Things in Erin’s Head
You know how much I love food, right?
Over the past few days the meals have been… fighting me.
Or I’ve somehow become misaligned with food.
Or my stove is possessed.
Whatever the reason, one night this week Jerry peered over the counter toward the stove and said, “What’s for dinner?” and when I responded he said, “Why does it look like that?”
It was chili verde. A very simple, foolproof recipe that I break out when either A) Jerry and I have split schedules because it can hang out on the stove; B) I’m very tired because it takes like zero prep. And it’s pretty hard to make it funky.
But I did. In spectacular fashion.
The usually light green, tangy salsa-sauce was brown and slightly bitter in the way that you know something, somewhere along the way was charred (okay, okay, it was burned). Gobs of sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese saved us from a “shit we need to order a pizza,” moment, but it’s always especially disheartening when you are expecting a flavor and you just don’t get it.
And the night before was no better. A recipe I have made 1,000 times just turned out – BAD.
When food turns against me – when my LOVE LANGUAGE turns against me – it makes me take pause. The feeling was very much reminiscent of my relationship with food as a Caregiver.
When I was deep in Caregiving mode I did not want to cook (I did not want to eat, either).
I did not want to plan meals.
I did not want to chop.
I most certainly did not want to shop.
I absolutely, most definitely did not want to CLEAN.
So food, my beloved food, became my nemesis.
In my book, “Welcome to Caregiving: The Things Caregivers Never Talk About” I dedicated an entire section just to FOOD. Because in the acute phases of a crisis, communities tend to come together to feed those in suffering. There are lasagnas and casseroles abound (wait, is lasagna a casserole??). But feelings of grief, exhaustion, and overwhelm tend to outlast the culinary gestures of love and support.
So what is a Caregiver to do?
A few quick tips from my book:
After Jerry’s transplant and near death experience with Graft vs Host Disease, when I was finally ready to get back in the kitchen, Jerry and I decided to do a meal kit subscription. I wasn’t strong enough (mentally or physically) for planning and shopping and meal kits were a fun way for Jerry and I to connect and choose what we wanted to eat for the upcoming week(s). It was something we could start doing together. Jerry would chop. I would sauté. It reduced grocery shopping to the basic necessities and I wasn’t having to search my cupboards to make sure I had all the ingredients to create a particular recipe. Through the detailed, illustrated instruction cards I also had the benefit of someone (in a test kitchen far, far away) telling me what to do – so I didn’t have to THINK. I keep this resource in my back pocket for anytime I get super-crazy-busy and am feeling overwhelmed.
During the process of writing my book, anytime I got cranky or overwhelmed, and wanted to chuck it all in a giant bonfire, my mentor and coach Kim Galloway would always (ALWAYS) say: “Rule #1 – Have you eaten?” Many times it would annoy me. Majority of the time she was right. Having snacks on hand when you are going through it – as a Caregiver (or a writer) – can make or break your entire day. Nuts, carrot sticks, cheese, and water. Small, transportable, and preferably something you can munch without too much of a mess because you KNOW the minute you bite into that juicy peach a doctor is going to enter the hospital room to give you an update and you’ll be a dribbling, sticky mess trying to jot down all the notes…
I have yet to compile a collection of Caregiver recipes. My heart keeps fluttering at this idea and maybe I just need to start a Pinterest board of quick, easy, and (relatively) healthy meals that won’t torture our dear Caregivers. What do you think?
Because Food is my Love Language… and
It’s all about love…
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