Gizzi Erskine: ‘If You Can Eat Wheat Then For God’s Sake Eat Wheat!’
The Debrief: The chef explains why the fad ideas of healthy eating are all wrong
Ever found yourself in a panic meltdown because you can't find a lunch that doesn't have gluten in? How about struggling your way through a bitter black coffee because Starbucks was out of almond milk? If you're trying to be healthy but getting caught up in what the latest food trends are then you might be going about it all wrong.
Chef (and owner of a divine Instagram account) Gizzi Erskine is worried that all the misconceptions in the food world are making us forget what it is we love about food and she's on a mission with Gizzi's Healthy Appetite, her new book, to remind people what it really is to eat healthily. We spoke to her about what we need to be doing...
How are we meant to know what we’re allowed to eat now?
It’s a fucking minefield. It’s an actual minefield, it’s exhausting. Because I’ve worked with a nutritionist for the whole time I’ve been writing about healthy eating, I know that it always comes back to the same thing - which is ‘moderation’. Like, still being able to give your body a little bit of what you fancy and understanding that if cooked fresh from scratch all whole foods are good for you.
So we’ve gone too far cutting certain stuff out?
Look at olive oil. We started understanding the science and found out that when you cook with olive oil it can become saturated fat so everyone’s been using coconut oil instead, which doesn’t have omega oils in it so we’re missing out. Also, we’re cooking things in coconut fat that should never been cooked in coconut fat like eggs, bacon… We’re starting to misunderstand the love of food.
What about this giving up dairy and gluten thing?
Loads of people are giving up dairy because they think it’s bad for their stomach and IBS and I’m like, ‘Well dairy intolerance MOSTLY comes out through your skin so you giving it up because of your stomach must be because of something you may have read somewhere or misunderstood.’ It frustrates me because I have worked with people with severe allergies; I’ve worked with people with Crohn’s disease who have to inject themselves with steroids and some people who have to go as far as having a colostomy bag. It’s not a disease or anything you actually want to live with and it’s just like, for God’s sake, if you can eat wheat, eat wheat! Because it’s horrendous when you really can’t eat it.
But there are certain types of bread we should avoid, right?
Everything now is so over-produced and quality has just died. Now you go to a supermarket and you buy a loaf of squishy white bread and it’s not the same quality. But if you still go back to the basics and you get a loaf of good quality sourdough it’s actually good for you. The gluten behaves in a very different way.
Tell me about your 80/20 concept
If you’re being healthy 80% of the time, then 20% of the time you can have a day off. On Sunday I’ll have a day off, I’ll go out for dinner one night a week and have a couple of nights when I’m drinking. It doesn’t have to be so controlled.
Well that sounds doable…
To be fair, it can also apply to your plate. If you take 20% of your food away – make it the carbs and meat – and replace it with 20% more veg that’s great. We all overeat carbs in this country. We’re meant to have 60g per portion – that’s a slice of bread, so a sandwich is already too much.
So we don't have to do everything we read about?
I was trying things like lacuma and thinking for me to get the right dosage of this I have to eat stacks of it and it’s £25 for a tub and I don’t really think I’m going to get through the volume that I actually need for it to be good for me, so it’s not worth it! And it’s no different to if you’re having a mixture of different antioxidants or just eating your normal diet and having some greens and some berries and roasted peppers. All foods are superfoods as long as they’re fresh. They all do something for you. Even wheat. And dairy.
Gizzi's Healthy Appetite is out now Mitchell Beazley, £7.99
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