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How tax can teach you about food appreciation.

[author Angelique Clark]

I’ve just paid a tax bill today, courtesy of a blind site that I didn’t put aside enough from my employed job AND my personal business when I went back to work for what seemed like a blink between having kids. You know what happens when you pay something reluctantly? You get extremely pissed off! As I drove my kids home from school today (one of the rare quite moments I have lately) the thought occurred to me – why wasn’t I taught about tax at school? It seems like a really necessary life skill to teach. Clearly I have now learnt by my own mistake and when I reflected on why it got me so emotionally charged, I automatically tried to blame the education system when in fact its no one else’s fault but my own.

Why is a Sports Dietitian talking about tax? Well nutrition (just like tax) it seems, is something we all need to understand to live better – and that I DO know something about! Just like a fine from not paying my tax would eventually catch up with me, so too will disease if you don’t understand and take responsibility for learning something that will be vital to how well you live your life.

I find it baffling that food is something we NEED TO LIVE as humans, and yet so many people don’t truly understand what to eat, how to stop eating at the right time and what they benefit from eating particular foods besides energy and taste. Like tax, I believe this should be an integral part of the education system, but if I can’t change that, then I am going to make sure my kids have the skills to be able to prepare themselves a nutritious meal to not only survive, but to thrive.

Where does this disconnect come from? I don’t accept that we are ignorant about nutrition in this day in age. I know far too well that there is a lot of non-scientific nutrition advice that’s dished up, but even if you were to follow some of the unqualified “gurus” out there, surely it would still make you healthier. I think the real problem is a disconnection not only to where our food comes from but why we need it and how it affects our body – all as a result of people that have stopped cooking. No, I don’t mean cracking open the jar of chicken tonight and simmering some packaged hormone free breasts in it, pairing it with microwaved steamed rice and a speckle of a green vegetable…. I mean cooking an actual balanced nutritious meal FROM SCRATCH. When’s the last time you did that?

I had my neighbours over for dinner last weekend. 2 adults and 2 kids (6 and 4), similar to my family. So here I was at 6am that morning at the markets buying food, thinking about what protein I would choose, what vegetables in what combination would work well with it and how to make the children’s food appealing with maximal nutrition after a few nutritional considerations of gluten and dairy intolerances. After I got home, unpacked by fridge and started to prepare I literally did not stop (besides to get my family lunch & eat myself) chopping, marinating, crumbing, frying and arranging until 30min before they arrived. The end result? Soy, chilli, ginger and honey baked salmon, rainbow kaleslaw salad with roasted lime pepper cashews & yoghurt chia dressing and for dessert nut butter protein balls, 72% dark choc chunks and some fresh berries. On the kids menu zucchini, leek & mushroom brown rice and chicken broth risotto, GF cornflake crumbed skinless chicken breast ‘nuggets’, and lastly for nibbles I whipped up hummus with veggies & scattered it with fetta & olives. Exhausted? I was. 6am till 4pm it took me to make a meal for 2 families, I am not going to lie or claim my meals take 15min to make – it takes A LOT of time to do this at this level and had I shopped before that day it would have reduced my workload (which is why I don’t cook for my neighbours every weekend!). I am not suggesting everyone needs to do it to this degree, as you can probably tell I am very particular about what I eat – this has been as a result of my tertiary education of food and my interest in its production and how I am astounded with the unnecessary additions in so many foods. I also get disappointed A LOT after they taste ordinary when you eat fresh additive-free most of the time.

The point I’m getting out however is that I was so utterly chuffed with my thought behind every single thing I made that my appreciation for eating it went through the roof. Every mouthful I tasted was so damn good, not just because of what it tasted like but the fact that I knew everything I ate had a purpose, I took time to eat, enjoyed a great conversation with awesome people it was nice that my neighbours appreciated my effort also, but it wasn’t the reason I did it.

Self-satisfaction is a funny thing, we are conditioned to be our own worst critic – when’s the last time you pat yourself on the back and said to yourself “you’re doing an awesome job?” When you put effort into something, you automatically feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in what you’ve done, I’m just getting better at acknowledging that! So here I am saying we all need to RECLAIM our cooking abilities. Get passionate about cooking again, put some effort into something that I guarantee can only IMPROVE your current health state. What you will discover is a lot more than you think you’re getting into – you may become more aware of what goes into food, you may reduce processed junk, save some money, try new things, learn to improvise, eat slower, taste more, eat less or just enough for your needs, lose fat, feel rejuvenated, question where your food comes from … or more! But be warned, you may have a few of your neighbours wanting to come over to soak up your amazingness!

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