It struck me today, as I reached for some chocolate, that we may have unnecessarily demonised ‘comfort food’ and ’emotional eating’.
Thinking back a few generations, when people got sad or sick or down on their luck, food always played a part. People gather, around food, to mourn, to celebrate, to commiserate, to be.
We look to food as a pleasure, a friend, a distraction, a little moment of joy amongst the chaos of life. Something to put a smile on a friends face, something to put a smile on ours. And you know what? I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. We do all sorts of crazy things when we feel ’emotional’. Sometimes we cry or yell or call a friend. (Sometimes we Facebook it!) And sometimes we eat.
We can’t be in control all the time. We can enjoy food and surrender to the pleasure of food in moments of stress.
I guess the thing that we’ve got to remember in those moments is not to indadvertedly punish ourselves through eating or drinking something that is knowingly bad for us. So I temper the response by not having a packet of Twisties in my cupboard or a block of Snack chocolate in the fridge. Instead I make myself cakes like the one in the comments (true story tonight) or eat my very dark good quality chocolate. Sometimes this doesn’t work and I buy a big Caramello Koala at the shops and you know what – I just bloody enjoy it.
I am human. I am emotional. I get tired. My kids drive me nuts.
If we lived in my grannies time then I’m sure a neighbour would have popped in with a lemon tea cake if she could hear the antics going on in this house today. But back then they didn’t call it ’emotional eating’, it was just an act of friendship to bring sunshine into someones day. They called it ‘popping in for a cuppa’.
Today we’ve put up walls around our lives and we just try and cope on our own and food has become this weird kind of enemy that we are constantly battling against. Because in those moments of sadness, frustration, tiredness, instead of a warming bowl of chicken soup delivered by a friend we’ve developed this idea that JUNK food is REAL food and can hit that spot. It can’t.
But here’s the thing – let’s not find another reason to be down on ourselves if, in those moments, we reach for something dodgy. Emotional eating has been done for generations. Think about births and deaths and the role food has played in those occasions. Older generations used the opportunity to NOURISH with special occasion food and I think we can learn from that. But we can’t be hard on ourselves either. OK? It’s not the idea of ‘comfort food’ that is new – it’s the crap that we call food these days that is new.
My Small Steppers are learning that every meal is a chance to put something REAL into their gorgeous bodies. But sometimes, when the world has backed us against a wall, we might eat something less than perfect for comfort, the way people always have.
And then we move on. No guilt. (It’s the guilt that is most toxic).
What are your thoughts on comfort eating? I’d love to hear your comments below…
PS. by absolutely no means am I a psychologist (who I’m sure could tear this to shreds) this is just how I feel right now and thought it might help anyone who had a day like me! xx