You see it glamorized in film and promoted cleverly in the grocery aisle. Little subconscious advertising tricks sneak into the back of your brain. You want some comfort? No better way than to eat it.
It’s as though the food industry has caught on to the stress trend and is taking advantage of it.
Oh, wait, that is exactly what’s happened.
With the increase in busy-ness for the average person and the decrease in comfort, has come the need for relief. Big food/money has figured this out, and blazed a trail that’s only widened (in more ways than one) since it started. All you have to do is turn on the TV or go to the grocery store to witness the sheer, yet subtle, volume of pandering. If it wasn’t successful, they wouldn’t do it.
I don’t need to give you examples of what comfort food is for. We have all been there, for many different reasons. It’s okay to seek comfort when stress is high. You may turn to food for that comfort. It’s no problem, we tell ourselves.
Until it’s a habit.
You know it’s a habit when you can’t even find a good reason for “eating emotionally”. You just are, because it feels good. There’s a reason for that.
Well, there are actually quite a few reasons but a very important one stands out.
It’s a hard word to hear. Even harder to accept. The truth is, everyone is addicted to something. We really shouldn’t criminalize the word, it only gives it more power. The meaning is simple. Your brain and your body has become so accustomed to a particular food for a particular response and it would be wise to turn that around. That’s all. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it just means you are a person.
While addressing addiction starts with admitting it, the problem ends with devaluing it. In other words, you have to talk yourself out of your dependence. Make it less important. Replace it with healthy habits. It’s a slow process, and no one can do it perfectly from the start.
Do you really need Ben and Jerry to pull you out of the hole you’re in? Or would a walk in the sunshine actually suffice? It’s these types of thoughts and questions that start the trend going the other way.
We’re all very aware in the moment that we do not need food to fix our problems. But it sure does feel nice. What else in your life feels nice?
Drawing? They make adult coloring books for that now. You hardly have to think, just draw. Release tension.
Or is it something more physical? A sport?
A hobby? Meditation? Prayer?
Often the answer is television. The problem with television is that it has a tendency to go hand in hand with a bowl of ice cream. (Cue a scene from Bridget Jones here)
Certainly eating – and watching television – is quick and easy. But if you think about it, so are the many other stress relievers available to you.
Some habits don’t end unless they are replaced by a new one. Taking a walk may seem more involved than eating, but when you really break it down, the two require the same amount of energy. And who knows, once you start walking, you may actually become addicted…
Who could tell you that’s a bad thing?
See how the meaning of that word has changed? Perspective is important. You can change it. There will be bumps and failures, and as long as you embrace them and move on, they won’t even slow you down.
Take a moment to brainstorm and find your joy. Find your version of walking in the sunshine. Seriously. Get out a pen and paper now, breath deep, and think.
There is your comfort. Write it out as a list and post it on your fridge. Or perhaps your cupboard. Keep your sunshine close, whatever it is, so it’s always easy and accessible.