Get started using food as medicine
Dale Pinnock, The Medicinal Chef is passionate about nutritional science and ensuring we understand what to eat for our health based on facts not fads. Here he gives us insight into what we should and shouldn’t believe about food and nutrition.
You are known as ‘The Medicinal Chef’. Tell us about yourself and why you are known by that title.
It IS deliberately provocative, but I stand by it as I want people to view food as more than just fuel. Food has the capacity to influence our health in both a positive and negative way. The food we eat, and the nutrients therein can literally alter the biochemical terrain of the body, for better or for worse. If we have greater understanding of this, we can begin to tailor or diets to our own health needs. The food that we eat can become part of our treatment plan. This isn’t about any weird whacky alternatives. It really just represents the one aspect of health care and self care that we can actively engage in.
There is so much conflicting information about food and nutrition. How do people know what is right? Who should we believe?
Ha….welcome to the world of nutritional science - a weird and lurid landscape of contradiction and dichotomy. That’s the nature of the beast to some degree. But, that being said, I think that part of the problem of misinformation comes from who is being used as a resource for the information. It is an inescapable reality that food, healthy eating and fashion/lifestyle have become weirdly entangled. This has brought with it armies of well-meaning, enthusiastic followers, who frequently document their endeavours across the Internet. So far, so good - I support this. The problem is that some of these enthusiasts gain immense popularity online due to often face value attributes, and are suddenly thrust into the limelight as figureheads and spokespeople of the healthy eating world. In 99% of cases, they have no formal education in this very complex science from which to base any kind of advice. While a big proportion of the media relies upon such facile led content, the end consumer is never going to get a clear picture of what they should or shouldn’t do, or gain any improved understanding of healthier eating.
There is so much discussion about heart disease in fact being a disease linked to sugar rather than fat. Can you briefly explain the science supporting this?
They both are involved. Whilst the cholesterol hypothesis is being debated, completely disassociating fat with cardiovascular disease is both premature and gravely incorrect - the picture is just slightly more complex than a black and white approach (there’s that contradictory science popping up again). I think that for here, it is too complex an issue to address, but if you see the article I wrote for the Balance Journal a couple of months ago around heart disease and nutrition, that should add some clarity to the discussion.
In the modern world cooking is becoming a forgotten skill as people reach for convenience foods as they are time poor. How can people start to help themselves when they aren’t familiar with how to create recipes for health?
It really is a very simple starting place. Get fresh!! Just look at any way to start adding fresh produce to your diet. Anything that is minimally processed will give you greater nutrition. This could be as simple as adding a decent side salad to your meals, making some stir fried veggies as a side, adding berries to your morning porridge, snacking on occasional fresh fruit between meals, etc. This is a starting point. The next step is to master one or two good dishes. Maybe a curry, or a bake, or something similar. Start to master simple basic dishes, and use the freshest most minimally processed ingredients that you can. Start from this point and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Once you have this mastered, then start learning more about nutrition and how to take this much further. A great practical course that is suitable for anyone, whatever their background or needs is The Diploma in Culinary Medicine that I developed, which is offered by the Sano School of Culinary Medicine. http://www.sanoschoolofculinarymedicine.com
Is there a perfect diet? What do you eat?
If only!!! That would make life so much easier. There are always exceptions and contradictions. Me personally, I eat a mostly plant based pescatarian diet. Like a part time vegan really, with a healthy dose of sushi thrown in.
You've just published your 10th book, ‘How to Cook Healthily’. Tell us what it’s about and why it’s different from all the other cookbooks on the market.
You’d thought I’d have run out of things to write about wouldn’t you? Hahaha. No….there are many many more. This one was kind of a response to what I saw happening around me and listening to the questions that I was getting asked over and over. There are hundreds of healthy cookbooks out there, some really beautiful ones. However, most of them assume a certain amount of skill and prior knowledge. I get hundreds of emails and questions from people who just want to understand the basics. To know where to start. What a healthy diet looks like and what steps to take. Many want to know about cooking methods. What oils to use etc. So that’s what I set about to write - a beginners cookery course type book, for healthy eating.
What will you be doing at the Balance event?
Live cooking demos on all three days, a lively panel discussion, a stand where you can come and learn more about Sano School Of Culinary Medicine and Sano Life, the media arm of the Sano group, plus Sano To Go will be supplying food at the event - you are in for a treat!!!!