a peek inside the fishbowl

08 Aug, 2012

A bit about those lunch tweets – and some food for thought

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Challenge me, challenge you|Recipes and Food

Some of you may know me well enough that I have been known to embark on small projects purely for my own personal amusement. The Hourly Photo projects started that way, as did our now-annual Family Advent Calendar. And come to think of it, so did the Moments of Bliss, the Sugar Fast, Couch-to-5K, the Trust Experiment, and even the cookies we baked in the car a couple of weeks ago. I don’t do it for the clicks, I do it for the kicks. And I guess I like to keep busy.

Lunch, August 7My latest little whim has been concerning my lunches. Some of you may have already seen a photo or two flit by already.

Allow me to indulge in a bit of backstory for a moment.

I find it a wee bit annoying when people who don’t know very much about Twitter insist that tweets are only about the mundane events of people’s personal lives. Admittedly, to some extent this is true. Many of us let tedious tweets escape into the larger world. And I don’t entirely disagree. For example, I see WAY too many tweets about the contents of diaper blowouts – and I would prefer not to see those – but this does not summarize everything that Twitter is about. Twitter is more. It’s news, politics, gossip, information, relationships, community, charity, therapy, and then some. If you are a current-events junkie, and if you like to be the first to know what’s going on internationally or even right down the street from you, Twitter might be your tool of choice. You just have to know who to follow.

The anti-Twitter argument is often prefaced with statements such as: “I don’t care about what people have for lunch!” And then the person will denounce Twitter as an utter waste of time.

But you know what, I want to know what you had for lunch, especially if it’s a great recipe, a good food find, or a good restaurant that I may visit some day. Besides, knowing what someone had for lunch is personal and revealing. This is something I’ve wondered about: what does a person’s lunch say about them? For example, what would you think about someone who voluntarily ate these meals almost every day:

  • beans in a can, eaten out of the can
  • an organic portebello mushroom burger on a homemade multigrain bun with baby greens they’ve grown themselves
  • a bag of chips and a pop
  • homemade soups and stews, made ahead of time and frozen in individual serving sizes
  • take out from a fast-food place, eaten cold, in the car (Double Downs, Chick-fil-A, Quadruple Bypass Burgers etc.)
  • Bento Box lunches made to look like Japanese cartoon characters

I think we can all agree that there is such a thing as a healthy lunch. And that healthy lunches contain items from the different food groups with emphasis on whole foods (especially produce) that are processed as little as possible. So what do sub-par lunches say about the people eating them? That they don’t care about themselves? Can’t afford to eat well? Don’t know how to cook? Don’t make the time to shop and prepare something good to eat? Care more about comfort and convenience than health? Maybe there are people out there who grew up eating beans and/or beefaroni out of cans, and that makes them feel happy, so they continue to do so into adulthood. Anyway, the reason why is neither here nor there, I just think it’s interesting.

Personally, when I’m eating a bag of chips for lunch (and it has happened) I see it as a personal failure: to myself, my health, my body, and even to my family … because my kids are going to be the ones taking care of me when I’m an old lady.

I know it’s only lunch, but STILL. You get my point right?

I find it inspiring to look at other people’s great lunches and it encourages me to do better with mine. There have been many many days these past two months that I have been very tempted to slather a layer of peanut butter on big fat bagel and hoover it up while standing over the sink, but I don’t, because I know I will be tweeting it and thus someone is watching. I can see how many people are clicking on each photo, and this is just enough motivation to help me eat a little bit better. (I urge you to try it out and see for yourself. Do YOU want the world to know you scarfed down a bag of chips for lunch? I think not.)

I started on a whim and at first my goal was to document entirely breadless lunches: soups, salads, anything as long as it didn’t contain bread. And then we went camping and I decided it would be too hard to make do without bread – so I blew it for awhile. Oh well. I am now back on the bandwagon!

The set of photos I’ve posted so far are pretty revealing. You can see what days I have my act together, the days I slip, the days I probably have a fridge full of food and the others when I’m just scraping by (cucumbers and blue cheese? Yuck). But as I look back on the 50 lunches I’ve eaten I realize I do ok for the most part.

Anyway, yes. There is it. My lunch tweets may be a little self-indulgent, but you know what, I don’t care. :)

So for the next while I’m going to continue snapping and posting them to the Flickr page (but not here on the blog). I will tweet them as I eat them, one a day, and as soon as I figure out how I will tag each them #dailylunches in case anyone out there wants to join me for lunch. :)

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29 Responses to "A bit about those lunch tweets – and some food for thought"

1 | Pamela

August 8th, 2012 at 10:42 am


Today I am having a vegetable samosa, homemade chana masala, baby carrots, and strawberries with cashew/almond whipped cream! What does this tell you about me, Andrea? :-p (vegans are among the most voracious sharers of what they eat, btw)

2 | Kelly Rusk

August 8th, 2012 at 11:03 am


Very cool idea! I’ve been on a quest for healthy, protein-packed vegan lunches (not a vegan but decided that aiming for a vegan lunch is a healthy step in the right direction). I usually make some sort of curry or stew with lentils and beans every Sunday and supplement with fresh veggies.

Had been doing quite well, until I changed jobs and therefore relocated to Hintonburg–aka delicious lunch central!

Almost back on the wagon now, so I look forward to staying motivated by checking out your #dailylunches :)

3 | DaniGirl

August 8th, 2012 at 11:25 am


While I agree with a lot of what you write here, I wish you’d left out the part about judging people based on the lunches they’re eating. You ask, “So what do sub-par lunches say about the people eating them?” Not much, IMHO. Maybe they’re busy with other priorities or ran out of time or their brain is full of something other than the mundane task of making lunch. Coming up with nutritious meals is tough, coming up with creative meals is even tougher, and coming up with nutritious, creative meals three times a day that everybody in my house will eat gives me indigestion when I think about it. Sometimes it’s just a relief to cave to the kids and make them the mac and cheese from a box they’re begging for and then share it for the sake of convenience. Would I prefer the portebello sandwich? Yes. Do I have an hour each day to make lunch? Ha.

A peanut butter bagel over the sink (or, more often, over the keyboard) and an apple is a pretty common lunch for me. I’m okay with that.

4 | andrea

August 8th, 2012 at 11:49 am


Don’t you think that it’s ok to ask the question and wonder why we as a society eat what we do? I find it really insightful. I listed a whole bunch of reasons why someone might not make “good” lunches. (And “good” by itself is subjective. A vegan might not think the fried cheese I put on my salad today is very good at all. But I am ok with this.)

As I get older I want to take better care of myself, so I need to start somewhere. This is what I’ve chosen to focus on at this moment in time. I don’t want to eat foods that don’t make me feel well… and eat them mindlessly over the sink. I know I am not doing myself any favours when I do that. But I don’t think poorly of people who do.

Do note that this challenge is about my own personal lunches, not family meals! That’s a whole different ballgame, one I struggle with quite often.

5 | andrea

August 8th, 2012 at 11:50 am


I would also like to add that not a single one of the lunches I’ve eaten has taken an hour to prepare! :)

Another added benefit of this challenge is that it’s forced me to eat away from the sink and/or desk and actually enjoy my food. Which is great IMO.

6 | DaniGirl

August 8th, 2012 at 12:34 pm


Fried cheese? Hmm, that may be a little much even for me! ;)

I totally agree about getting healthier as we (ahem) get older. I find myself doing the same. But I do think that extrapolating someone’s self esteem from what they eat for lunch is a bit of a stretch, that’s all I meant. Even upon reflection, I can’t really make that work in my brain. All it says about me, for example, is that I don’t much like preparing foods and will take as many shortcuts as I can justify– but it doesn’t mean I don’t care about myself or can’t afford better or don’t know any better.

I guess the point that got me to comment is that I think it’s terrific that this is something you care about, and I’m always a fan of your passion for this stuff. But in this case I disagree that you can (or should) judge a person’s motivations or character by what they’re having for lunch.

7 | Maranda

August 8th, 2012 at 3:38 pm


Wow, heated comments already! :P On the flip side I hate it when people assume that because I make healthy eating a priority and don’t feed my kids convenience foods that I have “too much time on hands” or people say “I wish I had that kind of time”. Or that they don’t like cooking or whatever. It’s just what I consider part of my job as a parent, and while I certainly don’t care what anyone else feeds their kids, I honestly get my back up when people think things must be easy peasy hunky dory in my life if I have time to cook everything from scratch. Not true, I just give up other stuff (like television or a free Sunday afternoon) to get it done. So ‘food for thought’ there so to speak. Judgements work all the way around.

And I agree Andrea I LOVE it when new meal ideas come my way without any effort on my part. Because seriously, I get tired of thinking about it sometimes. You have a great idea for lunch? I’m all ears!

8 | andrea

August 8th, 2012 at 4:12 pm


Dani, we will have to agree to disagree. I still maintain that it’s interesting and insightful to see what people eat every day for lunch… and that in some degree it is a small window into their personal life.

9 | andrea

August 8th, 2012 at 4:14 pm


Maranda, I know what you eat and I think it’s awesome. I wish I could be more like you! xo

10 | Maranda

August 8th, 2012 at 9:09 pm


ALWAYS need new ideas, look forward to your tweets!

11 | Mel Gallant

August 10th, 2012 at 7:44 am


Every other Friday at my work is Pizza Friday and a few months back I decided to forego. It’s nice that my employer offers this free lunch but my waist appreciates it waaay too much.

This morning, I realized I had nothing of real substance to make for lunch…I almost caved and said to heck with it, I’ll participate in Pizza Friday. But! I held strong…found some hummus in the fridge and have thrown together some veggies and pita to go with. Whew! ;)

12 | Kathleen

August 10th, 2012 at 2:39 pm


Thanks for the great lunch ideas.

I love how a lot of your lunches feature delicious, ever-so-slightly random things in beautiful bowls. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. And sushi! Yum. Inspiring. Reminds me that making lunch doesn’t take that long and is so worth it.

13 | Jayda

September 4th, 2012 at 11:38 am


I care;) I admit that I slack on feeding myself ‘good’ lunches. I often eat the boys scraps, although nutritious, it is not a mindful way to eat. I love that you are making this a priority and showing the rest of us how easy it is! Many nutrition experts would agree that lunch should be your biggest meal of the day and in many cultures it is. Supper, it meant to supplement the day. Keep them coming. You have inspired me to make MY lunch a bigger priority.

Maranda, I get it. I sacrifice many things to make our family’s nutrition a priority.

14 | Annie @ PhD in Parenting

September 4th, 2012 at 11:54 am


Well, I tweeted a picture of the poutine I was having for lunch recently because I was both overjoyed and devastated to have discovered a new place near my work that serves poutine on real plates. I’d been doing a good job of avoiding my cravings out of my hate of styrofoam — I’m nicer to the environment than I am to my own body.

Lunch, for me, is an opportunity to eat foods my kids don’t like, while they eat their carefully packed lunch at school. Sometimes my lunches are homemade, but most often they are not. I put my home cooking efforts into nutritious family dinners, nice weekend breakfasts, and baked goods for school snacks/weekday breakfasts. Sometimes my lunches are healthy, sometimes they are not.

In any case, I support your efforts, but am unlikely to be regularly sharing my lunches. Enjoy!

15 | Annie @ PhD in Parenting

September 4th, 2012 at 11:55 am


P.S. – Dani — we should do lunch soon. :D

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