meal deals

May 26, 2022

When Winnie was 18 months old we travelled to the UK - just like we did this year - albeit for only 2 weeks. We went to London and Dublin and maybe some other places... I don't quite remember because I was pregnant with Pippa - an event I wasn't planning for or aware of until I started barfing 10 days before our flight. 

Nothing makes you realize importance of food - the role it plays in our experience and enjoyment of a place, until you can't eat. That's a huge topic, probably best discussed in another email but anyway, I spent my 2 weeks barfing my way around the emerald isle, gnawing on the corner of white toast in Covent Garden and wishing for death in the big city heat.

While we were away this spring, Jamie kept asking me if I remembered XYZ about being in the airport on that trip or about the ferry ride or the coffee shop around the corner from the hotel.... and I was like:



That entire thing was a puke-soaked blur. Even while it was happening I was aware of how much I was missing - racked with guilt over the money spent on something I couldn't enjoy, piled on top of the guilt of being a completely absent parent. 

AT LEAST though - I thought at the time. At least we're showing our kid the world! Even if I am only a shell of a human, she MUST be absorbing the art, the architecture, the culture, and the people - what's important to us and how we want her to live...


When we got home (and I finally got myself on some diclectin) we asked our little one about her favourite part of the adventure - "the holtel", she answered with a smile.

That's how she used to say hotel. HoLtel.

That was all she remembered. I mean, obviously. She was only one and a half. She remembered the most important thing: the place where they left cookies and milk by her bed and the sweetest little plush donkey named Clarence, that she still sleeps with to this day, on her pillow.

She didn't care about galleries or monuments - she was all about the huge bed with the soft sheets and the even huge-er tv in front of it. 

Writing that just reminded me of putting this same kid to bed at the age of 5. She was anxious and scared of something, and I took her through a meditation in the hopes of lulling her to sleep. I asked her to go "to her happy place" and breathe, as part of the exercise. Afterwards, I asked her - "hey, where was your happy place?" To which she replied, "the gas station on PEI, by nana and poppa's".

The gas station! 

NB: there are cheesies at that gas station
My point is, kids only remember 3 things (riffing on a Nora Ephron quote):

  • when you weren't there
  • when they barfed
  • and what they got to eat

So it makes sense that, as we reminisce about his trip, the thing my two teenage kids most remember and miss from an epic 2 month European adventure is.... THE MEAL DEAL.

While in London, we spent the better part of every day walking until the soles of our shoes were worn and a limp had set in. To keep us fuelled on a budget we'd pop in to any drug store/supermarket along the way and pick up a meal deal - a combination of main, snack, and drink for around 3-4 British pounds.

It was fabulous. Cheap and filling with alllll the choices. The mains ranged from sushi to hearty salads to cold pasta or sandwiches. Snacks were fruit cups, chips, granola bars or decadent desserts (think cookie dough brownies or pots of trifle). Drinks included soda, fizzy water, vitamin concoctions, iced coffees, and some really incredible super-food smoothies.

Each day, we'd all spend a weirdly long and heavenly  chunk of time designing our ultimate lunch. The kids had free range to pick what they wanted and - here is where I connect this meandering tale to food and body - their choices were epically interesting and 100% on point with intuitive eating. 

Mains were fairly consistent and nutrient dense. Snacks and drinks were wildly different from day to day but, more often that not, landed on a super food smoothie, granola bar or fruit cup. They could literally have chosen a double iced vegan brownie or triple chocolate muffin every day - but they didn't

Free to choose - without pressure or shame - they made choices that would keep them fuelled and feeling good... with plenty of room for afternoon tea and sweets;)

It was a mini, very unofficial, study in food freedom and the power of neutralizing food.

When you are in your full YES to all foods, you naturally find NO - when the time is right. Your body will crave variety and nutrient density. Not every moment of every day, but consistently and reliably.

A natural ebb and flow that requires no pushing or forcing. 

Interesting, huh?