When you hear “crisp”, do you think of lettuce?

Dear readers! I have to apologise. When I started this blog in November last year I did so with the unexpressed but underlying intention of updating it on a more or less regular basis with hilarious or outrageous stories from my life among Brits. These efforts have of late been severely thwarted by a lady thing. I am pregnant.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this is a joyous time in my life. I get to study every nook and cranny of the four toilet bowls in our house (and some outside our house, too) intensively, wear bras double the size of my usual cups, get loads of exercise running to the loo every 15 minutes and my little monster lifts up my shirt in public, proudly announcing to complete strangers “There is a baby!”. At the same time I have to battle with a few adversities though such as being forced to take an afternoon nap every day, comb through more and more hair every morning or eat healthily. Seriously, judging by what the little parasite in me has me crave, he/she seems to be wanting to become a vegetarian.

Which finally brings me back to the topic of this post – food choices.

Before anyone is tempted to pigeonhole me, I am NOT a health food fanatic, vegetarian or otherwise exceedingly conscious of what is ending up in my stomach. My BMI which has traditionally hovered somewhere around the upper limits of “normal” will vouch for that. Although I have to admit that raising a child and cooking for him and myself on a regular basis has certainly made me more aware of what’s out there – and how simple things can markedly improve his and my good food vs. bad food balance. Granted, wading the shallows of preservatives, additives, organic, bio, processed or – god forbid – genetically engineered food can be intimidating and time-consuming. However, it is not rocket science to know that an apple trumps a chocolate muffin.

Sure, I like them too. In moderate amounts.

A pack of Walkers Salt & Vinegar potato crisps. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For some reason, this subcategory of common sense doesn’t seem to be overly developed here on the island. It simply boggles my mind how often I see toddlers and children in the park around lunch time, snacking away on a bag of crisps*. I mean, how much harder is it to wash a few grapes or cut up two peaches and put them into a resealable plastic container before you leave for the playground with your little ones instead of pocketing a bag of crisps?!

Unfortunately, crisps seem to be a main staple of the British diet. They almost always come in these handy 80g packages (sold individually or, much cheaper, in wholesale amounts, i.e. huge bags that compete in size with my 3-year old – I kid you not!). And you will struggle to find a set meal outside a sit-down restaurant that doesn’t include a packet of crisps.

crisps

How about a carrot instead?

Note that even this artery-clogging meal contains crisps on top of everything else!

A traditional English meal of fish and chips, with beer, tartar sauce, and salt and vinegar crisps. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Note that even this artery-clogging meal contains crisps on top of everything else!

 

Make them organic, hand-made, from 100% British potatoes, whatever; it doesn’t change the fact that crisps are junk food, period. Including them in your (or worse, your kids’) meals on a daily basis will play havoc with your and their health. The fact that the UK is leading the obesity statistics in Europe in nearly every demographic should suffice as proof. Although British dietary mainstays like pies (I’m talking the pasty, greasy, meat-derivative filled variety), sausage rolls (Don’t ask! – If you have to know, google it) or the traditional fish and chips might have a good chunk of complicity in this sad record.

The funny thing is that, where I come from, you can’t even buy chips in snack-sized bags. Which obviously is a positive thing not just from a waste avoidance point of view. If I really want to treat my child to some potato chips (maybe because I am craving them and don’t want him to have to leave the room) I can always give him some from a big bag. Or cut up a watermelon instead. Of course this approach would require a modicum of self-control and a basic knowledge of what’s desirable in food choices.

But then, what do I expect from a country that has to mark fruit and vegetables with a specifically designed logo for people to know that these are the healthy options and how much of them to consume? Whenever I see the “5 a day” sign on a punnet of strawberries I always imagine some nitwit scrutinising a packet of crisps, wondering why on earth it doesn’t count as one of his “5 a day”, seeing that they are made from potatoes.

Thanks for telling me that tomatoes are ok to consume. I’d hate to die in ignorance.

 

 

* For my confused non-British readers: crisps are what the rest of the world calls chips, whereas chips over here are fries elsewhere. Easy, or not?

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16 thoughts on “When you hear “crisp”, do you think of lettuce?

  1. Crisps or chips – I love them. I cannot walk down the snack aisle, though, because of my adoration. I rarely can eat them in moderation. Oh, no.

    • Well, at least you have yourself to blame when you eat too much of them (and you have developed mechanisms to reduce the temptation). What about a 2-year old who doesn’t get anything else offered because it is more convenient for mommy?!

  2. I can still remember when there were just two varieties of potato chips, and buying them involved a quick decision on the way to the store. Now it seems there are hundreds of them, and every trip to the supermarket reveals new flavor combinations and cooking methods that I would never have imagined. The decision requires three or four walks up and down the snack aisle — so at least there’s the added exercise.

    Feel better soon, Sandra.

    • See, the overkill of flavours isn’t even a problem for me. I guess I’m just not adventurous enough to fancy Indian Curry or Thai Sweet and Sour Chicken flavoured chips. Although I have to admit that Salt and Vinegar, my favourite, is a British specialty which is hard to come by in Germany. So they do get some things right.
      Thank you for your concern, Charles, I am actually almost back to normal. Compared to the initial retch stretch, the kicking and heartburn isn’t even worth bitching about πŸ˜‰

  3. CONGRATS on the little one! I’ve been to London twice and don’t recall the mix up of crisps & chips! perhaps because I don’t eat crisps, and always order fish n chips at the pubs in London! Glad to hear you are learning to make wiser eating choices and in doing so, I hope you feel more energized!

    • Hi Zoe, I wish I’d feel more energised but as things are I just feel pregnant (i.e. happy but fit to fall asleep whereever I can put my head down) πŸ˜‰

      Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment, and such a nice one at that πŸ™‚

  4. Hi, Sandra, nice to see you again, and congratulations! We have just been blessed with our first granddaughter, and I am in full sympathy. in fact,when I read your post, I just opened a bag of smoky chipotle cheddar flavor chips in your honor. I hope it helps to help you to resist your temptations better than your account helped me to resist mine. All my best!

    • Hi Gary, it is my pleasure to welcome you back here. Congratulations on your granddaughter, I hope the mom has already forgotten all about the ordeals of becoming a mom.

      I am frightfully sorry if I have woken your appetite for chips but I would have to go by: Not a lot of things are really bad for you when enjoyed in moderation. So nice to hear about ever more fancy flavours πŸ˜‰

  5. So glad you’re back to blogging, Sandra! I missed your posts! Your description of pregnancy makes me not want to ever be pregnant. hm.

    loved this post, though! my nieces and nephews eat crazy amounts of chips (chips by the USA definition) and it grosses me out. I try and curb their habit when they’re with me, though. Chips-for-dinner or a chip-buffet for a snack (seriously!) won’t be an option for my kiddos, whether my kiddos come from my belly or someone else’s!

    Congrats on your second pregnancy! Can’t wait to see photos of the new little one! When are you due?

    • Hey Cammy, thanks for missing me – and saying so.

      As to the pregnancy, I feel actually pretty ok at the moment. But you know how we writers are, always exploiting our poetic licence to make things sound … interesting πŸ˜‰

      When it comes to chips, I am by no means a fascist who says “No chips ever for anyone, especially kids!” It’s just the frequency that baffles me, the normalcy of it. I am not used to it which is maybe why I noticed in the first place. The sad part is that most kids I know gladly eat grapes, bananas or other healthy options when no chips are on offer, so I blame the parents when kids evolve a craving for that stuff. After all, they can’t pace themselves yet, that’s why they have grown-ups to watch out for them.

      Anyway, we’ll see what Number 2 will be like. Starting in November. Photos are sure to air at some stage.

  6. Hey Sandra, I found it surprising that our English friends brought packets of ‘crisps’ with them on picnics or outings. It is a ‘regular’ food instead of ‘sometimes’ food. I am too a fellow food Nazi!

  7. I missed you too – but knew you were preggers ‘cos you told me in an earlier comment. πŸ™‚ That said, I hope the sickness eases off soon and that things get easier.

    As for the crisps… yeah. I know. Mmm. I love the things, though. But they are unhealthy for me (and don’t I know it.) I’m trying to train myself to eat fruit instead, but much as I love blueberries and strawberries, oranges, etc, they just don’t crunch. And they aren’t salty. And they don’t taste of fried potato.

    But you’re right.

    Germans one, Island Monkeys zero and a half.

    • They do have a lot going for themselves, I have to agree. But that’s not an excuse for force-feeding them to your defenseless children!

      Thank you, I feel much better already, indeed, if it wasn’t for my daily nap (and the vanishing waistline of course) I could almost forget I’m pregnant. How lucky am I? πŸ™‚

  8. And I wouldn’t feed them to children, either. But then I don’t have any. And am past the time when I’m likely to.

    • Again, I am not militant. Every now and then the little monster gets some too. Usually when I have some and it wouldn’t be fair to not share (if only so that I eat less of them, and to teach him sharing). It’s the regularity that gets my goat…

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