I love food. Eating it, making it, watching every single cooking programme on TV – and immersing myself in cookbooks (every single time I cross Waterstone’s threshold, I need to talk myself down from spending that month’s mortgage payment on beautiful, hardback food bibles).
Before kids, my husband and I would spend whole weekends in the kitchen – planning meals, prepping and cooking together, music on, singing and dancing, with the wine flowing. We certainly don’t have time for that these days with two little people, but we still like to eat well, and I don’t think there’s a style of food we don’t like.
When my anxiety flares, sometimes I’m an exhausted and emotional mess, but sometimes it joins forces with my love of food and actually works in my favour!
A month or so ago, I had planned to go to an anxiety social group meet up. But guess what? I was too anxious to go! So, with all my pent-up anxious energy – coupled with some springtime euphoria – I cooked.
One dish turned into a few, and I ended up with Mexican tapas featuring mini beef tacos, roast chipotle cauliflower and spiced prawn skewers with guacamole, salsa, sour cream and tortillas. Apparently, I forgot I was only cooking for my husband and me.
A week or so later, I asked husband what he would like for dinner. When he answered with ‘salad’, some ‘salad doesn’t make you a good enough wife’ anxiety popped up, and I ended up making “build your own” Buddha bowls. Basically, an uber salad that proves your love because you’ve had to prep approximately 3,000 different ingredients.
I do love “build your own” meals though, despite it resulting in 10 times as many dishes to wash in the morning. I love them for the same reason that I love tapas, dim sum and any other cuisine that celebrates this style of eating. I find single, large plates of food incredibly off-putting. I enjoy meals you can delve in and out of – you eat slower, over a longer period of time, it’s more convivial, and you get to eat lots of different things in one sitting (because in case you hadn’t guessed it yet, I’m greedy!)
I’m a big fan of making homemade soup as well, it truly is food for the soul – and you’re less likely to have to have your doorframes widened, than you are with some of my other anxiety-driven mega feasts.
Sometimes though, my brain and my love of food have a disconnect. Like when the “you’re a big fat pig” anxiety means you cook the healthiest dinner you possibly can, but the “why are you torturing yourself, you only live once” anxiety has you fantasising about ringing for a KFC and a bottle of prosecco whilst you eat it…. The flipside of that being when the “my life is a mess” anxiety means you just eat the entire contents of your fridge, covered in cheese and dipped in butter.
Although better that than being in the depths of despair and eating nothing at all. But that’s a story for another day.