Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Confessional (Makes Us Feel Better)

OK, so let's get cosy and start today's confessional - who has some eating habits that give them grief? Who has children whose eating habits give them grief? I'll start shall I? The answer to both questions is YES and YES.

Jess and I both mentioned our NEED for sweets in the comments in the last post. Such a sweet tooth as I have, I find it quite difficult to finish a meal without something sweet. Not surprising, as it is an evolutionary quirk to crave sugar. Sweetness indicates calories, and a craving for calories was a definite evolutionary advantage, especially for children growing up in a world where every calorie counted toward survival. I don't know if you have noticed, but there are enough calories to go round for all of our middle class children, and also their mamas. Do you know, last night I read an extraordinary statistic - there are 1 billion malnourished people in the world, and 2 BILLION overweight people. I read this to my kids and asked them to do the math. What is wrong with us all that we can't balance that statistic out?

Several years ago I was 10kg heavier than I am now. I am currently 6kg heavier than I was when I first remember ever stepping on a scale, when I was pregnant with my first baby at 22. I probably don't want to go back to the 49kg I was then, but I could easily lose another 3kg to get my proper waist back (I am also very short, with tiny bones. At 52kg I would still be well within the 'healthy weight' guidelines for my height, so all you motherly types out there need not worry. Including my sister-in-law, yes, I am looking at you Aly!). I am beginning to think about weight as a 'green' issue, and also a social justice issue. I didn't gain 15kg by eating a mainly vegetarian diet with the occasional grass fed local meat, free range eggs and local dairy, whilst walking everywhere or riding a bike. I gained 15kg by sitting on the couch every night after dinner, eating a packet of chocolate biscuits with The Man while watching telly. And driving the kids everywhere in the car, and eating all their left overs, and teaching them to bake cakes instead of dinner. Also eating take away, and fish fingers, and ice cream. And peanut butter toast. Lots of peanut butter toast, because it doesn't require cooking. In other words, eating a pretty standard Western diet. And even though we always ate our vegies and provided a reasonably nutritious diet for the children, it wasn't a way of living that caused us to be bursting with health and vitality. Also, driving the children to soccer and ballet provides them with exercise, but not their mama. Oops.

And let's look at just one packet of chocolate biscuits from an ethical point of view. Plastic wrap, will not break down for hundreds of years in landfill. When it finally does, it breaks into tiny, tiny pieces of plastic that are absorbed by bugs and worms and other organisms, and nobody really understands what that does to them. Probably not a lot of good, but who knows? Inner plastic tray that can be recycled once, into a plastic bench or something, but when that bench wears out? Can't be recycled again (I actually don't know why this is so. Probably something to do with science or technology. Not my areas). Chocolate harvested by who? Possibly indentured child labour, children sold by parents or guardians to keep the rest of the family alive. Enormous cacao plantations owned by wealthy landlords displacing local agriculture in Africa and South America. Other ingredients from all over the world shipped to a central factory to be processed and packed. Have you noticed Cadbury's is now exploiting economies of scale by only making one product at each of its factories? Our Tasmanian factory only makes Milk Tray chocolates, as far as I know. Our chocolate biscuits are now made in England, and shipped here. And most of us will buy our chocolate biscuits from a giant supermarket chain, which will be zipping its profits out of the community to its owners and shareholders, as well as zipping all its products around the country and the world in giant trucks. Even knowing all this, I still do occasionally buy a packet of chocolate biscuits. Not very often though. Often not for a year at a time. I find plenty of other sweet things to finish a meal with though, mostly baked by my lovely daughters.

Even though we are officially avoiding sugar, it being the last day of the school holidays yesterday I gave the green light to baking chocolate cookies, and also, a lemon meringue pie. It is all in the house, RIGHT NOW, whispering sweet nothings to me from fridge and pantry. Mostly though, recently, there has been absolutely nothing sweet in the house except dried fruit and honey. After a meal I have been meditatively munching on a handful of delicious organic sultanas from the Riverlands (thank you South Australia), or a couple of dates. I need to really pay attention and tell myself that I am eating my treat now, so that my mind registers it. Have you noticed how gobbling food mindlessly causes your brain not to notice that you have eaten? Or is that just me? Anyway, reading while eating is a bad idea for me! Hilariously, four o'clock munchies are now a bit of a let down around Chez Blueday. A mandarin. An apple. Some nuts. Cheese on a cracker. Two dates. At this point my sugar-crazed mind kind of gives up in resignation and confesses to not being really hungry anymore. This means I am winning. I think.

And what about the children? Well, here are my bad mother confessions. Rosy and Posy refuse to eat breakfast most days. Sometimes they will eat a banana or an orange. There is now no cereal left in the house except porridge oats. They will eat porridge at morning tea time on non-school days. I think their biological clocks are broken. They don't appear to be fading away, and they are still good at maths.  I am inclined to just ignore them. I could faff about making smoothies or something, but likely they still wouldn't drink them. Should I try? There are all those studies about breakfast being so important. But in my mind, if they eat well over the course of a day, they'll be fine. And I refuse to buy cereal and Nutella and fruit loaf just so they will eat breakfast. But if they don't eat breakfast, they don't eat until 11am at school. Tell me, should I try the smoothies? If they love them, I will have to make them every day.... before school. At dawn. Then wash up. Aaargh. Yes, this is all about me..

Also, Posy and The Girl NEVER take fruit to school. Posy will happily eat fruit all afternoon, and takes fried rice with vegies for lunch most days in her thermos. But she hates cut up fruit at school, and won't eat apples. The Girl only ever eats stewed fruit, rarely fresh. She will eat anything else though, including vegies. But will snack on them only if I chop them up and provide dip after school. Again, it's all up to me, the pressure, the pressure.. if any of you have fantastic, tried and true dip recipes, based on actual vegies or beans, would be very grateful. Even writing this down has helped me see - if I want the children to eat in a certain way, then it is up to me to facilitate that. And it will continue to involve hard work. I don't think there is any getting away from that. Darn.

Today, the girls took yesterday's chocolate cookies, and crackers from a plastic packet to school. Only one of them took fruit. Practically the only plastic packets left in the cupboard are from the crackers. Is there an easy way to make crackers? I have seen recipes, but has anyone outside of pinterest-world actually made them? You know what my problem is? My crusading idealism runs far ahead of my technical and practical abilities. Or even my desire to possess technical and practical abilities! I am much better at reading and writing about the problems of the globalised food chain than making crackers:)

Go on then, tell me your secret vices. And tell me your worries about what the children are or are not eating.. I promise you'll feel better..

Oh, forgot to say, every week when I go to the whole food shop, I buy chocolate covered cherries at enormous expense, and eat them all myself while reading a novel. They are organic and fair trade, but I am sure they come from the other side of the world, Tasmania not being a noted producer of cacao, and I DON'T CARE.


12 comments:

Lynda D said...

Thanks for your confession. I can remember when confessing my sins at church (in a private counselling session) i thought i had finished telling every misdeed and thought i could think of when one of them piped up with "You forgot Gluttony" !!! I almost fell off my chair. Even though i know God forgives i carry around a reminder of my sin on my body everyday. Argh!!! With an Aspie husband and son (with food preferences) who do not take NO for and answer and who demand certain foods (read unhealthy)i dont have a hope and yes, i am very concerned for my son but at 17 i cant force feed him salads and veg and im likely to pay the price for doing so.

rabidlittlehippy said...

Confessions? You've asked! Ok, of late I have been bingeing hardcore on choc ripple biscuits and chilli and sour cream chips. A LOT! I know it's an outward symptom of some internal issues and that eating these things do not help me in any way. My belly is getting bigger, our plastic waste has increased and since I am supposed to be eating gluten free you can imagine what 1/2 a packet of biscuits is doing to my gut (yes, I too can't stop at 1). We have also been getting lots of seaweed for my kids to eat. They love the stuff! I can hear you asking what's wrong with seaweed. We read the ingredients last week. MSG! Not to mention the plastic packaging.
I think part of the problem is that we have grown up with a certain amount of these treat foods in our diet, even if it was only infrequently. However, as affluence has spread we are able to "do more for our kids" than we had. They have more toys than we had. More treats, More tv. More clothes. We had more of these things than our parents too. And our parents had more of them than their parents I am sure.
I remember seeing a photo of families from all around the world showing what their weekly grocery shop looked like. First world countries had photos of groaning benches filled with a wonderful variety of foods, many of them processed. Some of the poorest countries in the world had a few sacks of different grains and a small bowl of spices or herbs each.
I don't know what the answer is (except to not ask my husband to buy these treats on his way home) but being aware of it is most definitely the start.
In answer to your reply to my last comment too, no nerves of steel. I made a coffee the other day and forgot to add the teaspoon of rapadura I usually take in coffee. I was feeling lazier than usual and couldn't be bothered getting up so I drank it as is. My need for caffeine and laziness won out over sweetness. I discovered it was more than palatable as it was. I will also add that this has been a long journey from coffee with 2 sugars through to rapadura, then 1.5 teaspoons, then 1 and finally, none. :) You're doing a great job Jo.

Jo said...

Dearest Lynda, while confession is good, and often the beginning of change, I feel that looking at our weight as a 'sin' is ultimately self-defeating. As Jessie mentions in her comment, so much of our food issues are internal, emotional, historical, and as you say, with your boys, a mental issue. There are also societal issues - MSG in seaweed OH NO! Posy has just discovered that she loves sushi. Is no food safe? Do you know that MSG works on our appetite suppressor site in the brain, basically turns it off so you want to keep eating. Food industry loves it, puts it in everything savoury and flavoured. Look for any number beginning with a 6 on the ingredients list. How can we win when they are messing with our brains?
I can only avoid eating sugar when there is none in the house. I have had two slices of lemon meringue pie today. My theory is if we finish it up, I can't eat it any more!
So Lynda, it is really hard to change habits, and SO hard with kids, and in your case, even harder. You are doing an amazing job with your chooks and vegie garden. I bet you are sneaking vegies into your family's diet, and I bet they eat more now than before you started gardening. Lots of hugs and good wishes in the world's hardest job, the parenting one..
Jess honey, laziness is my greatest ally in eating well. I hate driving out to the shops, so if I don't buy it on the grocery trip, it doesn't get into the house. No chocolate stash anymore (I used to buy half price chocolate on sale and stash it on top of my wardrobe, you know, so the kids wouldn't find it..). Absolutely nothing to snack on but fruit and nuts. And cheese sticks. And seriously, those foods don't trick my brain at ALL.

anexactinglife.com said...

I have lived enough years that I should have figured all this out, but haven't. The sweet tooth always wins. Part of it is that sugar and caffeine are my only real vices, and without them I would feel like an insufferable Pollyanna! Everyone loves to talk about their aspirations for better eating, but when someone actually does it, we hate them! I wish it were more socially acceptable to eat well.

Heather said...

I used to be so addicted to sugar. I've cut back on it significantly recently and find that the less I eat of it, the less I crave it. I would think that your girls would love smoothies in the morning. They are so easy to make, too, that I think they could probably make them themselves. Just freeze some cut-up bananas and berries and any other type of fruit. Have them blend it up with juice, yogurt,or water and it is all done. Rinsing out the blender isn't too much of a chore for them to do themselves, either. I would think that they would love this, since fruit is so naturally sweet. I rarely have breakfast. I find that when I eat breakfast I tend to get more ravenously hungry throughout the day. If your girls don't seem to be suffering from it, then it just may be that their bodies don't need food that early in the day. I think everyone is different, no matter what all the "scientific research" says.

Linda said...

Yes I think some people are Breakfast folk and some are not. I like a small breakfast, so does my husband but our daughter, now 37 years old, never liked anything to eat from being a very small girl. I used to insist she ate ONE piece of toast before going to school. I now know she still doesn't really eat breakfast so I was banging my head against the wall all those years ago. I could never drink tea without a sweetener. Coffee I could tolerate but still enjoyed it better with a sweetener. Then a couple of years ago I decided to stop having sweeteners in both tea or coffee. Took about two weeks and then I really enjoyed both drinks unsweetened. Now I cannot drink either with a sweetener. If my husband forgets and pops one in - the drink has to be thrown away and a fresh one made!

Jo said...

Dar, I'm often appalled that I haven't worked out all the secrets of life yet, even though I have passed the magic number of 42..
I am probably an insufferable Pollyanna quite often, but can't be bothered about what other people think about me anymore..
Heather, interesting thoughts about you breakfast eating. And I am contemplating those smoothies.. well done on reducing the sugar. Has the rest of your family followed suit?
Linda, hilarious about your daughter - I think I have two of those. I am with you. Cannot drink tea with sugar anymore. Ewww.

missmaudy said...

Oh breakfast - I could seriously eat breakfast for three meals a day (two fer so far today - sourdough toast for breakfast, yogurt and fruit for lunch - contemplating eggies for dinner to get the trifecta. And some srs protein, lol).

Sir Reg likes to mix it up for breakfast, Chaos won't eat it at all (and is a feral hell beast if he doesn't, so force him I do.) Mayhem eats breakfast like a normal person. We have six open boxes of cereal, plus my muesli (you should see the packets when I make that! Oats, bran, coconut, almonds, some other nut and some dried fruit - makes a hell of a pile of landfill!)

Chaos is forcing down one of those up and go things. He doesn't love it, but he's much nicer with food in his belly, so it's worth the fight. I am hoping that him discovering actual food in the morning will occur sooner than later.

Judy said...

Thanks for sharing that Jo. It is really hard giving up sugar, but going cold turkey and not eating any sugar does lessen the cravings. My husband, who doesn't eat anything sweet, saw all the chocolate wrappers in the bin in my sons room, and banned chocolate for a month. We had progressed from the odd chocolate coated biscuit bar in packed lunches and after school to full on large bars of chocolate, where you don't stop until it is all gone. I just stopped buying them for a month and fairly quickly the cravings diminished. Although the habit has been building up again lately, so I need to stamp it out. (Me being the worst culprit of course!)

I did notice the other day that my cereal draw was bare - I have only bought 1 box of coco pops in the last 6 months and they are still there. I quickly filled it with jars of dried fruit and nuts so I don't fill it up again. I am a religious porridge/ oatbran eater. A couple of years ago I sat down with my oldest son (he is the fussiest and has the sweetest tooth) and we tried making muesli. I had every possible dried fruit, nut and grain I could find and we just experimented until we found one he really likes. (Final mix is banana flakes, dried apricots, sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, chopped macademia, chopped hazelnuts, and around 50% oats and barley flakes. All the shop bought ones contain raisins which he hates!) Now I make a batch every fortnight and only if he runs out will he reach for the coco pops.

My second son is trying to be healthy, but doesn't like muesli. He will have oatbran some mornings, but I also make him a paleo granola, again with lots of nuts and a little fruit. Failing that peanut butter on wholemeal toast, which isn't too bad. My youngest daughter really isn't a breakfast eater, so still gets away with nutella on toast with banana slices on top. I still consider that it is better than a bowl of cereal though, because it is more balanced with fruit, nuts, bread and ....sugar!

One of the turning points for my family was when my mum lent me Jamie Olivers 30 Minute Meals. The recipes looked nice, but had lots of ingredients that I thought my kids would not eat. For instance virtually every dish had lemons in, which they hate. So I got them all to choose which meals they wanted me to cook. We had a month of having Jamie Oliver meals 3 times a week and mostly they were delicious. It is too much shopping and cleaning to do it every day. Warning - they will take you an hour or more the first time you make them and have to keep stopping to read the instructions. But the flavours are amazing! And my boys enjoyed most of them. My youngest daughter disliked them all though :-( Some of our favourite recipes I still cook regularly.

It was some time after this that I realised about the ketchup. The kids all stopped using ketchup with meals. Jamie had changed their taste buds to appreciate more flavours of herbs and spices, and ketchup was no longer required :-)

It is just funny how these little changes take place and have a longterm impact. I definitely agree about not having snacks in the house, but you have so many lovely baking recipes that it would be a shame to not bake at least once or twice a week as a treat. I mean our grandparents had baked sugary treats and it did them no harm. Just not as snacks every day.

Jo said...

Miss Maudy, you are a Trojan for continuing the fight. I just gave up. The 9yo always wins. Stubborn isn't the word. Two of them left the house without breakfast this morning, whereas The Girl and I are real breakfast afficionados. I am sure we would be kindred spirits:)
And speaking of muesli, Miss Maudy and Judy, der, slapping my forehead here, of course we could do muesli! The Girl used to make the most fabulous baked granola, but it had brown sugar in it, so out it went with all the breakfast cereals, but of course we could make it sans sugar. I'm on it:)
And Judy, yes, our breakfast cupboard was completely bare except for oats and bread, so I filled up the cereal containers with rice and lentils. I make a yummy Indian breakfast dish called mujadara (I think), with rice, lentils and onion. It is very yummy with plain yoghurt, but again, only The Girl and I eat it..
And I hear you on the small changes. Even if Posy only eats two mouthfuls of dinner some nights, she is still eating more vegies and trying more new foods over the course of a week than she used to. Small steps, but significant.

Bek said...

More confessions, albeit late. I love chocolate covered licorice. I buy the super expensive organic one from my local organic greengrocer, so refusing to spend exorbitant amounts on sweets rations me somewhat, but I know I have more than is good for me. I try to balance it with less carbs and more veg over the day/week.

On the recipe ideas front, there is a blog I rather like, although I'm not vegan myself (see www.ohsheglows.com) I think she comes up with interesting plant based recipes. She has a bit of a sweet tooth, which may suit you. I personally love her seed only cracker recipe http://ohsheglows.com/2012/01/31/endurance-crackers/
You read it and think "this can't possibly work" but it does, and tastes nice, and is a great way to have a crispbread with no carbs and get more seeds into your diet.

Jen's Busy Days said...

My confession - the only vegetables that consistently turn up on our plates are boiled potatoes with garlic and butter, steamed carrot, broccoli and peas and corn. Not exactly a great variety.

And breakfast is a battle here too. They go for simple carbs, I want them to eat complex ones and protein. We got sick of eggs for every breakfast so we have an egg dish then a grain dish then eggs again. And we have been known to call Chocolate Crunchies (chocolate biscuits with weetbix in them) breakfast when we added a glass of milk. We don't do that anymore as I have tried to cut back on the baking of simple carbs. I like the idea of those nut ball/biscuits with dried fruit etc. I really just have to give them a try.

I buy the more expensive cereals when I do buy them, like Vogel Clusters and cereals with nuts and fancy dried fruit. But then I am mean mum and make them weigh out a portion. My kids would eat huge bowlfuls if I didn't.

Salads have been hit and miss. I really wish they would eat more than lettuce. No tomato, capsicum, avocado and only one likes cucumber.

Well, off to do the grocery shopping again, hopeful that this time the vegetables will get eaten.

Best wishes
Jen in NSW

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