Izelle Hoffman on Mindful Eating
It’s a new year and that often means New Year’s resolutions. The thing about New Year’s resolutions though is that they are often not kept past January. After making it through “the-year-that-shall-not-be-named”, it’s a good idea to sit down, reflect, evaluate and set achievable goals for the year ahead. Setting realistic goals instead of grand resolutions may just be the way to get things done long after the month is through. We chatted to Izelle Hoffman for advice on how to maintain a healthy body and lifestyle for the year ahead.
My name is Izelle Hoffman and I am a lifestyle chef. What is a lifestyle chef, you ask? Someone who cooks according to their lifestyle, of course! I was born with congenital hip dysplasia. Fourteen operations later, I am adamant to make people aware of the health benefits of eating the right foods and choosing a life of health and wellness. I am differently-abled, NOT disabled… so what’s your excuse?
I grew up on a farm just outside Bela-Bela, in Limpopo province. As a farmer for a dad and an amazing landscaper for a mom, my environment encouraged an interest in and understanding of food sources. Once you are aware of all the time and nurturing that goes into getting the perfect vegetable onto your plate, you appreciate and enjoy it so much more; you can almost taste the love and care. Growing vegetables and experimenting with different flavours was a part of my upbringing. With both grandmothers and my mother boasting world-getable gardens, and an aunt who was the moderator of home economics for the North West province, my development into a ‘conscious foodie’ was inevitable!
Today I encourage people from all walks of life to rethink what they put in their bodies. Quality over quantity, always. Focus on the quality of your ingredients rather than how many ingredients you use when preparing a meal. Always start with the right ingredients. If you do, whatever you make will be a healthy masterpiece.
While I never formally trained as a chef, I grew up in a household where the majority of family time was spent in the kitchen or outside around the braai, preparing and cooking amazing food. Comfort food like goulash and potjie, festive foods like roast chicken and leg of lamb, snack platters that still remind me of rugby on Saturdays and Christmas Eve with close family, and scrumptious baked goods that recall my aunt’s visits from faraway Rustenburg or my grandmothers’ baking days, when all the grandchildren were invited.
What are the fundamentals and benefits of mindful eating?
Time and health are two of the most precious commodities, neither of which can be bought. Investing time in your health – it is the best investment you will ever make. I urge you to always strive to be the best version of yourself, not only for yourself but also for your loved ones. Respect yourself enough to want the best health, and make the most of life. As an author and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn said, “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live in.’ Here is some food for thought… For the LOVE of healthy living!
In 1992, author Gary Chapman conceptualised the Five Love Languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. I tend to think I speak to all five of them! You see, preparing and cooking a meal for a loved one is my love language, and it involves every single one of Gary’s Five Love Languages.
Words of Affirmation
We all like to hear the following: “Can I make you something to eat?” or ..I made a fresh batch of your favourite biscuits this morning; can I make us a cup of coffee, then you can tell me about your day?’
Acts of Service
Actions speak louder than words. Cooking a meal takes thought, time and effort. It’s something I love doing, so I approach it with a positive attitude and keep the happiness of the person for whom I am cooking in mind.
That OMG moment. I cannot believe this is a healthy moment. I always cook with these moments in mind, and when I get that reaction, I know the recipe is a keeper.
I love spending time in the kitchen, sharing a meal and taking a moment to appreciate the smile on someone’s face while they eat my food. It’s just the best! I firmly believe that some of the most cherished moments in life happen around the dinner table or over a meal and that the value of this should never be underestimated.
I always say that a scrumptious healthy meal and a hug go hand in hand. They both give you that feel-good fuzzy feeling in your tummy, that feeling of belonging and of being loved. Whether cooking for a loved one or for someone less fortunate, I cook with love. There’s nothing better than spending quality time preparing a meal for those dear to me and close to my heart.
Be the difference you want to see in the world, and share the love (in my case, food and cooking) – the world needs more of that!
Where is the best place to start when adopting a healthier eating lifestyle? (buying organic? Cutting out sugar? Cutting out carbs? Fasting?)
I’m a firm believer in going back to basics. Quality over quantity, always. Start reading labels, if you can’t pronounce it why eat it? If you don’t know what the ingredient is how can you be sure what the effect is going to be on your health when you consume it? A Healthy Lifestyle should consist of 70% nutrition, 20% exercise and being active and 10% good quality sleep. Start by becoming more aware of what you are eating, instead of just eating something because it’s convenient or because it is there.
How do you combat the idea that eating healthy is difficult/more time consuming/more expensive? (Is it possible to put a healthy family meal together for under R200 in about an hour?)
I always ask people how badly do you want it, if you want something bad enough you will make the time to invest in your health. Time and effort really go a long way and putting effort into your own meals is an act of self-love and self-care. It all starts with a mindset, if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Start seeing the glass half full instead of half empty and you are already one step in the right direction.
One can most certainly put lots of healthy meals together for a family under R200! Start getting creative with the right ingredients and your end results with always ending up being a healthy masterpiece!
Which five food items are always on your shopping list and why?
Almonds – Whether in the form of milk, flour, butter or flakes, almonds are packed with nutritional benefits. They boost the immune system, help repair damaged skin, help prevent cancer, reduce the risk of osteoporosis and have alkalising properties. They are also a source of vitamin E, magnesium and high-quality protein.
Oryx Desert Salt
What is the purpose of adding salt while cooking? This is to enhance flavour, right? So why not start by using good-quality salt to do the job? Choosing sundried and unrefined salt with no additives will bring out the best in your food in the healthiest way possible.
Salt needs sweet and vice versa to enhance taste and flavour. So, when you add sweetness, choose a sweetness that has a healing effect on your body and health. Raw honey is antiviral and antifungal and contains powerful antioxidants. It helps ward off allergies, stabilise blood pressure and balance blood sugar levels. It also boosts the immune system and promotes digestive health.
We all have our reasons why we prefer certain oils, but without a doubt, my oil base of choice is olive oil, specifically for its amazing health benefits. Olive oil helps reduce inflammation and prevent osteoporosis and is essential for bone health because it assists in the absorption of calcium and the mineralisation of bones, all of which are qualities I look for in a product, given my hip dysplasia and related joint pain.
Onions are a natural antibiotic and antiseptic, so are a big YES, especially in winter. They purify the blood, regulate blood sugar levels and improve digestion. They are also anti-inflammatory. In addition to fresh onions, you will find dried onion powder and flakes in my pantry.
For delicious recipes and healthy meal inspiration, buy Izelle’s cookbook, “Mindful Eating” or follow her on Instagram @izellehoffman.