The Divorce Diet
Updated: Jan 25
How to loose a stone in a month
I felt like a live octopus had taken up residence in my stomach
It began with a timebomb. An unexpected email late at night. From my husband. He wants a divorce. I was 1,000 flight miles from home, visiting an aged parent.
I rustled up a large vodka and tonic, with extra bitter lemon. I telephoned the cad who could suddenly end 17 years of marriage. He explained as cold as my ice cube, that he is leaving me.
I flew to my home, determined to understand the cause. I felt like a live octopus had taken up residence in my stomach. I had not eaten in 48 hours. A rumble on my phone at arrivals, alerted me to more incriminating evidence. A text mesage informed me that he had left my car at the airport and gone to a funeral. Did I believe him?
His clothes, the dog and his sex toys were missing
On the back seat of my unlocked car were the house keys and €50 note. At home, I surveyed my situation like a bloodhound after a rabbit. The dog, his clothes and his sex toys were missing. His wedding ring was left on the dressing table. When I WhatsApped him, 'is there someone else?' He texted, 'no.' When I asked him what his grounds for divorce were, he texted, I don’t have any. I didn't hear from him again for 16 days. Early dementia?
The words ‘friend’ and ‘husband’ felt as unsafe as landmines
As any 3 year old will tell you, laying horizontally on the floor crying, is very comforting. The thought of losing my home and my marriage in one swoop was unendurable. My girlfriends rallied to my cause with vodka cocktails and party nights. I was uncontent at the lack of support from couples that had once formed the background to my social life. They disappeared like champagne bubbles. It was my family and girlfriends who helped me stand vertical, find a solicitor, and hide the vodka.
It was 5 months before I knew that there was another woman. A married, hirsute foreigner, who had ditched a boyfriend before launching herself at my husband. She used to call me a 'friend' at the same time as toying with me like a cat after a mouse on Facebook and WhatsApp. She had thrown herself at my husband like a frisbee. She had once said to me jokingly that she wanted my life, my husband and my figure. The words ‘friend’ and ‘husband’ felt as unsafe as landmines. Words like … noxious, toxic, putrid, fetid, and revulsion sprang to mind as quickly as jam setting.
Don't always trust the Professionals
My solicitor charged me £1,000 for two phone calls and a draught divorce. The document was as full of errors as wishy washy’s bucket. Her best advice was free. 'Care for yourself emotionally’. Not a luxury holiday, more like the pampering that comes from hiding under the duvet.
Be careful what goes in your shopping trolley
Shopping in the supermarket, for one, after 17 years of marriage, felt like being jilted at the alter. I felt shame, anger, recrimination and blame all in one. I had the appetite of someone who had been punched and thrown by a Judo master. I have no idea why I left the supermarket with a bottle of vodka, 12 prawns, a cauliflower and fresh noodles.
From Epic Fail to New Start
Standing in my kitchen, putting away my purchases, I surveyed my 5 burner hob, an American double fridge-freezer, 6 Le-Croute oven to hob saucepans, ceramic hotplates, steamers, blenders, juicers and a paella pan for 12. I needed to rewrite my entire culinary repertoire. No more 5 hour cooking feats for coupledom lunches and dinner parties. No more dinners for a 6 foot tall, forever-hungry rake, with hollow legs and a sweet tooth. No more surprise birthday parties, with musicians, for him and 30 friends.
Sat at our six-seater dining table, I felt more alone than I had ever done in my entire life. With my thoughts of injustice, cupping a large vodka and tonic, pen, notepad and divorce papers in hand, I frowned at my kitchen. It was jeering at me with its two cupboards full of recipe books, cooking notes and two draws full of herbs and spices. I was in zero gravity, nothing felt safe, or comforting.
I mopped my tears on a whole kitchen roll and considered the bones of my marriage. How could I not have suspected what was coming? I opened my conservatory doors, stepped out into the garden and threw the vodka at my mother-in-laws-tongues. They had permanent, sour grins on their striped green faces. I decided there and then, that I was not going to behave like the victim. I was going to make this whole Epic Fail, my new start.
I will never try to be perfect ever again
I was thinking of the Spanish señora, who’s sweetheart, a matador, was gored to death by a bull. In her darkest moments, cooking gave her comfort. She did not emerge from her self-imposed retreat for some time. She absorbed her grief by cooking, and baking. That's what I would do, except my cooking would be gourmet and done in minutes.
It is not everyone's idea of comfort, but I love making soup. Home made soup reminded me of times with my Welsh gran, when I was a child and in my place of safety. With my talent for exotic tucker for billionare clients, I knew how to make soup that was comforting, as well as delicious and exotic. I love soups more than chocolate and cakes and have cravings if there isnt any. I dream up soup recipes when I'm dropping off to sleep.
My idea was to make a litre of soup and use it as the basis for six meals. This is how: With the addition of coconut milk and peanut butter, make a Thai dish. With the addition of pesto sauce, tomatoe purree, and pasta makes an Italian dish. With the addition of a tablespoon of Tandorri paste, a teaspoon of white wine vinegar, and rice makes an Indian dish.
Thai Food in 10 minutes
1 litre of easy cauliflower or broccoli soup (recipe below)
1/2 can of coconut milk
1 tbs of peanut butter
Cooked prawns or cooked chicken slices
2 tbs of Olive oil
Pinch chilli powder
A crushed clove of garlic
Ready cooked fresh noodles
1 roasted red pepper, drained, finely sliced (from a jar of roasted red peppers in oil)
Sprinkle of freshly chopped coriander
Blend half of a can of coconut milk and a tbs of peanut butter into an ordinary cauliflower soup.
Stir-fry the prawns or the chicken in a little oil with a pinch of chili and the crushed garlic for 2-3 minutes.
Cook the fresh noodles in boiling water (3 minutes) and drain.
Heat the amount of soup you require.
Take a bowl, add the soup, add the cooked prawns or chicken and noodles.
Sprinkle with chopped coriander and finely sliced red peppers.
Easy Broccoli or Cauliflower Soup
Whole cauliflower or broccoli, broken into florets
one potato, peeled and chopped
one onion, chopped
1 litre of vegetable stock
salt and pepper
Put above ingredients into a pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool slightly. Blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning to your liking with salt and pepper.
Eating my quick Thai meal, the pain of being dumped was momentarily forgotten. Next day, still with a constant feeling of having blows to the stomach by an invisible assailant, I bought a single stool and tucked it under the worktop in my kitchen. I would eat my simple fare, alone, in my happy place. I asked a kind friend to remove my wedding photograph collage and tear them up into fragments.
I decided, if a meal can’t be put together in around 10 minutes, I was not going to waste my life on long cooking fests. His words that had once captured my heart and he used to repeat often, 'you are my perfect woman'. I would never emulate that woman again, she was in the dusty family history books, along with my marriage certificate and a trampled wedding ring. This was my new life and it was time to reinvent myself. I had a new recipe book idea. Finger lickin Food in Minutes.
If this was the single life, it was everything I had dreaded.
I studied the divorce rules and wrote out the complete divorce application myself and sent it to the court. I took in a lodger, signed up at the gym and pampered myself with a massage. I accepted offers of nights out with girlfriends and joined a walking group. I dusted off the novel that I had been penning and rewrote the chapters with more vitriol and vile characters.
I went to a singles night and laughed all the way home. There were eight smartly dressed women dancing around their handbags to unseen music. It reminded me of the school disco and Roger Bantam’s invasive tongue.
Of the two underdressed men leering from the bar, they glanced over their shoulders at the women dancing. They had the conspiratorial air of a pair of farmers choosing a new heifer.
Just before I left, a woman touched and held my arm. She looked deeply into my eyes and asked if I would like a drink and a lift home. If this was the single life, it was everything I had dreaded.
I had a lot to learn and I was not going to be left on the seconds shelf. I vowed never again to dance around my handbag or allow a strange woman to stare into my eyes.
I wrote a list.The 10 best things about getting a divorce.
In two months, toned from the gym, cycling, yoga and long walks on the beach. I had eaten little more than soup or my 10-minute gastro meals. My stomach still felt like a spring-loaded boxing glove had taken up residence, every time I had to deal with him. Then I wrote a list. The 10 best things about getting a divorce. I intended to use the advantages.
1. I was a stone lighter
2. I was fitter and more toned than I had been in years
3. I practiced my flirting skills and got a date
4. I had more writing time and more reasons to finish my novels
5. I realised how much my family and friends loved me and I spent more time with them
6. I got business savvy. I researched getting a divorce and refused to throw money at incompetent solicitors
7. I decided what I wanted out of life, instead of being consumed by married life
8. I began a simple routine of eating my easily put together gastro meals
9. I accepted more social invitations
10. I wanted to travel more, to culinary destinations, alone if necessary.