Saturday, 29 September 2012

Breakfast club, redux

The Great Breakfast Conundrum hoved into view again this month, with the Lesser Spotted Lunch Teaser following hot on its heels.

For all my whinges on the former – and some of you may remember this post from spring about the dire state of breakfasts in general and mine specifically – when we arrived back from holiday at the beginning of the month, the likelihood was a reversion to a continuation of previous practise after a few weeks of French respite on that front as well as many others.

And the same applied to lunch.

There was no particular decision; no eureka moment. But the change started when I thought I'd try, once more, to make lunch to take to work.

There’s been no shortage of encouragement before – George sent me two books of packed lunch suggestions – but they fell by the wayside.

What I found myself doing this time around was simple enough: for instance, mixing up a little couscous with some softened sultanas, a bit of sliced chilli, a few olives and other bits and pieces.

It worked fine, it was easy and quick, and I enjoyed eating it.

And then one morning, when I was up really early, I decided to have breakfast at home. Beans on toast, as it happened. Hardly something that takes long to fling together. And it cooked while I was doing other things.

A couple of days later, I did it again.

And then, one morning, I had a couple of soft boiled eggs instead. Lovely.

It was only when I was on the bus that I realised that the lunch I’d packed that morning didn’t include any starchy carbs – no couscous that day or rice or pasta or bread.

It was cheese, with some olives, some pickled beetroot and some pear, and a drizzle of Balsamico.

‘Blimey,’ I thought, ‘I’m going to be starving by this evening.’

But surprise, surprise: that wasn’t the case at all. I was comfortable throughout the day.

So for the next few days, I did something similar, saving my starch for the evening meal.

At the same time, something else struck me. For some years, off and on, I’ve been aware of getting a very faintly rumbling stomach – usually in the afternoon, after lunch.

Nothing particularly drastic, though, at its worst, I’d find myself waddling quickly to the loo.

I did try some of those probiotic yogurt drinks. But that had little or no discernible impact.

And so I simply drifted.

Well, things are changing and what started out simply as a way of controlling my food for the sake of taste and a lack of boredom is becoming a different sort of experiment.

We eat, as a nation, vast amounts of bread – and most of it is made by the Chorleywood process, which involves (apart from anything else) ramming it full of extra yeast to cut the time that it takes to make a loaf.

A week or two ago, I remembered a relative telling me that they and their mother had a slight gluten intolerances.

I began to wonder if I was in a similar situation – or put slightly differently, had a very small intolerance to Chorleywood. With no bread products at breakfast and no bread products at lunch, the rumbling stomach seems to have disappeared – at least at present.

In the mornings in particular, I’m also feeling lighter. Breakfast has become a couple of eggs, whether soft boiled or as an omelette, with a banana and a glass of fruit juice.

Back in March, I’d asserted that, getting up at 6.30am, I wasn’t ready to eat.

Well, I’ve sorted this out by rising at around 6am instead.

Now, I sit down to eat properly, and I’m actually enjoying it. Really good eggs are worth paying a bit more for. Really good eggs are gorgeous.

The lunches have been varied, but it remains the same basic idea of a couple of portions of fruit or veg, plus a source of protein. And easy and quick to put together in a morning.

I haven’t checked out the respective costs, but I suspect that, by and large, I’m spending less too – particularly if you factor in the waste that used to occur with food that was bland and boring and generally uninspiring.

And after three full, uninterrupted weeks of packed lunches, plus almost three weeks (barring a couple of days in the first week) of breakfasts at home, hopefully that’s a habit well on the way to being established.

As a special treat (I hope) this weekend, tomorrow's breakfast will involve something I haven't eaten in decades – a kipper.

Breakfast is on the way to becoming the feast that it should be.


  1. Hello,
    I've also cut out bread from my lunch, and eat bags of salad instead. I now feel much better in the afternoon.

    From the cafe at work you can get a heaped plate of salad for just £2.

    1. It is extraordinary how many people I'm starting to realise have had similar experiences – and yet the orthodoxy remains.

      Thank you.

  2. meant also to say have you ever read "The Flavour Thesaurus" by Niki Segnit?

    I told my friends and family a few years ago to stop buying me recipe books as I had enough. This one slipped through, but i'm glad it did. This and my Good Housekeeping recipe encylcopeadia from 1983 are more or less the only two food books I ever refer to now. let me know if you want to look at it

  3. I've got that one, Liz. Brilliant book.

    And many thanks.

  4. you are taken correct decision to have breakfast at home.
    Kendall Ram