Monday, 29 October 2012

Determination and change (Part 1)

As years advance, I have found a gradual increase in the frequency of monitoring offered by my local Gp services.

Once content to sit and wait for my occasional panicky visits or pleas for compassionate sick notes, they now reach out to me. They have me on alerts for BP monitoring, Peak Flow checks and wellness MOTs for men. There is no escape from my external conscience. I should know. I used to be part of that myself. Issuing offers of health checks to the unwilling. following up with reminders that felt as paternalistic as they did patronising. All the while I was pretty pleased to be contributing to the smooth running of a few people, even as they resisted our attempts to help.

So, I determined to reduce the level of contact. Active health care provision works. I look after myself better in order to minimise contact with my health care team. If this is arse forwards, so be it. I well remember selling sessions on good eating habits to the homeless by suggesting that they may benefit from my future absence as they replace me with a few vegetables. A pitiful 'Five a Day' as I recall.

Being prone to 'Falling to flesh' is a curse for a Bon Viveur. I am a classic Yo-yo dieter, small successes rewarded by 'Holidays' or 'Rewards' leading to further lapses, as resolve takes a nosedive. This time round, I have made some more logical, selfish decisions. No longer willing to engage myself in a familiar conflict between hunger and seemingly unattainable goals there should be no hunger and there should be no discernible goals (plural). Weight loss should be a constant pleasure rather than a chore. Meals must be shareable with those unconcerned by calorie control. There should be no immediate evidence that food is being manipulated into being inoffensive. Taste and substance should be all.

It helps that one of my principle pleasures is in the cooking and serving of food. It would be terrible to embark on this exercise if I had to learn to love the kitchen. Thankfully, experimentation and good teaching have left a rich legacy of cheerful enthusiasm. Musing on this, I found myself recalling early influences. My mother's utter abandon where butter was concerned as well as her unconventionally forward thinking health conscious approach. She was hopeless with chips but understood dairy as if it were hard wired into her arteries. 'Never cook vegetables in more water than you wash them in' and 'Don't worry, I'll sling some Lurpack into it' were her mantras. Conversely, her easy attitude to children's likes and dislikes encouraged my pocket money purchase of frozen peas or mixed vegetables instead of sweets and I was weaned on adult leftovers. Broccoli and Broad Beans were family members. Nothing was out of bounds, singly or in combination. I could bake bread by the time I was tall enough to knead and was happiest with a recipe book propped up as I ate breakfast.

There were few around to comment or criticise, (this came sharply to the fore later, when at senior school and suddenly talking an alien language to other hungry boarders in the small hours, of which more in a separate entry) our meals would certainly have been considered 'exotic' or 'different'. My father too, ventured worldwide for inspiration. Fried eggs came laced with garlic and vinegar, finished with nut brown butter and flipped happily onto tomato sauce puddles as Huevos en Salsa Negra. Curries offered just this side of tolerably hot to the juvenile tongue. Soups served with a substantial handful of porridge oats. Lentils and herbs as a main course. This was home cooking. All the while, 1960's school dinners and friends teatime invites were pretty mundane stuff. Some a blessed, bland relief but most, an unfinished work in progress, halted at 'Boil' or 'Fry' and served with duty not with pleasure.

This was all very well as a foundation for culinary adventure but not great for this boy as he approaches late middle age with a drawer full of trousers that fail to meet themselves around the way. This joyful exuberance must be replaced with a bit of science but no less risk. Ways round must be found. I had to reinvent my systems and forget the fats.

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