A Complicated Relationship with Food

It's been harder for me to write this summer than ever before.  Part of it is, admittedly, setting aside time to write.  We had Melissa staying with us for a wonderfully over-scheduled seven days while she attended a day camp, and then a few days later we drove to Chicago to visit my dearest friend Abbie and her boyfriend Nick.  I've enjoyed the fast-pace of life this summer, but it takes up a lot of mind space.

Writing has been on my mind, though, and I mentioned to Tim recently that it just feels weird writing at the kitchen table or sitting on the couch.  It's too quiet or too noisy;  the chair is too stiff or too squishy.  I'm tired or preoccupied or...or...or...Excuses?  Maybe.  I think that's a small part of it.   

As I'm in the second year of writing this blog, the bigger issue is saying what I want to say about food and life.  This blog was never just about eating, gardening, or cooking; it's about me (and my loved ones) eating, gardening, cooking, and especially living.  Have I let you in to see that? Or, more specifically, have I let you in enoughTherein lies this writer's dilemna.  

Even though I wasn't there, I learned something from the talk given by Shauna Ahern at the Big Summer PotluckAs a featured speaker, she said something that resonated so much with the attendees that nearly all of the recaps I've read have repeated it:  Expose your messy life.

Last summer I was at a social event with some acquaintances from college and one person asked me about my food blog.  How did I get the idea for it? (Wanted a place to share thoughts.) Do I have a lot of readers? (Sometimes.)  What have I made recently? (Pickles!At that she exchanged a glance with another acquaintance, and very seriously asked me, "Is that really fun for you?"

I was a bit taken aback.  It took me a minute to gather my thoughts before I answered, very honestly, "Yes."  And that was the end of our conversation.  In fact, I avoided her the rest of the night.  I know that most people don't get it--why I get a little thrill cooking something new and challenging, even when it fails in the most sensational way (exploding jars, deflated cakes, burned roasts).  And for many the internet is still a strange and scary place with overwhelming masses of information, but I like it out here in the world wide web.  It's comforting to reach through my high speed connection to find someone who gets it, even a small part of it.  Whatever it is. 

But she also doesn't know that my interest in food isn't simply a weekend hobby.  And this is something very few people know about me--food and I alternate between best friends and sworn enemies.  One day I will eat and feel fantastic, energized, inspired, and the next day food will force me into the fetal position with the heating pad on my stomach and a cold washcloth on my forehead.

It's a complicated relationship; something I've been dealing with for the past twelve years, quietly, shamefully.  It's not a pleasant conversation to have with someone, which is why so few know the extent of it, and I'm extremely fortunate to have a husband who never complains about caring for me.  But being my occasional care-taker is not the marriage he asked for, and it's not the role I want to impose on him, even if it's somewhat out of my control.

I am seeing a specialist to try to rule in or rule out some different things.  I've already had some early testing done and we are starting to work our way through it, albeit slowly.  It's likely that I will be doing specific food elimination trials to find out if that helps me to feel well more consistently.  And it's also possible that it's not going to be that simple.  The fact that it could be difficult to pinpoint the cause--it's something I try not to think about. 

That's where I'm at right now.  Still kind of figuring things out, thankful that other bloggers have come forward with their own confusing relationships with food, and more appreciative than ever for the days, like today, when I feel well.  I sat on the patio after dinner tonight and listened to the cicadas sing love songs to one another.  It's one of my favorite sounds of summer. 

I had expected a bit of anxiety when I neared the end of writing this all out, but truthfully I feel calm.  This is my story, maybe not quite the beginning of it, but definitely nowhere close to the end.  It feels like as good a place as any to start telling you, and it came more easily to me than anything else I've written this summer.  I will continue to share what I learn about my relationship with food, and I hope to learn more about yours, simple and complicated, too. 


  1. Great post. Although I don't have internal digestive issues, the rest of the post spoke volumes to me. Love it.

  2. Erika, thank you for commenting. It makes me nearly tear up to hear that my writing spoke to someone. Thank you thank you.

  3. jen, this is so real and honest and shows just how reflective and determined you are. dare i say, "a true fisher"? looking forward to reading more.

  4. Amy, most most devoted reader and supportive sister. Thank you.

  5. Jen, I enjoyed this post as much as anything you've ever written here. As a "budding blogger," one of the things I continually find myself struggling with is relevancy - figuring out what I want to write, why it matters, and what makes it important to me (let alone others).

    Your site is so well done and well rounded! Everytime I read one of your posts, I know I'm not reading "just" a cooking blog, or "just" a gardening blog, but a genuine life blog. I think your writing is beautiful. :)

    All that being said, I hope that you get your Bureau of Internal Affairs in order soon -- there are few things worse than repeatedly feeling like crap for unknown reasons, especially when the culprit is suspected to be something as basic as food. Hope your doctor can sort it out soon!

    Feel better, and please keep writing! :)

  6. Great post. Lovely to see Shaun's words from Big Summer Potluck reverberating beyond and yours too.

    It never ceases to amaze me how people don't connect to the people who seem like they have it all together. I'm learning that being messy makes people relax and know that it's okay to be messy too.

    Thanks for sharing your struggle and I hope you figure out what ails you so you and food can be best friends all the time.

  7. Joy--from one aspiring writer to another, thank you! And you are so funny (Bureau of Internal Affairs). It's your gift to be touching and humorous at the same time.

    Jackie--To the messy in all of our lives, eh? thanks.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!