I don’t feel full unless there’s either bread, mash or pasta on my plate. As a child I was a picky eater, I didn’t like veg, I would never eat my dinner, even the thoughts of soggy cornflakes today still turn my stomach. I can’t stand the smell of cooked cabbage. I’ve put down my disgust at green food to the time when my granny force fed me brussel sprouts, and when I threw a tantrum and knocked my din dins on the floor she still made me eat it.
When I say I didn’t like vegetables, that’s not entirely true. I thought I didn’t like vegetables. They weren’t chicken nuggets, chips, or fish fingers so automatically I decided that I didn’t like them. Aside from the sprout incident (which probably made me worse) I never really tasted any vegetables, my Mam used to chop up bits really small and mix them with the mash, drowned in tomato ketchup to hide the deed. I’d devour a ham sambo, or a cheese sambo but God forbid I’d never accept a slice of ham and cheese between two slices of bread.
Listen, my Mam is great btw, still works round the clock and then gets home to put a meal on the table, I don’t know how she does it. I think like most parents, if your child refuses to eat their food, you’d rather see them eat SOMETHING rather than nothing! I gave her a terrible time at the dinner table when I was a kid.
At the age of 16 I was a size 16 and a 36 F in the bust. I remember going to stage school and the teacher made us do sit ups and I thought “great, I’ll have a flat tummy by Xmas”… which never happened. When I went to drama college we were constantly up and about, but my lunch everyday pretty much consisted of garlic cheese chips. When I moved to Uni up North I gave up my job so I was living on Sainsbury’s basics, though the take aways were cheap and we’d usually chip in together for Two for Tuesday’s Pizzas. I was dancing 5 mornings a week at the age of 23, and my size over the course of 7 years had dipped to a 12/14 depending on the shop.
When I finished college and started temping at theatres I’d squirm at the Open Night parties, and the nibbles of hummus, crackers, salmon, cucumbers etc… I’d pass off any excuse not to eat them because the thoughts of eating things so foreign to me just turned my stomach. I’d go for business lunches “on the south side” and go red with embarassment when asking what’s the plainest thing on the menu. I hadn’t a clue what shallots were.. or granola for that matter!
Maybe it’s just me, but when you’re in a working class family with busy parents who work their asses off to put food on the table, the shopping budget was always tight and we usually got spuds, meat and either onions, cabbage or carrots and not much more. You ate what you were given. And it was pretty much the same meal per day of the week (burgers and chips on a Friday were my favourite). Neither time nor money allowed for variety.
Today, my Da still tells me to finish what’s on my plate. It’s a long time since I heard the “think of the starving children in Africa” line but I’ll never forget it, and I think a lot of our generation won’t forget it either.
I think that since the famine, the Irish have vowed to “never be hungry again” and instead piled plates with as much food as possible. The difference between then and now is that our ancestors were physically active, labourers, farmers, rebels. The kids back then had nothing to keep them indoors, and Mammies fecked them out onto the streets to play while they got the house sorted. Today we are much more sedentary both in work and leisure, yet our plates are still piled high with spuds.
This year I’ve started to introduce (slowly) greens and veg into my diet. And do you know what, it’s not so bad!! Spinach is effectively tasteless when toasted with chicken & cheese on brown bread. I pop a load of mixed veggies into a stir fry (onions, peppers, carrots, courgettes, mushrooms.. spinach if it’s there) mixed with rice and a diced chicken breast, close my eyes and gobble it up spoon by spoon. Yesterday I had lettuce AND tomato on my chicken burger for the first time ever and I thought it wasn’t that bad. I still need to get round to broccoli and cauliflower but you know, one step at a time.
Once you get into the veggies, you can eat a whole lot more, get full and still reduce your calorie intake for weight loss.
As a nation, we don’t like change. So new flavours and textures can be very strange. God forbid ever going into a Spanish Restaurant in Spain, no no, Irish bars & Irish Breakfasts all the way, our pallets just can’t take those foreign foods.
If the taste doesn’t make you literally heave and gag, then you’re making progress.
And it’s ok to not like something… AFTER you’ve at least given it a chance!
So for you picky eaters who eat the same things week in week out, TRY something new, you might actually like it!