Tag Archives: Child Health

Less of it

26 Aug

I’ve already talked about how we all eat far too much. Yes junk food plays a big part, but I can guarantee like I did, that you eat far too much of everything.

I have my granny’s and great granny’s cook books, from reading them, I was astounded to see that actually a lot of the homemade food of the past (we are talking pre-junk food) contained what we’ve been led to believe is bad for us, a lot of pastry, potatoes, butter and lard, yet the obesity crisis is a modern thing.

I talked to my mum about how she would feed us as a family when we were children, what came to light were three very clear things:

1. We did do a lot more exercise, not the gym or even sport, but we walked to school, we played outside, mum walked to the shops every day, we just moved more in very simple ways.

2. The portions were much smaller than what we regard being normal today.  Even the plates we used then were smaller!  Us kids eat far less than our parents.  If you look at the plates your parents and grandparents had in their dinner service I can guarantee that they were much smaller than what you have in your kitchen cupboards.

3. We couldn’t afford junk food. Now this is interesting, I read a lot of reports that we now eat junk food because it’s cheaper, is it really cheaper or are we just lazy in not wanting to use our ‘leisure’ time to think about producing better food, do we just need to be taught how to cook?  It is too easy for the Government to say that junk food is the issue, it goes much deeper than that, we need to re-focus and re-learn food and nutrition. Junk food isn’t just about the calories, it’s about the fat content, the salt, the additives, the list goes on, just because the kebab has salad in it and you think you’re getting some protein from the meat, it is still contributing to your problem!

A Chinese buffet restaurant in the United Stat...

Image via Wikipedia

If you think about it, as society got more affluent, we began to buy more, what we now think are ‘essential items’ amazes me, after all life could continue without SKY, mobile phones, flat screen TVs, computer consoles etc.  Yet I hear families from all sectors from society saying they can’t afford to eat well and that junk food is cheaper?  And as our purchasing power has increased as has our food consumption.  A good night out is the ‘All you can Eat’ chinese buffet or the biggest steak you can fit on a plate. Eating becomes a challenge, you get cheered and rewarded for clearing your plate, eating until you burst!  These of course are fine in moderation but it has become a normal way of eating.

We all eat too much, we load up our plates and bowls, we eat the same as our male partners, and I for one was brought up to eat everything off my plate! The difference was that when I was being told that at the age of eight, my plate was smaller and the portions considerably smaller.

When I watch programmes about weight problems, the first thing you see is the sheer amount of food that people are eating.  If you give your kids as much as yourself or you eat as much as your man then it’s far too much.

If you eat too much of all of the bad stuff then the problem is amplified, a diet with no fruit and veg or consisting of just takeaways and junk food will accelerate the problem massively. I didn’t have a bad diet before the shrinkage, I did eat far too much of it (even the good stuff) and once I had admitted that, the rest came relatively easily.  So look at what you eat and ask yourself some simple questions:

  • Do you snack between meals?  And is it even consciously?  I would often eat something while I was cooking my dinner or pick up sweets when I paid for my petrol, importantly I would never count this towards what I had eaten that day?
  • Do you eat the same as your partner?  Or if like me you’re single, cook for two instead of one?   Women don’t need the same calories as men remember?
  • What do you eat too much off – is it the bad stuff or the good stuff? Even if you think you have a healthy diet, it could just be too much of everything?  If you need to wean yourself off the really bad stuff, reduce gradually.  My way doesn’t mean you can never have a takeaway or visit the All you can Eat Chinese Buffet ever again!
  • Do you always eat everything, even if you’re full?  Often that feeling is self satisfying itself and feels as if you’ve achieved something.
  • Do you drink?   What do you drink?  3 pints of cider or beer can equate to the same number of calories as a main meal. Sugary drinks present the same problem as do large volumes of things like milk, tea and coffee, I bet you don’t include these when you think about what you’ve ‘eaten’ during the day.

My stomach is now smaller, it takes time but it does happen. I can’t actually eat as much now as I used to be able to, it’s the equivalent feeling of having a gastric band and I had proved though it was possible without surgery.   I’d found out what being empty and hungry really felt like, even if you think you do, it’s unlikely you’ve ever been really hungry, if you can, try it, it’s an important step forward towards being able to take control.

If I now stretch my stomach it protests, I can end up spending the evening in the bathroom if I stuff myself, it’s annoying but reassuring, it’s always important to listen to your own body.

So what are the simple things you can do to make life easier for yourself and make a start:

  • Think about what you eat, once again it’s not difficult to reduce everything initially by 25% and not notice at all, try it with your partner and kids too!
  • If your dinner plates and bowls are quite large, buy yourself special smaller versions, I use a bowl a lot, if you fill up a bowl with pasta, it will look like you’re having far more than if you put it onto a plate?
  • Once you’re full, don’t feel guilty about stopping eating, throw it away and move on, note what you’ve not eaten and reduce your portions for the next meal, you’ll then eat it all and not feel guilty about not eating everything.
  • Don’t insist your kids clear their plates, it’s important for them to understand when they have eaten enough.  Note what they leave and then reduce their next meal by this amount.
  • Eat at the table, make time for food, it’s very important for you to watch how your kids eat, if we’re to avoid them having bigger problems than us in the future.  You are responsible for your children’s future.
  • Really think about the junk food, it has to be reduced, think about the amount you eat, what proportion of your diet does it make up over a month?

And me, well I love food now, I got given some fresh homegrown veg this week, I got so excited!  And importantly I have also have a bar of Green & Black’s butterscotch chocolate for tonight!


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