4. Eating for Two?
Am I allowed to have that? Will I still be tasting it tomorrow? Can I have seconds and say I’m eating for two? Rosalind Sack finds pregnancy makes a meal out of eating. And worst of all, she’s gone off cake!
I've always been suspicious of fussy eaters. Those who appear to be outgoing, adventurous adults yet suddenly announce they don't eat mushrooms, can't stand kidney beans, and the smell of celery makes their stomach churn. Grown men and women in their thirties who refuse to eat fruit. All fruit. Full stop. And then spend half an hour picking bits out of their dinner like a finicky five year old.
It will come as little surprise, then, to hear that I eat pretty much anything. I pride myself on being an easy guest to cater for and a polite traveller who'll happily try the local speciality – unless it’s bushtucker trial fare. And I like to show my appreciation of other people's culinary toil by clearing my plate, especially if it's dessert.
What's this got to do with pregnancy? Well, as with so many other things over the past four months, I've been stopped abruptly in my tracks. Suddenly I've become this unfamiliar person who I struggle to recognise. I've become, whisper it, a fussy eater!
The first indication that something was awry came fairly early in the pregnancy, when I lost my appetite for hot drinks. I was usually one of the first to volunteer for tea round duties at work but – as I hadn’t yet told my colleagues the news – I had to make increasingly daft excuses about why I no longer fancied my regular-as-clockwork mid-morning coffee and afternoon tea. Admitting that the mere sight of warm liquid left me with a perspiring brow and thoughts of spontaneous combustion could have raised suspicion.
The next change was even more of a shocker. Let me set the scene: I used to be the type of person that would forego a starter to leave more room for dessert, if there were seconds of pud going I’d be at the front of the queue and cheese and biscuits – well, I’d say that was an unforgivable choice for afters! Since becoming pregnant, however, I've gone off sweet stuff. When an attack of the munchies strikes, I'm now more likely to reach for cheese on toast than a biscuit or cake. Honestly, I no longer know myself.
As well as the restrictions my own taste buds are putting on my diet, I’m trying to follow the NHS's recommendations of foods to avoid. Trouble is, I keep forgetting. I devoured half of a giant slab of goats cheese on holiday in France before remembering soft cheese was supposed to be off limits.
I’m trying not to worry about the odd slip, and although recommendations are there for a reason, the general consensus among parents and grandparents seems to be they ate and drank what they liked “and it didn't do our babies any harm”.
It’s a minefield, this eating for two business – even though you’re not supposed to do that now, right?
I fret about the amount of green stuff I’m NOT eating. Morning sickness feels a bit like a hangover and, just like the morning after a particularly heavy night, it’s left me craving pure comfort stodge – and plenty of it. Jacket potatoes with baked beans, egg mayo sandwiches, spag bol and smoky bacon crisps. Which then churns up all the inevitable first-time-mum-to-be angst that I'm not getting enough healthy stuff and my child is destined to exit the womb with a lifelong addiction to Happy Meals.
All I need is for the bizarre cravings to hit. I've read tales of pregnant women discovering a sudden hankering to eat soil, dip gherkins in honey, or munch on a whole raw onion. I use the word 'tales' because I've never actually met anyone who’s experienced these urges, which leads me to believe they’re a fabrication – about as likely as me saying no to cake. Oh.
However, should I suddenly find myself with a strange desire to lick coal or gnaw on a bar of soap, I'll happily eat my words. At least they’re on the ‘safe to consume’ list, right?