The power of junk food

Yesterday I was getting ready to put Syd down for her nap and I had a mad craving for something very specific. Something I haven't eaten in over a year. Something I ate well too much of when I was pregnant the last time: Taco Bell. More specifically, crunchy taco supremes from Taco Bell.

Somehow I convinced my husband to go through the drive-thru window for me (he was picking something up at home real quick and there's a TB less than a mile from our house) and even though he warned "Once you start, it's going to be TACO BELL ALL THE TIME." I didn't care. I needed those tacos. While he was gone I put Sydney down for her nap and then sat on the front porch to wait for the dropoff.

People, I cannot even tell you how good those tacos tasted. I sat at the dining room table with a can of Diet Coke (something else I've had little of since I learned I was pregnant), and ate every morsel of those tacos. I enjoyed them so much I practically licked the paper. There wasn't a single shred of cheese or an errant tomato to be found when I was done.

Behold the power of junk food.

I blame the hormones. For both of these pregnancies I've been extremely sick during the first trimester (this time around was particularly bad because I was taking progesterone suppositories up until week 12). The few times I did feel like eating the only thing that really appealed to me was stuff that was high in sugar or carbs or had no nutritional value whatsoever (think ramen noodles and box macaroni and cheese). Coca-Cola Classic (preferably from a soda fountain) was the only thing that could calm my stomach down. For weeks my diet consisted solely of Honey Nut Cheerios, tortilla chips, cheese, and the occasional apple. And even then I had to force myself to just eat something, ANYTHING. I knew I needed to eat more, eat more healthily, but even taking my prenatal vitamins made me feel like dying. It was rough.

Then I finally got to stop taking my progesterone at 12 weeks. Within a matter of days I went from feeling like a hung over frat boy to the ravenous pregnant woman we all imagine ourselves to one day be. And so I ate whatever I could get my hands on, whatever I craved, whatever I saw on the shelves that I wouldn't normally allow myself. Into the grocery cart went Lucky Charms, Pop Tarts, powdered donettes, jelly beans, THE WORKS. In a perverse way I felt like I deserved it. Here I'd been sick and hadn't felt like eating anything for months, and now? I felt better. I wanted Tito's Tacos and I should get them. Why? Because I'M PREGNANT, that's why. Now get your butt in the car and let's go.

Let's back up for a moment here, shall we?

This is me, at 41 weeks pregnant with Sydney, all 204 pounds of me:

8-19-08 028 

(Thanks to my sister's boyfriend for snapping this photo of me. I will get you, Mike. One day.)

When I was pregnant with Syd I ate whatever I wanted. I'm pretty sure there was one month where I was eating at Taco Bell 3 times a week on average (I wonder if that's the same month I gained 10 pounds? Hmm?). And yes, I had a 10 pound 7 ounce baby in there. Yes, I left the hospital 5 days after giving birth a whopping 20 pounds lighter. But you know what? It took me another nine months to lose twenty-five more of those pounds. And I'm pretty sure I could have done more to prevent the hugeness.

There is so much I could have done differently when I was pregnant then. I could have walked more, I could have made healthier choices, but I refused. I used pregnancy as an excuse to stretch my husband's XL t-shirts (and that is what I'm wearing in the above photo) to the max. And you know something? Big baby aside? It takes a toll on your body to weigh that much. I now have a herniated belly button (I used to have an inny. Now? It's a major outie). Not only did I get the requisite stretch marks on my belly, but I also got them all over my legs. I had crippling sciatic pain. When it was time for me to get my epidural in the hospital the anesthesiologist told me that I had slight scoliosis of the lower back. I've never had even a hint of scoliosis my entire life! And then? My epidural failed and I endured 18+ hours of induced labor (that ended up being back labor for extra fun) with no pain relief. THAT SUCKED.

I don't want to go through any of that again if I can help it. But it's hard to remember that when I'm desperate for a taco supreme. I've found little ways around getting to the things I crave, like ordering a veggie sub at Subway instead of turkey because I can't have cold cuts (Subway is where I head when a TB craving strikes hard. It's how I lost the baby weight the first time around). But I need MORE. And when we have nothing but junk in the house my family suffers … my husband burns through half a dozen Krispy Kremes in a few days and Syd ends up snacking on Fritos. It's bad for all of us.

If you have any tricks to eating more healthfully when all you want to do is shove your gob full of cheese fries, please share. My goal this pregnancy is to NOT go over 200 pounds again. Now that I'm on "restricted activity" I can't really balance out my tacos with a brisk walk around the neighborhood while pushing the stroller if you know what I mean.

And if anyone would like to pound a cheeseburger in my honor, please feel free to do so. My 30th birthday is on Monday and I plan on allowing myself one last major intentional splurge at Island's (say it with me: CHEESE FRIES WITH RANCH DRESSING). Then? It's healthy choices central around here. BLERG.

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13 thoughts on “The power of junk food

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Hmmmm. You could always get gestational diabetes! I can’t eat anything! No carbs, sugar, gluten, or dairy. FUN TIMES!

    Seriously though, this post just gave me the worst craving ever for powdered donettes. You might be surprised to learn those aren’t on the gestational diabetes diet.

  2. Nikki says:

    I am not pregnant but am a junk food binger. I LOVE Taco Bell, and when David and I get busy with life sometimeswe both eat out for lunch and the eat fast food together for dinner!! It’s super unhealthy! Our cheater way of getting at least SOME health in? We bought a juicer. We L.O.V.E! it! We juice fruits and veggies and have a glass of awesome juice with crackers or a sandwich for lunch now! It’s really fabulous. At least vitamins and minerals are in there somewhere.

  3. Alice says:

    I’ve found it helpful to take time to really listen to my cravings – usually if I’m craving something, it’s because my body knows what it wants, and has latched onto the first (and easiest) idea of how to get it. Haven’t eaten in a while and my brain needs some sugar to get moving? Cookies! Apples are *so* boring, and they need to be cut, washed, fresh on hand … (but usually they’ll do the trick and make my body happe for longer.) In some ways it’s the substitution trick, but for me it’s more about focusing on what I *really* want and making sure I get it. For example, the veggie subs @ subway are usually a major disappointment for me b/c they don’t have a lot of protein, but they’re awesome if what I really want is the veggies & sweet onion dressing.

    When I’m on my game, this means eating small meals/snacks with some combination of foods every 3-4 hours so that I don’t get the desperate Must Eat NOW problem. Also, having enough cookies and Taco Bell so that they’re not ‘forbidden’ is important too.

    When I’m off my game, I forget about eating and easy choices win over everything else. But hopefully you’re more together than I am. šŸ™‚

  4. Morgan S. says:

    I was there with Elizabeth. I came out of the whole pregnancy thing weighing LESS than before I was pregnant (yay!) but I didn’t have a whole lot of dietary fun during pregnancy.

    But, seriously, a trick you CAN follow is the gestational diabetes plan of very regimented snack & meal times. Along with balancing every carb with a protein, this should keep the craving frenzies to a minimum.

    And now I want taco supremes, dangit, because they are my favorite too.

  5. ANNIE says:

    Oh Manda. Did you know that when I was pregnant with Christopher I gained 85 lbs. EIGHTY FIVE. I do not recommend it. But! At the time it really was an eat to survive situation for me during the first 4 months especially. Once I discovered that a full stomach was my only chance at not wanting to die I just TOOK OFF. I was teaching at the time, and commuting an hour each way so those long days just did me in. Somewhere along the way I discovered the benefits of just sipping on an ice cold coke. Oh wow. Thank you Jesus.

    My darling students were well trained, too – I kept quarters on my desk and it never failed that when they saw me start to get that I’m Going To Die Right Now look on my face someone would just get up, grab the quarters and run to the soda machine for me. Sometimes they’d even use their own quarters. šŸ™‚

    Anyway – pregancies 2 & 3 were easier mostly because I knew how to handle it all that much better (and because I wasn’t teaching anymore…) And THANK GOD they didn’t include 85 lb weight gains. I like to think this was because I was really committed to NOT doing it that way again – as you are. But what it really comes down to, Manda? Take care of yourself the way you know how to do so. And do what you need to feel strong and healthy and to make it through the day.

  6. larmar says:

    First, watch this:


    I haven’t been able to go through a drive-thru since watching that. I have literally circled a mcdonalds on SEVERAL occasions, trying to turn the wheel so i could go through the line… but I just couldn’t do it.

    Second, there was a little moment when i was reading that (the first part at least) where i was actually JEALOUS of your pregnancy. I was all…. I WANT TO EAT WHATEVER I WANT AND NOT HAVE ANYBODY SAY ANYTHING!!!! Then I remembered the first trimester, and I shuddered and released that thought from my mind.

  7. Courtney says:

    I have no good advice since I was not the norm for both pregnancies…however, I can say this- everything in moderation. And ask yourself when you are really wanting something, “Is it going to help my body and be worth putting in my mouth?” Sure, it tastes damn good, but is it worth it (meaning the extra, more than good for you lbs, that you worked so hard to get rid of)?And Coke was the only thing that got me through that 1st trimester both times…I would marry Coke if I could.

  8. Elsha says:

    It’s doable, I promise! I gained 40 lbs with Kalena, putting me at 190 lbs at delivery (I’m 5’4″) and it took me like 9 months to get the weight off. But with Will I only gained like 27 lbs and at 4 months post partum I’m only 3 lbs from pre-pregnancy weight! Honestly I think knowing how much it SUCKS to be that heavy (for the end of the pregnancy and after) makes a difference. Also, I know you’re a little activity restricted right now, but you’re probably still moving more than when you were pregnant the first time. At least, having a toddler made a huge difference in my activity levels the second time.

    As for Taco Bell, try out the fresco menu stuff. It satisfies the craving, but is considerably healthier. That’s how I get my taco bell in while still staying within my points.

  9. She Likes Purple says:

    For what it’s worth (probably not a whole lot, I know), I was 200 pounds the day I gave birth to my 7 lb, 2 oz boy and a very dear friend gained a whopping 18 pounds TOTAL (bitch) and ran/walked/biked most of her pregnancy and gave birth to a 10 lb, 10 oz beautiful boy. So….although healthy is always the best option, don’t beat yourself up too much over the occassional Taco Bell drive-thru. Also, crunch wrap supremes and McD’s cheeseburgers were my pregnancy weaknesses. Oh and chocolate croissants. I miss those days!

  10. Heather says:

    I’m 23 weeks with my first and also lived off of saltines and macaroni and cheese for several weeks in the first trimester. I’ve been really tempted to run for the border a few times (what is it with pregnancy and tacos??), but so far I’ve managed to satisfy the craving at home in a slightly healthier way. I use 96/4 lean ground beef from TJ’s, taco seasoning, TJ’s taco shells, light sour cream, 2% cheese, etc. And it still tastes like a yummy taco! But when I was recently struck with a craving for KFC biscuits (??), there was no substitute.

  11. Katia says:

    Try Hummus on whole wheat pita. Very satisfying and high in protein. Very good food for Sydney too. I am visiting your blog looking for your old fritatta recipe, found it archived in the 2007 recipes. Love ya and Happy Birthday!

  12. Sara says:

    My daughter’s birthmother ate Taco Bell almost exclusively during the pregnancy. And now it’s like Pavlov’s dog…anytime it’s in the house her little head swivels to find it.

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