The first week of study on my nutrition course came with a predictable level of procrastination: superfluous stationary purchases, a carefully made cup of tea, an artful shot of page one in my book… but now I’m down to it!
Week one focused on eating habits – not so much the nuts and bolts of nutrition and nutrients, but why people pick what, when, where and how they eat. Whilst this has been nothing revalatory, it has made me pause and reflect on some of my own eating habits.
For instance, for some time I’ve been conscious that my default breakfast is “as soon as I get up, probably something starchy and sugary (cereal), and then second breakfast an hour later”. I’ve been trying hard to change that – making sure I get protein and fibre at breakfast time – it keeps me fuller for longer and helps me hit my daily requirements. But if I don’t plan in advance, I still end up reaching for the box of nutrient-empty cereal. I’m also making an effort to wait and sit down to eat with A a little later so I’m not snacking again by 10am.
But it occurred to me, that whilst I’m working hard to undo some of my habits, I’m busy creating the same ones for A. I’ll sit down at 8am with scrambled eggs and spinach or a wholegrain porridge, whilst she sits beside me chomping through Weetabix with sweet soya milk (she has a cow’s milk protein allergy). I’m acutely conscious of added sugar, we buy the ‘fortified’ varieties of cereals because they have calcium, iron etc. added; but neglect to do the easy thing and eat the foods that naturally have those anyway! It’s the only meal of the day where we eat something different, and I can’t think of a good reason why. In short, I could do better for her at breakfast time.
We are lucky (at the moment) to have a little girl who loves her food, so it seems like time to encourage her to think about breakfast in a different way. The only challenge is, my go-to eggs seem to make her eczema flare up big-style, so I need to think outside the box a bit. You need only to see one of those viral posts on breakfast around the world to see that the dominance of cereal and sweet stuff (and to a lesser extent, egg) on our breakfast menus is out of kilter. For many people, breakfast is just another meal without a special food designated for it. Our own travels have taught us this too – we got used to olives and cucumber with eggs and honey in Turkey; rice, soya and sashimi in Japan and all manner of pulse-based concoctions to start the day in Northern Africa.
I, for one, am not afraid to have last night’s leftovers early in the morning, in fact the main thing that stops me is the strange looks on the commuter train! Of course I want to balance broadening A’s horizons without making her ‘the kid with the weird packed lunch’ when she eventually goes to school.
So time to mix it up a bit for our intrepid 2 year old. Maybe I can persuade her nursery to do the same?