The Care and Feeding of Us-Part I
K is hungry. That’s not unusual for her. You can often hear her stomach rumbling from lack of food. She’s trained herself to ignore the hunger. We have to feed her, for survival’s sake, but I don’t like to. I don’t like to eat. In fact, I hate it. I wish there were some sort of pill we could take instead of having to eat; I would give up food altogether. K has very eccentric eating habits. She’s been a weird eater pretty much since she started eating solid food. For example, she won’t eat anything that touches another food on her plate. Nothing can touch. She’d love to have those sectioned cafeteria trays to eat from. Another weird thing is that she can only have one type of food in her mouth at a time, and she won’t even take a drink until she’s swallowed that bite of food. Nothing can mix. Her mother always says, “It all goes to the same place!” but this does not change K’s attitude toward her food. If you think that’s weird, it gets even weirder.
K says she “doesn’t eat plants”, meaning she doesn’t like fruits or vegetables. There are some exceptions: potatoes and corn. Also, she’ll eat beans two ways: baked beans, or refried beans. The weird fruit habits are these: she loves (some) fruit flavored foods, like blueberry flavored anything, but she won’t actually eat the real fruit. She’ll eat cherry pie, but she’ll pick out all the cherries. She likes orange juice only if it’s mixed with champagne or vodka. She’s never actually eaten an orange or a banana or a strawberry, and she only has an idea of what fruits taste like if they have a jelly bean flavor for her to sample. One more thing, anything with seeds is definitely off limits. OH yes, and Rule Number 1: No green foods. It’s interesting to note that K loves blue foods however.
Since she’s the ANTI-vegetarian, you might think that K eats a lot of meat, but that’s not true either. She will only eat certain cuts of meat. She will NOT eat anything from a chicken or turkey except the breast, and she won’t eat any meat that’s still on the bone (it reminds her that it’s a dead animal). If she eats beef, it must be extra well-done; if there is any trace of pink in her steak, she will not eat it. It must be gray, through and through, and it’s even better if the steak is actually black and crunchy on the outside. She always buys the leanest ground beef and is very careful to get rid of as much grease as possible before she consumes it. She dries her food off with paper towels. She will not eat veal or rabbit or venison or duck, because those animals are too cute. She refused to eat any pork until just a few years ago, because she owned a pet pig and thinks they’re far too intelligent an animal to eat. Bacon is the exception, but she must have it extra crispy, preferably burnt. She positively will not eat anything that still resembles a dead animal, such as ribs. K would secretly love to be a vegetarian, because the truth is that it grosses her out to eat meat, but since she eats no produce, she’d probably starve to death.
Other foods? K does love pasta, but only certain shapes and certain sizes, and the sauce should be white. (The little girl in us still likes SpaghettiO’s however.) Seafood is tricky…it can’t still be “in animal form”, so crab legs are off limits, but K loves shrimp if it’s been peeled and cleaned thoroughly. We, the K’s, disagree on fish; some of us like it and some of us don’t. Pizza is a favorite, but only plain cheese. What K really loves are breads and cheeses. When she spent a few weeks in Paris, she dined only on cheese, a crusty baguette, and wine every day, and that was fine with us.
K’s bizarre eating habits are famous around here. If she goes to a restaurant, she orders like Meg Ryan in that movie “When Harry Met Sally”, meaning everything has to be special-ordered. No butter, hold the lettuce, sauce on the side, substitute baked potato for fries. She never orders anything as-is from a menu. Another peculiar habit is her taking packets of Taco Bell hot sauce in her purse whenever they go out for Mexican (the waiters get a laugh out of finding those empty packets on her table). She doesn’t eat at McDonald’s anymore, but when she did, they hated her there, for she’d come in and order a Big Mac without the produce, and they’d have to make her one fresh. The sub shops love her-just throw the meat and cheese on the bread and you’re done. K does not use condiments, but there are exceptions to this rule, such as mustard on a hot dog (which should be turkey, not pork or beef). No ketchup, no mayo, no guacamole, no salsa. Hot sauce should be as hot as possible, but K hates the flavor of Tobasco sauce.
So. I guess I’ve proven my point, that K is an eccentric eater. I haven’t even gotten to the part about her eating disorder yet- I only let her eat one meal a day, and if I get my way, it’s even less than that. We don’t eat breakfast or lunch. We try to consume as close to 500 calories a day as possible, and that’s just so we don’t faint. K eats around 6:00 at night, and after she eats, she usually goes into the bathroom and throws up. No big deal, it’s been going on for so many years that it pretty much comes naturally to her. She can practically throw up on command. I’m forever buying fat-free, sugar-free, and diet foods, and I’m obsessed with K’s caloric intake. Because of our doctor’s orders, we’re not allowed to have a scale in our bathroom; apparently I used to weigh in too often and punish myself for any weight gain. I can’t even put into words how horrified I am that K’s current medications have caused substantial weight gain. However, according to our medical doctor, our body is currently in “starvation mode” and so my metabolism has nearly shut down.
I remember the specific day that I realized (or at least, thought to myself, as it wasn’t true) that I was fat: I was in 3rd grade. It was spring, and I was wearing shorts. I noticed how my thighs, when pressed flat onto the desk chair, looked really wide. I was appalled, and decided right then and there that I HAD to lose some weight; I went home from school, walked to the store, and bought a Tab (it was the only diet soda available at that time). K hated the taste, but we forced her to drink them from then on and she eventually grew used to the bitter flavor of the saccharin-sweetened drink. We’ve been drinking diet drinks ever since, and K now lives on Diet Coke. Allow me to wrap this up. We have a bizarre love/hate relationship with food, we are beyond finicky, and K was diagnosed with an eating disorder but refuses to believe it’s true because she’s not currently skinny. In Part II, I’ll tell you how our OCD affects the way we eat (Would you believe K spends over 10 minutes eating a Snickers candy bar one layer at a time?).