Abbey Sharp is a registered dietitian, food blogger, founder of Abbey’s Kitchen Inc. and regular contributor to Best Health. We sat down with Sharp for the scoop on what it was like to write this book.
Jela Tejada: Why did you write this book?
Abbey Sharp: The Mindful Glow Cookbook is like my personal and professional manifesto for eating and living well after spending years hating my body and fearing food. Like many young adults, a quest to feel my best led me into the crippling arms of orthorexia, the new-age eating disorder characterized by a fear of eating anything one deems “unhealthy.” In my quest for pristine, clean health, my confidence, self-worth and, of course, my body were quickly whittled away. Through this book, I can share what I’ve learned from letting go of food rules and how it helped show me the road to better health and happiness. My book makes the point that, yes, you can eat cake and not feel like a horrible person!
JT: What’s the meaning behind the title?
AS: Unlike a fad diet, mindful eating focuses less on dogmatic rules surrounding what we eat but instead on how we eat. It does this by asking us to look inward and respect our body’s hunger and satiety cues. When we stop restricting and self-shaming, our relationships with others, our bodies and our selves will thrive. We become free to be our happiest, healthiest selves, and that means glowing both inside and out.
JT: This is your very first cookbook. What was the biggest challenge?
AS: I’m a perfectionist. All of the recipes were tested and tasted until I was cross-eyed from reading the page. So, the most challenging element was writing the dessert section, where shifting ratios of ingredients even slightly could make a huge difference in texture and flavour. I wanted to try every single permutation, even when the previous versions were great. I just didn’t want to leave any stone unturned!
JT: You address the relationship between happiness and food. Why is that important to you?
AS: Unlike what the diet industry would have you believe, being skinny doesn’t make you happy. Research suggests that the process of losing weight and adhering to a strict diet can make people more unhappy and anxious. So, no, you can’t hate yourself to better health.
Food is often seen as one of life’s greatest universal sources of pleasure — right up there with sleeping and sex. It’s not surprising then that diets don’t work because they strip food of its pleasure, place moral judgments on us and force us into a chronic state of deprivation.
When we eat mindfully, we start to notice the inherent deliciousness and pleasure of naturally healthy food. Think about the buttery texture of an avocado, the supple crunch of a pepita or the refreshing sweetness of watermelon. When no food is “forbidden,” we start to eat in ways that feel good to us, emotionally and physically.
JT: Saving the toughest question for last, what’s your favourite recipe from the book?
AS: Ah! Can I choose, like, my top 25 instead? My fave changes every day, but I’m currently obsessed with my Spicy Honey Lime Blistered Shishitos with Sesame Panko Crunch for a savoury side dish and my Macerated Balsamic Pepper Strawberries with Rose Sabayon for something sweet.