Yes, I agree – mid January does seem a bit late for New Year resolutions but, as Trish Deseine reminded me this week, in France they have the good sense to give themselves the whole month of January. They also send New Year cards, which is a great idea – it can be a nice way to say thank you for something and, unlike anything connected with religion, can give no offence as a greeting.
Anyway, last year was the only time I can ever remember making a resolution that had any kind of long term effect and I reckon it was down to keeping it simple and achievable so thought I’d have another go this year.
For 2015, in a bid to free up some of the time that is so easily wasted and to save money, I decided to give up impulse shopping – and (sorry retailers), found it was surprisingly easy to break the habit.
The only exception was splashing out on artisan foods, which is de rigeur as we travel around the country and almost counts as ‘work’. Other than that, ‘use what you’ve got’ was the year’s motto and it was actually quite satisfying most of the time.
So, flush with recent success on that front, I thought a bit of modification in the eating habits department might do no harm for 2016. I don’t believe in going on diets, so - conscious of the importance of debate about healthy eating and obesity etc – decided on reducing portion size as a do-able small change that might make a big difference, eg no more 3-egg omelettes, two would do.
But it’s just as well that things slipped a bit this month as, due to one of three excellent presentations on (as it happens) hospital food, given to the Irish Food Writers’ Guild a few days ago by Dr Colin Sage, Orla Walsh and chef Oliver Dunne, even this modest resolution had to be modified to include a question mark in the title.
Orla Walsh, a very highly qualified yet totally down to earth and practical nutritionist who specialises in both sports nutrition and the nutritional needs of the elderly, started off by talking about protein and its importance in the diet of her older clients – and made the very interesting and useful point that, unlike other foods like carbohydrates that we seem to be able to gorge on, we have a natural stopping mechanism when it comes to protein: how may eggs can anyone actually eat at one sitting, she asked?
So, rather than thinking too much about the quantities of individual foods – which, for the most part, are pretty balanced in our daily diet anyway – maybe aiming for smaller portions of everything (or smaller plates) will make more sense. I have a feeling it’s not going to be as easy to crack as impulse shopping, but it’s the same principle, ie making a small change that is achievable can break a bad habit.
Whether successful or not on a daily basis (the urge to tuck into big plates of comfort food in this cold weather is certainly undeniable), I’m hoping to achieve a bit more mindfulness about how much food I’m serving up for dinner if nothing else.
And I’ve been thinking about a few of the food and hospitality trends that we’ll be seeing in 2016 too, some of which will affect us all in our daily shopping, cooking and eating, so watch this space…