Pleasure and Joy in Eating - An Interview with Sabine Ryan about Life with and without Gluten, Sugar & Co.

Warm regards from the kitchen of Sabine Ryan

Key Takeaways:

  • Food trends and diets come and go
  • Conscious eating is better than strict deprivation


Sabine Ryan founded American Heritage in 2004 because she wanted to inspire her fellow human beings to enjoy life and create a beautiful and exceptional living environment. As a lover of the American style of living, she believed that American furniture like rocking chairs for relaxed evenings, kitchen accessories for delicious recipes, scented candles for moments of relaxation, and gourmet items like the world's purest maple syrup or the finest barbecue sauces were essential. In general, food is a significant part of the American Heritage product range, as it's a part of the slogan Home – Garden – Food.

Every year, it feels like there are new trends and ideas around food. It's easy to lose track and fall behind. What was once promoted as healthy might not be the case today. So we wonder: Should we try gluten-free food, live vegan, or go back to schnitzel? Sabine Ryan is familiar with these questions and gladly shares her own perspective on everything related to healthy enjoyment:


Sabine, do you enjoy eating?

Oh yes, I really enjoy eating, especially in company. I love sitting at a big table and eating with my extended family and friends. I'm also very curious and like to try new things. This works well for me at American Heritage, as I'm always on the lookout for new products.


Where do you find the products for American Heritage?

I enjoy traveling around America and also get to attend the Fancy Food Show. That's THE culinary fair in America where many new food trends are introduced. And there are many great artisanal producers who showcase their delicacies there.


And are these food trends popular in Germany too?

Well, the Americans are still a bit ahead of us in some things. American Heritage was already offering gluten-free products when it wasn't in high demand here in Europe. I remember that we had gluten-free baking mixes in our stores, and it was actually a tiny niche. Today, we're asked about gluten-free products daily.


And what do you like to eat the most?

I love all kinds of vegetables – steamed, grilled, or baked - and I could actually eat pancakes every day, but due to time constraints, I only have them on weekends. However, mine are gluten-free and high in protein, and of course, they come with our "liquid gold," the purest maple syrup in the world. I've even thought about opening a pancake house before.


Why didn't you?

Well, we did have a pie cafe in our Munich store, and I saw how much time that takes. Good gastronomy always needs new recipes, and I tried out new pies every weekend. My kids were thrilled, but I'm a businesswoman on the go and need my downtime too.


When you see so much at the fairs, what is your favorite food trend?

That's a good question. And here I need to elaborate a bit more. Of course, I want to eat consciously and have tried a lot. But unfortunately, that backfired a bit. I omitted selected foods and ended up in a spiral of omission. Enjoyment was no longer the focus; instead, it was all about optimizing nutrition according to trends circulating in the media. I escaped this spiral and a true food crisis through an Ayurvedic retreat. Since then, I love my food again and cook daily with great joy. Especially fresh vegetables with amazing spices, occasional fish or meat, and yes, even a dessert. Joy is the best ingredient for a healthy life.


Food Trends – What's the Hype About?

What's the deal with all the trendy diets of recent years?

Everybody surely knows about gluten nowadays. But do we really have to give up bread, pizza, beer & Co.? Of course, moderation with carbohydrates always makes sense, but that doesn't mean complete deprivation. Gluten, even though it's much more prevalent in our current grains than before, is a very natural protein. It becomes problematic in excessive consumption or in cases of intolerance, similar to any other allergy. Still, I appreciate alternative grains and bakers who offer wheat-free products, even gluten-free options. The key is variation, not strict prohibition.

Sugar has been negatively associated for a long time. It's often said to be bad for teeth, etc., when you want to indulge a little. However, sugar is important; our bodies need it to function. The problem isn't sugar itself but rather the large amounts that often hide in unexpected places. Two slices of bread or an apple, for example, cover most of the daily sugar requirement. Still, this isn't a reason to completely avoid sweet treats like fruit or a hot chocolate. A ban can actually stimulate appetite, leading us to eat more.

Meat is also increasingly discussed today. Putting aside important ethical questions and environmental concerns, cholesterol is the issue here. But meat has its merits too, such as protein and iron for our bodies, and it's often consumed in the Paleo diet. However, plant-based alternatives like tofu, beans, and nuts can be chosen more often as well. If you don't have to eat a steak every day, there's no need to completely give up meat for the sake of your health. Everything in moderation, as our bodies can tolerate.


Food Trends in Practice

For those who want to try out alternative diets, we recommend experimenting with diets like Keto, Paleo, or Whole30. With ketogenic eating, we mainly avoid carbohydrates and sugar but can indulge in fatty foods like meat and eggs. Due to the lack of energy from carbohydrates, the body quickly starts breaking down fat reserves, making it easier to lose weight despite eating fatty foods.

In the Paleo diet, we eat according to our ancestors' diet, with a lot of meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables – just like the hunters and gatherers of the past. Carbohydrates from grains and sugar, as well as dairy and legumes, are also avoided here, as these are typical products of agriculture. An extensive exercise program is also part of this "natural" diet. After all, the hunters and gatherers had to move a lot when searching for food.

Lastly, we recommend trying the Whole30 method. The idea is simple: for 30 days, we mainly avoid sugar and carbohydrates (similar to Paleo). The goal isn't necessarily weight loss, but rather giving the body the chance to recognize what tastes good and suits it without the addition of sugar & Co. After these 30 days, you can create a new meal plan (including carbohydrates and sugar) around these favorites, aiming for a better sense of well-being without permanent deprivation. It's interesting that many things taste extremely sweet afterwards. A team from American Heritage has already tried and successfully completed this approach from America, enduring it for 30 days.

In the context of Ayurvedic eating, people are categorized into different types, allowing for more individualized nutrition. Additionally, meals are often consumed warm due to improved digestion, and very cold foods are avoided. Special spices like ginger, fennel, cardamom, and turmeric support the essential digestion process. Movement is also a part of this lifestyle. Generally, there are few prohibitions, and joy is an essential element of this eating style.



Deprivation – unfortunately, that's the conclusion of many food trends and diets. But is it really necessary? Gluten-free, reduced-meat, and sugar-free diets promise balance and harmony at the expense of taste and joy.

Instead of practicing restriction, let's listen to our bodies more often when they tell us what they want and what makes them happy. After all, we're all unique; why shouldn't our diets be as well?

Scientific theories and measurements are certainly good guidelines and ideas, but at the end of the day, we shouldn't let them dictate our lifestyle and well-being.

So let's simply look at our plates and bodies more mindfully and indulge healthily and contentedly, without compulsion or regret. Because life is truly too short for that, isn't it?

Enjoy your meal.