Cocooned in a white blanket on her patio in Los Angeles, Chrissy Teigen still looks like Chrissy Teigen. But everything else about her is different. The mom of two is thoughtful, patient, almost at ease, which seems difficult to be after the year she’s had. In September 2020, at 20 weeks gestation, she and her husband, musician John Legend, lost their third baby, whom they had previously named Jack. Then came a public boost for the mean messages Teigen sent on social media. She turned inward to understand herself. “I feel great,” she says now. “I feel like I’ve had a lot of closure.”
Make no mistake about it: whatever tranquility she found, she was hard earned. Teigen, 35, has quit drinking and goes to therapy several times a week, digging through messy layers of insecurity, rejection, anger, disappointment and jealousy to figure out how to be the best of herself . It is not there yet. But slowly, slowly, she gets there. “I think that’s where the real growth happens, when your world is turned upside down,” she says.
She coped while working on her third cookbook, Desires: All together: recipes to love, released on October 26. The recipes aren’t haute cuisine and they don’t require artisanal ingredients that can only be found at remote farm stalls. These are things your kids – or at least her kids, Miles, 3, and Luna, 5 – are supposed to eat: crispy yams with lime-infused yogurt, a smoky and sweet eggplant dip and the airy focaccia made by family friend Mike Rosenthal. , who is married to hairstylist Jen Atkin.
“For me, it’s very personal,” Teigen says of the book. “I was deeply involved, but these are also things that I really, really needed to eat and things that I wanted to do.”
Here, Teigen tells Scary Mommy about tough lessons, new beginnings, and the food that feeds his soul.
What was it like to create this cookbook in the midst of so much turmoil in your life?
When it all happened, all I wanted was heartwarming recipes, so I decided I wanted to be completely immersed in this cookbook process. It’s funny because the [process of writing] Hungry for more was sort of – there were episodes of incredible postpartum depression. I was there physically for that, but I was not necessarily there mentally. This one, I needed it to survive.
The kids were super involved. Adeena [Sussman, Teigen’s co-author] moves in each time and lives in the guest room; Adeena was there for everything … and his advice and wisdom extends far beyond the world of cookbooks. And we were in a little rental house. It was a bit unusual in the kitchen sometimes, but it was also really cool because we got to see what we could do with the bare minimum. So I knew for sure, “Oh my God, anyone can make any recipe in this cookbook. And that was great in itself.
After I finished with the book, I realized, “Oh, it’s time to tackle a lot of things. It is definitely time for therapy and time for healing.
What would Chrissy say from today to Chrissy in early 2020 about this year you’ve been through?
There is so much room to think completely that you knew everything and to think that you had everything and for everything to change.
I needed to be shaken and I needed to be humiliated. Before I got pregnant with Jack, I didn’t lead a healthy lifestyle. The way I treated my body wasn’t great, with the alcohol. I was the type of person who laughed at workout and my friends obsessed with their CrossFit. I was not reading my body well. So I feel that if I [had] had[ten] lucky to have it, I wouldn’t have learned how precious life is and how precious my body is. Now I see my body as something that I can’t cry out against and I can’t be upset. It’s been through so much, and more than people even know. It was incredible what he persevered.
Do you seem remarkably… calm?
I am. It took a lot to get there. I don’t hold back any anger, and I attribute this to so much therapy. I was kind of an angry kid before. I got worked up over the smallest things. […] Even in a restaurant or something, and I would always be on my guard. I was always watching people taking sneaky videos or taking pictures.
I was a jealous person. Whether it was other people’s successes – I wasn’t bad with my friends, but I wasn’t good at communicating, and that was kind of a thing my friends had to accept that I was going to come in. and get out. Something that has always dominated me is that I always wanted to be a best friend. My world tends to be very closed. [After Jack died] I didn’t go out much – depression can throw you off, obviously. You are determined to do what you can so as not to be seen and be part of the world, and I made myself so small by being sad and angry and bitter.
I feel more like [a] whole person. It’s silly, but it’s really the little things. I love listening to music and love driving my kids and taking them for a little vacation, like I did last weekend, and it wouldn’t have happened a year ago. I feel like a better mother, a better wife and a best friend. I like to be part of the world.
How did you explain to Miles and Luna what happened to Jack?
They saw the experience of home ultrasounds and the “it’s not okay” nervousness. Or I was the one going to the bathroom, and Luna was at the door when I went out, and she was like, “Are you bleeding again?” She knew everything. So there would be no escape, even if I wanted to.
We told them we lost him, but it wasn’t until we got his ashes back, I think, that they started to be able to say, “OK, it happened. Here it is now. He did not succeed. It was something for them to be able to tell a story, where wWe could say, “OK, Jack is here and he’s going to stay with us. And maybe one day we will release him. And he loves that we always think of him, and he loves that we are always emotional for him, but more than anything, he loves that we talk about him. It makes him really excited and really happy. So they know it’s still a part of our lives.
I don’t think they will ever understand why he didn’t succeed, in the same way that I don’t understand. I had a placental abruption and I keep asking my doctor, “Okay, but why? Why couldn’t it work? Why didn’t we just keep going? And they were like, “We would have physically run out of blood in the hospital. Were we going to do this for 20 weeks in the hospital? TIt’s always something that I come to terms with, why we gave up.
Honestly, the [kids] still catches me in a funk some days. And the first thing they go to is, “Is that baby Jack?”
How are they doing now?
At school when they draw things, they draw it like an angel. We talk about it a lot. What was comfortable for our family was that he was always there. Whether we’re going on vacation or whatever, they always say, “Don’t forget baby Jack. And then I have to wrap it up. And then we get to where we’re going, they say, “Oh my God, he must be thirsty.” It might sound crazy to people, but they will put a little glass of water next to its little box of ashes. And they really like to be a part of it.
Thanks for sharing this. Guess Miles and Luna provide a welcome distraction on the roughest days as well? Having children doesn’t really make you focus too much on yourself.
I know. My daughter, just this morning, she said to me, “If you want to be Morticia, you have to get skinny.” Because the Morticia in the Addams Family cartoon is literally a twig drawing of a person. And I’m like, “Well, I don’t know if I can ever get that small, Luna.”
My son told me a few years ago that I looked like the Incredible Hulk, and trust me, it wasn’t because I was green.
I love children so much.
I love that you cook with your kids, do they like that?
Miles will be cooking, but that must involve something rude. And then he’s in it – if he can get dirty doing it, he’s totally in it. Luna is very thoughtful with the kitchen. She can predict how beautiful the end result will be, and I love it.
Are they really eating what you are doing? Is there some sort of secret to raising undemanding eaters?
I was the type of person who insisted that our children eat what we eat. Maybe not the spicy stuff. But if I have shrimp, they’re going to have shrimp. And if they don’t eat it, then they’re going to be hungry. And that didn’t happen with any of them. In fact, I just spoke the words – and I couldn’t believe I had done this. I was like, Oh my God, I’m officially a mom – I caught myself screaming: “It’s not a restaurant, you know ?!” He just threw up out of me.
Miles, right now it’s chicken nuggets for him, chicken fillets. Oh! Here’s a cool secret, and it’s fun: I kept the Happy Meal box. I realize[d] if things go in the Happy Meal box, they are more excited.
But yeah, I would be lying if I said my kids are different from other kids even though I’m cooking.
They always want a Happy Meal.
They always want a Happy Meal. They always want pizza Fridays at school. They are children and they want familiar and delicious things. You can’t really get away with it no matter who you are. It’s just that.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.