Health and Pleasure

Alan Roettinger

Omega-3 Cuisine, my new cookbook, has a subtitle I don’t want anyone to miss: Recipes for health and pleasure. It’s become an ongoing goal of mine to bring these two together, because in my mind they are inseparable. I’ve always maintained that in order for food to be healthful, it must be enjoyable (although it hadn’t occurred to me until recently that ultimately the reverse is also true). My assertion was purely intuitive, but I’m glad to say some recent studies are backing me up (see “Go with your Gut,” by Harriet Brown). We’re all creatures of need, of thirst and hunger, but deep down what we really crave is joy. It is the only acceptable outcome of our desire, and there can be no complete health (or life) without it.

Creating recipes with both health and enjoyment in mind presented a challenge for me-enthusiastic hedonist that I have always been. I had to broaden my view a little, and take into account a few things I had ignored in cooking (and eating): longevity, and the avoidance of suffering, certainly, but more to the point, the simultaneous nurturing of form and content (body and soul). It’s not enough to have fun; you also have to get away with it!

Conventional dogma assumes that in pursuit of health some sacrifices need to be made, but I deplore the concept of sacrifice. I see the process more as selecting specific quality ingredients and using methods that minimize damage in order to both nourish and delight the body-righteously, right down to the cellular level. True, the fleeting pleasure of some foods may need to be forgone in favor of longer lasting enjoyment, but this is no sacrifice; it’s a conscious choice between good and better. Often a minor adjustment does the trick, like trading milk chocolate for dark chocolate.

As readers of Omega-3 Cuisine will discover, all of my recipes are pleasure-based. But I’ve awakened to the additional pleasure of feeling good because of what I eat, not in spite of it. I’ve realized that health and pleasure are soul mates, and by uniting them in the food we eat, we can enjoy the best of both worlds. Even the kitchen gods are pleased.

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Written by Alan Roettinger

Explore Wellness in 2021