I work for myself, but to escape the trap of working from home and spending the day watching Jeremy Kyle I rent an office in town, about a twenty minute walk away. I share it with a couple of people, and it’s really nice for the whole work/life balance thing, but there’s one downside.

Lunch.

When I worked from home, I’d always take the time to make a proper lunch. It wasn’t always fancy, but there’s a lot to be said for beans on toast. As an office worker though, I’m a bit rubbish at lunch. I hate making Belle’s packed lunches, and the last thing I want to do is make two of the damn things, so I normally buy something. This means a Boots meal deal, (excellent value for what it is, but bleurgh), or, if I’m feeling rebellious, it’s a ‘meat of the day’ bap from the sandwich bar around the corner, (delicious, but basically a heart attack in a bun.)

I feel like things need to change.

Good timing then for the launch of Ryvita‘s new lunch packs. I wrote about Ryvita not long ago, and how tasty they actually are, but if you’re taking them to work, you’ve always got the issue of having to fit the big packet in your handbag, or what you do once you’ve opened them – how do you store them in your desk and keep them fresh?

Come on in lunch packs, this is your cue…

Ryvita lunch packs

Ryvita lunch packs

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It never fails to horrify me, (and it’s a fact I bore people with over and over again), that when Bee went to university, she was the only person in her flat of eight people who knew how to use a washing machine. 

Not cool.

It was the same with food. While her flatmates were trying to get their heads around the idea of cooking pasta and heating up a sauce at the same time, Bee was organising her tea drawer and fine tuning recipes for her food blog. I’d like to take full credit for this, and say that it was all part of a long term plan to help her develop basic life skills and a strong sense of independence, but I suspect the reality was just that I got bored of doing her washing and making packed lunches, and so she had to learn how.

Belle isn’t quite as forthcoming in the laundry department. I think there’s a part of me that’s doing that cliched thing of keeping your littlest baby a baby for as long as possible, and although I’ve never felt hugely maternal in a ‘Oh look at her in her school uniform!’ sort of a way, I do, especially as I get older, have a habit of wanting to potter around behind everybody, fetching them things and tidying up after them.

Belle does enjoy cooking though, and I know that I should exploit this. Mainly she likes to make sweet things – she makes a mean chewy cookie – and I tend to let her get on with it, seeing it as something for her to do while I work/water my plant babies, rather than a family activity. I know she likes it when I get involved though, especially when I do the bits she doesn’t like, like spooning batter into cake cases, and I should make more of this, and do more proper* cooking with her. View Post

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I have some scary packed lunch news for you. Not ‘preschooler finds snake in marmite sandwich’ scary – statistically scary.

(Because maths is fun guys!)

Flora has been working with Leeds University to recreate a huge study that was first done 10 years ago, looking at packed lunches in schools. Back in 2006, the research found that only 1% of packed lunches were meeting healthy food standards. So basically, you could have gone into any school hall, and you’d maybe have found one lunchbox that wasn’t crap. In my day, that one would belong to the unpopular kid with the parents who gave him carrot sticks and home made hummus and make him wear faux-leather school shoes from a ‘specialist’ shop. But that was the 80s, and they were harsh.

Forward wind* ten years then, and you would hope that lunch box standards have improved. I mean, we’ve got Jamie Oliver now right?

Wrong.

(We do have Jamie Oliver, that bit’s not wrong, this isn’t some kind of creepy celebrity chef murdering confession.)

Ten years later, despite there now being about approximately 8.3 million pictures on Pinterest of kids’ healthy bento lunch box ideas**, according to Flora’s research, still only 1.6% of lunch boxes are meeting healthy food standards. We look at pictures of mini olive kebabs and strawberries cut into the shapes of individual Mr Men, and then we sigh, pour another glass of wine, and just whack in a jam sandwich, Penguin bar and a bag of Skips. 

healthy packed lunch ideas

Nope.

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For Belle, our recent lunch at the new Ivy Clifton Brasserie, Bristol, was less about the food and more about the opportunity to wear her new outfit, bought especially for my sister’s wedding. For me, it was definitely about the food. That, and the chance to look at Belle in her new outfit and sob quietly to myself about my lost youth. (Not that I ever looked like her even when I was 14, but I can dream.)

Here she is, getting in the way of one of my door pictures.

Review Ivy Clifton Brasserie Bristol

The Ivy Clifton Brasserie opened recently in Bristol, and Belle and I were going along to test it out. We make these sacrifices for you, you see. We went on the day before Belle’s birthday, so that even though we were there as guests, for the purposes of this review, I could make out that it was a fancy birthday treat. (I’m so thoughtful!) Actually, for the record, Belle did have a very fancy treat on her birthday, which I did pay for, all by myself, so I am thoughtful.

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Last night I ate three chocolate brownies.

Okay, even that’s a lie. I think I actually ate four, but somehow three sounds just a little less disgusting. They were about two inches square, so that’s quite a lot of brownie. Belle made them for me because I was hormonal and tired and they were delicious and chocolatey. I enjoyed eating them, but I also didn’t, because at the same time I was thinking about my thighs, and that took the edge off the fun of it a little bit.

To be honest, it scares me a little bit – my complete lack of self-control when it comes to food. I worry a lot about my complete inability to discipline myself, and what this is going to mean for me and my body over the coming years. That sounds very dramatic I know, but it definitely feels like an addiction. I have never taken drugs, and never been a smoker, because I just know that I wouldn’t be able to give up – I have no will power.

chocolate brownies self control over eating

I tested myself this morning. I had a bag of brazil nuts on my desk, and was eating them without really even thinking about it. I realised that that was probably a bad idea as it said there were 692 calories per 100g and it was a 200g bag, so I took our four and lined them up on my desk. I told myself that I would leave them there, and see how long I could make them last, that I would only eat them when I really wanted one.

Within two minutes I had eaten all four.

That’s not really okay is it?

(At this point I thought about taking four more brazil nuts out of the bag, lining them up on my desk, and taking a picture. I couldn’t take the risk though – no way would those brazil nuts go back in the bag – so instead I had to find a calorie-free stock image.)

brazil nuts self control over eating

I blame mindfulness. I’m so damn busy living in the moment that I find it hard to picture the future or make decisions based on long term consequences. All I can think about is how the brownie will feel in my mouth for those few seconds. And then afterwards of course I feel wracked with guilt and spend the half hour in bed before falling asleep fantasising about liposuction. 

I’ve even gone as far as to say that if I had one wish, I would wish that I could eat and drink whatever I wanted, without it ever having any negative consequences on my health or body. World peace? Pah! An end to child poverty? Nope. Calorie free brownies for me please.

Does anyone else feel like this about food? Does anyone else scare themselves with their complete lack of self-control?

Images – Igors Rusakovs and P-fotography from shutterstock

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