I had never actually considered the emotional attachment I have to food until recently. I have cooked all my married life, enjoying moments of serious entertaining as well as cooking for family and friends on a more casual basis. I also love eating out and have been fortunate in visiting some exceptional establishments during the last fifty years.
But during these pandemic days I have had time to assess how and why I eat and what triggers certain reactions, such as the need for a G&T or a piece of chocolate. I used to think it was just a habit and I am sure some things are just that but there are definite triggers that have me mindlessly heading towards the cupboard.
I don’t binge eat or drink but I do have an emotional need where food is concerned. I am naturally shy but have learned to control the urge to hide or disappear into the background but how, in heavens name, did I manage to teach 11 to 18 year olds for 35 years! Lockdown has forced me to look at myself which I have found uncomfortable at times. I discovered I have spent years hiding behind the cooking and the social drinking because I could.
I am a good cook and love experimenting but I would never have wanted to be a chef. I would have loved to have been a food critic sampling superb cuisine in fine establishments, in an ideal world of course. Dreaming aside the reality is that I enjoy company and also cooking for people who like eating.
The last sixteen months or so have been such a change in lifestyle that initially I just cooked, baked and ate what the LSO and myself fancied. He put hardly any weight on and I ballooned but he is generally more active that me. So unfair I cried but he just had another beer and smiled enigmatically.
But I am two stone plus lighter and a bit less buddha shaped but need to come off the plateau I have settled on for the past week and address the situation sensibly. Food has always been a refuge for me whether I am preparing it or eating it and I guess it will always be like that so I need to watch portion sizes and find something to do when the 4 pm urge to eat chocolate arrives. Today I am writing this blog as a diversionary tactic. Tomorrow? Well tomorrow is another day, walking the dogs with the LSO could be a good plan.
In fact a daily plan is what I need, I will start that tomorrow.
After a spell of really warm weather, then some torrential rain, we are back to the great greyness and it is cold. Cold enough to tweak the central heating on which comes as a bit of a shock three-quarters of the way through June.
It doesn’t help with dieting either; I was enjoying the barbecued meals with lots of salads and vegetable kebabs which are spot on for a low carb diet. Now I find my mind lingerering, be it briefly, on more wintry casseroles and soups but no, I will not succumb to these thoughts and tonight it is a warm salad which I suppose is a bit of a compromise. I have now lost 30lbs, another 6 lbs off will put me about halfway to my target which I am hoping to reach before my 76th birthday.
My cousin and his wife came down from Scotland for a few days last week and although I was a bit concerned about how I would manage, especially as with so many of our friends and relatives we have developed a culture of ‘wining and dining’ but it was fine and I even lost some weight. The G&T’s were definitely off the menu replaced with fizzy water with a slice of lime and lemon.
But the recent visits of relatives and our children with their families has all been a challenge, be it a lovely one, to not slip into old habits and so far, so good.
I really do feel that I am finally throwing away the shackles that have seriously blighted not only my life but the life of the LSO. It is two years since the AP went into the care home and it has taken all that time to get my ducks in a row. I still speak to her every week and sort her affairs out but in truth lockdown has done us a favour because at the moment we don’t have to see her, well only infrequently, which is giving me the time I need to mentally and physically heal.
After a rather rickety start to my new weight loss programme I am finally losing pounds, twenty-one to date so I am feeling not only a lot better but more positive about everything.
It’s a calorie counting regime that verges slightly on low carbs but allows me to eat most of what I like within reason and doesn’t put me on a guilt trip. Sounds perfect doesn’t it? No, I’m not getting smug, therein lies disaster and the inevitable ruin of the weight loss and yes, it has it’s restrictions such as logging everything I eat and drink.
That’s another issue of course and I’m not talking about the gallons of water I am drinking, this time it’s the reduction of my alcohol intake. I have ditched the habit of decades which is the evening, pre-dinner G&T and the LSO and I only share a bottle of wine three days of the week. Astonishingly it hasn’t been such a miss and I feel almost saintly about it all but some may say that the wine will have to go eventually and the answer to that is, never. Life is too short, especially at our age to not have some pleasures in the week and a fine bottle of wine shared with a delicious meal is a joy.
I may just have to run up and down the stairs!
All hasn’t been completely fine and dandy though; I had a little blip last week when we went to visit the AP in the care home because she had reached the grand old age of 103 years. We booked the visiting pod but it was all a bit of a disaster because she was particularly vinegary and apparently couldn’t hear us or chose not to and said we had forgotten her birthday even though she was wearing the rather elegant top we had bought her. It’s difficult to really understand but she seems to save her nastiness and spleen to vent only on the LSO and myself which can be hard to take given how much we have done for her over many years and continue to do so despite her attitude. The visit also brought back some of the past and was a reminder of how thoroughly divisive she had been whilst living with us. This really saddened me because I had finally arrived at a good place regarding my mother; needless to say after about half an hour of a non-conversation that was mostly about her we departed, having had more than enough and headed home to sanity and the dogs. Fortunately the angst didn’t last too long but I did indulge in a G&T that evening. I think for the moment we’ll stick to the weekly telephone calls when she is generally nicer, although dotty.
But all in all, life looks brighter even if today is wet and cold.
It’s been a while since I wrote a blog, in fact a month because I have been utterly self-consumed sorting out my new regime. It has been an uphill struggle to find out what I can and cannot eat but there is some progress. I am pleased to say I have lost 16lbs so far and feel much better in myself. There is still a long way to go but I do believe that this time, I will get there and stay there. That’ll be a first in the last decade or so.
I have been testing to see how certain foods spike my blood sugar or cause a drop and it has been interesting to view the overall result. The general trend is definitely down which is good and I have discovered that full keto is not a good idea but low carb, low calorie and smaller portions do seem to be working. I haven’t as yet discovered how low I can safely go in order to keep losing weight and reduce my glucose blood count.
In the midst of all this the LSO and I are lamenting the freezing Spring weather we are experiencing at the moment which has meant our tomato plants grown from seed are spending nights in the kitchen and days in the greenhouse. It’s like cooking in a jungle and I keep looking for little men in pith helmets to pop out from between the leaves. They are sturdy looking plants and hopefully will be planted in the greenhouses some time next week. I will then look forward to producing endless freezer boxes of homemade passata, in between the inevitable plum and bramble jam sessions.
For those who have followed the blog you may be wondering that there is no mention of the AP. That is partly because there is not much to say about that particular situation but she is still going strong, well looked after in the care home, a bit dotty at times but generally ok and she will be one hundred and three years old at the end of this month. What do you buy for someone so old?
In the words of the AP herself, it’s utterly bonkers.
Well so much for a hint of Spring. Since I wrote my last blog, which the LSO said was a like an interval, the temperatures have plummeted and snow and ice have appeared. The former more of a dusting but with temperatures hardly rising above one degree during the day, it has been really, really cold. Today there is a sudden rise in temperature although it is grey and drizzling but it’s certainly a change to have warm feet.
Some time ago I wrote about ‘watch this space’, well the ‘space’ has arrived with a vengeance, completely back-footing me. About a week or so ago I finally removed my head from the bucket of sand which I had firmly stuck it in for months. I had actually been enjoying cooking all the comfort foods that the LSO and I have enjoyed through the months despite my slow but steady weight gain. There were several signs that all was not well but I chose to find other things to blame, then I woke up one day about a week ago and realised I needed to be honest with myself. I knew in my heart that the latest drugs I had been given for Type 2 Diabetes were not working so I blew the dust off my BG Monitor and started testing. Oh dear me, glucose levels were definitely too high. They would have been reasonably ok if I wasn’t already on medication, medication that four months ago had been doubled in strength.
To cut a long story short I arranged to have blood and urine tests and I am now on a different drug, this new one involves a completely changed eating regime which has thrown me into confusion. I cannot retreat to the keto diet which did work for me a few years ago because on this drug I risk getting Ketoacidosis which is not to be recommended. I need some carbs to keep my glucose levels stable, but how many can I have or should I say, how few do I need. Can I have as many as 45 + Carbs per meal or will my body be fine on less. I also have to drink loads of water, two to three litres a day which doesn’t come naturally to me. This results in me spending half the day rushing to the loo but at least, with lockdown I have nowhere to go.
Sadly there is no-one who can give me a definitive answer to my problems, we are all different and our bodies all have different reactions. It really is a case of trial and error whilst I find a balance that works for me.
So it is back to the drawing board, while I read again about Type 2 Diabetes, portion control, checking recipes that can be used for the LSO as well and are suitable for me, with some tweaking. At the moment I am looking at Low GI versus Glycaemic Loads and which foods work to keep the BG stable as well as enabling me to lose a substantial amount of weight at the same time. In the meanwhile I am testing four times a day, when I remember, peeing for England and feeling like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.
We have woken up for several days lately surrounded by dense fog and on one particular day it never disappeared at all; it just kept becoming slightly more transparent then rolled back again. Apart from the occasional and refreshing sunny day, it has been cold, damp and grey. A bit like our lives in lockdown really only now we fight the brain fog that threatens to engulf us too. Conversations are punctuated with ‘thingymebobs and thingamajigs’ as we struggle to remember basic words.
When the AP came to live with us neither the LSO or myself expected the sudden change in her personality that caused us so much grief for so long. It was a relief when she finally went into a care home although that situation has its own set of problems and we did, for a short spell have our freedom back but the coronavirus and yet another lockdown have left us marooned in our home again.
I had, during our brief break for freedom, thought about changing the title of this blog. During those five and a half years not only did our horizons shrink but so did our energy levels. The whole situation seemed to suck the very life out of us both and in truth that is happening again now for differernt reasons and it must be the same for many people. So, I guess there is little point in changing the title. These are indeed worrying times and all we can do is take care, be kind to ourselves and others and have hope that the vaccine is eventually effective and we can all get back to some kind of normality.
I haven’t abandoned the weight loss programme; I am eating smaller meals, reducing the alcohol intake and I have stopped baking for a while although we are demolishing the Christmas cake. These little tweeks to our lifestyle seem to be having a positive affect for the time being.
I am now considering heading into the kitchen, in a most positive way of course, to bottle the Crab Apple gin I made two years ago.
It does seem that everything is a little out of kilter at the moment even the weather is strange, we are either swelteringly hot or being deluged by rain. It does make me feel a sense of discomfort that I cannot pin down. Perhaps this is the same for everyone and just a result of having been trapped in our homes for so long. We still cannot do much and are being told to continue socially distancing and not to go out too often, avoiding any crowded places so any ideas we may have had to head up to the coast or visit a market town are firmly knocked on the head. Not just because of crowd avoidance but what do we do if nature calls and we need to stop. There is nowhere open, we can’t just nip into a pub or cafe, even shops are loath to open their facilities for the public and if they did would I want to use them?
I’m seriously thinking that the only way to venture out is to purchase a full Harwell protection suit and a portable loo!
I still find myself planning baking days as a diversion to relieve the boredom of being trapped which isn’t helping my weight loss one tiny bit and food is just so comforting as long as it is laden with carbs and fat. Somehow a poached fish or grilled meat, a salad and new potatoes without butter doesn’t have the same impact or satisfaction and certainly not on a regular basis. I guess that’s why the HFLC diet with moderate protein is so good, added fat certainly does have the knack of creating much richer dishes with depth of flavour.
In the meanwhile our neighbour’s delicious potatoes have just come to an end and I was quietly relieved thinking now is the time to seriously look at dieting when the LSO came into the kitchen carrying a bag of newly dug Maris Peer from our other farmer friend who had planted his later. Oh dear, weak-will prevailed and plans have been partially shelved until these are finished. Hopefully by then the first of the plums will be ready and I can divert myself with jam making.
That will certainly guarantee the return of the stifling hot weather.
It’s Father’s Day soon and I found myself thinking of my own father who died quite suddenly at the age of eighty when I was only thirty six leaving me with a lot of unanswered questions. That is now thirty eight years ago and I still miss him. Our own children were very young, our daughter was six years old and her brother only two and life was pretty hectic. He would have loved seeing all his grandchildren grow up and would have been so very proud of them.
My father was born right at the beginning of the Edwardian era into a very Victorian family and he was the youngest of three children, his two older sisters were twins Betty and Maggie. There was almost eighteen years between my mother and father and I never knew my paternal Grandfather who died before I was born and only met his sisters and my grandmother for a very short time when I was young.
My father was a Merchant Seaman and worked as a Chief Engineer with the British India Steam Navigation Company from about 1917 to 1945 when he decided to leave the Navy for civilian life. I don’t think, looking back, that he was ever really comfortable with life away from the sea. He loved everthing about it and had a passion for Indian cuisine and became a good cook, introducing me to curries as a very small child. This was quite surprising given his background, as a child he’d been thoroughly spoilt and doted on by his mother and his sisters and in the Navy he even had a batman on board who did absolutely everything for him. But he loved India, it’s food and it’s culture and although he did sail to other countries that was his favourite destination.
How I wish he was here, I have much I want to ask him but sadly he is long gone and my questions must go unanswered but he left me a great legacy. He really was a good man not perfect by any means but he had a strong set of values. He taught me that it is important to treat all people with respect, that everyone has something to give no matter who they are.
I can’t say I have always followed his advice but I have tried and mostly succeeded in keeping my own council rather than being unpleasant and I really do believe that people come into your life for a reason, some stay and some pass through as not all encounters are positive or necessarily good but they all give you experience.