Never one to flee the path of an approaching bandwagon, I have jumped on the healthy-eating thing. I’ve got my copies of Honestly Healthy and Deliciously Ella. I would have bought the Hemsley & Hemsley one, but heard they spend way too much time going on about bone broth.
Naturally this is all tied up with turning 40 and fear of imminent death. In the old days people used to have fun midlife crises involving sports cars and affairs, but now it’s all Tough Mudders and juicing. For a while I did consider running a marathon, but it seemed easier to buy some chia seeds instead.
What I like about this way of eating is that it allows you to feel smug and better than everybody else in a way that other diets don’t. The healthy-eating gurus get irritated if you use the D-word, insisting that it’s not about losing weight, even though everybody knows it is really. The other bonus is that you get to scarf down brownies by the trayload, as long as you accept that by ‘brownie’ what they really mean is ‘mashed-up dates’.
Naturally, I’m inflicting this way of eating on the boys as well, though I can’t help thinking it’s a bit mean. Certainly it was more fun in our day. Sarah and I grew up on cereals with the word ‘sugar’ in the name. It was considered a good thing that Coco Pops turned the milk brown. Feed your kids Sugar Puffs now and the food police would call social services, or at least silently judge you.
The downside of eating healthily is that friends see the contents of your kitchen cupboards, with your brown-rice pasta and raw cacao nibs, and think, ‘Oh, fuck off.’ Then your kid starts blabbing about his almond-milk smoothies in the playground and the other mums think the same. And you have to keep a lid on your neurosis: It starts off with you feeling a bit funny about pork, and ends with you joining that cult who think they can survive on fresh air alone.
Healthy eating is always billed as a lifestyle change, rather than a fad, but like all diets it has a shelf life. At the beginning you think, ‘This isn’t so big a sacrifice; I could eat like this forever!’ But two months later you’re face down in a baked Camembert, unable to look at another grain. Misha has been uncomplaining so far, but the other day broke and said he can’t eat any more ‘lentil gruel’ as it’s absolutely disgusting.
I think this is harsh, and have grown quite used to having coconut milk in everything. Although if I never eat another butternut squash it’ll be too soon. Having said that, I’m not convinced it’s the way to live to 90. The other day I queued behind an elderly lady in the Co-op. What did she have in her basket? Not matcha tea, nor spirulina. She had a packet of Colman’s chicken chasseur sauce mix and four chocolate eclairs. To be honest, I don’t want to eat that, either. But I’m probably about ready for a third way.
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