I think I ate fruits and vegetables like 10 times the first day my MIL was staying with S and I. It was soooo good to have someone around to keep us company. But my MIL’s real specialty is nutrition. Her meal planning takes into account micronutrients and vitamins and fiber and iron and sodium and everything there is to account for if you are Dr. Oz and the NIH. I haven’t eaten this healthfully since… last time M cooked for me. Here is what I know now: 1) Brazil nuts are a good source of selenium 2) a vitamin B deficiency causes grey hair 3) I eat too much butter.
The first day M was here I pulled out the lasagna B made for me as a token of his love, regret, and guilt at having to leave us for ten days and I microwaved it and offered it up for lunch as a token of my weary, cheese-lovin’, sleep-deprived hunger. I scarfed the hunk of white flour noodles glued together with whole milk cheese. I suddenly felt dirty. When was the last time I ate something green? Yep, peanut M&Ms don’t count.
I was eating pretty well a couple of months ago. The new task of making milk to feed my precious little nugget had made me crave carrot sticks and brussels sprouts. Back then I was anxious to get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. Gradually, though, I’ve been relying more and more on calorie dense foods that have a high energy to chewing ratio. I feel like a deep fried Snickers is a good invention for new moms. You could get a bazillion calories into your body in between propping up the kiddo with a toy on the floor, throwing clothes into the washing machine, and putting seven rolls of toilet paper next to the toilet. Plus, you really deserve an evening in a hot tub under the stars in a mountain resort with a massage, wine, and a book, but what you have time for is a handful of deep fried chocolate-covered peanuts and sugar.
This food desert I currently call my house, was obviously not going to cut it for M’s stay. M and I went grocery shopping. Oh right, there’s another problem with my food situation. I used to find grocery shopping exhausting. Now I have to do it with a 20-pound baby strapped to me, so I don’t do it as often as I should. Anyway, we came home with so many phytonutrients that Michael Pollan would have been wide-eyed in amazement. But I couldn’t just go cold turkey off of my sugar/salt/butter/cheese diet.
While M was here, I had to go underground and be all ninja with my feeding strategies. She’s not a judgmental person, but I couldn’t bring myself to be real about my food choices in front of her because she cannot help but tell you something horrible that the item you just put in your mouth is going to do to your body and life. We ate a quinoa vegetable soup one night and when M left the room briefly, I ran to the salt shaker and loaded up my bowl before she got back. For a visual, I’ll add that I had a baby in my left arm as I ground the salt over the soup. When M took a trip outside to dump the compost, I stuffed a bunch of chocolate chips into a bag of pecans and cranberries (and some in my face) so that she would be inclined to think I was eating a healthy snack, instead of the camouflaged chocolate I was picking out of the mix. At one point I finished off a tub of Kozy Shack tapioca pudding, squatting on the floor next to the fridge, while she wasn’t looking. Just a few minutes before she had laughed at the fact that it was even in my fridge (which reminded me that I wanted to eat it always).
Listen, I’m hungry these days with all the milk making and baby bouncing. I also want ice cream and chocolate chip cookies to make me happy. I’ve been declaring it a dietary triumph when I eat a peanut butter sandwich. But I must admit that my energy level has gotten a little low and I generally just don’t feel well, so I’m glad M reminded me that there are things like avocados and broccoli in the world. I’ve gotta eat more vegetables. And since she’s visited, I’m happy to report that we have had an excellent week of well-balanced, colorful meals. I started meal planning (using the note application on my SMART phone… This thing is earning it’s keep!) so we can have a stocked fridge and a whole lot less stress around dinner time when B used to ask, “So what should we have for dinner?” And I would scream at the top of my lungs (in my head), “Look in the fridge for gods sake!” Now I say, “Oh, why just check the meal plan I sent to your email, my dearest.” (Smile. Flutter eyelashes.) It’s been a humongous improvement. Humongous.
But there will always be Ben and Jerry’s in the plan.