A coworker and friend once announced that I “eat like a pregnant woman”. This endearing comment caught me horribly off guard, as we sat around our blue card table on the blue padded folding chairs that served as our “kitchen set”, which was situated in the middle room of a mold-infested, fifty year old camp cabin that wasn’t intended to be used as a kitchen when it was built, designed, or thought about. At the time I very well could have been pregnant, and her remarks, therefore, did two things: A) sent me into a wild panic about my state of gestation, and 2) made me wonder about my eating habits.
I am not a picky eater; at least, I’ve never let it be a problem when eating. As a youngest child who never wanted to make waves, I learned early in life how to pick out the things I don’t like and choke down the things I couldn’t get away with picking out. What this means for me as an adult is that I am a very good houseguest. I’m meeting my best friend’s mom for the first time and she’s made Melody’s favorite casserole complete with noodles, bread, dried apricots and raisins, then I am very graciously going to eat a small portion and choke down those dried fruits even though they are in a place where they don’t belong; I’m hanging out with the guys and we’ve got a large pizza with mushrooms, sausage, and anchovies, then I am picking the mushrooms and dried fish off and placing them, very sweetly, on the side of someone else’s plate. When I’m feeding myself, it means I eat what I want. And very often I eat in waves.
I mean this in a couple of ways: 1. when I’m feeding myself I will often eat one thing at a time. I will start with noodles, then I’ll cut up some chicken, then I’ll follow it up with some broccoli and carrots, then I’ll finish with raisins (this is the proper place for raisins). B. I exist on cravings. I will go through periods of time where I really only want to drink water; or I want to eat peppers and onions; or I must have a cup of tea and a biscuit every day around 11 p.m., or I eat an entire fresh pineapple because I caught a whiff of it whilst in the produce section.
Currently, I have been craving milk.
Ok, to understand this, you must understand a few things about me and my family. Firstly, when I was growing up we always had either 2% or, later, Whole milk in the house. (I hate skim milk or 1% or fat free or whatever it is called – milk with zero fat is the equivalent of drinking cloudy water as far as I’m concerned and if the water is cloudy my government, common sense and the EPA recommend you don’t drink it.) If I have a choice I will still choose fattier milk. Second, I spend between four and six months of the year living at a different camp. We eat food prepared for approximately 100 people and we drink milk out of either little cartons or a large bag that’s kept in a refrigerated box with a handle you must raise in order to make the milk come spurting out of the tube…. Occasionally, we’re lucky and our cook orders something fun like coffee milk to mix things up. But overall, I’m not drinking all that much milk when I’m at camp. (My mother would here launch into a lecture about osteoporosis and bone density and that I’m losing calcium what with the amount of caffeine I ingest over the course of a routine work day.) Thrice, some time after I graduated from college, after I started living in my parents’ house part-time, my family started drinking Raw Milk.
Let me say this: Raw Milk is delicious. These crazy kooks drive forty five miles weekly just to get unpasteurized, unhomogenized milk harvested from grass-fed Jersey cows. This is the best tasting milk I have ever had in my god-given life (and this includes milk that’s been shaken with syrup and sugar and served ice cold at the soda fountain in Yarmouthport). And it comes in, the environmentalist in my loves this, reusable glass jars. All the health benefits, so many I cannot even retain all of them (something about enzymes and magic ju-ju) and the thing that I love most is the reusable glass jar…
Anyhow, in the past couple of days I have not been able to get enough of this magic milk goodness. (I may have finished off an entire half gallon jar by my loneself this past weekend.) In part it is because I made these killer dark chocolate chocolate chip cookies Sunday night, but it’s also just a craving.
Like how when I return to Suburban Hell after eight to twelve weeks of “roughing it” and I sleep for seemingly days on end, I think my body is just trying to restore itself. It wants and needs calcium and vitamin D, and all that other wholesome stuff found in milk, and my brain knows I can get it properly now that I’m back in Suburban Hell. So my body wants me to chug it like I’ll win a prize for the most consumed.
When I am “roughing it”, I am seriously compromising my health. We work fourteen hour days, we get seven or six hours of sleep every night, we drink more coffee than is good for us, we are constantly going from one temperature to another, we are one minute hoisting stuck kids out of black mud, and bandaging up scraped knees the next. We go from one extreme to the next in only moments. We have a new set of walking petri dishes we must educate and entertain every week, sometimes, twice a week, that are breathing on us, touching us, hugging us and spreading their germs through their sticky, unwashed hands and childlike affection for their not-really-teachers on their field trip. We try to anesthetize these germs, and get a good night’s sleep, by drinking grain alcohol, fermented wheat, or distilled molasses. This further dehydrates us and makes a small part of our bodies cry out in pain.
We often run on caffeine and adrenaline.
Now that I’m over (for the most part) the never ending sleep portion of my recuperation period, I’m into the replenish nutrients portion. Mainly: Calcium and Vitamin D. My body is so whacked out from the sudden stop in momentum, and the switch from being constantly out of doors, to mostly indoors that it requires more vitamin D and needs to wrack up some calcium points. Hence: craving milk.
I wouldn’t say that I eat like a pregnant woman, especially since my sister ate very little when she was preggers and whenever she ate after 6 p.m. she vomited it all back up (I’m not doing that), I just eat in a particular way; a particular way that would be more stable if my lifestyle were more stable. But we’ll try that experiment a little later in life. For now I’m going to ride out my cravings, delight in the fact that I am not pregnant, and wonder what my next craving will be. I’m probably low on vitamin C, but seeing how I don’t eat or enjoy citrus fruit I wonder what I will want to eat next.
For now, get me some milk!
*Zombie Cow actually says “Steaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaak!” but I’m not craving steak…. yet.