With PTSD can come difficulty making decisions. This can make preparing food a challenge. If I had more money, I would eat out more. But I have to make it stretch until I have more income.
The more steps in cooking, the more challenging. Following instructions such as a recipe can easily result in error. It’s like there are mental roadblocks for every step or two, and it takes extra time, sometimes frustration, to figure out how to execute procedures. I don’t bother following recipes to make things easier. Though, I don’t recall ever following recipes word-for-word even pre-PTSD.
To makes things even more difficult are my dietary concerns. High cholesterol, sensitive blood sugar levels, vitamin B-12 deficiency which can coincide with low iron, and digestion issues. Easy grilled cheese sandwiches are off the list. Meat and starch eaten together (not including fish) clogs the plumbing. But I need meat. (Vegetarians, don’t get me started.) And the variety of available vegetables makes it hard to choose.
To top off the difficulty of preparing food with PTSD is making meals for one. Anyone who cooks knows the issues involved, including leftovers, half-used produce, and dishes to clean up.
Though I’m still working on a solution to this conundrum, this is what I’ve done so far:
Firstly, it helps to have fruits and vegetables in the kitchen that don’t rot too quickly. Then I think about the easy-to-prepare food I tend to order when out and aim to prepare it at home. Anything except Ramen noodles; the packaged kind are preserved with a petroleum product.
Today I made a BLT with avocado for lunch. Bacon, though it’s meat, together with bread doesn’t seem to bother my belly maybe because it gets cooked to a crisp and just passes through. There’s mayonnaise in the fridge, and there was a plum tomato in the fruit bowl. I had to buy bread, lettuce, and bacon. If I were closer to a natural market, I’d get uncured bacon. But today I don’t care. I’ll eat nitrites today. (Nitrites consumed in high amounts have been linked to leukemia.) Since bacon can be frozen, the purchase won’t go to waste. I just portion the slices into groups of 4 before freezing.
At dinner time, the question arose again of what to eat. I felt like a kid at home after school, hungry and looking for something to eat. I just made another BLT, this time without avocado. I also tried a different combination of sandwich fixings: mayo, carrots dressed in rice vinegar, tomato, lettuce, red onion, and smoked salmon. It wasn’t as good.
Preserving produce helps. Drizzling some vinegar with a dash of salt and sugar on cucumbers, carrots, daikon, onions or other vegetables adds a couple weeks of eatability. Of course, you lose some vitamins. But that’s where multi-vitamins come in handy. I take food-grade multi-vitamins about every other day.
Another easy thing I do is to buy cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, and onion, slice them into bite size chunks, and then freeze the mixture. Then I get some sliced roast beef from the deli, heat it all up, pour on some olive oil, salt and pepper, and ouila! Roast beef and vegetables. I haven’t done this, however, since leaving New York.
It also helps having herbs in pots if there is enough sunlight. Basil doesn’t need much sunlight, so that’s pretty easy. Cilantro is susceptible to bugs. Parsley is pretty easy to grow as well with enough sun, but you have to keep an eye on it so that bugs don’t kill it. One of these days, I’ll get thyme, rosemary, and tarragon.
I’ve also taken pictures of my food and cut pictures from magazines for inspiration. Visuals can really help a mind with PTSD.Then of course there are snack foods – chips and salsa, carrots and hummus, trail mix, fruit, peanut butter, cheese and crackers. Some days, it’s snack food for dinner.
The most important thing about easy food is that it benefit the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids, other fats, minerals in salt such as celtic sea salt, and vitamin B-12 are really important to keep the brain functioning. It’s too easy to allow depression and lack of motivation to keep us from eating well. So, even more important to have easy food at hand.