Why Does Eating Alone Seem Such A Blessing And A Curse?

I love the idea of it, but putting it in practise is always much more difficult than I anticipate.
Publish date:
August 13, 2013
xoFood, crohns disease, eating, decision making is not my forte, dining alone

Food. I talk about it a lot. Maybe a bit too much. Sorry.

I am definitely in the throes of a post-Crohn's flare disordered eating pattern. I know this, but that doesn't make it any less annoying. What I mean by a "post-Crohn's flare disordered eating pattern" is that at the moment, as part of my relief and excitement at being able to eat pretty much whatever I want following months of being on a strict diet of chicken and white bread, I have real fixations on certain foods, or place such high importance on meal times that they actually lose all their lustre and leave me feeling empty and confused.

For example, at the moment, Chris has a long commute to work. Because of this, he stays overnight one day a week with a friend who lives close to his office. This means that for that one night a week, I am left to my own devices for dinner -- I can eat completely selfishly, without a giving a single tiny little fuck about what anyone else wants. I don't have to think about what time we'll eat, because there is just me, myself and I to worry about.

I've not always been in a cohabiting relationship of course - I have lived with a flatmate and cooked for myself every night of the week before. This concept isn't new to me at all, and it never used to be a problem.

But now, now I am close enough to my flare-up to be able to remember very clearly what it's like to be very hungry and not be able to eat anything apart from a couple of chicken nuggets, I don't want to waste a second. I don't want to waste this weekly opportunity to indulge myself. The thought of skipping this weekly meal makes me actually feel a little panicky -- like it's a completely wasted evening if I don't spend it lovingly creating and then devouring something that I wouldn't usually eat.

This in itself poses a problem. I've set myself up to be disappointed! I feel like this meal has to embody something really special every week, and if it isn't truly, completely spectacular then I've failed. FAILED! If I'm not punching the air after every bite, then I've wasted A WHOLE WEEK. I've wasted time! And you know what you can't ever get back? TIME! I'VE WASTED MY LIFE. My life in one meal.

The first couple of weeks Chris was away was easy. I simply had my favourite "freezer tea" of chicken kiev, baked potato and baked beans. Easy. Delicious. My favourite mid-week tea that I didn't often have with Chris as I prefer to cook "properly" for us both.

Then I went with the "kids tea' choice of 'dippy eggs and soldiers," because it reminded me of having tea at my grandparent's house when I was much younger.

Then, I went with the "What can I eat for dinner that Chris wouldn't in a million years?" angle. I concluded that he probably wouldn't eat a sandwich for dinner, so I plumped for that. But I couldn't just go for any old sandwich! No! I spent hours (genuinely) Google searching "World's best sandwich," "best gourmet sandwich recipes" and pretty much every other variant on "freaking amazing sandwiches" that there could be in the whole of the Internet.

I chose a recipe, modified it to my own tastes and then spent a small fortune in Marks and Spencer's buying the best ingredients I could lay my hands on for every component of this sandwich.

I ended up with probably the best sandwich I'd ever tasted; slowly pan fried onions, roast topside of beef warmed in the pan with the onion juices, melted mozzarella cheese oozing over the "San Franciscan-style" (what does that even mean?) sour-dough bread that cost me about three quid alone. It was a triumph in sandwiches, a true foodies delight. But I'd psyched myself up for it so much that by the time I actually went to eat it, my appetite had gone. I ate about a quarter of it and felt sick.

Then, the next week, I went for the "eating out at somewhere I wouldn't usually go during the week." I chose KFC, because it seemed like the slutty, naughty choice, and spent all day thinking about it. I ate it, and then what? I felt a kind of emptiness. It hadn't filled the hole I wanted it to.

Today, I am at the same predicament that I find myself in every week. I want desperately to not care, to see my dinner just as fuel to get me through the evening, but I can't. It's an opportunity that I can't miss.

So what to have? A packet mix of stuffing, alone? A whole cake? A Subway? Or do I walk into a shop, pick up the first thing I see and just force myself to eat that, like it doesn't matter? Because I can't seem to shake the feeling that it does. And that scares me a little bit.

Tweetin' and eatin' -- @Natalie_KateM