I know someone that seeks comfort in food. Me. And you, too. Food can be delicious, right? Food can be pleasureful. Eating is a highlight of the day, yes? Many of us find ourselves “decompressing” with food at the end of a long, busy day. When relaxing or finding comfort in food becomes a routine, it can become problematic.
Finding comfort and enjoyment in food on a regular basis is an issue. “Needing a beer” or “needing a cupcake” on the regular (I’m talking about more than a few times a week) suggests we are uncomfortable without it. If, in that moment that we “need” something indulgent, and we deny ourselves that distraction, what happens? Negative emotions come out. Discomfort, anxiety, anger, sadness, guilt, uneasiness, fear, etc.
What if, in that moment, we do something that offers true comfort and does our body/mind/soul a favor, rather than a distraction? How about a hot bath, painting, making a cup of tea, cooking something healthy from scratch, meditating, writing, walking, calling a good friend and having a long, real talk?
This past week, I was talking to a woman in Trader Joe’s. I said that I worked at a homemade ice cream and candy parlour between the ages of 15 and 23. She looked at my body and said, “Well, you can’t tell! You didn’t seem to gain any weight” and she laughed. I said, “Oh, I did, to the tune of about 20 pounds.” I told her that I’ve permanently lost 75 pounds. I never re-gained more than a couple pounds here and there. That is a guess, because I do not weigh myself. I can tell by how my jeans fit. Anyway, she asked how I lost the weight. I said, “the hard way.”
I told this woman, as I tell many people, that I kept the weight off and reached all of my goals by changing my relationship with food. That is the only way to do it. You must change your relationship with food. Use food to nourish and to heal. I absolutely enjoy everything I eat. I have several rules and one of them is to not force myself to eat anything I don’t like simply because it’s nutritious.
Let’s go back to figuring out what gives us true comfort and does our body/mind/soul a favor. Learning that I had used food for happiness and comfort was one of the greatest awarenesses of my life. Becoming aware that you do something is a big win! It opens the door to change. There was a time, many years ago, that I’m confident I sought comfort and/or happiness in every meal. Nowadays, it may only happen once a week. Patterns are strong, though. More often than once a week, I have the impulse to eat something because it provides temporary feel-goods. The trick is to be aware and catch myself in that impulse. I recognize what I’m seeking, and I find a way to give myself some real comfort in a non-food way.
Interestingly, I find that when I incorporate things that give me true comfort — like a clean house with flowers everywhere, going to the gym and having a kickass workout, or having a cup of turmeric tea — I do not seek comfort in food as often. I take care of myself on a regular basis, and do other things that make me happy and joyful overall. Because of this, I do not seek comfort in food very often.
Another tip to get away from seeking comfort in food is to “clean up your life.” Resolve issues. Get rid of friendships that are toxic. Get rid of clothes that you don’t like. Apologize to someone if you need to. Quit your job and find something that makes you happy. End a relationship if it’s not serving your highest good. Stop wasting so much time _______ (fill in the blank). The happier you become, the more gratitude you practice, and the more true comfort you engage in, the less you will rely on food and drink to make yourself feel good.
Peace and gratitude,