Sunday, February 20, 2011

My New Relationship with Food

Dear Cancer:
You are playing really dirty this round. You decided to take taste too?
Ugh I hate you.
-Jenna aka Canzer Crusher Warrior who intends on smashing your face in during next round.

Ok that was aggressive- but I am pissed. My taste's are changing- as is my relationship with food.  What I have noticed is that when I am in the post- chemo recovery phase I have the taste buds of a five year old. All I want to eat is chocolate milkshakes, grilled cheese, and egg salad sandwiches. If you were to ask me the last time I had any of these foods, I would politely tell you- 20+ years ago.

For my entire life eating healthy has been a value my parents instilled in us in a young age, and one that I adhere to somewhat religiously. My parents rarely kept junk food around and they cooked healthy meals regularly. My mom was using jicama in her salads before I could even spell the word. She cooked with thought, with creativity, and with love. She follows heart healthy recipe's as if it were a bible, and she marks all of her favorites with superlatives like  "Superb!", "Outstanding", "Calls for too much salt!"

I grew up in a home where cooking and food is not only appreciated but celebrated.

Growing up in a home that celebrates healthy eating, impacted my relationship with food as a teenager and now as an adult. I never deprived myself of eating certain foods, but overall I understood the value in being healthy.  As an adult, my metabolism slowed, and the creme brule, kosher smoked meat sandwiches,and poutine from my favorite spots in Montreal, hung around on my frame for a little longer.
So I adjusted my exercise level, reduced the frequency in indulging, but never- never eliminated my favorite foods from my diet.

Unfortunately these days, my favorite things, are no longer my favorite things.

My tastes are changing rapidly and foods that normally rocked my world, are appearing somewhat dull. I am no longer turned on by complex sauces, unusual spices, and atypical parings. My palette has regressed and is incredibly temperamental.

During the days of recovery when your tummy is in a state of turmoil, eating is the last thing you want to do. I sometimes picture my belly as an open pit of flames that becomes intensified by adding anything to it. Being able to digest food during the days out of the hospital is a real challenge, but by eliminating food from the equation I am incredibly weak and unable to heal in the way that I need to. Essentially I can't win.

Food has become no longer about taste but about fuel. I have met with three dietitians ( before, during and post chemo) and they all have told me that this is the time to eat what you want. Whatever is desirable to you- eat it. All calories are good calories at this point.

This diet is so counterintuitive and feels so wrong. I want to nourish my body, make it stronger, so I can beat this bitch in the upcoming rounds. Filling my belly with the cravings of a five year old seems irresponsible.

As my taste's change, and my relationship with food changes, how do I make eating more exciting and enjoyable? Is there a way for me to think about food differently during this time?  Or maybe I need to just suck it up and say, you know what my relationship with food kind of sucks right now- but its temporary.

I have to think that I can look at food in a different way during this time, make healthier choices that will nourish me, and figure out ways to start enjoying food again.

As Cancer slowly takes the things that I enjoy the most away from me, I have to figure out ways to fight back. I have to figure out ways to hold on to the things that I care about the most.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Jenna-My husband had the same thing during his bout with "the bitch." Everything tasted bland to him. He said to tell you sweet iced tea used to help for some reason as did very salty foods. Might be worth a try! Hang in and enjoy whatever it is that you crave. Lauren