Tuesday 18 December 2012


Triggered largely by shopping for jeans yesterday, I am once again undertaking to seriously pursue losing weight.

I have been losing steadily, if somewhat irregularly, this last year. I'm down about 10kgs or thereabouts from my starting weight.

As Steve of Nerdfitness.com frequently states, 90% of the battle is food. This is, in fact, what's tripping me up the most.

It's an energy problem. It is profoundly hard for me to cook and eat food. The cooking more than the eating, but there are many days where most foods are too hard to eat. For example, doing fried eggs and bacon in the morning is usually beyond my capabilities. That's a pretty easy 5 minutes at a stove.

Something that's been suggested in the past is to prepare a great quantity of food on a high-energy day, to be eaten on low energy days. In theory, that sounds great. In practice, I've just never been able to make it work. Usually I have too many important/urgent things to do on high energy days to spend them cooking. Sometimes I have prior commitments. Frequently, I just don't have all the ingredients on hand to make a week's worth of food straight up. Even without all the other factors - that kind of effort seems to trigger a low energy period lasting longer than the prepared food. I have fairly specific dietary requirements, based on intolerances and also what I've found suits my body best.

There's also a problem of storage. I have limited storage for both ingredients and prepared food. More than most Londoners, this is true. Less than what I'm used to in Australia, despite having the largest kitchen I've ever had (in terms of floor area).

And last, but far from least, I'm picky. Especially when I'm tired and hungry. A lot of foods I would normally enjoy start making me feel ill. And the ones that don't make me feel ill are frequently not amenable to being prepared and stored. Or are outside my dietary restrictions.

Leftovers are an option I utilise with gusto and enthusiasm ... when I have leftovers. Which is unfortunately currently not quite that often. This is due to both not cooking leftover-producing recipes and not cooking dinner sufficiently frequently (2-3 nights a week). I have acquired a slowcooker, and this is helping somewhat. I now at least make most of my own stock.

I realise that I've painted myself into a corner a bit. "Just suck it up and deal" is not a helpful response to this dilemma. I have tried, failed miserably, and have decided not to beat myself up about it anymore.

Summary of Requirements:
  • No diary, no gluten, mostly paleo.
  • Will not eat even if starving: most fruit, salads, most cold foods.
  • More often than not, only enough energy to press buttons on microwave.
  • Sensitive teeth, raw veg (such as carrot/celery) is too painful to eat most of the time. As are a lot of spicy foods. And cold food.

Current non-dinner meals:
  • Sliced ham
  • Premade egg fried rice (this is not paleo, especially not when eaten with soy sauce)
  • Leftovers
  • Premade fish balls with mayonnaise
  • Oven-baked chips with gravy
  • Mashed potato (made with duck fat and stock)
  • Eggs (poached or fried or scrambled) with hash browns (oven cooked), optional bacon and mushrooms

Standard dinners:
  • Tuna bake
  • Roast dinner
  • Colcannon
  • Chicken and pasta
  • Beef and Beer stew with dumplings
  • Sausage bake
  • Sausage and mash
  • Bolognaise

Some of these meals don't produce leftovers, which is not useful for my ongoing nutrition. Most of what I eat is at least okay, if a little light on leafy green vegetables. Unfortunately, most of the leftover-producing meals are also high-effort, and the effort increases with quantity.

So ... I dunno. More husband help with making leftover-producing meals, and larger ones of those? Maybe that's a way forward. Suggestions welcome, because frankly, I'm out of ideas.


  1. I can somewhat relate. I'm picky physically and emotionally. Fortunately I'm able to eat diary and gluten, which helps... but I understand your situation.

    I loath making dinner and even though I PLAN weekly meal plans... with simple meals... I still can't get myself to cook.
    I had leftovers one time that I only had to warm up... and it just... didn't appeal to me at all.

    It's stupid, but it's what it is.
    I remember when living at my parents, the food would be served and I would eat it... so I don't understand my problems.

    I would say the only thing that helps is doing it... but yeah, that's a really big step.
    Hmmm... in what way do you consider things high-effort. Is that like, long time need, or lots of ingredients, or lots of tools, lots of skills?
    I know that if any one of those increases for me, the more effort it takes.

    I'm not really sure about a solution?
    Anyway I understand where you're coming from... so much luck and courage and all that to you :)
    And hey, if your husband can help, totally try that!

    1. 'Effort' mostly applies to 'any physical movement'. I've done enough cooking in my life (started cooking for the family when I was 13) such that most skills don't require much brainpower. Ingredients I'm good at using whatever happens to be on hand, and well, I've got a pretty well equipped kitchen by now. The effort comes in when I have to chop up a bunch of things, stir for ages, or similar. It can basically be quantified as time on my feet. So, something that takes 5 minutes to prep and then gets shoved in the oven for 2 hours is less effort than something I have to stir for 10 minutes and then serve.

      Also, there's a lot of times where I don't trust myself to handle a knife. I'm too tired to do it safely. Food is really challenging on those days.

  2. Hi Elspeth,

    I have quite a few food issues (no gluten, legumes, preservatives etc. etc.), so fully understand what you're saying here!

    My most useful kitchen appliance is a Tefal rice cooker with a steamer basket. I use the steamer to cook veggies in a very short amount of time with extremely minimal effort: wash veggies, put in basket, ensure water beneath, turn on unit, wait 5/10/20 mins! I have cooked cobs of corn, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, beetroot, asparagus, spinach... just about everything. The extra bonus is that the grains below are cooked simultaneously. I have done noodles in stock in the bottom section too. No knives involved (I often put veggies in whole), and it's pretty easy to clean.

    If you dislike veggies, you can mash things together with potatoes or carrots, season, and the results taste pretty good.


  3. Sounds like you need a thermomix - get -it- to do the chopping. And mixing, and stirring and heating...
    and you can jam the thing in the dishwasher to clean.

    1. I have thought about it, to be honest. It's just ... one more bit of gear, in an already crowded kitchen -_- Nevertheless, still something to ponder!

    2. It does take up a bit of bench space, but as they advertise, it replaces 7 appliances (or something like that).
      Admittedly, I have not put away or stopped using any of my other appliances, but I don't have a food processor. The tmx is my food processor and is mostly used as such. I also get it to make risotto and pizza dough.