food: the lurking horror

Food has always been my friend, more or less, despite the many social, cultural and health pressures to keep it at arm’s length. You might think, now that I’m pregnant, that many of those old taboos would temporarily disappear since I’m “eating for two.”
You’d be wrong. Sure, I do get to eat more…a little bit more. And I can consume more fat and am being urged from all sides to consume vast quantities of milk and meat, which are usually on the “keep it to a minimum” list. But the vast array of things I’m not supposed to eat, am only supposed to eat in certain forms, and do not have the energy to cook turns these small freedoms into horrible mockeries of themselves.
First, things I am not supposed to eat. They are myriad. I am supposed to eat fish, but only certain kinds of fish, and only in certain quantities. Try to remember which is what and when while you’re wandering around the grocery store with a pregnancy addled brain. Also on the questionable list are soft cheeses (which are soft? I don’t know), sushi, tea (maybe), artificial sweetener (maybe), deli meat, caffeine (maybe), soft-serve ice cream, hot dogs, unpasteurized fruit juices (are they pasteurized? they never say), sprouts, anything served cold that doesn’t get reheated until steaming, and I’m discovering new ones all the time.
One of my recent discoveries was nitrates and nitrites. I had been dutifully microwaving all lunch meat until crispy to eliminate the listeria problem, only to find out it was no good: the nitrates in the lunch meat were still going to give my baby cancer. I’m starting to run out of things to eat for lunch: no lunch meat, no peanut butter, no tuna, all that’s left is cheese and egg salad, which violate the fat content rule.
(Actually, peanut butter is the only thing I haven’t been able to give up. “They” recommend you give it up to be on the “safe side” since it’s not an “essential food”: not for them, maybe, but if I eliminated it from my diet I’d have to go hungry or fill up on saltines.)
Finally, not having the energy to cook. For the first few weeks, not being able to stand the sight, smell, or presence of food was the problem; more recently it’s been colds and headaches. I just don’t have the will to cook as much as I used to, so I’m more reliant on pre-made foods which just aren’t as healthy as the stuff I make.
I foolishly purchased a copy of “What to Eat When You’re Expecting”–it was only a dollar, but I would pay more than that to have the whole thing erased from my memory. Apparently, I’m severely imperiling my baby’s future by not cooking or baking every scrap of food I eat from natural, organic ingredients–no sugar, no fat, no white flour, ever. Sadly, I have neither the time nor money for such an enterprise. I am supposed to eat about 4 bushels of (organic) vegetables per day, close to that much of fruits…anyone who has ever felt queasy knows what result that is likely to have. If you still have room after that, you are to eat whole grains, (organic) meat, and low-fat dairy products. That’s it.
Well, not entirely. You are allowed to eat up to two cookies, once a month. I am not joking.
There’s no middle ground. You either cook everything from scratch, at a time when you have less energy and inclination to do so than at any other time of your life, or you subject the baby to all the deadly additives that comes in pre-processed food.
Food, why have you turned on me after so many years of happy co-existence? I never knew you had it (or, apparently, a lot of other junk too) in you.

7 Responses to “food: the lurking horror”

  1. KDC says:

    Did I miss something? Is there a little role-playing historian incubating even now as I type? Wow! Congratulations! I could have sworn I read all your recent posts…

  2. michele says:

    Heh, thanks! Karl, we wanted to email you with the news but couldn’t find an up-to-date address. Yeah, we’re pretty pleased!

  3. pcg says:

    “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is a blight on this earth. It is one of the most frustrating, detestable books ever written. Instead of asking what food has ever done to you, you should ask what books ever did to you such that WtEWYE was unleashed on your poor mind.
    Stupid freaking book.

  4. rachel says:

    Your post made me laugh out loud. I’m still laughing even now. 🙂 When I was pregnant with Micah, I craved protein like a fiend. I ate an entire 1 pound of Hickory Farms smoked sausage by myself in one week, and I devoured white flour bagels with cream cheese and white crackers with PB. I cooked brats for myself for evening snacks. The only fruit that I could tolerate was strawberries.
    Now, Micah’s healthy, happy and seems to have survived all of the trauma that I put him through in the womb. So. . . Take that “Best Odds” diet.
    And a warning. . . if you think you’ve escaped the What To Expect diet once you’ve given birth, they have a “Best Odds” diet for nursing moms and one for your new bundle of joy as well. . .

  5. kim says:

    I’ve never heard anything about giving up peanut butter before. I ate peanut butter on English muffins as a daily snack for months when I was pregnant. I also ate a hot dog before I found out I shouldn’t have and little unborn Molly still made it through somehow. I remember eating a lot of chicken salad sandwiches to navigate through the endless lists of “thou shalt nots” on the menu. And to add my criticism of the What to Expect franchise – the What to Expect the First Year had a Best Odds birthday cake recipe that I used last year for Molly and it was the nastiest carrot cake I have ever eaten in my entire life. This year’s birthday carrot cake will be teeming with fat and refined sugar and will presumably be thoroughly edible and mostly unhealthy.

  6. KDC says:

    Hmm, that’s odd – considering that I am still using the same personal email address (which presumably Andy as site administrator has access to) I have been since we met. Anyway, how wonderful!
    I just have to stick up for WTEWYE a little. ANY baby book is going to be filled with ridiculous stuff, just because every baby is different. But we really find the whole series to be pretty reasonable, and maybe they err in going for comprehensiveness rather than one answer to everything. At least it tells you when you’re not actually going crazy, but that your baby’s normal. We did modify our diet a little during the pregnancy, but not to excess. I like eggs, so that was a plus!
    If you really want a crazy book, try “Super Baby Food”. The adjective modifies Baby, not Food. Some of the ideas are actually worth trying, but if you do even close to everything it says for your little one’s first non-milk experiences you will end up in bedlam. Still worthwhile for the ideas, but only as a guide.

  7. michele says:

    Thanks, guys, that makes me feel better about the curly fries I just had to have yesterday. Also, I’m finally getting over this cold and am able to make myself semi-healthy food again…not exactly “Best Odds” level, but oh well.

Leave a Reply