disclaimer – wrote this post months ago but never finished it ! didnt realise all my posts save as drafts, so thought would try to share it again 🙂 its a bit of a long one – so you might need tea…
I don’t know about you guys, but the Buffet Hall / Restaurant was a familiar place of my childhood, a second dining room if you will. Being from a BIG asian family (with about 100 cousins, no joke) it is an ideal choice for adults to throw parties and family reunions at home and abroad. A fixed price (considerably cheaper than ordering “al a carte”) with more cuisines choices than you can count, so even the fussiest of children can find something they could enjoy (hellooo chocolate fountain). Spicy, salty, cheesy, fried, carbotastic galore.. and yes before the haters get at me like “well just go to the salad corner!” I’m yet to meet someone that has managed to successfully survive the buffet challenge on a diet, at least without temptation! it was food HEAVEN, and a “I’ll try a little bit of everything” can quickly turn into I’m just going to eat EVERYTHING.
What is the allure of the all inclusive/ buffet lifestyle? I know for a lot of us we may have come from a household with a mindset for saving the pennies and “value for money”. My father especially is “a value for money” kind of dad(to put it mildly) ! The most quantity of food (however unhealthy) for the lowest price is always a “good deal” but sadly often the quantity is given higher status than the quality. I also grew up with the finish-everything-on-your-plate-because-children-are-starving-in-Africa argument. Food “wasted” and left uneaten is literally money down the drain, which is why to this day I still struggle with leaving food on my plate at fancy restaurants.
Lately I’ve been thinking about money, food, and budgeting for wellness. I’m remember at my biggest weight I was also earning for the first time too. Its not like I was earning big bucks or anything, but I made it rain in the supermarket y’all. I never looked at the food bill, I bought whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, because I knew I could afford it. I wasn’t used to having my own money, or living alone, and so I bought whatever I had always wanted. To an extent I think that is a good thing – If you have a job and can afford what you want to buy I think its important to embrace your coin and enjoy spending money you have earned…. but then there is getting the bill at the end of the month, and seeing you spend more money on food shops and takeaways and restaurant bills than you do any other expenditure combined – WOAH
Now this post can go all sorts of ways…. and there is a part of me egging me on to go down the economical, social and political aspects of food and weight in our society. I think the government and food agencies have a lot to answer for in the UK. We can go on about an obesity epidemic, but at the same time things need to shift on a societal level, not just a personal level. To put it crudely – Why does buying a punnet of fresh Strawberries more expensive than a packet of biscuits? Why is are processed foods with zero nutiritonal value, fizzy drinks and alcohol readily available and cheaper for the masses than food that is actually HEALTHY…. and on the other end of the spectrum, why is there now an almost classist / elitism developing surounding the “clean eating” movement – as if those who drinks green juices and eats quinoa and alfalfa spouts are associated with skinny hot posh totties and that these foods can only be afforded by the the middle-upper classes.. (planet organic, i love you, but im kinda looking at you)
(oh dear, I did go there a bit, didn’t I?)
being an overweight woman of an ethnic minority going to school in a pretty rough end of London and not your “typical” made in chelsea-esque lady, I strongly believe that food should be for everyone, and ANYONE, no matter how much money you make, where you live or what you look like, should be able to access and eat what they want, and that the food that they eat should be nutritionally beneficial and support their lifestyle. It breaks my heart when I hear / see people who live a lifestyle of “its too expensive/i cant afford to eat healthy”.
………SO where was I?
ah yes! the buffet hall. I’m not sure if I have any specific bullet points of wisdom to throw your way on how to handle buffets (but if I had to the first would be if you want to go, decide beforehand if this is going to be a splurge special occasion or just a normal meal, then eat/drink accordingly. Mix up main courses with salad options and try not to go up to the buffet stand more than once. Two plates = double the calories!)
but in the bigger picture – I want you (ie. me) to think about my money. Think about spending money more wisely, and realise that food is a fuel. Yep I said it! it helps to run our body like an engine, but is it not the be all and end all of our existence. Even I, the biggest foodie I know, can say that the best meals I have eaten in the most amazing restaurants in the WORLD are just that – meals. The food is eaten, digested, and gone. Yes you may remember tastes, but often it is the ambience, the occasion, the people surrounding you, that makes that meal memorable.
I’ve been focussing lately on managing my money, which includes limiting what I spend on food per month. Little things like making lunches from home, and stocking up on frozen veggies, berries and big packets of grains like rice and quinoa are so worthwhile. I’ve also choose certain places (Lidl, Tesco or my halal butchers) to buy my lean meats in bulk, and then freeze my portions which saves loads of money. The butcher is a great man because he can do all the prep (inlcuding taking off the fat) for you, for free! result! We have also stopped eating out so much as we used to, saving it for more special occasions.
Lastly (and I’m aware this is a suuuper long post) I want to talk about attitudes, particularly cultural and familial attitudes to food, and how to break from them (or maybe just bend them a little)
this, my friends, is the hardest of all. Its something I still struggle with today. I can only imagine the look on my mothers face if I turned down her prized rice and curry. I mean. THE HORROR.
but the thing is, you are not a slave to your culture, nor do you have to “be” someone you are not, or someone you once were. People change, things change, and we have to grow and adapt to new things and to eachother.
this probably needs a blog post of its own (let me know if that something you think would be a good idea) but guys let me tell you, its a process. over the years as my confidence has grown, so has my ability to “just say no”. Sometimes a no is a “not right now, maybe later” but its still very much a no. Mummy and I now have an understanding. She now no longer tries to smuggle packed up lunchboxes of curry into my Tote. that guys, is progress!
The one thing I’m happy about and want to end on is that as we are talking about buffets, budgets and binging, is that you are the master of you! Also, once you become more independent, you get your own place, and maybe set up shop and start your own family (if you are that way inclined) you get to make decisions on how you want you and your family to run, so if buffets are not your jam, you dont have to drag your kids there and eat all the food. You have the power to make your own traditions, NEW traditions, any time you want!
You are the master of your own destiny, and you can take care of yourself, whatever your budget is ! I find this so empowering! and I hope that these thoughts will lift and inspire you too!
you Got this!