Friday, 2 September 2011

It's hard being healthy

So after a few weeks of going at the diet and exercise hard I decided to give myself a “cheat week”. It is son number 2’s birthday week, so the house is full of naughty stuff and I knew would be spending my time sniggering and tying balloons into the obligatory two round one long configuration and picking up fluttering Argos receipts, far too busy to work out or think about healthy eating.

But after only four days I began to feel sick, exhausted, and had indigestion straight from the fiery pit of hell. I discovered that weirdly, the things I considered treats were in fact not what my body wanted.

As the designated chef of three demanding males, I have a hard time cooking in my house. Son number 1 is a picky eater who is only just coming out of the “I’m not eating that, it’s white” stage (especially not cheese), has a verging on compulsive obsession with things being cut up or not cut up in a certain way, god help anyone who cuts his sandwich into 4 instead of 2 and don’t even get me started on the square versus triangle argument. I admit I have probably pandered to his random demands too much, but if your kid is going to scream the house down for ten minutes because you cut his cucumber into sticks instead of rounds you get to the point where bad habits creep in, just for a quiet life.

The man is a bigger version of son number 1, and doesn’t see the point in eating anything that he doesn’t absolutely love. So if a meal isn’t at least 85% meat it has to be covered in cheese to make up for it and I have a very narrow selection of fruit and vegetables to work with. Healthy versions of favourites don’t appeal, why have berries and honey on your porridge when you can have cream and golden syrup, don’t bother making me packed lunches this week because KitKat Chunkys and Hula Hoops are on special at the garage across the road and for goodness sake woman, is full fat mayonnaise too much to ask for? It doesn’t help that he is one of those infuriating people that has a criminally perfect body despite never working out or watching what he eats, so there is probably a sneaky element of sabotage in the fact that I am so willing pour double cream down his neck, just to see if it makes a dent in his rock solid pecs (it never does).

I regularly find myself cooking 3 different meals every day to suit all the complicated dietary requirements of the brood.

Why slave for 3 hours a day cooking a healthy and delicious meal for people who are happy with sausages and chicken nuggets? So I’m often forlornly eating my healthy meals alone and rarely justify the expense of making myself a fruit salad, which has had to be washed and chopped, washing up created, before it can be enjoyed. It all seems like too much hassle for just me. By day 2 I have a huge bowl of unappetising spongy fruit taking up space in my fridge and I’m reaching for the mans secret KitKat Chunky hidden behind the ancient box of Trex on the fridge door.

Why can’t they make healthy food more accessible, and more importantly cheap? Why is it that it works out cheaper for me to buy kids yoghurts with reportedly over a teaspoon of pure sugar in each pot than it does to buy plain yoghurt and add toppings to it (which I now do, although still trying to move away from jam and nesquik powder as acceptable toppings)? You can buy a ready made lasagne the size of a small continent for around £4, make my own healthy version and I haven’t saved anything except fat and maybe pride, but it’s taken me three hours to convince them that I haven’t added anything “weird” (slightly worrying that my family trust Tesco more than me when it comes to food). Even the Expensive Cats prefer supermarket budget brand cat food, not even described as any flavour, just meat. It’s a conspiracy I tell you.

I know we should all be eating healthy but picky eaters make it so flipping hard for us family cooks to provide a balanced diet that everyone can enjoy. I don’t blame people for eating ready meals and cooking less, I get such a head ache from banging my head against the unhealthy brick wall that is my family.

But sometimes, even for a healthy food lover, only chocolate will do.

“Mummy, what’s that you’re eating?”
“Erm… it’s a brown cheese bar. It’s new, want to try it?”
“Urgh, I don’t like cheese."
"I know."
"I thought it was chocolate.”
“Nope, definitely cheese.” It’s probably no wonder that none of them trust me.

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