For the first time I can remember, I’ve lost my appetite – Stephen Jardine

For the first time he can remember, Stephen Jardine has lost his appetite. Or has he?

Colds and flu can do terrible things to your sense of taste

There are two types of people in the world. The first kind really don’t care about food. To them it is fuel and a task they tackle with as much anticipation as doing the laundry. They think restaurants are a waste of money and ready meals are vastly underrated. It is hard to be friends with these people.

Then we have the rest of us and specifically the people who read this column.

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We love food. To us, it is one of life’s great joys. Every meal is something to anticipate and savour. Breakfast may just be over but we are already thinking about what we are going to have for lunch and dinner.

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Based on key life factors, I once worked out how many meals I probably still had ahead of me. I was devastated by the result.

This week I experienced what it is like to be that other type of person. The kind who would be relieved to know how few meals they still have to face cooking and eating.

Worst symptom of all

It started as a cold but has since developed into full-blown man flu.

My head aches, my sinuses are blocked and I’ve developed a cough that would have impressed the sailor on the packet of Capstan Full Strength.

My teeth itch and my throat is a raging inferno seemingly filled with shards of broken glass. However all that pales into insignificance when compared to the worst symptom of them all.

I’ve lost my appetite. For the first time I can remember, I can’t be bothered with food. At the moment, it tastes of nothing and swallowing just makes my throat even angrier. Worryingly, I’m not even thinking about what I’m going to eat tonight. You could give me a vegan ready meal and I might even have that.

Thankfully, the author Damian Barr is stopping me feeling too sorry for myself. We did an event together at the end of last year and I know Damian is a proper food lover.

However for the past week he’s been chronicling on social media the stomach bug he developed while attending a literary festival in India.


Most of his time was spent not on stage but curled up on the marble floor of his hotel bathroom in Jaipur.

Let’s just say if Damian ever wants to take over from Stephen King as the master of visceral horror, he now has all the material he needs.

It takes a lot to overcome the human urge to eat. Our appetite exists to drive us on to the next meal which will help provide the sustenance to keep us alive.

Even if we don’t feel like it, others know the importance of encouraging us to eat. “Feed a cold and starve a fever,” they used to say. That is why hospital food is so important.

When we are at our lowest physical ebb, offering something that looks and tastes appealing is vital to help our recovery. It isn’t easy when budgets are tight and tastes and appetites vary from patient to patient but food is part of the medicine that makes us better.

In fact, writing this has sent something stirring. I couldn’t stomach a full meal, but maybe some tomato soup with nice bread spread with lots of butter.

Or a cheese sandwich with pickle thick on top.