TW Eating Disorder, Emetophobia
Back at the beginning of lockdown in March 2020, my mom made nachos one day.
It was the most innocuous thing ever. I just saw her eating nachos at the table and I thought they looked tasty. So the following day, I made myself some nachos…and then again two days later…and then one week later. And suddenly, nachos were my go-to lunch. Even if I wasn’t craving them (which I did regularly after that fateful day), they were a great lunch option if there was nothing else that I wanted in the house, especially when my mom had made pulled beef, so I could put said pulled beef on the nachos…yum!
Of course I’ve cycled through several other go-to foods since then (chocolate animal crackers, peanut butter M&Ms, whatever fruits were in season), but none really could qualify as a “meal” besides nachos. Plus, making lunch can mean taking too much time from my computer in the middle of my workday. Nachos only take a few minutes to make and are easy to eat from my computer, so they’re a pretty ideal lunch food for the middle of the week.
Since I started working with my dietician Kelsey and started practicing intuitive eating, I have been trying to primarily only eat things that I want to eat. Let me just say that this was challenging even before I lost my taste due to COVID. When I got hungry, I would cycle through everything I could think of in the house to see if I wanted to eat any of it, but a lot of the time, I couldn’t quite pinpoint what I wanted. Not following intuitive eating, I would normally just skip lunch, even if I was hungry, because I just couldn’t come up with anything that I wanted. That’s where nachos came in. No matter what mood I was in or what I was craving in particular, my body was always happy to scarf down some chips with cheese melted on them!
Interestingly enough, my mom and I used to snack on nachos pretty frequently when I was younger, but we just called them “chips with cheese” because that’s all they really were. We weren’t super fancy. Some chips, Mexican blend cheese, and then some salsa or sour cream for dipping. We would just share a tray of chips with cheese while watching TV. I’ve only recently realized that what we once called “chips with cheese” are technically just really basic nachos.
Now that I’m an adult and for the most part just making nachos for myself, I’ve had to learn how to scale down. I don’t know about you, but I’m always tempted to fill up the entire toaster tray with a mountain of chips and cheese. That’s just too much for one person, though! And you know that if I make a whole tray of nachos, I’m eating every single one no matter how overstuffed I feel. So I started noticing how much of a tray I usually eat and being more careful about how many chips I put on the tray when making them. It took some trial and error to figure out exactly how many chips I normally eat.
Also, as someone who suffers from emetophobia (fear of vomit), nachos made at home are a pretty safe food. Especially when just making them with tortilla chips and Mexican blend shredded cheese (and we go through bags of that fast so you know it hasn’t been in the fridge too long), it’s pretty easy to tell if your ingredients are bad before you even taste them. And when nothing tastes right to begin with and you can’t tell if things are spoiled, it’s comforting to have those safe foods.
When I first caught COVID back in late January, my taste almost completely went away. I pretty much always could taste sweet, but besides sweet foods, I gravitated towards foods that had a pleasant texture and nachos kinda went to the wayside. However, I have recently moved into a new phase of taste issues. Now, almost all foods taste and smell like plastic! PLASTIC!
As if I thought it couldn’t get any worse when COVID was changing my relationship with food because I couldn’t taste anything, now almost everything tastes like plastic!? I never thought I’d be wishing for the days when food tasted like nothing, but here we are. When I go to eat now, I obviously want to have foods that don’t taste like plastic. Sweets and starches are mostly safe, but I need protein! I’ve started eating nachos regularly again since they don’t taste as plasticy as most other foods. Once again, nachos reign supreme in my diet as an easy way to make something I can actually eat that helps me get a bit of nutrition without tasting awful.
Oh nachos, I don’t even have the words to describe my undying love for you. You are there for me always: when I want to eat a snack but need to eat a meal, when I just want to eat melted cheese but need some sort of vehicle for it, when I don’t have time to cook but need to eat something, and even when everything else tastes like plastic. You’re always there with your comforting predictability and gooey deliciousness. My mom and I used to share you all the time while watching TV, and now we share you while standing in the kitchen talking about houses I might buy. You bring people together, no matter their age.
Do you have a magical nacho-type food in your life? What is your go-to meal to make when you don’t know what else to have?