Nursery Food

The first week I knew I was pregnant, I munched my way through a range of salads and slow carbs that would make Gillian McKeith weep.

Three weeks later, however, it’s all very different. Monumentally nauseous, I spend much of my day feeling sick and hungry at the same time (an entirely new sensation), and on a quest to discover exactly what it is that my body will consent to eat today. This is less obvious than you’d think; it’s never a simple case of fancying something. It’s more a process of eliminating foodstuffs that actively repulse me, and then, finally, settling for something that I feel I may be able to swallow without too much horror.

I am not this sort of eater. Usually, I’m a restless, inquisitive diner, keen on bright flavours, variety and spice. I have always, always cooked everything from scratch, and mostly in season too.

At the moment, the world has been strangely turned on its head. Vegetables appal me. I can’t contemplate strong flavours. And, quite randomly, my palate will reject flavours that comforted me a few hours before. Sometimes mid-meal. Yesterday, I had to scrape all the cheese off my jacket potato because it was suddenly overwhelming. I am even able to feel sick over a concept, such as the idea of making the bed.

Herbert adapted to this state of affairs quicker than I did. I sulked and lamented, and tried to force myself to eat nutritious meals that were destined for the bin as soon as they were cooked. He put on his tolerant face, walked me down to the local Budgens (where I never shop) and took me from aisle to aisle so that I could  pick out the things I could face eating.

My palate, it seems, has turned strangely nostalgic: cornflakes, Petits Filous, fig rolls, tinned pineapple and garibaldi biscuits. I would never normally dream of buying any of these things. But unexpectedly, my cook’s brain has been overthrown in a violent revolution by my inner child. And my inner child is infuriatingly fickle. I had to rush out and buy fishfingers last week, and yet now I can’t even contemplate the rest of the box.

The dish that I turn to again and again, though, is this zero-nutrition wonder: spaghetti, butter, cheese (which may be on its way out) and black pepper. It’s what I ate every morning for breakfast when I was at primary school, and it’s now my go-to meal when all else fails. When I was a kid, my mum used to snip salami into it, too, but that would be a step too far right now. And don’t even try to suggest a side salad.


What were your cravings – or anti-cravings? Share them in the comments below and I’ll try not to dry-heave as I read them. 


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31 Responses to Nursery Food

  1. Cross Eyed Pianist 06/10/2011 at 12:15 #

    Oh how I recall the nauseau, the tiredness and the cravings for carbs I would not normally, touch in those early weeks of pregnancy. I developed a taste for stodgy flapjacks, iced buns, cakes and toast. The nausea disappeared as mysteriously as it had arrived around week 16 (before this time, I felt sick ALL THE TIME!) and I enjoyed the middle trimester of my pregnancy. I ate sensibly, my skin glowed and my hair was thick and lustrous for the first time in my life. In the final weeks, when I was at home, I would chain-eat my way through boxes of White Magnums, figuring that it was now “too late” to worry about looking like the side of a house. I couldn’t think past D-Day…. The tea and toast I had in hospital after I’d had my son and been sewn up was like ambrosia from the Gods. And my mum brought me her special coffee biscuits with coffee buttercream filling to supplement the meagre hospital rations.

    • Betty Herbert 06/10/2011 at 14:20 #

      It’s so baffling! Flapjacks sound good though. Might bake some of those!

  2. Keris Stainton 06/10/2011 at 13:15 #

    Oh yes, this is so familiary. With Harry, I ate macaroni cheese – the more disgustingly luminous yellow the better – for many meals. With Joe I had two weeks of eating practically nothing but smoked salmon sandwiches. Marmite on toast worked well in both pregnancies, which is odd because I’ve never really eaten Marmite. Hope you feel better soon (and you will, even though I know it probably doesn’t feel like it).

    • Betty Herbert 06/10/2011 at 14:20 #

      I’m the opposite – am a Marmite fiend in real life, but at the mo it tastes a bit odd. I might be able to tackle a smoked salmon sandwich though…hmmm…

  3. Amy Barker 06/10/2011 at 13:45 #

    Felix is 90% museli. Couldn’t get enough. Daisy is 90% chocolate cake, which probably explains a lot!

    • Betty Herbert 06/10/2011 at 14:19 #

      I only wish I could crave something so healthy & sustaining. Not the choc cake, obvs ;-)

  4. Libby 06/10/2011 at 13:54 #

    I’m with you there – I’ve never had ‘cravings’ as such, only anti-cravings. With both this pregnancy & my 1st, I went completely off sugar for the first trimester – the thought of it turned my stomach, and I can still conjure up the nasty aftertaste it produced. Thankfully both times it has subsided by 12/13 weeks and I’ve been able to return to my natural chocoholic state to comfort me for the rest of the pregnancy.

    • Betty Herbert 06/10/2011 at 14:18 #

      How fascinating – the idea of finding a whole new aftertaste for sugar. Pregnancy is so bloody weird.

  5. Muddling Along 06/10/2011 at 14:15 #

    *shudder* oh the memories

    I lived on toast and butter in the 1st trimester with my two – had to be cheap white bread not the decent stuff too. Amazingly they both turned out ok and I didn’t get scurvy!

    • Betty Herbert 06/10/2011 at 14:17 #

      Funny you should mention that, I’m suddenly distinctly un-keen on H’s homebaked sourdough…

  6. Jojo 06/10/2011 at 14:51 #

    Oh I feel for you. I was increasingly sick with each of mine, morning till night. With H (no2) I lived on instant mashed potato from weeks 5-8 – It was the only thing I could tolerate. I never ate it before or since.
    Also ginger biscuits, and dry crackers. Basically any food that was white. I was UTTERLY miserable.
    It’s no coincidence that I went from 8 1/2 stone to 11 stone with each pregnancy.

  7. Jojo 06/10/2011 at 14:52 #

    PS So I don’t send you into depression, I should point out that I lost the extra weight afterwards (quite a long time afterwards, but STILL)

    • Betty Herbert 06/10/2011 at 14:59 #

      Thanks Jojo – I’m already cooking up a plan to run around a great deal once the baby comes out. Or maybe weight train. Something.

  8. Katyboo 06/10/2011 at 14:52 #

    Oh I remember that. Horrors. With Tilly I hated anything milky. Loved pickled onions to the point of insanity and had a thing for prawn crackers.

    With Tallulah I craved rhubarb crumble. Unsurprisingly I was massive with her. Also remember crying in Sainsbury’s car park at Christmas. I wanted to eat so many things but loathed everything except Scotch eggs, which normally make me shudder.

    With Oscar I craved Burger King Whoppers all the way through.

    With all three I went off chocolate completely, which killed me. I also craved mashed potato with all three.

    • Betty Herbert 06/10/2011 at 15:00 #

      That’s so specific! I can’t seem to manage to eat the same thing twice. The food wastage in my house is absolutely appalling at the moment. But: rhubarb crumble. Very cool craving.

  9. helen 06/10/2011 at 14:53 #

    Never been pregnant, but have suffered from constant nausea for 20 years due to serious ill health. I take 3 prescription drugs a day for it and still retch into my dinner daily.

    Oddly, people’s pregnancy stories about nausea are soothing. I hope you feel better soon. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy…

    • Betty Herbert 06/10/2011 at 15:01 #

      Oh god that’s awful Helen – I can’t imagine what it’s like to not have a clear idea when it will all end. I really, really feel for you.

  10. elsie 06/10/2011 at 14:57 #

    I’d like to say it was the early days only, but it wasn’t. I craved vinegar in any shape or form for 9 whole months. I was frequently found drinking vinegar juice from jars of pickled onions, eating branston pickle with a spoon and making ketchup sandwiches. I was a cliche, but it wasn’t my fault. One evening I sent my husband out to buy fish and chips, he came back and had forgotten to add vinegar (and we had run out) so I threw the plate at him. Not my proudest moment, again though, it wasn’t my fault.
    I also munched my way through a particularly plastic, synthetic sort of victoria sponge-esque slab from the Co-op nightly. And my only birthing plan was the four family packs of cadbury creme eggs I took with me into the labour ward.
    My pregnant self disgusts me.

    • Betty Herbert 06/10/2011 at 15:02 #

      That is the most impressively pregnant behaviour I have ever heard of! Utterly brilliant. You should be *so* proud!

  11. Bettina 06/10/2011 at 15:04 #

    From memory…I wasn’t able to tolerate a lot at all.. in fact I went off of tea and coffee, water was my saviour. There came a time when I couldn’t keep even that down and out came the consumption of anti sickness meds! After though I lived on muller yoghurts, the type you flip the fruit into the yoghurt and solero ice creams. I never fancied any dinners, for a long time and had to be sat upstairs until it was ready.

    • Betty Herbert 06/10/2011 at 15:23 #

      That sounds awful! I’m so lucky to not actually ever throw up – although sometimes I wish I could, just to clear the air for a while

  12. NickyB 06/10/2011 at 15:19 #

    2 jars of pickled onions a day, the stronger the better …

  13. Chocolate Fairy 06/10/2011 at 18:58 #

    Ha! I lived off mashed potato for about 6 months. Mashed potato and strawberries. Tons of strawberries. I would look at broccoli and green veg and feel bile rise in my throat. It’s a miracle anything managed to grow inside me considering the nutritional deficiencies involved! Good luck Betty!

  14. Nicola Ridings 06/10/2011 at 21:46 #

    My mother craved meringues whilst pregnant with me, unsuprisingly anything with meringue in it always gets my vote.

    I on the otherhand craved nothing apart from BUTTER. Butter on everything, my oh used to ask if I needed bread with my butter. I used to wake up hungry in the night so eventually I got wise to this and took a jam butty with half an inch of butter on it to bed each night. The foil cruching as I unwrapped it wasn’t at all annoying for my OH, oh no.

    Incidentally I can’t leave butter out on the side for fear that my 4 year old will dip her finger in it straight from the tub, seems it’s been passed down.

    • Betty Herbert 07/10/2011 at 08:25 #

      I wonder if cravings do get passed down like that? My mum’s were peanut butter and rice pudding, both of which I like, but I wouldn’t say I was over-crazy on them. Interesting.

  15. Beccy 07/10/2011 at 08:47 #

    I sort of pretended I had cravings for chocolate eclairs and caramel shortbread, but, in my heart of hearts, I know I always have cravings for these…..and toast and marmite, on really good bread with a ton of proper butter!
    I’m one of the lucky ones who didn’t really actually get sick, but wierdly, did go off good quality dark chocolate and bacon – again, both of which I love! Reduced to scoffing dairy milk… 39 weeks, however, I’ve gained nearly 3 stone. That’ll learn me!

    • Betty Herbert 07/10/2011 at 10:13 #

      I’m hoping that this is all some sort of weight loss plan. After all, I must be losing LOADs of wine-calories

  16. helen 07/10/2011 at 10:49 #

    The two things that always help nausea for (non pregnant but pukey) me are chips and iced water.

    Really really cold iced water seems to take the worst off the edge of the vomity feel and isn’t as sickly or strong a taste as ginger if you do throw up.

    I also swear by pepperming oil capsules, but don’t know if they are suitable in pregnancy? I bulk buy them in Holland and Barrett. Hope something helps!

  17. Mama 04/11/2011 at 09:41 #

    So, you can all laugh at me, as I reminisced fondly about early pregnancy on some of Betty’s posts; I am now carrying my own inner Hitler in cellular form. I’ve been nodding along at the repulsion of sweets and chocolate (quelle horreur) and the cravings for salt, butter and instant potato.

    I’m hoping this will work for me; anyone tried it?

    • Betty Herbert 04/11/2011 at 11:04 #

      Wow, congrats! I’m so pleased for you. Haven’t heard of Morningwell before – sounds fascinating! My morning sickness seems to have returned after a two-week hiatus, so maybe this will be just the thing. I bloody hope so. I had to go back to bed this morning after only being up for an hour.

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