Articles On The Town

The Tao of Food- Making Peace With Your Inner Quitter

There comes a time every year when you chuck out all of your resolutions and just dive head first into a giant cheeseburger. This is often a moment of clarity when you discover that your “south-watchers-Dr. -shake-bar” diet of the moment isn’t the answer. You’ve been hitting the gym faithfully, taking lunch at your desk and driving right past the ice cream shop every day. But enough is enough.

Finding a oneness with your diet can be the answer that puts you back on the right path. Think of “diet” in its loosest form for the purposes of this discussion. You don’t need rules, restrictions or support groups. You simply need to prescribe Taoist Principles to your daily routine of breakfast, lunch and dinner.  As far out as that may seem, you may be able to find some peace in the kitchen.

Oneness- Take time to learn some technique in the kitchen. Whether you like to saute, braise or grill everyone can benefit from some practice at the stove. Cook your little heart out and relish in your mistakes as much as much as your victories. You’ve heard the adage, “Dance like nobody’s watching.” Well I say “Cook like nobody’s eating!” Don’t get hung up on what you can’t do in the kitchen. There is not just food to be cooked or pans to cook it in, there are both. And you need to discover how to be one with with each.

Dynamic Balance- Every recipe can benefit from balance, both in wholesomeness and flavor. Healthy doesn’t mean bland and sweet doesn’t need to mean high calorie. You can achieve the balance you are looking for by simply applying herbs, spices, salt, etc. Don’t be afraid to pull that 10 year old spice rack from your first wedding out of the pantry and put it to work. You will never know how tarragon works unless you take the leap of faith and sprinkle it into a nice pan sauce to serve with your sauteed chicken breast. Let herbs be the yin to you your spice yang.

Cyclical Growth- Just as the sun sets and the moon rises, so does your body weight. Yes, I said it, you get fat and then you get skinny. It’s the way of life. Learn to work within this ebb and flow. Use the seasons to your advantage and familiarize yourself with how to load up on root vegetables and slow braised meat in the winter, and accept that you will gain a little weight. Then rejoice in the changing seasons and cook your heart out. Bring in as many fresh ingredients as you can. Exercise, cook fresh, repeat.

Harmonious Balance- When you are given lemons, make lemon chicken. Be as flexible as you can. This means more than you can ever know in the kitchen. Learn to improvise at the stovetop and take advantage of what is in season and fresh at your market. Turn your cravings into opportunity to use what you have in the kitchen and don’t allow yourself to be discouraged by the lack of any one ingredient. Take it all in stride and cook on.

These 4 basic principles of an ancient philosophy translate rather well in the kitchen. Allow yourself the flexibility to roll with the punches and you will see that adhering to a strict diet designed by a clinician may not be the best answer to achieving your own harmony with food, body and soul.  

Originally Printed in On The Town Magazine, Vol. 6 Issue 1, April 2016
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