Food to the Body, Food for the Soul

ImageI have a confusing relationship with food. I love it, but it doesn’t always love me. I can’t eat red meat more than once a week or I start getting chest pains, foods high in fat or oil make me sick, and artificial sweeteners give me terrible stomach cramps and insanely itchy skin. It’s unfortunate for a person who loves hamburgers, onion rings, and the new Sparkling Ice drinks.

So I’ve had to adapt. I eat mostly chicken, wheat bread, yogurt, and cereal. I loooooove cereal. I would eat it for every meal if I could.

I haven’t always been so methodical about food. When I first went on medication, my appetite was suppressed. All food tasted like ash. It took a lot of focus to eat and to eat anything besides sweets. My body had grown silent and refused to tell me when it was hungry and what it needed. After several medication changes and six years, it has awoken and although it’s a little more sensitive than before, we essentially understand each other.

Now that I’m married and primarily responsible for making the food (Chris is the dishwasher), the new challenge is summoning up the energy to think of and prepare meals. If it was just me, I would eat an assortment of random things for a meal (vegetables and dressing, toast with an egg, etc), because it takes focus and time to put together a coherent dish. However, it’s not just me. It’s me and a 26-year old man who can eat a whole pizza by himself and was raised on the hearty meals of the southern Midwest. He needs food.

It’s weird to think about the appetite of another person. Sometimes it’s really stressful. If I’ve had a particularly bad day and haven’t been able to move a frozen chicken breast to the fridge because I’ve been asleep all day, I worry about what Chris is going to eat. Even though he is perfectly happy with his meal, I don’t like seeing him making three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when I had planned on coconut chicken and rice. Other days, it’s extremely fulfilling. I’ll pull myself together and make an inspired sloppy Joe recipe with brown sugar, zesty Italian dressing, and chili powder, and watching Chris eat three of them is food for my soul. I never thought I would take pleasure from cooking; I even rebelled against the idea because it sounded too close to submitting to a life of “a woman’s place is in the kitchen.” In practice, it’s not about that though. Chris loves food and so to be able to make something he likes makes me feel good about myself. It’s also a tangible accomplishment during a day that otherwise seemed pretty pointless.

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