I was making a peach cobbler last night and I got to thinking about why we call certain foods, “comfort” foods. My cobbler recipe is probably healthier than the one momma used to make, but none the less, I made it because I wanted to remember those times when my mother made it for me. There is something about the smell of the fresh peaches mixed with cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar, that takes me back home. Back to a time when I had very few cares or responsibilities. I realize that it’s not the food but it’s the memories and the thoughts of simpler times that comforts me. The food is nothing more than a trigger.
The same holds true for emotional eating. The food is but a trigger that signals your mind and emotions to be calm. So after eating the so-called comfort food, we feel better. However, it’s not really the Mac & Cheese that makes the pain or loneliness go away. I’m not a psychiatrist so I can’t go into all of the psychological principles at work here. But as a personal trainer, I understand breaking bad habits and replacing them with good habits. If you are going to be successful in losing weight, managing diabetes, or lowering bad cholesterol. You will have to change your mind concerning your beloved comfort foods.
A new habit must be established to handle emotional turmoil, feelings of depression and loneliness. The stress of life will impact you in ways that cause you to want to revert to your childhood. There will be times when you feel like life is a roller coaster. However, you need to find a new trigger other than foods that do not comfort and often times don’t even nourish the body. If you believe you can’t live without a certain food, I challenge you to question that feeling. Will you really die if you don’t have those thin mints?
The Little Things You Can Do Today
- Close the fridge and phone a friend. Either talk to them over the phone or make plans to get together later.
- Do some physical activity that makes you happy. (sex is a good one)
- Find a way to release tension. Go for walk or punch on a punching bag.
- Practice meditation and prayer to help you quiet your mind and find peace.
- If you must eat, ditch the comfort foods for healthy options like fruit or vegetables.
Until Next Time,
Nicole D.P. McLaughlin, PT