Been a mammoth amount of time right? I never really do these that much because my diet tends to get stuck in ruts and food isn’t that much of my life. Saying that though, I have been really trying to push myself out of the rut I’ve been in recently, trying lots of new things and getting some more excitement in my diet.
I think this partly works because I’m not actively counting calories. That doesn’t mean I have no idea how much I’m eating because I really do. It also doesn’t mean that calories play no part in my decisions because they do. It just means that without a running total of calories/fat/fibre/salt etc., I’m able to be a little bit more adventurous. I’m not going to bother with a load of catch up or anything because it wouldn’t be applicable to where I am now. Right now, I’m not trying to eat as many calories as possible in ways I don’t find hard and scary, right now I’m really just trying to normalise my eating. It’s a work in progress, but there are serious improvements.
To me, normalizing my eating doesn’t involve always eating new things, or cooking all the time. It’s not about eating really healthy or trying to eat less healthy. It involves thinking something looks or sounds nice, then making the effort to try it if time and money allow. Sometimes, its eating for convenience. Sometimes it’s taking a lot of time and effort to make something really special. I don’t want to be on a meal plan forever and I’d like to wake up some mornings and chose to eat something different from a bowl of cereal. Not every morning, but some mornings. Then I might be more hungry, or less hungry at snack or lunch time because it’s not my usual so it changes from my usual, predictable satiety levels, but that’d be fine because I can eat more or less. It just needs practice, and I have to start at some point. Some foods that I think look and sound really nice are further away from me right now than others, but as per usual, its little steps towards the ultimate goal. Sausage sandwiches might not happen all that soon, but croissants and jam could be a go-er in the not too distant if that makes sense. And don’t worry, sausage sandwiches will happen. Just give me time. And maybe a bad enough hangover.
So in general, a lot of my meals look like this –
Or this –
(This is butternut squash pate from Marks & Spencer by the way. It’s actually quite nice. I would recommend I think. It’s more rich than I’d usually go for but I really like squash so can be easily tempted).
Basically, it’s a lot of cold food. Sometimes I just cannot be bothered, so I go to the fridge, pick three veggies I would like to eat raw, put them in a bowl with some left over grains and a bit dollop of hummus or something and it’s done. Simple. Much as it’s really tasty, it’s not exactly normal eating if I’m doing the same thing most days. The lack of protein and fat probably isn’t that good either. I know hummus is both protein and fat, but just on bit of hummus isn’t enough of either for a dinner.
So I decided if I’m going to have a more normal relationship with food, I’m going to have to start actually bothering a little bit again, getting back into foods I used to like and trying new recipes and meals that sound good in the hope that eventually, I can reach a sort of healthy balance for me, which doesn’t involve much conscious thought at all. Not giving it much thought right now isn’t helping me find this balance, but maybe if I give it more now, in the future there’ll be a thought time payoff if that makes sense.
So the first thing to start looking at for me was dinners. I know that this is so not an exciting meal, but this is actually a big step for me. I made bolognese with actual beef. Granted, extra lean beef which probably wasn’t so good, but it’s a start. It was really nice, but I could do better. A problem I have with using meat is that I tend to try to find ways to skip out on adding fat to my meals, so I just didn’t use any oil with this, which is stupid. Pasta is hard for me as well which doesn’t help. I think it’s because you get more calories for less volume than a lot of other carbs. Still, I didn’t measure it, I just used two handfuls. I don’t know if two handfuls is right, but the ex always used to tell me that was the exact right portion. He has really small hands though so maybe mine was still too much. Probably not though. I don’t think half a centimeter can make that much difference. Essentially, I should use oil. I did use a jar sauce though which is also a big step for me. I’m literally terrified of jar sauces because the idea of too much salt scares me. Too much salt leads to water retention which leads to increased weight and puffy joints, so I like to go for low sodium options when I can and that just isn’t processed sauces. I ended up chosing a Tesco Goodness one with hidden vegetables designed for children. Mostly because the portions were smaller and the calories less. Again, not perfect. Jar sauce, real meat and unmeasured pasta all good steps though
Sometimes I read paragraphs like that and think “Gosh. I’m such a crank when it comes to food.” The way I think is still pretty stupid.
Each time I mess up now though, I’m writing it down to try to address it. So this meal ended up with “Normal jar sauce. Add some oil to fry your veggies in next times” aims. Next time I have pasta, I’ll at least scratch one of them off the list. It’s still a massive improvement. I’ve gone from less that half a normal pasta portion, no oil, measured out Quorn mince, fresh tomatoes instead of tinned or jar sauces etc. I’m levelling up slowly, but I haven’t had the final boss fight with pasta yet. I think that might include garlic bread. It is one of my ultimate all time favourite foods and I haven’t had any in so ridiculously long. I think I’d like it too much and eat too much. That’ll be a scary day I think.
At least it looks like normal food right?
I’ve also been trying to eat some other meats as well. Like lamb and chicken. Obvs. I had really nice jerk chicken the other day, but I’ve also recently had some sort of Moroccan-ish lamb leg steaks. I don’t know if it’s acceptable to be in recovery and use a George Forman but I do. I didn’t buy the George Forman, I acquired it as spoils of university life (seriously, who leaves behind something like that?) so I don’t feel bad that I have it. Plus it cooks things super quick and you can get all the char-y outside bits without any hassle. I still feel bad that I use it though because of the fat issue. I won’t lie, it does make meat easier for me to eat, but that’s probably because I have it if that makes sense. If I didn’t have it, just grilling meat would be fine, but seeing as I do, plain old grilling isn’t good enough. Sometimes I feel sorry for vegetarians because grilled meat is actually really tasty. In fact, most meat is tasty. Crap meat, processed meat, expensive cuts, grilled, baked, roasted, fried. Honestly. It’s really nice. I know I still find it too hard to eat meat that often, but I’m trying to because I really have a really low protein diet and I know that. Plus hating on cheese and never having really eaten an egg makes protein even harder to get without meat. So I’m aiming for red meat a couple of times a week for the iron (I’m pretty low on iron, and meat is a way better source than vegetable ones), fish twice, poultry once and two veggie days. Right now, I’m not hitting that target, but I intend to. I personally know I don’t feel that good if I eat lots of meat, but I do feel better if I eat some. So it’s a work in progress, especially because of the oil issue. Who knows, maybe I’ll even eat an egg one day. Stranger things have happened.
I’ve also been trying with my lunches. It’s been far to hot for my usual soup recently, so I’ve been having actual sandwiches! I find sandwiches hard for no reason whatsoever because I’ll eat two slices of bread with topping easy peasy, but put the two slices together and I struggle. There is absolutely no logic in this. I’ve been having some really nice falafel hummus sandwiches, with salad and crisps. I still have difficulties when it comes to actual potato crisps, so it’s mostly Sunbites and vegetable crisps for me. I really like Sunbites though, and vegetable crisps, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out, and I do occasionally have real crisps to make sure I’m able to if I really want them. This is a big step for me. Again, there are issues with added fat though. I find it really hard to even want butter because it’s been so long since I’ve used it really that it doesn’t even occur to me. The other day the Mother used butter with hummus on toast and I actually asked her why because I just didn’t get it. I know hummus and nut butters and things are sufficiently fatty, but I’m ok with them because they seem more nutrient-dense to me. However, butter is still pretty good for you actually. Even fully saturated, real cow butter. In fact, saturated fat is necessary for an actually healthy diet, but my diet is severely lacking it. I should probably eat more butter. I remember I used to really like peanut butter and butter cracker sandwiches (honestly, if you have never tried this, do because it’s lovely. Two cream crackers, one with butter, one with peanut butter, put together like a sandwich. It’s so nice), but I haven’t had anything like that in such a long while. Maybe I should put peanut butter cracker sandwiches on my fear foods list.
Quite often I find myself wishing I’d never bothered learning as nutritional information. Regardless of any eating disorder stuff. I mean, I could have just ate less and lost weight and still been really sick, but nutritional information is something that makes it really difficult to let go and enjoy food. Even if your ok with the fact you’re eating it. Because you always know. You can’t unlearn it. My honest advice to anyone and everyone is to never learn anything about calories or fat or carbohydrates or sodium or whatever. If you want a healthier diet, you probably already know all you need to know. Anything else makes food a hell of a lot less nice. And once you know, you can’t undo it and just enjoy things.
Anyway, I’ve also been improving my lunches by actually fully following recipes and not working out the nutritional information for them. I’ve made some serious hummus recently. Generally, if I’m gonna make it, it’s a tin of chickpeas, couple of cloves of garlic, maybe two teaspoons maximum of tahini if I’m feeling brave, though sometimes none, some cumin and the chickpea cooking water in a blender. The other day though, I really went for it. I followed Felicity Cloake’s recipe for perfect hummus. It has a whopping six tablespoons of tahini, plus although there’s minimum effort, it takes an absolute age to make due to soaking and cooking dried chickpeas. It’s so tasty though. Plus it makes bare so I’ve got some in the freezer as well. It’ll last me ages and it really is one of the best hummuses (what is the plural of hummus?) I’ve had. Even if I do say so myself. Hummus of Kings. And I have no idea of the exact calories because I didn’t work it out and generally, I don’t use dried chickpeas so I can’t work out how it compares. Which is brilliant for me.
I also made walnut butter with honey and cinnamon. I made it before ages ago, but had difficulty with it because it was maybe too tasty and ended up throwing it away. This time I’m going to give it my all. If you’re only used to standard peanut butters, homemade nut butters, and even the shop bought natural ones, are weird. They aren’t as smooth and spreadable and they aren’t as sweet or as salty (though this is sweeter due to the honey). However, homemade is a whole load cheaper than the natural ones in shops, plus you get so much more options. You can add whatever to it really and it tastes good. Like bananas, or chocolate, or spices, or dried fruit, or anything really. And they are really, really easy. As easy as hummus. All you need is a blender or food processor and you’re away. And this is really great. I recommend to everyone.
Breakfast are also getting a look in whilst I’m trying to eat more like a normal person. One thing I’ve recently tried is overnight oats. They’re kinda a standard thing in the healthy food blogger world, but back in the days when I used to stalk those blogs, I’d look at them and think they sounded and looked great, but the idea of yogurt and nut butter and banana and honey etc. was all too much and I wasn’t allowed. I’d occasionally do it with just a bit of milk and mostly water, but oats were for water in my head and that was it. It doesn’t work with water. You kinda have to heat them up if you do that. Otherwise it’s not nice. I actually think oats in water can be nice as well, but only if you pour cold milk over the hot gruel, but that’s another thing entirely. I had overnight oats the other day. Serious ones. With greek yogurt and banana and almond butter. It was so good. I’ve had it a couple of times now and topping it with blueberries and almond butter is my favorite way so far. It’s really refreshing in the heat, and really tasty, and deceptively filling. I actually think this is worth it entirely.
Now I know that none of this is entirely normal eating for most people. It’s lots of whole, natural foods which are pretty healthy, homemade with no additives etc. But I am trying those things too. Like potato wedges. I ate potato wedges can you believe? McCain’s no less. And they were so hard to eat, but so worth it because they are really nice and I’m a fool for not eating them. I know it’s really easy to make your own from scratch, but I couldn’t be bothered and the McCain’s ones looked really appealing in the freezer aisle and I just though to myself “fuck it. I like McCain’s” and went with it. I don’t regret it for a second. I still haven’t dared check out the ingredients. For all I know, they’re really not that bad, but I’d ruin it for myself if they are. And you see that guacamole? Tesco made it. And they made the salsa too.
I also managed a three course meal. I had a mezze platter thing (lots of chorizo and parma ham and hummus and bread and sun-dried tomatoes), followed by roast venison medallions, roasted new potatoes and cabbage, with a chocolate orange ganache torte topped with raspberry and ice-cream. That definitely isn’t the sort of food I usually go for. Processed meat with a whole ton of salt, meat and potatoes, probably cooked using lots more fat than I’d be ok to use myself, full-blown chocolate dessert with ice cream instead of just ice cream alone. All of these things are hard, but it actually wasn’t even that hard when I was out with the fam. We’d been out all day and went to a really tasty pub out in the sticks for Sunday lunch. After I’d had scones with jam and clotted cream for a snack as well. And it wasn’t bad and it didn’t plague me and I didn’t feel horrible. I felt happy because I’d had a nice day and joined in with fam activities (we went to the Royal Gunpowder Mills. Seriously good. Really interesting, really lame, and really fantastic buildings. If my camera hadn’t died I would have had really great pictures. Instead, I got there, got excited at some baby swans then my battery went dead. All I have is pictures of baby swans. They are cute though).
So yer, I know my cooking isn’t the most normal. I have so many recipes bookmarked from healthy food blogs I can’t count them. It’ll take an age just to get through the healthy ones, and I have better things to do that troll through the internet looking for recipes. Plus a lot of them include a whole load of ingredients I wouldn’t go near a year ago so I still think it’s progress, even if it’s still a little weird. This is the food I longed for and couldn’t bring myself to eat. I think I’m getting there. Slowly. If I want it, I should endeavour to eat it. I honestly don’t care if it’s weird though. Everyone’s normal is different and I just want to find food I like and be comfortable eating without worrying about it anymore. If that’s lots of healthy looking food, so be it. If it’s mostly chips, that’d probably be ok too. I think I’ll probably eat lots of whole, homemade, healthy looking foods forever, but as long as it’s not hard, I’m ok with that. And as long as I can eat chocolate bars and fish fingers sometimes too.
And I’m adding this picture because I think food like this should be displayed.