Unlike so many people (women) I’ve known, I’ve never thought of food as The Enemy. I love food. Different desserts, different cuisines, different fancy beverages – food just rocks my socks. Indeed, almost all of my truly happy memories and associations relate to food. My favourite children’s books are food related (Moira’s Birthday and the Hungry Caterpillar). My favourite morning routines centre around food (coffee et pastry et fruit et good fromage? NOM!). I buy skincare products largely based on their foodie sounds (oatmeal scrub doesn’t really even work on my face, I just like how it sounds). Yes, I am at my happiest feasting and/or shopping for the ingredients for said feast.
Food plays such an important role in my life, in fact, that I can tell what kind of life I’m having by the type of food I am ingesting (arguably everyone can do this, but they don’t). For example, post-break-up, I eat very little. I am sad and the usually happy experience of preparing food is beyond me. Holiday season? This is a time for big breakfasts and celebratory dinners with heaps of meat and cheese. Pregnant? FETCH ME MORE FRUIT AND CHEESE, STAT! Breastfeeding? Double the previous order. Generally happy with my average life? Lots of butter, nuts, spinach, small snacks and ridiculous amounts of peppermint tea. Stressed about a particular life-change, like, say, moving to the Middle East and leaving behind friends and family? Sugar. Absolutely stupid amounts of sugar, as it turns out.
Which brings me to today. I thought I was coping well with the changes, and I am for the most part, I think. But my stomach started aching this morning, and as I took stock of what I had consumed over the last two days, weeks and then months, it occurred to me that I couldn’t remember eating more than one serving of vegetables each day. My family has been eating well – I’ve continued to prepare healthy meals all day for everyone else. I, on the other hand, have pushed around the fruit and veg and instead consumed an average of four giant Lindt chocolate bars and two loaves of Challah each week. I may or may not have eaten half a loaf of rye bread this morning with honey, while my son ate a well-rounded breakfast of peanut butter toast with mango and yogurt. Hmmm….
Ok, so clearly part of the stress-related sugar consumption comes from the fact that I’m not sleeping much. SOMEONE (Evelyn) is waking up fifty billion times a night. Thus, while I head into each morning knowing that what I need is a big ol’ cup of peppermint tea and some fruit and cheese, what I eat is leftover chocolate bar and weak coffee.
But I wonder if some of this sugar binge eating isn’t do to with internal stress that I’m choosing to ignore externally. The move was hard, getting used to the new environment is hard, not being able to get around is hard. I’ll get over it, of course – it gets easier each day – but in the meantime, I’m in a difficult situation. And whenever I’ve faced difficult situations (paper writing, parents divorce, quitting smoking, moving) I’ve reacted by eating my weight in chocolate and pastry (and drinking heavily but that isn’t realistic, thankfully). The result is I feel sickly. I probably look sickly too, but I’m not sure as my vision is blurry from lack of sleep.
I really need to smarten up. My food barometer is right: I am a little depressed, a little stressed, and a lot sleep-deprived. But surely I can overpower this nonsense and eat a bloody green bean, no?
Of course I can. Onward to the land of greens and butter and happiness!