I am, according to this excellent quiz, a constant craver. This is not a surprise.
If I’m making a lasagne, I eat most of the cheese before it’s made it to the meal. If I’m having salad with my dinner and the dinner’s not ready? I sure won’t be eating the two together… Inevitably, if there’s food, I’m eating.
Divorce seems to have three principle impacts on eating.
1. The person eats everything available.
2. The person eats nothing at all.
3. They become an incredible cook.
Surprisingly, I am a 2 (and unsurprisingly not a 3). Where some people turn to chocolate or crisps when they’re miserable, my appetite disappears. I don’t want to eat anything, and I’m not even hungry. For a person who can graze all day, it’s quite a surprise to find your appetite has vanished.
The words ‘should’, ‘ought to’ and ‘had probably better’ become natural precursors to ‘eat’.
Now initially, this had perks for me – I lost a stone and a half in a matter of months. This is not recommended. Admittedly I could afford this weightloss, but it wasn’t the way forward. It took quite some time to rediscover my love of food, and you could argue I’m making up for lost time.
So here are my tips for the 2s amongst us, who can’t bear to eat when we’re upset. (And if you’re a 1 or a 3, please share your wisdom below!)
1. Anything goes!
If you’re finding your appetite has entirely disappeared, just eat. Eat unhealthily if you need to, but do eat. A takeaway? Far too regularly. All the doughnuts? Yep.
Earn one grown up reward sticker, you’ve eaten! Well done!
Healthy food will probably help you feel better in yourself, but if you’re not eating this is a secondary concern. If you’re not eating, first it’s important just to eat.
2. Convenience is, well, convenient.
Ready meals, soup and takeaways…if I didn’t have to make it, I was eating it. Cooking a meal for one is hard, particularly when you’re used to cooking for two or more. So release that guilty feeling and eat! A dinner that looks entirely like a child’s picnic was a great choice…3 Babybels, 20 cocktail sausages and some Party Rings – there’s several food groups there right? *
*disclaimer: I may still consider this an acceptable meal.
3. Cook a feast.
Cook everything you wanted to eat that your ex-spouse didn’t like. This is also a great way to feel positively about the way life has turned out. Don’t curse their hatred of the food, or indeed them, but try to think along this sentence…
‘Yum, I can now eat *insert food substance here* that *name* didn’t like…and I don’t need to worry about that any more.’
This may induce crying, but try to keep eating as it’s surprisingly hard to cry while you’re chewing.
4. Go for tea at a friend’s.
Everyone has dinner, every day. So find some friends who are happy to lay an extra place setting and join in. If possible, pre warn them, but you may need those wonderful people who you can text and say ‘I can’t bring myself to cook and I don’t want to eat, please can I come and have tea?’ It’s not lazy, it’s honest. Food is better with friends. It’s easier to eat when you’re with others. Perhaps find several friends willing to be involved and work on a rotation? But chances are, and joking aside, they love you enough to prefer to cook you tea than have you hungry. So summon up the courage to ask friends if you can just come and belong and eat.
This was my salvation in terms of food. Whenever I couldn’t bear to eat or I knew I would just go home and not bother, I invited myself over. I often felt guilty in doing so, but every time I was reassured that cooking for one more really doesn’t make any difference – yet it made the world of difference to me. Returning to tea time at their table is always a treat.
5. Cook for four.
No, you don’t need to – but put the other portions into the fridge or freezer for when you next don’t want to cook or eat. It’s easier to eat something convenient that you’ve already made. I didn’t even much enjoy cooking before, so cooking for one held absolutely no appeal. This is definitely a practical and proactive solution though, and a fantastic habit to begin. It took me about three years to do this well, and for it not to feel like an upsetting thing to do. For some reason it made me feel more alone, so this wasn’t the best solution for me – though it’s a brilliant idea and definitely worth a try.
6. Find some enjoyment in food.
Try to associate eating with something enjoyable. Maybe the moment you sit down is the time you watch the next episode of the series you’re enjoying. Persuade a friend out for a regular catch up dinner. Buy new crockery. Try to make your food experience a good one, and something to look forward to.
7. Try a new recipe.
The act of creating something entirely new and different is quite cathartic, and hopefully delicious. Even better, combine it with No. 3 and cook up something you’d never have eaten together – and who knows? Maybe this will turn you into a 3!
Emotions can have a huge impact on eating, so don’t let guilt be the principle one here. Eat when you can and what you can, and in the end, eating does become enjoyable again.*
*like having tarte au citron for breakfast – it needed eating…