The Deliciously Ella Food Philosophy
Over the last few years, Deliciously Ella has grown beyond my wildest expectations. As it’s grown and reached more people, it has quite understandably led to a variety of different interpretations and opinions on what my true message is. So, I thought it would be good to take some time to talk about our food philosophy, what we stand for and how that differs to some people’s pre-conceptions. I’ve addressed a couple of these main points in two recent blog posts: why healthy eating isn’t a diet, and why I don’t like labels, but I want to really expand on it today.
I started Deliciously Ella back in 2012 as a tool for motivating myself to learn to cook good, natural food. I’d been diagnosed with a chronic illness that had left me pretty much bed bound, and I was suffering both physically and mentally from the symptoms of the illness, and the feeling of isolation and depression that were inextricably attached to the sudden shift in my life. I took a lot of medication, but it didn’t do much for me, so in a desperate bid I decided to see if a lifestyle shift could help. I started learning to cook using natural ingredients and cut out processed, refined food. The intention of the blog was never to create a known personality or a company, it was simply a personal record of my journey. Back when I started, it was just me, my mum and a few lovely readers. I shared what I learnt as I went along on the blog, but there was no responsibility or pressure on how my message could be both interpreted and misinterpreted, as very few people paid attention to what I was writing. That changed quickly though after the publication of my first book, and I am now incredibly conscious of the responsibility that I have to make the message clear, and why I feel it’s important, now more than ever, to really cement exactly what I’ve been aiming to do with Deliciously Ella.
Before we get on to some of the misconceptions, I want to outline what my philosophy is and what we, as a company, are trying to do. Deliciously Ella stands for natural, honest, real food. It’s not about labels, dieting, restriction or rules, and it’s certainly not about the concept of ‘clean’. Despite being labelled as ‘the queen of clean’, I do not use that term to describe what I do and never will do. I agree with the critics that dividing food into two categories: ‘good’ and ‘bad’, is incredibly negative, and only works to further fuel the idea that food is something that should inflict feelings of guilt, which I fundamentally disagree with. In contrast, I feel one of the most pressing issues, especially for women, is to remove the longstanding feeling of guilt associated with meal times and instead find a sustainable, enjoyable way to live.
My aim is to share inspiration and ideas of the ways in which you can add more natural food to your diet in a delicious way, because I know that eating well is only possible if it tastes as good and is as easy as anything else. We all know that we should eat our five-a-day, but so much of the time we don’t as it’s not exciting or interesting enough. My aim is to change that. I’ve said it so many times, but all my recipes are there to be adapted and changed to suit you, and you absolutely don’t have to only eat my kind of food. Matt, my husband and business partner, is the best example of that. He is CEO of our company and an avid believer in natural food, yet he still enjoys an ice cream and pizza when we’re out with friends. To me that serves as the best example of the fact that Deliciously Ella is not a regimented regime, and that I am not asking anyone to follow any rules! We serve organic chicken and salmon as sides in our deli, don’t use superfoods and don’t serve green salads – we have interesting, creative dishes that celebrate natural food in a non judgemental way, which is exactly what we’re about.
So much of who we are as a company is communicated through social media. My aim through those channels is to demonstrate how appealing and delicious natural food is in a fun, light-hearted way, to engage the amazing community that exists there. Behind the beautiful photos there’s a strong message though and that’s not one of promoting restricted diets, but one of celebrating natural food and helping to change people’s health.
Deliciously Ella is not a weight loss program. If you look through my social media feeds you’ll find my favourite foods are carb heavy – they’re porridge, stews with brown rice, pesto pasta, sweet potatoes etc. I don’t swap in pulsed cauliflower for rice and rarely use the spiraliser; I don’t tell you fruit has too much sugar and I don’t post before and after photos or photos of my abs (which I certainly don’t have – I eat to feel good, not to look a certain way.) I use brown rice pasta, rather than ordinary pasta, as it makes me feel better but my posts never tell you to do the same. I share the pictures to give inspiration and tell you what the food is, not to tell you to only eat that.
I eat the way that I do because it allows me to manage the symptoms of my illness. When I don’t eat this way I feel the symptoms come creeping back in, so I do have to be careful about the way that I live in order to maintain my health. Eating well hasn’t been the miracle cure that my story can be confused as. Instead, it’s been an amazing tool to guide myself back into a good place and has taken years of hard work and a lot of struggle to get there. It took me two years to come off my medication and have some semblance of normality again, and a further two years to be on top of all my symptoms.
I hope this post has cleared up any confusion and allowed you to see Deliciously Ella for what it is: a space to share delicious ideas for natural food. All I’m aiming to do is to give you ideas and inspiration to help you find an enjoyable, sustainable, balanced approach to food that makes you feel good. I could write for days and days about all of this, but I’ll stop here for now!