So here I am once again, on yet another dieting journey. This time, though, it does feel different somehow. I feel ready to make the necessary, life-long, changes.
It's been obvious for a very long time that my diet ~ in the true sense of the word, as opposed to a slimming campaign ~ has been extremely dire. I have been thinking about this, in general terms, an awful lot over the last few months; I know that I simply cannot stay on this path for much longer if I wish to live happily, and healthily, as far into my old age as I possibly can. If I don't do something now, at the age of 52, then quite frankly I just don't see my life changing for the better at all.
When I was growing up I ate a far better diet than I have done for many years now. Things really started to change when I left home and married my ex-husband. To say that he was not an adventurous eater is putting it mildly! He seemed to exist mainly on carrots, very little fruit, no meat or fish other than chicken breast, and potatoes. He did consume a lot of peanut butter and milk, though, and somehow managed to grow to 6'4" with a 46" chest! I just became very lazy in the nearly two years we were together and didn't bother making different things for myself.
As a child I ate meat, fish, potatoes, vegetables and fruit. We had "proper" dinners, usually with a pudding of some sort, each day, and a traditional roast on Sundays. There were cereals and toast for breakfast, or perhaps a boiled egg with toast soldiers, and a traditional English fried breakfast at the weekend. And for tea ~ or at lunchtime if we were having our main meal in the evening ~ it would be something like a cheese, ham, tuna or egg sandwich, or perhaps baked beans, tinned sardines or scrambled eggs on toast, and a piece of (usually homemade) cake.
I have been finding myself thinking more and more about those childhood meals, and also to the meals I ate when staying with my Grandma during the 1960s/early 1970s (I was born in 1961). There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that food was different then, as were meals in general. To be honest, I don't remember eating ready-meals of any description until I was in my early teens; my Mum mostly cooked from scratch, and Grandma always did, other than the occasional fish-and-chip supper.
Do you know, Grandma didn't even have a fridge when I was a child! I remember how cool her pantry always was; she kept bottles of milk in a bucket of cold water and walked up the road into the village most days to buy fresh food. Meat came from the butcher, wet fish from the fish and chip shop, bread from the village baker, vegetables and fruit from the greengrocer.
There was a little supermarket of sorts in the village and that was where Grandma bought tinned goods (I remember having tinned peach slices with evaporated milk and a slice of bread and butter for tea!), packet foods such as flour and sugar, and various household sundries.
The other think I remember is really more of what I don't remember: being served large portions. And yet I also don't recall ever leaving the table still feeling hungry. We didn't eat until we were stuffed; we simply ate enough to satisfy our hunger. At Grandma's house it was usually four meals: breakfast, the main meal at midday, tea and a light supper before bed. There wasn't a lot of eating between meals either and if we did want something, we would probably have been given a piece of fruit. I'm not saying that we never ate sweets, chocolate, shop-bought biscuits or had an ice-cream, but those things were generally regarded as treats. Virtually everything else we ate was homemade, from scratch ~ and that included cakes and puddings.
So what went wrong then? I should imagine that most folk of my generation grew up eating in a similar way to that described above, and of course our parents and grandparents would almost certainly have eaten those kinds of meals. It was real food, not low fat/low carbohydrate/full of man-made additives. And that, I suspect is the answer. What so many of us eat nowadays is just so far removed from good, basic, wholesome food that it can't possible sustain and nourish our bodies ~ nor our minds, either, for that matter.
I admit that I have overloaded my body with way too much "non-food" for year-upon-year-upon-year, and I have become ever fatter and so terribly unhealthy in the process. Recently it has occurred to me that perhaps my emotional eating may be partly caused by lack of proper nourishment, too. In my travels around the internet I have noticed that many other folk are thinking along similar lines, and doing a search such as "eating like our grandparents" pulls up a lot of links to some interesting websites and blogs.
Really, then, the only logical next step for me is to start cooking from scratch, using good old-fashioned basic ingredients. I have plenty of cookery books for ideas, recipes and inspiration. I also have Grandma's battered old notebook with some of her own handwritten recipes, as well as a couple of her old cookery books. And since it's not so easy for me to just pop into town every other day for fresh ingredients, I have decided to start menu-planning. Unlike Grandma, I have the convenience of a freezer which makes it so much easier to buy meat and fish on a weekly, or longer, basis.
I am not suggesting for one minute that by simply scratch-cooking my excess weight will just magically melt away. Although I do want to feed my body, mind and yes, my soul too, good wholesome nourishing food, I also realise that I need to look at my overall eating patterns in general terms as well. I would like to share those observations with you but since this post is already rather long, I will leave that for another day!