The routine trap

It seems that, despite my best efforts, I have fallen into the routine trap. Monday is writing and catching up on correspondence, bill paying etc day, Tuesday ironing and housework, Wednesday swimming and long walk day, Thursday shopping and yoga, Friday winemaking and gardening.

Hmmph…that wasn’t supposed to happen.  I naively believed that when I left work, I would leave all routine behind.  But no, the alarm still goes off and I still get up at the crack of dawn so that we can breakfast together before my husband goes off to work for the day.  The dog still needs walking first thing in the morning else she gets tetchy. There is still washing up to do, the bed still needs making.  But hey ho… that’s fine.  Actually come to think of it, a good routine can be a very fine thing.

When my twin girls were born they were a bit on the small side, at least one was, so they spent two days in in the special care baby unit.  I wasn’t able to visit them, let alone feed them, so through necessity the nursing staff fed them like clockwork every four hours. Consequently when they were returned to their excited mummy they were absolutely and resolutely in a four hourly routine. It was great.  None of that feeding on demand, which frankly, would have been a nightmare, for me.  Nope, they woke up at the same time, got fed at the same time, and slept at the same time, giving me some much needed rest in between.

It also meant, that as they grew up they instinctively knew what ‘mealtimes’ meant. They weren’t snacking because they ate regularly, at the right times.  Now, I know that ‘feeding on demand’ is the big thing these days.  Babies cry, you feed ’em. But I have a theory…

I believe that maintaining a feeding routine right from the word go, could be the answer to the twin (though diverse) pandemics of fussy eaters and obesity.

I have heard children (and adults) described as ‘grazers’. They just spend all day popping bits of food into their mouths, but seem unwilling to sit down to a ‘proper’ meal. ‘Course not. They’re not hungry.  It seems to me, that if they have been fed every time they’ve felt a bit, well, peckish, since they were born, then they really wouldn’t know what an empty stomach feels like.  I’ve seen kids crying that they’re starving, and being given a packet of crisps to keep them quiet, even though lunchtime is nigh.  Wouldn’t it be better to push them to go without a little bit longer? If they were really ‘starving’ surely they would be more likely to appreciate a plate of healthy food?

As adults we all feel ‘peckish’ or what my nan used to call ‘fanciful’ sometimes (I frequently fancy a bar of chocolate, and no, I’m not necessarily hungry), but hopefully we recognise that that is all it is and don’t necessarily indulge those cravings.  We mostly are fortunate enough not to be starving, but if we don’t eat between meals, we are more likely to properly recognise hunger.

As you know, I’m following the 5:2 diet, and whilst sometimes it does test my willpower to go without lunch, the lightness of an unusually empty stomach is energising and pleasing in its own way.  I feel ‘cleansed’ by giving my tummy a bit of a rest, albeit only for 12 hours or so. And the light meal I have in the evening after my fast is the best meal of the week. My tastebuds, starved of stimulation for a day, are exceptionally receptive to the nuances of the herbs, spices and flavours of any and all foods (‘cept jelly and coffee obvs!!)

Anyhoo… I fear I’m straying off subject. What I’m trying to say though, is that allowing myself to fall into a routine, in both daily life, and eating, I’m giving myself the pleasure of anticipation, be it knowing that the ironing will be done and dusted for the week once Tuesday morning is over, or that I will enjoy a delicious meal at the end of my fast.  In the words of John Lennon ‘life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’ so teaching ourselves, and our children, to appreciate a daily routine of mealtimes and work, together with down time (not to mention a bedtime routine for kids), should ultimately make us more content surely?

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