Have you ever just lost interest in food? (kinda long and a little whiney)
[Moved from General Chowhounding Topics - The Chowhound Team]
This is sort of weird. I'm nearly 60 and have been a 'hound since my early 20s. Loved to eat, loved to dine out at the best places. Vacations have always been planned around where the best food could be found - Paris, Rome, New Orleans, San Francisco, Montreal , etc.
And I'm a good cook. When we invite friends and family to dinner, there's never any hesitation on their part. In fact, my nieces frequently call to ask if they can come over and bring friends for a meal. Our huge family get-togethers (pig roasts and holiday meals) are always big events and my husband and I nearly always cook everything ourselves (he's my sous-chef). I just don't believe in catering a party. I mean, my philosophy has always been 'why invite people to your home if you're not going to feed them something you've made?'
Now I've started this diet (Jenny Craig) and have begun to lose weight. Yay. But, without making any concerted effort, I've discovered that my interest in food, in general, has lessened. I suppose I've stopped looking at eating as entertainment. I subscribe to just about every food magazine there is and reading them has become a bit of a bore, since I know I'm not even going to attempt to prepare any of the luscious-looking dishes they feature. I'm not sure how I feel about this.
Three of my nieces are coming for a visit next weekend and, ordinarily, I'd have already put together menus for the entire weekend, timelines and a shopping list. I know they're going to be expecting a big deal dinner and my heart just isn't in it. I definitely can't see feeding them salad and poached chicken breast. Which makes me wonder if I've lost the passion to cook or if I'm just reacting to the knowledge that, whatever I prepare for my company, I'm not going to be able to eat any of it.
I want to lose 50 pounds and I still want to be everybody's favorite aunt. Does this sound familiar to anyone out there? Would love some encouraging words.
Yes, it does sound familiar. About two years ago I made a concerted effort to eat less, and eat a little more heathily, and exercise more (I realize that may sound like a strange lifestyle choice). :)
One of the biggest changes I made was to bring a small salad and a small side (eg yogurt, piece of fruit, etc) to lunch with me everyday. At first this wasn't enough food and I'd get hungry around 3pm. Later I got used to it and found that this smaller lunch was quite filling.
But another change I noticed is that I stopped thinking about my day as a succession of meals. Previously I'd wake up and think about the great thing I was going to make myself for breakfast, and the great joint I'd go for lunch, etc... After I started to eat less, I noticed that I wasn't thinking about the excitment about my next meal nearly as much.
I wouldn't say I lost interest in food. My chowhound spirit was as alive as ever.
I can relate to this. When I'm not busy, food becomes the focus point of my day - where am I going to have lunch, which specialty stores will I stop off at, to the point of worrying about the right ingredients and having the "best" of a certain ethnic dish a little obsessively. In the words of a picky eater friend, "food was my friend," even though I wasn't yet overweight. In fact, one of the main reasons I stayed in New York was for the food.
After taking the plunge to graduate school, I am lucky if I feel like cooking or if I can find some top quality ingredients when I need them. Of course I lost about 6 pounds in the first month. And what do you know, where I live now there's better Indian though I haven't yet heard about any good Chinese food.
Perhaps you're right-- maybe I had lost interest in the foods that I could have while I was on a not-really-but-I-guess-I'm-on-a-diet-after-all-diet. I think, however, that I really *wanted* not to want the foods I couldn't have. It was easier to convince myself that food was boring and that I shouldn't even bother trying to have what I didn't (not really) want and followed my routine of: a half-cup of non-fat cottage cheese and lemon in the morning, not-so-fresh-veggies during the day, and underseasoned grilled chicken with some veggies at night. Can you tell I was at a terrible dining hall?
That being said, however, I normally have a cup of freshly-blended fruit juice with yogurt and flaxseed for breakfast, a salad or random Korean banchan for lunch, fruit and sometimes kabocha around 6, and usually a salad or something rather light for dinner. I think it's relatively healthy, but I now plan meals and have fun with food again. And if I have something that isn't so great, I plan it out and make allowances for it.
It is difficult to keep food as a primary focus in life and still fit into your pants, etc. It makes it a lot easier to lose weight if you are simply uninterested in food - that's for sure. An ex-boyfriend would "forget to eat" - he'd come to my house and not feel so well and I'd say "hmm, did you eat something funny" and he'd say "no, I forgot to eat today". Needless to say - he was rail thing - but was he happy??
Don't worry Deenso - you'll be all too interested again, all too soon - it's like writers worrying that therapy will cure them of their "gift" - a diet won't cure you of your love of food.
Deenso, I know exactly how you feel. Somehow I get involved in total 'Burn Out Pursuits'. I was a high flying consultant for the food biz. Then, I spent 3 years of my life on the campaign trail. Then, I would have dinner parties at least once a month.
I hit the wall COMPLETELY on all those things. Things I thought I enjoyed. But eventually just got sick of and quit. Like you, I went through a major life change in order to quit (I began my work towars a masters degree) and the CLEAN break has been surprisingly easy for me.
Still, I do really enjoy the food business (I ADORE grocery stores and recently signed up to be a CI grocery shopper... We'll see... LOL!) and Politics (Going to a big political convention this weekend) and of course making dinner (Although my audience nowadays is mainly my SO). But I've slowed down my pace on all these things and do them on my terms and only when I have the time and interest.
I think your neices will understand and be fine that they don't recieve a three course gourmet meal everynight of their visit. But I'm sure you will find youself in the groove once again when you decide on the night that you can go all out on your visit! :)
Oh my Deenso, you are playing my song - that is, until this past year. Until this time, my only way to lose weight was to try to ignore food. It seemed counterproductive to read magazines & books about food and not be able to try it. Traveling was a bear! After being widowed and alone for four years, I met a wonderful man and have cooked my little heart out for him since we married. Almost literally! We each put on thirty-plus pounds and finally called a "Halt" to our "Eat What You Want Because You Too Might Die Tomorrow" attitude.
For the past year, we have eschewed dessert at home, substituting fruit on a nightly basis. I've tried to make lemonade out of lemons, finding creative ways to bump up nutrition & flavor while cutting calories. We have no magic solutions, no recognizable diet plan a la Atkins, South Beach etc. Just the will to make some changes as painlessly as possible. Last night's dinner: sauteed pork tenderloin steaks w/ mustard-caper sauce, broccoli cauliflower and carrot gratin with a wheat berry Greek salad and fresh Bing cherries for dessert.
Each of us has probably lost hundreds of pounds over our lifetimes - 20 here, 10 there, etc. and know that any "diet" is bound to fail for us as it always has. We'll lose the weight and, bam, it is right back on before we know it -- posterchildren for the yo-yo syndrome. This time, we have simply made fundamental changes - at home, most of the time. Traveling is another story and ditto for holidays. My heart still pants for chocolate and I try to eat a taste of something truly wonderful instead of larger slabs of mediocre. A really great chile relleno will always command my attention and I would rather eat yogurt and black coffee for breakfast than pass it up, so I don't.
As far as company goes, you can still make the salad and chicken breasts for your three visiting nieces, just do it differently than the plain diet variety. Give them some additions like a couple of sauces for the Tandoori chicken and make the salad a platter salad so that everyone chooses what they want. When I make something wonderfully caloric for company, like an over-the-top white lasagna, we just take small servings and savor each morsel. Also, I find that I am more picky about ingredients. Tonight, we're having grilled veal chops and they are exquisite. The baby spinach will be wilted in olive oil with garlic and bits of prosciutto and the fingerling potatoes will be browned and simmered in chicken broth & vermouth making a reduction when they're cooked.
It sounds like you are on the right path but at a crossroad. With apologies to Mr. Shakespeare, "To Diet or Not To Diet", is the question. We decided, to quite literally, have our cake and eat it too. This takes energy and determination which I find in short supply during the Arizona summer but have gritted my teeth and will keep trying. It isn't glamorous, we don't talk about "our diet" when we're with others but we're learning to make different choices. Easy? No, but worth it, so far.
Good Luck. I wish you well.
P.S. I have let some of the cookery magazines lapse and am reading "Ulysses" instead of Tony Bourdain this summer.
Thank you, everybody, for your thoughtful responses. I guess I just have to give this whole thing some deep thought and discuss it during my 20 minutes with my diet counselor next week. I'm sure he's heard it all and will probably have some good advice, as well.
As for my upcoming weekend company, I will simply have to believe that they're coming 'cause they love us, not just my cooking, and that they will be content with something a little lighter than the usual fare they've come to expect chez nous. This will just be a new challenge and I'm now up for it.
I definitely know where you're coming from Deenso! It's a constant struggle between loving food and planning days around meals and cooking, and not wanting food to be the focus of my life so that I can lose weight and perhaps not be obsessed. A couple of things I do: focus on fresh fruit and vegetables and what's in season, and how I can prepare these things in new ways while still being healthy; try to eat small portions of things you really like, so as not to give them up entirely; enjoy the smells/sights of food, like at the farmer's market, so you can still appreciate it. Can you try a program like Weight Watchers instead of Jenny Craig, so that you're not eating frozen food, but still getting some support and guidance? That way you can be more creative with your food choices and incorporate the things you really like. Just a thought...
Hang in there; it'll get better!
I lose interest in food a couple of times a year. It simply becomes fuel. I have to make myself read cookbooks and think about it again in order to develop any inspiration.
Sounds like the act of cooking is as important to you as consuming the food, so think up some things your nieces enjoyed during previous visits and do them again. You might be inspired anew.
My dad died of colon cancer in 1988 so I've tried very hard to have a low-fat diet but still cook awesome meals for my (now) ex-spouse and currently 3 appreciative sons. So...what does that mean? I've tried to eat less red meat, easy for me, I love chicken & fish and try to have 2 or 3 non-meat meals each week now using either beans or tofu or polenta, etc....have also decided on smaller portions but you know, I still want food that "doesn't suck" to quote Beavis & Butthead and so do my sons...I would encourage you to seek out foods that taste awesome but don't add a lot fat or calories, say Dijon Mustard instead of mayo, for example....for me, I love chipotle chilies which add such smokey hot flavors to foods but really, no added fats. We all fall into cooking slumps...reach out as you are doing...there are so many ways to eat healthy these days without compromising flavor...it's a matter of re-education.
For me my food-love and especially my will to cook waxes and wanes. I think that's normal. And could well have something to do with your diet or could just be a normal wane.
I don't mean any disrespect at all, but I do know we lose taste buds as we age and that can lead to disinterest in food, as well. (it's why kids hate veggies and we love them...they aren't as bitter to us)
You are going to be the favorite aunt even without the food, I have no doubt.
Lots of thoughtful responses here. It could be your body adjusting to your new diet, it could be burn out, it could be the simple waxing and waning of interest as other things capture your attention for the time being. And the tastebuds comment from krissywats is true, too.
I have experienced all three, but my most recent period of lack of interest in food was coupled initially by what I thought was my body adjusting to my returning to my lower-carb, gluten free diet-- except that it lasted a lot longer (months, rather than weeks) than it should. I eventually went to the doctor because I was concerned about blood sugar issues from not eating in light of some other health problems I've got, and it turned out I was having a flare up of a health problem from the past that I'd forgotten all about. So if your disinterest lasts longer than perhaps you think it "should," please consider going to get a physical, just in case...
When I'm totally not interested in food, I find Japanese food, esp. miso soup, veggie sushi, and plain short grain rice, do stimulate the appetite, as do tropical fruits and cheese sticks. (yeah, cheese sticks, I know...)
Good luck with your visiting family. I am sure it will be a wonderful visit, regardless.
Oh dear, all of this is familiar, I had a similar response when I had to change the way I eat.
For me the result was depression and that made it very hard to get excited about eating. So many things were excluded and what remained was not interesting. As a chowhound I spend most of my time thinking about and anticipating what I'm going to eat next, such is the pleasure of life for those who live to eat.
Perhaps your situation is different but I can tell you, after some time, I've learned to anticipate aspects of my changed diet with great pleasure. Indeed, the challenge of learning to prepare new foods in new styles has been liberating ... there's always so much to learn.
I know this probably going to come to a surprise to people, but I'm like that all the time!! That is why I think I'm an adventurous hound, I'm ALWAYS ready for something new because I never want anything in particular. Then I surprise myself when I get something and it actually is tasty...
Case in point, Last night I went out to search for dinner on my own. I literally got into the car and began to drive with absolutely no idea where to go. Then I began to think that for lunch I had a pretty heavy meal, so I should go for something light. I ended up at Good Stuff in El Segundo and came home with some really yummy and light things SO loved. :) My SO didn't get this when we first started dating, so I explained to him that my food choices are always more 'calculated' that actually food driven...
As you can tell, you are not alone! I've never had to change the way I eat for a diet or anything, but my interest in food and cooking, like Krissywats, definitely goes up and down. I definitely "feel bad" about it when it goes down and it makes me sad, but then I go through another stage when I'm right back in the thick of things. Lately, it seems the heat is taking a toll not on my love of talking about, reading about, watching food, but more on my wanting to eat and cook. But, then other times, I will go through a stage where I get tired of it all, especially the food snobbishness (this is when I want to rebel and eat at Chili's or something!) Just like with life, there are ups and downs. It helps to have the "support group" of Chowhounds and know that I'm not alone. It's usually something I've read on Chowhound that often brings me back too.
As far as cooking for your nieces, I would just try to enjoy your time with them... if you are having fun, they will have fun. My grandma hardly ever cooks anymore and this makes me extremely sad, but above all else, I just enjoy spending time with her. I don't know how old your nieces are, but maybe you can get them involved in the cooking process... this might make it more fun for everyone. Even though my grandma rarely cooks now, she still enjoys food, so now I've begun cooking for her (which I think she enjoys more than anything!)
I hope everything goes well and I hope the visit goes smoothly!
re: Katie Nell
Katie, my nieces are 25, 28 and 31. They usually contribute to the dinner prep when they come and, at the very least, set the table, wash up after dinner and stuff like that. Each of the 2 older ones has a little boy - one's gonna be crawling any day now and the other's a few months younger, so the mommies will probably get a pass this time, as they've got other things to think about these days.
Moments ago, I got an email from the oldest niece - not only are they bringing the little ones, which I expected, but the husbands have decided to come, too. (It's a 3-bedroom, 1-bath vacation cabin, but we can always find room.) And, if we haven't got anything planned already on Saturday, maybe the rest of the cousins could come over? So, if everyone comes, and they usually do when I'm cooking, there could be as many as 28 people for dinner. I guess that oughta be enough to inspire me! I've actually worked out a menu:
Roast pork shoulder
a couple of purchased rotisserie chickens
roasted potatoes, Greek style (lemon, garlic, oregano)
bacon-wrapped grilled corn on the cob
farfalle with bacon & endives
Oooh - maybe I'm getting my groove back!
"I will go through a stage where I get tired of it all, especially the food snobbishness (this is when I want to rebel and eat at Chili's or something!)"
LOL!! I can relate to this too... I used to consult in the food business and the food snobs get to me too because I actually KNOW how things gets to market and produced (And no, we aren't all evil people who get together in board rooms figuring out ways to make you fat and increase your blood pressure)... That being said, I had to taste more processed crap in those six years than most have in their life time (Gotta keep up with what the competition and how it taste like... bleh...) so it was comforting to find that CH is there for when I want to get into a little snobbiness myself... :)
It sounds like you are a bit down (depressed). I find the ebb and flow of life brings on cycles such as the one you are experiencing (not to mention hormonal changes!).
There was a time when I was trying to lose weight, and I actually enjoyed cooking for others (smelled everything). I felt a real satisfaction from pleasing others with my cooking. It was a very creative time for me, ironically. So--bake up some cookies for your neices, and enjoy the cookies (vicariously). You'll be surprised at how good they "taste".