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.