Culinary Challenges

I’m watching ‘How to Lose Weight Well’ while I type.

I have no experience using any of the ‘fad diet’ approaches to losing weight. I don’t think I ever will, for a simple reason:

For an active person I am really quite lazy. Lots of these diets seem like a lot of work. I am just too lazy to work out proportions of protein to carbohydrate or any such nonsense.

Years ago (actually on honeymoon – how romantic) I read Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald. His approach makes a lot of sense and is really very simple. This is the essence of it, as I interpreted it (rightly or wrongly):

  • Calories – if you eat more than you use, you will gain weight; if you eat less than you use, you will lose weight.
  • Quality – high quality foods tend to be lower in calories and tend to make you feel fuller. Think fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, little or no processing.

I have always aimed for a healthy diet, which to me means plenty of just such high quality foods.

Sadly, some of the things I really love aren’t really all that high quality. I love red wine. I love chocolate. I love cheese. I love lattes and cake. All entirely acceptable in moderation.

I’m not great at moderation. ‘If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth going completely overboard with’ might as well be my motto. This is possibly one reason why  could really do with losing a bit of weight.

As a mum and cook to a family of four it is not as simple as just deciding to change my diet. I face a number of culinary challenges:

  • I enjoy cooking. But I don’t enjoy it enough to cook more than one evening meal a day – everyone eats the same in my house.
  • I don’t really want to cook an evening meal every day. I like big meals which can be re-heated for a second night.
  • I don’t have a huge amount of spare time so cooking time needs to be planned for.
  • Cooking cannot be too involved. If I can’t pause midway through cooking something to change a nappy / sort out an argument / wipe a bottom / locate an essential toy without the meal being spoiled then it isn’t going to work.
  • I want my children to eat a balanced diet. I also want them to to develop a healthy attitude to food.
  • It really winds me up when I spend time cooking meals which nobody then wants to eat.
  • I love to bake, and love to eat what I bake.

There are also the individual requirements of the various members of my family:


Likes: Most things, fish, chilli, anything in pastry, Christmas cake, chocolate

Dislikes: lamb, raw tomatoes

Special requirements: wants to lose some weight, doesn’t like to eat too much meat


Likes: stir fry, chilli sauce, curries, chicken, Nandos, biscuits

Dislikes: fish,

Special requirements: meals which can be reheated without spoiling when he gets in from work.

4 Year Old

Likes: a remarkable range of foods for his age

Dislikes: ‘crunchy bits’ (real or imaginary)

Special requirements: No different foods to be mixed together (pasta, broccoli and chicken = good; broccoli and chicken pasta bake = bad) or touching on the plate.

2 Year Old

Likes: milk, pasta, milk, boiled eggs (all traces of yolk removed), milk, cheese on toast, milk, pizza, milk, sausages, milk, ketchup (ideally with nothing else on the plate), milk, milk, milk

Dislikes: everything else. Absolutely everything else

Special requirements: vary from day to day.

Suffice to say that much of my waking time revolves around food. Thinking about food, planning food, shopping for food, making food, sweeping up food.

However, this is a challenge I am determined to rise to. Not least because husband and I are channeling our competitive selves in the hope of losing weight. We have a chart on the wall and weekly weigh-ins planned. And neither of us likes to lose.


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