Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lunching on leftovers

Well, I made far too much rice the other night and so I am having the last small portion for lunch today. I used a bigger cup than I normally would to measure the rice out. Normally I use a small mug to give two large portions of rice but since it's a while since I've cooked rice I couldn't remember which mug I used to use and obviously used a bigger one. Portion size control is something I need to work at, one of my problem areas when it comes to food.

I've a history of issues with eating since I was about 13, some of which I'd admitted to myself years ago and some I didn't even realise were there until the last couple of years. One I have been aware of and working on for a few years now is knowing when to stop eating. At home, we had to eat whatever was put in front of us, not so unusual I think, it happens to most people. The problem started when my dad remarried (I was 12, it was just over a year after my mum dying) and my stepmother wasn't too nice. She definitely had some control issues and one of the things which was imposed on us was a no exceptions to the eat everything on your plate. She also forced us to eat vegetables (I didn't eat any vegetables at the time and being forced to eat them at that stage put me off anyting to do with veg for a long, long time) and, something I only realised in later years, gave me far bigger portions than I needed. We did not have a house where you argued with the grown-ups or went against them in any way (and of all the ways of dealing with that kind of situation, mine was always to be as good as I could be, I was always terrified of being bold and was never the rebel) and so it never occurred to me to say I didn't want so much or was full and didn't want any more. I went through a stage of frequently needing to throw up after dinner, not because I was forcing myself to or wanted to, but simply because I had had too much to eat and couldn't keep it down. Of course, if you eat large amounts of food you will eventually get used to eating way more than you need and you become unable to know when or if you are hungry so it is a long process to educate yourself in both mind and body to knowing when you are hungry and when you are satisfied. Only making a certain amount of something, for example taking 30g dried pasta as a small portion, and eating only that helped a lot when I was trying to teach myself portion control. Also, finding out that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to register food was a revelation. Following the example of my sister (who is married to a Frenchman and living in France), helped a lot with this so I always try to have a small bit of something as an appetiser about half an hour before eating dinner - often that means just munching on something as I start cooking. It means that by the time I sit down to eat properly my system is working and ready to let me know when I've had enough. In conjunction with this I try to make sure I take my time eating - it's possible to get a huge amount of food into your gob in 20 minutes, possibly far more than you need if you're not paying attention. If you have family or friends around for mealtimes I think having an appertiser also helps with making the meal a real meal and not just a food-shovelling exercise.

I also try to have at least two courses because it means you're not trying to fill up on one thing, just eating enough (what my mind knows is enough even if my eyes/stomach want more) because there's still more coming. And of course I have to remind myself that even if I have finished dinner and I'm still not satisfied I can just wait for an hour and then eat something else - this is another hang-up from my teenage years as we weren't allowed to eat anything without asking first so there was no just opening the fridge and helping yourself if you felt peckish in the evening. Only, now I'm all grown up and living on my own and if I feel like having a slice of toast or an apple, I can do it. It never ceases to amaze me how deeply ingrained some things from those those eight years living with someone like my stepmother are - but 12 to 20 is a very impressionable age I suppose.

Wow, that was more than I intended to write today. It does help to write it down though sometimes. And now, back to the rice. It gets a bit boring to eat the same thing every day but it's not something that would freeze well and I prefer not to waste it so it's leftovers for lunch. I finished all the bits with meat in yesterday so it's rice, peas and broccoli today. I also have a slice of lemony cake in with me which will fill me up nicely if I'm feeling peckish in the afternoon. As well as a packet of fruit & nut mix which I started yesterday and will probably have on my desk for a week.

This evening will be something made with eggs - I'm thinking of doing pancakes, it's a miserable gray day today and pancakes are a great food for that type of weather. Actually pancakes go with almost any kind of weather - love them, love them, love them.

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