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Food is a Love Language

Reading Time: 5 minutes

I first realized I had a deep, emotional connection to food when I was 15. I spent my hard-earned babysitting money on the ingredients to bake my first ever cheesecake. I read the recipe seven times before I started. I prayed over my mixing spoons. I centered my chi. I baked.

I worked so hard on that cake and it was perfect! Well, I assume it was…

I cut out a quarter of the cake to share with one of our neighbors. She was a single mother and I will forever have a soft spot for single mothers. I spent about 20 minutes with her, chatting and playing with her 2 year old son, all the while salivating over the cake waiting for me at home. 

But when I got back home the cake was gone. You guys… it was gone. Not a single bite left. The cake knife had been licked clean. My mother and brother had eaten it. All of it. I died a little inside.

They apologized profusely. They said they thought I had eaten a quarter of it already. They kept telling me how good it was, like that was going to make me feel better. My mom offered to buy more ingredients so I could bake another cake…  

I yelled! I wept! I asked God why! I even considered running away from home… 

That night, laying in bed, crushed by the weight of their betrayal, I wrote the most dramatic poem of my youth, titled “Into the Void.” 

I’d like to say I’ve forgiven them, but you’d be amazed how often I think about that cake during therapy. I’ve never baked another cheesecake since. 

Nowadays, in the home I share with MisterE, food is how we say, “I love you.” If you’ve never eaten in my house, can you really be sure we’re friends? Food is also how we say, “I’m sorry.” Don’t come at me with an apology if you don’t have a plate of roasted chicken and orzo hidden behind your back. 

Food is also how we say, “I love you.” It’s how we say  “congratulations,” “happy birthday,” and “hi.” We eat a lot. 

In January MisterE ran his first marathon and to celebrate we, of course, had a feast with some of our closest friends.

When MisterE and I were dating, childless and flush with cash, we spent about $800/month on food, (and that was in a disciplined month). We visited a restaurant or cafeteria 6 days a week. We had juice or alcohol with every meal. We ate pints of ice-cream as single servings and thought nothing of it. 

We took full advantage of our youthful metabolisms. But you know what they say about too much of a good thing…

I knew the food I was eating was making me ill, but I convinced myself I was powerless to change my habits. I would have near-fainting spells after certain meals, and other times my stomach would bloat to the point I could honestly pass for pregnant. I suffered from joint pain, weekly migraines, muscle spasms and nerve damage. 

And then there was the farting. Oh, the farting! MisterE is truly a saint for remaining in this relationship. 

Then one day, just like that, I decided to do better. 

I started to meal prep every Sunday – cooking 4 different meals for lunch and dinner, 2 different breakfasts, and 3 different snacks. We would start each Monday with a stocked fridge, and we wouldn’t ‘eat out’ until we ran out of food at the end of the week. We went from eating out nearly every day to eating out two days a week, if that. 

In this way I was able to figure out which ingredients caused me to have certain symptoms, and cut out a number of items from my diet. It wasn’t an exact science, however, and every so often I’d find myself in pain all over again. 

After Hurricane was born my symptoms, though fewer, seemed more exaggerated. In desperation I sought the guidance of a gastroenterologist and a nutritionist, and I took the MRT test for food sensitivities. Turns out a lot of the (very healthy) food I was eating was slowly killing me. I’ll write more about that in a future post, promise.

That test was two years ago and it was life-changing. 

Hurricane loves to help in the kitchen, thanks to the learning tower we built her when she was about a year old. She’s quick to remind me of what ingredients are “not good for mommy.”

Besides better health, one of the big positives of taking the test is that I’ve been able to further streamline our meal prepping. Yes, we have kept up our habit of cooking once a week for 7 years and through two kids. We now spend about $60 to $80 dollars a week on food, which leaves more money in my pocket to buy clothes I’ll never wear because I don’t go out. 

The downside to all this meal-prepping is that I am an emotional eater. I have happy foods and sad foods and I-shouldn’t-have-bought-that foods. Quite often the mood that I’m in doesn’t match the food that is in my fridge. 

Sometimes my feelings require a full rack of pork ribs marinated in Dr Pepper and slow cooked over an open flame, but all I have is a bowl of zucchini noodles and ground beef.  

Have you ever seen a grown woman cry over a bowl of zucchini noodles? It’s not a pretty sight. 

My poor darling now has “spiralizing vegetables” as one of her many toddler chores.

Every so often I will give in to my cravings and tell MisterE what I intend to eat, because it is important that we name our sins. The foods I crave are inevitably on my DO NOT EAT list. So MisterE will shake his head and ask, “Really? A burger? Is this the hill you wish to die upon?”

My answer is invariably, “Yes.” 

And if it is indeed food that kills me one day, at least you all can say I died doing what I love. 

So tell me, is food your friend or your foe? What are your guilty pleasures and what are your favorite go-to dishes? 

Have fun!


Hi, I'm Chioma Ikoku, a spirited explorer and a peace-loving homebody. I founded Casa Diem Life to help you combine the excitement of travel with the comfort of home, because I believe that adventure begins at home.

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