All the talk these days is about ‘healthy eating’ which seems like a more common-sense approach to food than following faddish diets. Of course, we in Alchemy are lucky to have had founder and 'healthy eating' legend Domini Kemp, as well as chefs such as Susan Jane White and Doris Choi and nutritional therapist Patricia Daly, come up with our menu.
Here is Domini talking about her approach to food: “When you’re younger, food can be a battleground. You worry about the shape it makes you rather than how it makes you feel. I am well past my 40th birthday and when it comes to most of the food I eat, 80 per cent of the time my focus is how it makes me feel physically rather than how it makes me look. Still, sometimes the occasion deserves full support of your wickedness, which I try to keep limited to 20 per cent of the time. Life is short, after all.
“Although I want to eat better when at home, if I go out to a gorgeous new restaurant or have friends over for dinner, then I take great pleasure in eating delicious food. That makes me feel incredibly happy, as it’s one of the most pleasurable things you can do. Naturally, if I have a few glasses of wine I dread the next day a lot more than when I was in my 20s. It seems as though once you get into better habits, your wily ways actually take that little bit more out of you. It’s almost as though your system goes on strike and wishes that you’d boycott the fun.
Better skin and digestion are one thing. But when you feel different – more energetic, with a clearer head – there’s just no going back to living a full-time debauched lifestyle. My column in The Irish Times and our restaurant Alchemy are my efforts to share ways of keeping on track, and if I can tempt even one person to make small changes that over time yield big results, then I have succeeded.
You could say I’ve been converted, I guess. Sure, cancer gave me a firm kick up the behind, causing me to make more changes in six months than I did in the previous six years. But I’ve also made an effort to get my head around the complex but never-less-than-fascinating field of nutrition.
I wanted to see what science had to say about what nutrients and food substances do in the body, for better or worse. More than anything, I want to know why it is that some foods do you so much good, while others (such as sugar) do not.
And here’s the thing: Everything I have read (and I’m still reading) suggests that for long-term health, a low-carb approach – which includes more fat than we are used to – is best for weight management, heart health, gut health and, crucially as we age, brain health. For the old grey matter to keep doing its thing, we need a variety of healthy fats, as well as learning new things and maintaining social connections.”
* A version of this post first appeared in The Irish Times.