My complicated relationship with food

I have a confession: I’m not really into food. I mean, I like to eat, especially when I’m hungry, but I’m not really picky. Or I should say, sophisticated. I’ve heard about people going out to fancy restaurants for $500 meals, and I can’t think of anything remotely satisfying about that. There is no way my enjoyment of a meal could be worth that value. I’m not judging people who do it. I mean a lot of people wouldn’t pay $50 – $80 to run anywhere from 5K to 23K, which I do on a semi-regular basis. Some people are into running and some people are into food. Many people are into both, and others are into neither. No problem! I am just making the point that I am really not into food.

Of course I like to eat when I’m hungry. And I’m not saying I never over-eat. I have times when I can finish an entire bag of chips before noticing the damage. But don’t confuse this with being into food. Anyone will eat fast and convenient sweet, salty and processed foods and I’m one of them. It takes another level of attention to food to plan, buy, and prepare healthy, balanced, and tasty meals. Again. And again. And again.

Obviously as a runner, I understand the importance of good food for my body. I therefore try to have my basic go-to healthy meals and snacks which I don’t have to put a lot of time or thought into. Nothing creative or fancy – just the basics: sandwiches, fruit, veggies, crackers. If dinner contains more than three or four ingredients I start to get overwhelmed. I prepare food because I have to, and the less I have to the better. This is a typical weekday dinner at my house:

Three ingredient dinner.

Three ingredient dinner –  actually one of my kids’ favourites.

But suddenly everyone in my house is hungry ALL THE TIME and I feel like my life revolves around planning, buying, preparing and cleaning up food. My husband and I are both very active, and the more we workout, the more we have to eat. This is annoying to me. On top of this, my children (ages 6 and 8) are suddenly bottomless pits. We used to leave restaurant meals with half the meal in a take-out bag for the next day’s lunch. Nowadays we get in the door from a restaurant and someone immediately says “I’m hungry”. I can’t think of two less welcome words to my ears. But you can’t leave someone hungry. I try to get them to get their own meals, but often this ends up happening:

"Sorry Mom - it was an accident!"

“Sorry Mom – it was an accident!”

In a typical day, I wake up, make three breakfasts (my husband does his own) and then pack two lunches. Throughout the day I graze and don’t make much beyond crackers, nuts or an easy sandwich for myself. But I am still thinking about food because I’m planning that night’s dinner and wondering if we have enough bread, yogourt and fruit for the next day’s lunches. I usually have to buy at least one ingredient every day. Then I pick up the kids and feed them a snack after school:

Snack to fit between two programs before dinner.

Snack to fit between two programs before dinner.

I often feed them the snack while cleaning out their lunch bags and making dinner. This all requires much more kitchen time than I’m happy with, but I see no way around it. Once dinner is made, my husband typically joins us, we eat, I clean up and my kids immediately start expressing their hunger again. That’s usually when my head explodes. At this point when I hear “I’m hungry” I just say “No.” Or sometimes it’s more like “NO!” I don’t know if I mean they can’t be hungry or that I’m not making anything –  I just know that I cannot deal with food anymore.

This is when they know I’m beaten and they go in for the cookies while I collapse in a broken heap on the couch, as far away from the kitchen as possible.

I’m not sure what all this means. I think I’m looking for something that can just fill us up already! Just fill the voids so we’re not always hungry and/or thinking about, buying, planning, preparing or cleaning up food. There must be a pill out there for that, no?