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A new decade has begun

Everyone has their favourite things in life…

January 9, 2020

A new decade has begun

Happy New Year!

I adore the annual summer break as it presents an opportunity to slow down, process the year that’s just passed and consider what the new year will bring. There’s time for me to cook in my home kitchen unrestricted. Just because I can. I do this every day without fail as I feel good when I cook.

I also can read. Fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, online articles and overseas cooking news.

And I can be outside more.

Everyone has their favourite things in life

With the ticking of the clock, many of us mark a ‘line in the sand’ on the 1st January and decide to make a change for the better in some way.

I know that during the past few years I’ve allowed the things I ‘have to do’ monopolise my life. I’ve recently been reminded that time to do what you ‘want to do’ is just as important.

Many of us in a new year, including myself, resolve to change eating habits. Going on a calorie-controlled diet, making radical changes and omitting essential food groups or declining invitations to socialise (in case the food is too tempting to resist) are not ideal ways to sustain a happy existence.

Chocolate is my weakness.

I found towards the end of last year when my workload was at its craziest, most days I craved chocolate mid-afternoon. Drawn to the kitchen, it was easy for me to reach into the container of couverture chocolate.  Subconciously, as I grabbed a handful to eat I thought it would make me feel better. But the pleasure and satisfaction was short lived and too soon ended once I’d swallowed the final chocolate button. All I was left with was regret, guilt and a feeling of disappointment in myself.

Stopping to think about my relationship with chocolate has helped. I know I’d rather eat it occasionally, not daily and I’ve broken the habit by taking time off over the festive period and changing my routine. I rested and assessed what I need to do so as not to trigger the emotions that set off the cravings.

I found when I was at home, not stressed or under time pressure I didn’t experience these feelings so much. If I can learn to stop at work when I yearn for a chocolate ‘fix’ and remember why I feel the need to do something I know I’ll feel bad about a few minutes later, I’ll be on the right track to shedding those extra unwanted kilos. How amazing would it be, to be able to watch cravings come and go in our minds, just like a car driving past us on the road without being negitively affected by them!

Mindfulness is still seen by many as unnecessary or indulgent, but perhaps they haven’t stopped for long enough to think about it! Here’s a wise quote by Henepola Gunarantana, “Mindfulness gives you time, time gives you choices and choices skilfully made, lead to freedom”. I don’t want to be swept away by my feelings, but respond with wisdom and kindness rather than habit and reactivity.

So in 2020 I want to…

Eat even more vegetables (not hard because I really, really love them!).

Not stop eating meat, but eat less meat.

Keep the complex nutritious carbs in my life and minimise the simple refined ones.

Continue to cook from scratch and give myself the best chance of keeping well.

Not to go on a diet (although I haven’t dieted since the 90’s!) but change my diet permanently (not to include a chocolate fix mid-afternoon).

And be kind. Always be kind.

Yesterday afternoon when in the office, I noticed a tiny repetitive voice in my head and a physical pull towards the chocolate but instead of doing what I’d usually do, I recognised it for what it was and went and made myself a pot of amazing Apple Cinnamon and Chamomile tea. When I left work I still had a positive mindset and energy to spare. Let’s see how I go.

I hope my chatter has given you ‘food for thought’ as we say in the trade. If you want to make a change to an unwanted habit, not only recognise it but have a permanent and workable way to make a lasting commitment to yourself. After all, you and I are so worth it aren’t we.

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Tracey Cotterell

Tracey Cotterell
Tracey Cotterell


Tracey has been in the food industry since completing her Diploma in Hotel, Catering and Institutional Management in 1982 in the UK. She worked for an outside catering company in London, then joined her parents in rural West Sussex running

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Tracey Cotterell

Tracey Cotterell


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