“My tryst with food”

Food. Need I say more?

No food, good for slimming down

Immediately after the accident, being operated at the neck and knowing that there is a tiny titanium plate keeping my spinal cord nodes together – I always felt the plate in my throat. It would hurt to swallow even a spoonful of water, forget eating.

I was fed through a food pipe in the ICU, I hated it dangling from my nose and pleaded the doctor to remove it. He agreed only on one condition that I would cough as loudly as possible and continue practicing that throughout the day. On a scale of 10, my cough was around 2 – I was scared of anything getting stuck in my throat, anything cold that could give me a sore throat and drank water cautiously. Never in a hurry. The only food I could relish in those times was Parle G soaked in tea.

Then finally I moved onto semi-solid foods; mashed fruits, dal and tiny pieces of roti mixed together etc. Could not handle spices as they would lead me to a coughing spree. The hospital food in Nagpur was bland and dry, I could never eat the boring veggies, the milk and salads – then Apple became my favourite food for lunch and dinner.

Eating less, non-spicy food actually made my skin glow and I lost a few kilos. But I realised this only when I came to Delhi and saw myself in the mirror for the first time, 2 months after the accident.

No mirrors or photographs please

In the first two months at the hospital, I visualised myself as a fat video game player – The one who does not move away from his console, eats junk food all the time and weighs crazy. I was not moving at all and always thought that the food has piled up on me and I have blown up.

I put a strict ban on bringing mirrors near me and if anyone took my photograph then they dare not show it to me.

All this changed when I came to the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC). There were mirrors all over the physiotherapy department and there’s no chance you could miss them. Exercising, sitting on the wheelchair for the first time, tired of not being able to move my body by myself – but when I saw myself in the mirror, wearing a collar to support my neck, the only thing I remember is my glowing skin and no pimples. Boring food does have it’s benefits after all.

Food, food always on my mind

Food at ISIC was something I could have ever imagined at a hospital. Chicken soup, vegetable beetroot soup, pasta salad, roasted chicken patties, my favourite eggs and all the vegetarian delicacies made north-Indian side; paneer, palak, the dals and I can go on and on. It was also possible to order Dominoes, KFC, Chinese, food from any restaurant nearby – delivered to your room. (Flowers were not allowed in the hospital, but outside food was okay!)


Pic credit: Michael Stern – CC

My first reaction was ‘I’m allowed to eat all these things!’ The foodie in me took over, my throat was much better at swallowing and I could chew stuff effortlessly. There was no stopping me. Dad would bring my favourite butter chicken and chill chicken all the way from Nagpur to New Delhi. I had friends bringing over homemade aloo parathas and bed rolls. Guests always brought chocolates.

I had to make up for all the lost months and the feeling of eating any food I desired was comforting. It was also probably the easiest way for loved ones to bring a smile on my face.

Now I was really in the soup

Food never comes alone. It is accompanied with calories and they don’t let go of you so easily. Mind you, I was still not eating by myself. Soon I was as round as a ball could be. Wearing oversized clothes had become my style.

It felt sad to see myself in the mirror now. Even further to see how difficult it was for mom and dad to shift me from bed to wheelchair to car. I hated my photographs (some of this still continues). Shopping for clothes was no longer fun.

Food ji, maaf karo

I remembered a tip my friend had used to lose weight: Diets are no good, they only make you crave for more. Just reduce the quantity of food you eat every day to 50% and see the difference.

It is difficult to say no to good-looking food. It’s even difficult to say no to mom, who takes extra efforts to make special food items. But, there is no other way. When there is no/ less physical movement, then the only way to lose weight is by controlling diet.

I manage to be on track most of the times, but there are also occasions when I let go. The best days are when I’m busy with work or traveling for work. Hunger does not hit me at such times. I indulge when my cousin or my sister is around – the shared passion for food caves in.

Technology can help at times. MyFitnessPal app prompts you to login all the food you eat in a day and helps in tracking calories consumed. I like the app because it even has information about Indian food items like ‘Moong Dal Usal’ or ‘Khandvi and gives their calorie value.

There is no magic formula to manage food cravings and weight. But the best part is, you get to choose. You choose when you want to eat, what you want to eat and what you don’t want to eat. It’s as simple as that. Happy choosing food to you 🙂