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30 Days of Dinner – Own It.

30 Jul

Suzanne’s perspective

I want to explain why I have been photographing my dinner for the last 10 days, and why I will continue to do so, for at least the next 3 weeks.

Quite a few years ago, I went on a “Weigh-Less” diet.  I was attempting to lose the few kilos of weight I had gained in the middle of high school.

It was a pretty regimented eating plan, and you had to weigh most of what you ate, including your rice and veggies.  Although the diet probably worked (and continues to work) for a number of people, it didn’t work for me.  I lost weight sure… but I completed the diet more obsessed with food than I was before.  Although my eating issues are well documented, I was not fixated with food and portion sizes as a child.  I would go so far as to say that the “Weigh-Less” diet, was the start of a life-long obsession over what goes in my mouth, and in what quantities.  I have sustained a low weight most of my adult life through unhealthy methods to the point where it has impacted on my health.

dinners : day 1 to day 5

The “Weigh-Less” diet may have tried to teach me to consume a healthy balance of carbs, proteins and fats, but what it actually taught me is, I could not, and should not, trust myself to dish up a portion of food on my own.  It taught me, without rules and structure in my diet I would not have the ability to determine when I was full, or even when I was hungry.  Without referring to the cheat notes in my pocket, I couldn’t possibly navigate a buffet, or even the contents of my own fridge.

I needed discipline and rules, and I needed to apply them every day, at every meal, in order to remain thin.  I learnt those lessons well – it has lead to a lifetime of guilt and indulgence-incurs-a-penalty thinking.  I need to keep a firm grip on myself – after all, just like bankruptcy; we are all only one pay cheque away from The Chubby.

Diets and fear of obesity have sucked all the joy out of cooking for me.  I am afraid of food.  I am afraid of sauces and marinades, and am deeply suspicious of anything delicious.  For the last few months, as a single person living alone, I have existed on Woolworths pre-prepared “slimmer’s” frozen meals (they know how to put stuff together better than me, surely?) and toast.  When I go out and socialize I end up eating too much, more often than not, so deprived am I of anything even slightly tasty or satisfying.

The joke is that this see-sawing, without allowing myself to resort to the tactics of the past to compensate, has resulted in me being about one week away from the chubby.  It is an understatement to say I feel cheated.  Not only has my virtue and denial not resulted in me being as lean as a blade, but I am not enjoying food any more than when I was on one of my oats and peas eating plans of the past.

There is also the matter of green.  Not the lack of vegetables I eat (although that is also a factor), but the amount of trash I currently generate living off those little pre-packaged meals.  Oh… and also the amount of “green” I spend buying them, at R30 or R40 a pop.

dinners : day 6 to day 10

I wondered how I could motivate myself to make a change.  I wanted to challenge myself as follows – try to make dinner from scratch.  Try to look at food properly, and interact with it.  Try to allow my body to choose what it wants and needs, without rules and prescriptions.  To trust myself at the buffet again.  To trust myself at the fridge.

I didn’t want to go on a diet, and I didn’t want to start pretending I am always perfect and virtuous, like the film stars who claim to only eat steamed fish and salad for dinner every night.  I wanted to be real, warts, the occasional take-out, and all.

So enter “30 Days of Dinner”.  I wanted to make an honest account of what I eat for dinner every night, by photographing it, and posting it on Facebook, and every ten days, in this blog.  My dinners now have nowhere to hide.  I have promised to post the good, the bad and the sad, and I welcome any comments or feedback you might have.

I encourage anyone interested, to take the same challenge.  Own your dinners!  Proudly say – I ate that! Yeah!  Boast about your culinary adventures, and confess where you are fallible.  Let’s rediscover our passion for food, and make our choices based on our taste buds (with a dash of social responsibility) rather than wall-charts and calorie counters.  Allow your body to make its own choices. Remember the world you lived in, before it got twisted and warped by diet culture.