According to the American National Eating Disorders Association 91% of women surveyed on a college campus had previously or continually attempted to control their weight through dieting, 22% of them said they dieted often or always. It’s not just women: 25% of men in the U.S. are said to be on a diet at any given time.
There has to be something badly wrong with a system that surrounds people with plenty, variety and availability and then requires them to reject what they are offered. Dieting itself is a large part of the problem, leading to a focus on excluded or ‘bad’ foods and a sense of self-denial that turns those very foods into the grail that rewards good behaviour or alleviates disappointments. The ice-cream for a failed date, the chocolate for a sales call that didn’t deliver the order … We become food robots, programmed to think only of what we can’t have, and what we have to do to get it, whether that’s lose five pounds and reward ourselves with popcorn or mess up a meeting to allow ourselves a comfort-eating treat.
Instead of taking this route, we could consider making food our goal rather than weight loss, aiming not to limit food intake, but to increase it, by saying that we’ll eat foods that meet two, or three, or more dietary purposes such as providing vitamins, being rich in fibre, tasting good, and being local. A ‘four purpose’ food for most areas of the world, as an example, is Chilli Crock-pot Soup, which is healthy, cheap, doesn’t consume much energy in its creation, can be frozen to provide a series of meals, and tastes absolutely wonderful on cold winter days. I make this on a Sunday, when I’m home to cook and my other half takes it to work for his ‘planet-friendly’ lunch in a vacuum flask during the week. Whenever he’s eating it, colleagues appear from nowhere to ask what that wonderful aroma is!
Chilli Crock-pot Soup
- 7 cups chicken stock (pre-heat this in a pan or microwave)
- 2 chopped onions
- 1 chopped medium red chilli (or two if you can take your soup fiery!)
- 4 diced carrots (these can be old and woody: use up what’s lurking in the fridge!)
- 3 diced celery stalks
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 12 tortillas, torn into around 8 pieces each
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander leaf
- 4 diced skinned tomatoes or a can of tinned plum tomatoes
For serving at the table:
- 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yoghurt
- 1 avocado
- Salt and pepper to taste
Put hot chicken stock, onion, carrots, celery, chilli, bay leaf, cumin, and torn tortillas in your crock-pot or slow cooker. Cook on high for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until tortillas break down to become a pulp, then add coriander and tomatoes and mix. Cook for a further hour before pureeing with a hand held mixer.
To serve immediately, squeeze lime juice over bowl then garnish with sour cream or yoghurt and slices of avocado. To freeze, pour into a cold bowl and allow to reach room temperature before stirring and pouring into freezer bags or containers. Serves 6