So I’ve been in a food black hole recently. One simple fodmap mistake where I assumed I could eat the ramen at Wagamama if I didn’t actually drink the broth led to a day of such awful symptoms I couldn’t get out of bed or stop crying. Which in my dazed brain fogged exhausted state led to another fodmap mistake and then rinse and repeat for three weeks until I was demented.
Then it all triggered off such horrible eating disorder symptoms I couldn’t even think about food without guilt, panic, shame and fear. When everything you eat makes you violently ill, you become frightened of eating. Every mouthful is like Russian roulette and you lose faith in your ability to feed yourself rather than poison yourself.
For someone with a restrictive eating disorder that is basically an enormous trigger right there and my response to withdraw from food. I no longer completely stop eating like I used to but I lose any connection or interest in food and only eat it as fuel. A ham and cheese sandwich here or plain meat there.
It’s like food and cooking loses its senses for me. The colours, textures, smells and tastes go and everything becomes fraught and miserable. Instead of my usual fodmap Pollyanna view of concentrating on what I can still eat, I can only see food as denial. Having to eat becomes a chore not a pleasure.
The one silver lining has been able to finally see how intimately linked my eating disorder is with my physical health and I’m more able to see the roots of why I’ve restricted food for so long. But realisations only take you so far when you can’t change certain things about your life like simply being healthy again and not needing to exclude specific foods in the first place.
Unsurprisingly I felt quite stuck and lacking in answers so I turned to the two people I trust most, both of whom have eating disorders too. And like you hope people you love will do they were incredibly supportive and had a potential solution for me in the shape of veganism.
Yes, that’s right. Veganism. Before you splutter over your cuppa that I’ve lost my tiny mind, let me explain. The veganism isn’t for me Miss Queen Carnivore but for my best friend. She’s a wonderful (vegan) person who is a terrible cook while I love to cook and can’t eat most things. Me making food for her is a match made in heaven frankly. She gets to eat in a way that helps her ED and I get to cook in a way that helps mine.
It’s been brilliant so far. Once I got past the slightly disturbing realisation that veganism is less restrictive than my own fodmap diet, I was full of ideas and the urge to cook with vegetables. The potential for cooking with pulses and veg is just unlimited and much much cheaper to base meals on than meat, although stocking up the ingredients to make them interesting and non repetitive isn’t especially inexpensive and tricky if you don’t have a specialist shop nearby.
The first week I made the one and only fodmap friendly vegan meal I’ve managed to create so far in the shape of a roasted vegetable pie with mustard and white wine sauce and vegan suet crust as my BFF and I were eating together. But then I got properly into it and created in two weeks:
- Marmite pumpkin seeds
- Callalloo and olive chickpea quiche
- Fried plantain
- Plantain and carrot corn muffins
- Pumpkin, callaloo and pearl barley stew
- Pumpkin, freekeh and white bean stew
- Roast tomato and spinach chickpea quiche
- Tomato, kale and bean soup with black olives
- Spinach and kale polpette with pumpkin seed pesto
- Broccoli slaw with lemon poppyseed dressing
- Parsnip spiced muffins
This week I’m trying vegan Yorkshire puddings to go with vegan Glamorgan sausages and onion gravy. It feels weird and unfamiliar to chop an onion (and I have to be fastidious about cross contamination on my behalf) but an utter utter joy to be back to cooking. I can’t eat any of what I cook even to taste it but I feel so at home. My anxiety is less, my concentration is better, I feel purposeful and creative and best of all, someone I love is well fed and hasn’t hated anything yet. So expect more vegan recipes here as I go.
Now all I need are some good podcast ideas to keep me company in the kitchen…