As we mentioned in our last post, it's been a few months of fairly consistent poor health at LB HQ, which has made healthy eating difficult (and, at times, not even a priority). But while the occasional round of pizza or delivery might truly hit the spot, we all know that week after week of grilled cheese, cereal and pasta is going to have you feeling less than stellar. So when faced with a stomach that would curdle at the very thought of a raw vegetable or the smell of anything "diet" / "fake", and energy levels that could barely contemplate buttering toast, I had to get inventive about my meals.
So here are a few ways I managed to health-ify the carby, rich food I craved so intensely in the thick of unrelenting nausea.
I should note that mine was not the kind of nausea that wouldn't tolerate any food; rather, eating (usually) made me feel better, as long as I ate the right things, and didn't wait too long between meals. Low blood sugar is not your friend when your hormones are out of whack, but neither are grease-laden meals that will sit in your stomach for far too long after you've eaten them. Also, as I mentioned in the last post, I generally felt better in the morning, actually (pretty common apparently), so I tried to eat as healthily as I could in the AM/lunch.
But by dinner, all I wanted was to dive into a Chicago-style deep dish...except not.
I knew that the things I really wanted - nachos, grilled cheese (known as toasties here in the UK), pizza, cheeseburgers...I knew these things might make me feel ok temporarily, but were likely to feel far worse after the fact. But, you can take ELEMENTS of these awesome comfort foods and use them to create something both palatable and not entirely devoid of nutrition content. And you can even do this if you want to truly minimise the amount of actual cooking you are doing and fire up the Seamless/Deliveroo.
Here are the nuts & bolts:
Your body wants simple carbs, protein and fat. Which is why anything on white bread/pasta sounds amazing, and will generally do the trick. The protein/fat component is important; without much of either of those, you'll just fall into a white-carb induced coma once your blood sugar crashes. Which is why this post could have also been called The Sleep Hack I Took From Cat Marnell's How To Murder Your Life that Helped Me Manage My Morning Sickness. Seriously, if you have any interest in beauty, women's magazines, fashion gossip, the culture of addiction and drugs or generally train wreck stories, you need to read this book. Shout out to Cat for the white-carb sleep hack!
The best way I found to approach this triumvirate of stomach-tamers was to pair a decent amount of carbs with a decent amount of protein, and control the amount of fat you're adding - this is the grease portion that can potentially tip you over the edge from comfortably sated to feeling nasty and heavy. Portion control generally helps too.
So for me, that meant really limiting things like cheese and nut butter where fat and protein are combined, and instead opting for simple protein options where I could add fat in the ratio I desired. So think no melted cheesy-things (including sadly cheeseburgers), cheesy pizzas or nut butter sandwiches, and more things like regular hamburgers, cheesiness pizza (it can be good guys I promise!), simple pastas or jacket (baked) potatoes with a protein on top. My personal go-to was fish & chips. Even just thinking about this now...YES. In many places, you can order it grilled instead of fried, or simply pick off the battered topping if you are in company that will tolerate this sort of behaviour. But honestly, feeling as bad as I did, no one was going to comment on my table manners! Then I'd add a bit of fat in a proportion that I thought my stomach could handle - things like olive oil, mayo (yes I decided that, in my own home, this was fine for me to eat), butter...maybe a bit of avocado if the texture was right (it usually wasn't). And things like chips (or fries) and burgers had enough fat in them that I didn't have to add much; they pretty much hit the spot as they were.
I'd also try to sneak in some veg where I could - mushy peas worked well, and sometimes I could handle wilted spinach or roasted cauliflower. Sometimes not though, and I never pushed it. As much as I could, I tried to stick to small portions and get in quality protein, which did always make me feel much, much better.
Because I wasn't eating huge amounts of greens (especially raw greens), I would try to get green drinks in when I could. Smoothies were a no-go - too much pulp! But juices were fine. The Leafy Greens juice from Planet Organic (all greens with some lemon juice) went down really well, and once I realised that, I started combining liquid chlorophyl with lemon water at home. So refreshing, and I felt I was getting some of my green goodness in (even if I couldn't eat it). The chlorophyl I picked also had a slightly minty flavour, which was nice.
And that's really it! Hope this helps anyone out there who is struggling. You can do it! It does get better, I promise. And if you actually do want to dive into that pizza, go for it. One thing that will certainly make someone already ailing feel worse is guilt, so whatever you pick, try to enjoy it as much as you can!