These last few weeks I have been reading all about going vegetarian and about how to eat more healthily. I am interested in doing this in the same way I am interested in reading the children’s history books: I know I should do it because it will make me a better, more rounded person, but I really really can’t be arsed. (Although in the case of eating more healthily presumably I might become a less rounded person – that’s the plan.)
I’ll be upfront: we are already a bit boringly good with food in our house. When William was diagnosed with kidney disease we switched to a low-salt diet (or as much as we could given that lots of ready-made foods come laden with salt, even bread and breakfast cereals) and cut out almost all processed foods, thereby cutting out pretty much all the crap – preservatives, colours, flavours, bad fats, salt and quite a lot of sugar – from our diet. I bake a lot and we cook almost everything from scratch. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen but not as much as I first thought I would as I have home-cooked express cooking down to a fine art. But I am not a cook. I don’t like cooking. I do it because it became a priority for my son’s health. And we have all benefitted.
Don’t worry, I’m not about to start including recipes here or start waxing lyrical about tofu. But I was interested to read this archive NY Times article that low fat diets are frequently unsuccessful and that low-carb diets are more successful, and possibly less dangerous, than I thought. Clearly I was busy, possibly baking chocolate cake, and missed those bits of news. When William had to start taking statins we were given the low-fat diet argument so I’m not sure what to believe now. (That’s this week’s bedtime reading, and I’m pretty sure I won’t have any difficulty falling asleep this week.) So that’s the first possible dietary change (for me only, as I want to lose a little bit of weight and keep it off without having to continually diet in the future. The children don’t need to lose weight as they are as skinny as rakes and my mother continually tells me to cook them more puddings. Can’t Mum, I’d eat the puds too. But I am interested in finding out whether eating full fats aid dietary absorption of vitamins and so on.)
I know already that as a family we need to eat less red meat and I am very happy to exchange those meals for vegetarian ones, just how to go about it? That’s the second change.
And then I clicked through to a few fantastic food blogs and it reminded me that we are not eating as healthily as we might be. When I was pregnant with Edward I had to switch to a low GI diet when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. But as the months have passed I have slipped away from low GI eating, even though I still eat very little processed food. And I need reminding: I have a 50% chance of developing diabetes in the next 10-15 years. I want to be healthy enough to donate a kidney to my son when he needs one. I want to be around for my little boy who may really need me if he goes into kidney failure. I want to live long enough to see all my children grow up and I want to be healthy in my old age.
So dietary change number three is to make an effort to get back to low GI eating and primarily to wholegrain foods (bread is the big one because with pasta and rice I mix a little bit of white pasta or rice in with the wholemeal pasta/rice and it tastes ok, but eating brown bread really is like eating the dust from under the filthy rug on the living room floor). This week I have bought some wholegrain granary bread – granary is good because the ‘bits’ in it help regulate blood sugars – and I hope that will be better tasting than regular wholemeal bread. Regardless, I pack the children off to school with brown bread because they can fight with the dinner ladies instead of me about not eating it. One less battle. And as we all know, parenting is about winning the war, preferably by letting someone else deal with the battles.
Now I just need to find a low-sugar chocolate cake. Otherwise I’ll be eating to live, not living to eat.
Who’s with me? I need a low-GI buddy group. We can swap lentil stories! We can share sugar-cravings! We can talk tofu! (I’m not selling this well am I?)