Bel and I managed to continue the discussion via email. One topic of conversation led to another and another, whereupon I presented her with a (long and overblown) primer on my preferred style of eating. After that, Miss C emailed to ask me about hunger and blood sugar, two things about which I have masses of first hand experience!, and finally it twigged. I mean, why not
You can just click off now if that makes you want to bang your head against a wall. Because I don't do food posts brief-style.
What I want to explain is not a recipe or even a style of cuisine. It's not a diet or a gimmick. I like to call it a methodology. Just to make is sound fancier. I should also disclose that there is no conceivable way that I have devised this; I've simply discovered it for myself. So, if y'all know about a book or culture that maxes out on this concept, I probably borrowed it unwittingly .
I introduce you to: The Stoner Plate.*
Of course, in my house we use the term affectionately to describe:
- A beautiful dish or plate (one that completely aesthetically appeals)
- 3 - 6 beautiful and complementary, simple foods (or food combinations) which are generally, but not necessarily, cold or raw
- A good blend of healthful fat, protein and carbs...
- ...Which must also be completely delicious (or what fun is life?)
- A lovely beverage (not sweet) and/or a glass of wine (5 oz ish)
- A peaceful frame of mind.
We call it a stoner plate because (and of course we have no knowledge of this from personal experience) it appeals to the mindset and appetite of the, ahem, herbally engaged. I can only hope that my daughter - who enjoys most meals in this style - doesn't someday mention to a friend's mother, when asked if she'd like some lunch, that a stoner plate would suit her just fine.
Some great benefits of the SP include:
- Mindful eating
- The option to eat many different complex but complementary flavours
- A beautiful, aesthetic food experience (food as art)
- The ability to easily moderate portion size - and, if this is a concern, calories. Even if you don't count them / or count them euphemistically (i.e. Points), they are fundamental to the fitness and nutrition equation.
- The opportunity to see the building blocks of nutrition and nourishment in the simplicity of the arrangement of the food
- Ease of preparation.
It also works very well for fussy kids who don't like things to touch or "hidden" veggies they hate.
From the time I was a baby, the one-two punch of Italian relatives (portion size, bah, eat!) and a mother who was determined to control me with food (cuz nothing else worked), has left me easily overwhelmed by meals. For years I could only eat soup and half an appetizer in restaurants, even as my parents goaded me to ingest more. Of course, they weren't evil. Simply a product of their own backgrounds and inexperience.
When I had my own child - whom, ironically, I could not breast feed - I knew that it was of paramount importance in my transition to healthful nurturer to make organic baby and toddler food and to give it without expectation. I aimed for beauty in presentation and small portions because that appealed to me as the caregiver. And, though it might not appeal to every child, it certainly worked for my own.
Ironically, post partum trauma mixed with acute anxiety (and other peripheral things) led me to eat compulsively for a some time. The rise and precipitous fall of blood sugar was escape by mood alteration. Even as I nurtured my real-life baby, my inner child rallied against external control: being trapped by parenthood. Being subsumed by its demands.
Disordered eating comes in so many guises. And, obviously, it is never about the food. I like to hold myself up as a reformed food "user"/ paragon of healthy eating, but of course, I bring my visceral desire for order into everything.
For my daughter, the SP is a comfortable style of food presentation. Something she can relate to and enjoy. It's the same, but different every time. For me, the SP is a way to bring mindfulness and choice to the experience of eating. A little salty (almonds) with a bit of sweet (bananas and table cream with a dash of vanilla). Some bitter (watercress with lemon and olive oil) with umami (wasabi rice crackers and brie). All my urges are at once satisfied. All my needs. And yet my mind is unassaulted by the compulsion to force back volume and articficial complexity.
Remember this, if you can tease it out of my insanely bloated (ha ha, food pun) ramblings: The way you eat is a metaphor for the way you relate to yourself, and by extrapolation, a metaphor for your relatedness to everything around you.
The SP may be just the ticket to inspire conscious eating. Or you could use it for ill effect, I suppose. Maybe you'd prefer to incorporate any of millions of other methodologies to accomplish happy, healthy nourishment. One thing's for certain, you're employing some methodology, conscious or not. Happy or tortured. Free or entrapped.
Whatever you do, be mindful. In my view, when you bring art, nutrition and ease to food, you are bound to be satified on all levels. Give it a go, why don't you. Then let me know if you agree.