Thoughts On Eating When You Can’t

April 1, 2017

I knew it was coming. I ate my roasted beet salad and soy maple glazed salmon like a last supper, with friends and sister and husband surrounding me, on Fat Tuesday no less, relishing every bite, noting the vinegary bite of the salad dressing on the beets, the slight note of gouda in the mashed potatoes.

It settled in slowly, like a snowfall, blanketing my body and my mind.

It is the strangest type of fog. Maybe fog isn’t right – it is like a clenching of teeth or fist. Your mind tries to recede, but thanks to being married to your body, it has nowhere to go. Days are measured in hours until bedtime. Sleep brings the only relief.

I have been here before. With all of my pregnancies in varying degrees I have had debilitating nausea from 6-18+ weeks. Those that have nausea their whole pregnancy have a special place in my heart. And it goes without saying but I’ll say it: of course kissing baby cheeks makes up for it completely. Of course I am aware of people who would gladly take the nausea if it means healthy babies. They are in my heart too.

But I couldn’t help but think, this time around it seemed harder. I thought maybe I was just older. Maybe it was just winter.

Of course, I had no idea I was carrying twins.

Most days I think about food a lot – I make it, photograph it, write recipes, and daydream about food combinations. I am writing a food memoir, and I write this food blog. I am always aware of making it too important, inhibiting health or love or resources. I don’t love gluttony, I like ordered, healthy appetites. So when the ability to eat is taken away, there is a good sized hole. I know everyone who has nausea suffers, and that good healthy food generally brings comfort to everyone, whether or not they are ‘foodies’.  It’s the universal of this that made me want to pen this post. But I have lost more than 10 pounds in six weeks (while pregnant with twins). And what the last few months have highlighted for me is what a gift a healthy appetite is – and what a vacuum there is when it is gone. I want to remember not to take it for granted.

I miss making dinner. Stirring things in a pan. Looking forward to the evening – since that is when my nausea is the worst. I hate warming up processed food for my crew. I miss going out to dinner – the last thing I feel like doing – or ordering something for take out (why waste the money? I’ll just have soup or broth). I miss sharing a meal with my family. Lately it has been me trying to scarf food down, nodding and smiling, and intermittently running to the bathroom for a fun little rendezvous with the porcelain throne. I miss the idea of date night, or dinner with friends, since I can’t think of a single thing I could order and am curled up in bed by 8:30 most nights. It is amazing how much sharing a meal enriches our lives.

Things that have helped: Zofran. Sea Bands. Epsom salt baths. Backrubs from my husband. Want to see just how clenched your muscles can get? Feel your shoulders the next time you have stomach flu.
But I have found an amazing thing happening: with the joy from food gone, there is an invitation to find and deepen other joys. I am so aware right now of how much joy my children bring me – how they fill up my heart like a ballon with their laugh, their smile. They have been showing me so much love lately, and it is a gift. I am grateful for my husband, and am keenly aware of the life he works so hard to provide us all. I am thankful for the comforts of modern living. A warm house, cozy bed, comfy clothes, a car that runs, and a great community that has been SO supportive. A school that our kids love, and a rhythm to our days that is beautiful even when I don’t feel well. If I took these for granted before, I don’t now. They are all counted, all a part of my profound gratitude towards things that work when I am not feeling well.

Music has suddenly bubbled up to the tippy top of my list of joys. When I am driving a good song distracts me from nausea. When we are in the kitchen, the kids’ favorite soundtracks and songs make moments fun, even if the kitchen and I aren’t getting along. Suddenly, memorizing the lyrics to Lenard Cohen’s Hallelujah has a particular allure, because #distractions.

And reading has been my rock. My constant companion, my favorite escape. If I ever go blind, I will learn Braille at lightning speed because I need books.

So for the next month or so, the food blog will be a place where I will share whatever I can. If this twin pregnancy is anything like my singletons, a delight in food will start creeping back in soon, and find its height when I am halfway through my pregnancy, when I will be dying to share delicious recipes.

For now, I will celebrate the fact that my nausea is starting to have windows where it ebbs, like today when I made Greek Wedding Soup. This is the first thing I have cooked in weeks, and its lemony tang and saltiness from feta finally gave me a moment to celebrate food. I left out all the herbs though, because I am not 100% yet and herbs don’t like me right now.

So I will leave you with this recipe, and hope this reminds everyone to celebrate what is there for us to enjoy almost every day – our appetite. It is really, truly such a gift.

Happy Eating, Xoxo Katie

 

Greek Wedding Soup (printer version here on RachaelRay.com)

Ingredients

  • 8 cups chicken stock (64 ounces)
  • 3/4 pound ground lamb or beef
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley (a couple of generous handfuls), divided
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs (a generous handful)
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, chopped or crumbled
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • Grated peel and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup mint leaves (a generous handful), chopped

Preparation

In a deep skillet or Dutch oven, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Lower the heat and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the lamb, half of the parsley, breadcrumbs, feta, egg, garlic and oregano; season with salt and pepper. Form into 1-inch balls. Add to the simmering broth along with the orzo and cook for 8 minutes. Stir in the lemon peel, lemon juice, remaining parsley and the mint.

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