“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom,” said E.O. Wilson. And while we can certainly argue that this nugget applies to many areas of our lives, the overabundance of information about food has led many of us into a state of confusion in the kitchen.
The best approach? Return to simplicity. And when you can’t be luxuriating in the beauty of a wellness retreat, here are 10 simple rules to keep things healthy- and delicious- at home in the kitchen.
1. Fill your kitchen with foods and ingredients that you understand- and can pronounce.
We know what beets are. And brown rice. Ready-made mixes and sauces can be helpful in a pinch, but do your best to keep things in their most basic form: whole.
2. Get friendly with your spices and condiments.
Food is supposed to be a sensory experience that goes beyond just filling a function. So play around with vinegars, tamari, lemon and lime juice, and all of the many spices you can find at a well-stocked store to take a simple vegetable dish to the next level of tasty.
3. Choose a single-sourced oil.
Olive oil, coconut oil, and other seed oils can be extracted just with pressing or extracting naturally. Vegetable oils often have to be chemically removed and treated to become the odorless final product, making it one of the sneakiest processed foods around.
4. Plan to shop regularly.
The thing with good, fresh foods? They’re best eaten good and fresh. So although it takes a little more time to shop regularly, your food will taste better and be more nutritient-rich if you stock up a few times a week.
5. Shop smart.
If you have the pantry space, 10 pound bags of brown rice, quinoa, or oats are usually cheaper and will mean one less step on your next… ten shopping trips. Or more.
6. Conduct a regular clean-sweep, without the guilt.
If it’s been hanging out for a while, and you haven’t eaten it? Trash it. At least once a month: if it’s non-perishable, donate it. If it’s been hiding in the corner of the refrigerator, good riddance. It’s probably lost most of its nutritional value anyway.
7. Focus on adding in more good stuff, rather than vilifying the undesirables.
When you add in more veggies, more fruit, and more whole ingredients, you’ll have less room- literally- for the processed stuff, and it will naturally be crowded out of your kitchen… and your meals.
8. Eat sitting down.
Take time with your food. Enjoy it, taste it, experience it. And give your digestive system a chance to do what it does best, slowly.
9. Make it colorful.
Rather than constantly worrying about getting enough vitamins A-Z, focus on a colorful, varied diet. If your plate is really a work of art, you’re likely taking good care of your nutritional needs.
10. Rules are meant to be bent.
We all strive to eat as healthily as possible, but there will be times when time constraints or resources say otherwise. So as in all things, every meal should be served with a side of compassion and topped with love.
Kai Woolner-Pratt is the editor at Retreat Guru [blog.retreat.guru]. He practices Ashtanga yoga, is grateful to his teachers, and counts himself lucky to have been in retreats. His home is Nelson, BC, Canada. You can find him on LinkedIn