Food and Mental Health

I’ve talked a bit before about the importance of a warm meal in helping you feel human. Well, turns out it’s not just a morale booster. A lack of good food can actually screw with your brain chemistry.

Kate’s been slowly sliding into deeper and deeper depression since we lost the ability to cook food. Today, it took four hours before she could even climb out from under her blanket and get out of the car. Most people can get the nutrition they need from a variety of sources. But because Kate’s diet is so restrictive, she can basically eat meats. Specifically chicken or fish.

Well, we found out the other day that she can eat spam, so we’re going to try feeding her that later today. And the power inverter that will let us cook food again should be here in the next few days. So it won’t be much longer.

It’s weird. You don’t think about things like this when you have a home and plenty to eat. Or at least, I never did. I always had more than I needed. Too much, actually. I have a pretty bad food addiction.

See, growing up, no one ever bothered to teach me about nutrition. Instead, they taught me (as many southern households do) that you finish whatever’s on your plate whether you’re full or not. Your needs don’t matter. Only appearances do. There’s starving kids in Africa, don’t you know, who would kill to eat like you do, so don’t waste it.

So I never got to learn how much was enough and what my body’s signals meant. I was taught to ignore my body’s signals and overeat. So that’s what I’d do. I learned to associate eating with doing a good job, so when I was depressed, I’d eat so I could feel good. Now, I don’t know any other way to cope with stress.

That was a huge struggle for me living with Kate’s folks. It was constant stress, so I was constantly eating. I’d order delivery, then I’d get shamed for spending money, and then I’d have to order more to help deal with the shame.

I still struggle with it. I crave delivery like other people crave sunlight and social interaction. I make myself sick on cheap breads and cereals because it’s the only way I know to relax. And the more sick and depressed Kate gets, the more I need my fix.

Just a few more days. Just a few more days, and then we can both have a nice big plate of chicken and potatoes.


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