Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Eating - I can do this

My relationship with food has been fraught, to say the least. I don't do all the Oprah-y emotional eating, but I do some of it. Sometimes I eat because I deserve it. Sometimes (often?) I eat because the food is in front of me, even if I don't particularly like it. Sometimes I keep eating after I'm full because it's just so tasty, and who knows when I'll get to eat this again? (Answer: Whenever I want it - I'm a grown up, I can choose my own food! Duh!)

On the plus side, it's getting better. I do all those things less than I used to. However, I've been hearing about, and been interested in, health at every size (HAES) for a ages now, but never believed I could do it. I completely agreed with its philosophy - that weight is not what it's all about. We should forget that and focus on eating and moving to make our bodies work properly, not make our bodies look different. But I really didn't think that I could ever eat the way HAES recommends - to listen to your body's cues and not worry about anything else. Again, I was right there with the idea, but figured I had broken my body's cues so badly from decades of overriding what my body was telling me (ignoring hunger and ignoring fullness), that the whole system was beyond repair. I figured I could eat healthy, but it would require a conscious effort and control - so I set off trying to eat better and move more and gave no more thought to listening to my body.

Just recently though, I developed an inexplicable desire to massively increase the quantity and diversity of vegetables that I eat. Granted, this message is everywhere, and it's been everywhere for ages, but apparently my appetite just caught on. Could this be evidence of me being able to hear some of my body's signals? Maybe. Then today, a friend brought lunch and it amounted to bread, cheese & meat. It was tasty, I had what I wanted and stopped. An hour later I was hunting around the kitchen, looking for food. Conscious brain kicks in and says "You can't be hungry!" I was about to walk back out of the kitchen, and a revolutionary thought occurred to me. What am I actually looking for? Fruit, or something. Not an apple, too starchy. No mandarins, no oranges. Cucumber! I want a cucumber. I'm a grown-up, I can peel and eat a cucumber.

This is all kind of pathetic, but it feels vaguely like that intuitive eating thing might not be entirely out of reach. Of course, I may be 70 by the time I master it, but it's good to have a project to be going on with.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Understanding and excuses

Often when people say a kid has an attention problem, they really mean he has a problem pretending to give a shit about things that bore him
I saw this retweeted this morning, and at the time of writing, it had 48 retweets. It comes from @demand_euphoria. I don't follow her and I have no idea what the context of this tweet is, so I'm not writing this to engage with her or her intent, or to have a go at her. I'm more interested in the idea that it expresses, because I think it floats about a lot. I also think, when taken completely seriously, it's a huge problem.

The development of attention is really only about things one finds boring - paying attention to something you find fascinating is rarely a problem. (Although there might be great variability between how long different people can hold that attention. From a functional point of view, one needs only to be able to stay focussed for long enough to do something useful. I recognise that there may be conflict between the optimal attention span of any given person, and the requirements of classrooms.) The implication in the idea expressed above is that the fault lies with the material if it's boring. Last year, I heard so much about making classes interesting I was starting to wonder if we were being trained to be teachers, or circus performers. I do have some sympathy for the argument - if I had my druthers, I'd rip huge swathes of boring, unnecessary crap from the junior science syllabus in NSW.

However, we simply can't excise all boring stuff from our lives. There are excellent reasons to automate times tables, for example, but doing so is boring. Housework is boring. I can't imagine that there's ever been a profession anywhere that has no component which is life-suckingly dull. One of the main objectives of childhood is to learn how to apply yourself to stuff that needs to be done, in order to be able to get on with the genuinely interesting stuff. This isn't just a function of school, it's a property of life.

I would suggest that a child who has a problem giving a shit about stuff he/she finds boring has a lot to learn about life - which is ok, she/he is a child, learning is what it's all about. It's our job as parents to help them learn it, and not decide that the world needs to stop being dull for the sake our child. Explaining why boring stuff is important is the first step. Providing tricks to manage the boring can help too - like listening to music while cleaning, setting mini goals, or giving yourself personal rewards for ploughing through the dull stuff.

Learning to pretend to give a shit about the stuff you find boring IS what developing attention is all about. Understanding what kids have a problem with and supporting them where they are to get to where they need to be is what parenting and teaching is all about. Making excuses and blaming the world for being what it is doesn't help anyone.

(Please note, once again, that I'm not suggesting @demand_euphoria is making excuses or anything else, her tweet just triggered this more general observation.)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cinnamon, berry & white chocolate muffins

Yesterday, I tweeted this:
Making cinnamon, berry & white chocolate muffins. I mention this only to taunt you.
Because I'm a bitch. In case I hadn't taunted people enough, I also tweeted this:

Photo on 2012-08-19 at 15:07.jpg

@captainpurr, presumably fed up with my taunts, asked for the recipe. It was based on a commercially produced recipe, but muffins are muffins, and I changed it anyway, so I'm deciding publishing it is ok.

2 cups plain flour
3/4 tsp soda bicarb
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup oil
80g melted butter
heaping cup of frozen berries
1 cup of white chocolate melts or bits or whatever

Mix the flour, soda bicarb, salt & cinnamon in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla until they are pale and add the oil & butter and mix well. Pour the wet stuff into the dry stuff and mix together. Add the berries & the chocolate and mix together. Spoon into muffin tins and bake at 200oC for 20-22mins. 

And to give credit where it's due, my inspiration and base recipe came from Baking bible, which has so many permutations of muffins, cakes, slices & biscuits that it's hard to imagine you not finding something close to what you want to bake there, to modify as I did.