Monday, April 10, 2006

Vegetables 1, Mother 0

I'm still meat free, despite the arrival of my mother yesterday.

She sometimes winds me up with the food thing when she's here. Not because she tries to feed me rubbish (although she often manages, unintentionally, to throw me off track by cooking something that's not too bad, but with huge portions that I then feel obliged to finish off. No, it's not particularly what she cooks, it's her slavish devotion to finding out exactly what I'm eating and copying it. I can leave a tub of yoghurt in the fridge, or a pack of vitamins in the cupboard, then I come home and she's bulk bought them.

I should be flattered. After all, she's only doing it because she wants to achieve what I've achieved, and it's not like it's an eating regime that I wouldn't recommend - my food is far tastier and healthier than almost anyone else I know, so she could be doing worse. But really, she doesn't need to be so obvious about it. Take inspiration from it by all means, but copying it won't give her my results.

She needs to lose weight. She's over 15 stone I think, so not as heavy as I used to be, but still obese. I do want her to lose weight. But the food I eat works for my lifestyle. It works because I burn it off. I eat more than a lot of people who are losing weight. Running 7 miles before work this morning gives me the scope to eat lots of nice healthy food instead of small amounts of nice healthy food!

She won't run. She walks a fair amount, because she lives by the sea in Spain and can walk a mile or so along the coast into work. I'd walk to work if I had that commute!!! She's not entirely inactive. But there's a wide, yawning gulf between her physical activity and mine. I know that while my food isn't as bad for her as a diet of ready meals and takeaways, it's also not going to make her lose weight on its own. But no matter how much I tell her that, the message doesn't seem to get through. So she copies it devotedly.

But combined with that, is a strange resistance to change. She was poking around in my fridge within 10 minutes of arriving yesterday asking what everything is. She looked at my apricot and apple pots and asked what was in them. I then got informed that I don't like apple. Well, clearly I do, or I wouldn't have any in my fridge, would I? I know that I didn't eat apple, but why does that mean that I can never like it, that I can never try it? There are lots of things that I eat now but never ate before. Am I banned from trying them? Surely not, but apparently I "don't like apple".

This is an attitude I picked up on and replicated for a long time. I didn't like fruit and veg, and I was fat, and I should never try to change because no change was allowed. That was who I was. Then I suddenly broke out of my self-imposed limits, and realised that everything I ever thought about myself was wrong, that I could change, and that I'd enjoy doing it.

Anyway, I wasn't sure whether to go back to meat eating yesterday at the greek, or whether to stick with the veggies for a while longer. I was afraid of making a bit statement that "I am now a veggie" when I'm not sure that I am. But equally, I didn't want to cave within hours of her arrival, as though I do things for myself when I'm alone but revert straight back to my old self when she's here.

In the end, I seem to have got the balance right. I had potato keftedes and vegetarian moussaka at the Greek yesterday, and I tried out a lovely butter bean and feta stew this evening. But before I even ordered at the greek I took mum up on her offer to cook a meaty dish I really like on Thursday. So I was clearly ordering vegetarian through choice rather than because I'd irrevocably given up meat, but was free to make the slightly less "final" statement that I've changed, and I now like veg. I really don't know why I'm placing so much importance on this making a statement thing, but I do want to show that I've moved on, and that I'm allowed to like apple now.

Tonight Mum had said she'd cook something if I gave her the recipe, but I ended up cooking most of it for her in the end. Never mind, I got it cooked how I wanted it, without loads of salt or extra ingredients. We had the stew with steamed green beans and chargrilled mediterranean veg, and she LOVED IT! Hopefully, even if she doesn't lose weight, I can introduce her to a couple of new healthy recipes and train her to cook them when I go over to stay with them next month. I'm not sure that my dad would be so welcoming of vegetarian food though...


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