuse to admit to that. So, instead of the self-hate of weight-loss, the desire for unobtainable perfection of form we should strive for self-love and a healthy body and mind. That’s much more difficult than yo-yo dieting, less dramatic, less “Made For TV”, but it’s the right path. Loving yourself means giving yourself all you need in life, be it food, exercise or joy. Whatever, the hard part is that dark place in us and others that will draw us down the wrong paths to supposed joy. Losing weight won’t make you happy for long, but being healthy will help you fight for your joy, it will make it easier to live your life. Take it from me, when I look not at the scar, not at what was, but at what I’ve given myself. The garden, almost no pain, a much better life on the whole, then I realise I’m right. When you work on the right things it’ll start clicking together, slowly but surely, but it’ll keep going. The shortcuts cut deeply, you just don’t realise it until the damage is done. Jack will never stop being here to spread this, it’ll refine in time, reiterated countless times in the hopes it’ll save someone from the pains I’ve been through. Okay, that’s it dear Reader. Take care.