Let’s talk about good food. About making eating a pleasure, and enjoying fresh, delicious ingredients, prepared and cooked in exciting ways. About making the food we buy and eat as nourishing and tasty as it can be, and about adapting recipes and methods to suit the time we have, our dietary needs and the lives we lead.
That’s what this book is all about.
I don’t believe in additive-filled ‘diet food’. Or in banning a particular ingredient, or telling you cheese or chocolate are ‘sinful’, or listing page after page of things you should never eat. And in this kitchen, the aim is to savour good food – and never, ever feel guilty.
This is the fourth book I’ve written about the 5:2 approach to food and eating, but if it’s your first encounter with the lifestyle, then a very special welcome. Later in the book, you’ll find all the information you need to make intermittent fasting – the approach of cutting calories twice or three times a week – as rewarding and enjoyable as possible.
Rewarding? Enjoyable? It may surprise you to hear those words if you’re more worried that fasting means terrible hunger, or taking things to extremes. But as you’ll discover, 5:2 is about liberation from feeling you must eat in ways or at times that don’t suit you.
Welcome to my kitchen
It’s warm and steamy in my kitchen because there’s something delicious bubbling on the hob. If I’m honest, it’s a bit chaotic, too: I don’t have quite enough work surface, and the dishwasher is playing up, and the pull-out larder is full to bursting. But then, how many home kitchens are all stainless steel surfaces and MasterChef style machines? Cooking for friends, family and ourselves can involve new techniques and ingredients, but it’s more about taste and mood, than technical challenge. Whether you want to feel energised, comforted, relaxed… or even seduced, there are dishes in this book that will do the trick.
I’ve chosen every recipe in this book by asking a simple question: does this dish make you feel good? If you have an allergy or intolerance, for example, to gluten, or dairy, then many of the recipes are suitable, or offer easy alternatives. And, as a vegetarian myself (though one who cooks enthusiastically for a carnivorous partner and friends), I’ve made sure there are lots of choices for vegetarians, vegans and pescatarians.
‘Good’ to me means delicious, but also thoughtful, taking into consideration where our food comes from. That’s why I’ve added the Making sense of… sections to look at what’s behind the eating advice we’re given.
Making sense of… eating well
Our 5:2 Facebook group has over 30,000 members worldwide, and people post every day trying to make sense of how to be healthy. They ask:
Will going without breakfast stop me losing weight?
Are artificial sweeteners poisonous?
Does muscle weigh more than fat?
Should I give up wheat?
Is it possible to lose weight without exercising?
Will eating fat give me heart disease or protect me from it?
If you’ve ever been unsure what ‘eating well’ means, then you’re not alone.
Taking a look behind the food scare headlines
As a former BBC and newspaper journalist, I know the same information can be ‘spun’ in a dozen different ways. In my previous books, I looked at the research behind intermittent fasting: now I’m taking a wider look at the most confusing issues around diet and health. I also consulted a leading nutritionist to ensure the book reflects the most up-to-date – and reliable – science.
The Internet makes life even more complicated. It’s fabulous that we can search for information about anything and everything, but the web makes it just as easy for individuals to post misinformation.
My aim in the Making sense of… sections is to help you find answers to the questions that are most important to you. I can’t answer every question, but I’ll show you how I research, so you can do it yourself.