“Mom, can I bring packed lunch to school?”
“For tomorrow?” I asked.
“I mean for the rest of the year.”
Home-cooked meals are, without doubt, the best.
Not overly salted, artificially sweetened or adulterated with monosodium glutamate (msg).
I could control the portion size and ensure the balance proportion of protein, veg and carbs.
I could opt for better quality produce and ingredients.
As an advocate for home-cooking to better health, I believe that it is only when we prepare our own meals that we can be more vigilant of what we eat and our food portion sizes.
The prompt to say yes was obvious. But I still took a minute longer than I should to respond.
After all, this is a commitment. A darn serious one that needs:
discipline to get up and cook in the wee hours of the morning every single weekday;
dedication to plan and prepare proper balanced healthy decent meals. We are not talking about peanut butter and jam sandwich or a sad assemble of tasteless cold cut turkey on wilted lettuce; and the
opportunity loss of a good half hour of deep sound sleep.
The key question was, “ Can I deliver- consistently?”
My daughter has been very conscious of what she eats ever since she started her new sport interest, kickboxing.
Specifically Muay Thai, a form of martial art that originates from Thailand.
For those who knew her, they could not imagine her, who has once donned pretty pink tutu and ballet shoes, clad in fighter shorts and bulky boxing gloves.
I could recall that quiet afternoon when I was having my cup of chai at the balcony.
She came up to me and said that she wanted to do boxing.
I choked on my tea. Literally.
No way. Not in my lifetime.
I ranted about the dangers of martial arts, possibilities of severe irreversible injuries, reminded her of her weak ankles, adverse effects on her spine that has already formed a slight curve on the upper back and loads more, leaving her little chance to speak further.
She left. Obviously, gravely disappointed.
I, on the other hand, was all worked up.
“What’s gotten into her?”
Unable to obliterate the image of violent unyielding punches, swollen black eyes
and bloody deep cuts that could distort one’s face beyond recognition, I couldn’t sleep a wink that night.
I searched the world-wide-web for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Not that I am curious about the sport, but I was determined to find proof to convince my daughter that this is not the sport for her.
One link led to another. And soon, I landed on Evolve, the top mixed martial art school in Asia with world class coaches that have mentored numerous champions in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, boxing and MMA.
The more I read, the more I realised that I had been the ignorant one.
My daughter came to my room. She initiated to talk.
“Mom, I think you have misunderstood me. I want to do boxing for fitness and self-defense. I am not taking it competitively. ”
We discussed a bit more and browsed through more websites. Finally, we agreed to visit Evolve to have a first hand knowledge of the sport.
I was glad that we talked.
The gym was buzzing with activities. Clad in white Jiu Jitsu gi, looking like little warriors, the children as young as six were waiting eagerly for their classes.
The adults, on the other hand, all sweaty and flushed, were pushing themselves hard to complete the drill of pushups, burpees, kicks and punches.
The trainer, shouting loudly in the fearsome tone that commands only respect and obedience, was relentless.
I felt intimidated. But she felt the adrenaline rush.
While waiting for her to have a trial session with the coach, I chatted with the friendly concierge at the gym. She knew every student and when she pointed out how a 10 year old boy who had regained his confidences in Jiu-jitsu after a bad experience with karate, foregoes McDonalds' quarter pounders and chicken nuggets for healthy home cooked meals, I was sold.
Exercise has been proven time and again to be a prologue to healthy eating. After a good workout, would you go for a huge bowl of pre-cut watermelon or coconut water, followed by a nice decent plate of salad? Or would you prefer a huge over-the- top cheese laden pizza and cold sizzling soda, compounded with the after effects of guilt and regret?
I like to analogise our body to a car. Imagine the German-engineered Audi R8 V-10 , the one exclusive to Tony Stark in Captain America Civil War. If you have consistently put in the effort to tuned up your body to perform like that Audi, would you feed it with gasoline? Or powered it further by high octane fuel?
In fact, there was a study conducted by a team at Indiana University (USA) that showed regular exercise does trigger the appetite for fruits and vegetables. In the article published on Science Alert, the auther wrote that “the team from Indiana University in the US link this to a known phenomenon, known as the transfer effect, where learning new skills and improving in one area of your life automatically triggers a desire for improvements in another. In this case, exercise triggers diet, which is why you might see someone start eating more healthily not long after starting a new gym regime - even if diet changes weren't originally part of the plan.“
My daughter has definately surprised me, in a pleasant way. For one who has done ballet, music and art when she was younger, she has now “evolved” into martial arts in her teens.
But did she really “evolve”? Or was it me who was gender stereotyping and made her do the more gentle activities that I had reckoned would be more suitable for her?
In retrospect, had I been stubborn as a an old mule and unreasonably adamant on exercising my matriarchal right as a egoistic parent, she wouldn't have been able to pursue the interest that had unfolded naturally before her. I would have denied her a renewed more confident independent self who is able to marry fitness and healthy eating habits into her lifestyle.
That would have been tragic!
So, going back to the question – Did I deliver?
And habitually consistently too.
Here's a sample of a 5-day menu.
There is a myth that it takes 21 days to form a habit.
It is not a myth. It is a fact. It has been 66 days and still counting.
Even my cat has gotten into the habit of knocking on my door to wake me up at 5.30 every morning.
Would you like to see how I prepare these healthy packed lunches? Simply go to http://letswalkthetalk.com/wokway-to-healthy-lunch/
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(This blog post also appears on That Odd Mom.)
The Wok Way To Healthy Packed Lunches
How to prepare wholesome healthy packed lunches for your children that could inspire other parents to follow, without the hassle of tedious prep work, clutter of ingredients or laborious washing up in as little as 20 minutes.
And we are not talking about peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a sad assemble of cold cut turkey on wilted lettuce leaves.
Want to know how?
She loves food - all food especially spicy authentic Asian dishes. She sometimes wonders if she eats to live or lives to eat.
As much as she is adventurous with food, she also likes to cook. A proponent for home cooking for better health, she believes that it's only when we start to cook that we become more aware of what goes into the food we eat and vigilant of our food portion sizes.
She's a relatively good home-chef and could make a mean Salt Baked Chicken. But she claims that her late mother-in-law was way much better and her only regret is, in her own words,"Darn…I wish I had written down her recipes."
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