Life can be filled with challenging circumstances that drive you to find comfort in food. These “comfort foods” seem to soothe the aches and pains of your life.
You know the story. It has been a hard day at the office and as you drive home nothing sounds better than a big bowl of mac-n-cheese; your favourite from childhood that mom made when you scraped your knee. Things are a bit messy in your relationship and you reach for that rich decadent chocolate cake to ease your sadness and sense of failure. Maybe it isn’t a negative emotion driving you to eat. It could be a day filled with great excitement and a greasy slice of pizza promises to extend the joy of the day.
Whatever it is that is driving you to comfort foods, it is emotion and not nutritional need.
Not dismissing the fact that these foods lack nutritional value, the big issue is that they do not meet the need; neither of body or spirit. Neither is satisfied, only placated and therefore both demand more. The cycle begins.
In this modern world, nutrition is no longer valued as a life source but rather as a pleasure to the palette, a soother of emotions, an ode to good times past.
This reality of comfort foods creates a life of imbalance as one craving for comfort creates another and most often in the form of an equal opposite. A sugary choice demands a salty one that demands another sugary treat. I recently watched a very clear example of this behaviour. Admittedly a bit discouraged by some financial pressures, this consumer proceeded to eat a bag of chips and candy bar simultaneously as I watched. One bite chips, one bite candy bar. As my caution was offered, it became clear to us both that emotions were in control, not hunger.
Sadly, this vicious cycle is hard to break and wrought with danger.
The obvious hazard of comfort foods is to your health.
Living in the extremes of imbalance taxes the body from every angle. That distress and the malnutrition combined result in a myriad of medical concerns from obesity to cancer, diabetes, and migraines.
The emotional dangers are a concern as well.
Comfort foods become a mask behind which to hide.
Authentic resolutions are replaced with the high of comfort foods that quickly dissipates, revealing, once again the raw nerves of the painful experiences faced in your life. The demand for comfort quickly returns and the cycle carries on. Emotions leading to poor food choices, hiding behind a high fat, high calorie, nutritionally void veil lead straight back to the unresolved emotional matters with the added strain of a deprived body.
In the end, the body is overweight and under nourished. The spirit is starved and wracked with pain. And if you were to be honest with yourself, you are nothing if not completely miserable with a belly full of your favourite comfort foods.
It’s time to stop the cycle of emotional eating by recognizing the difference between the cries of the heart and the needs of the body.
Understand that the emotions cannot be authentically nourished with comfort foods and any attempt to do so robs the body and erodes its strength and wellness. As a result both body and spirit break down leaving you overweight and emotionally devastated. The fact is simple, the bodies need for food is not a resolution for emotional injury. Treat the two individually, however, and body and spirit are both empowered to live in authentic unity and wellness.
Are comfort foods your go to in tough times? Are you ready to break the cycle and heal your body and spirit?