Lifelong eating habits

I come from a family where sitting down to eat together was simply the way things were done. We sat together at the dining table for breakfast every day: home made muesli or porridge, toast with marmalade or marmite (jam was a treat), and milk or coffee.

Lunch was of course at school or work during the week, so we carried lunch boxes packed with wholemeal bread sandwiches, usually cheese and lettuce, always a piece of fruit. We made and packed our own each morning. I don't recall morning or afternoon snacks at school except at primary school where it was usually a small box of raisins. We never had bottled drinks, juice or otherwise, and we only ever had fizzy drink like Fanta (never Coke on account of the caffeine) on birthdays. Schools had water fountains.

Dinner was home cooked and always eaten at the table. Always. I recall going out to a restaurant three times in my childhood. Meat was a small component of the plate (a single drumstick or wing each for us kids) and there was a minimum of three vegetables. Dessert was usually stewed fruit, occasionally a small scoop of ice cream with it. After-dinner coffee for my parents was accompanied by a single square each of dark chocolate for all of us. I learned to savour that square and to this day I can eat just one square without craving more.

Looking back on it, this seems remarkable when compared with current practice. Two things stand out: the home made nature of the food, and the small portions. I don't recall ever being hungry but I know that the quantity of food we ate was about half or less what a current serving is. No one in my family was overweight. I've been the same weight my entire adult life.

The lessons of childhood have stuck with me. I still have porridge for breakfast, or toast with marmalade. I sit at the dining table to eat it. Most nights I cook, and lately I've been very vegetarian in my recipe choices. I usually make enough for two so I can have leftovers the next night. Where I fall down is lunch, which I have got into the habit of buying at work. I would like to break this habit as it's expensive and I could use the money for my house ventures.

By and large, these lifelong habits have served me well. I'm not prone to orthorexia or adopting fad diets. I still love dark chocolate but stop at two squares.

A lifetime of eating en famille has, somewhat counterintuitively, set me up well for a life of eating alone. I recreate the plates I've been eating from all my life. Habits carry me through.

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