Thursday, August 04, 2011

Finding Comfort in Food

It's difficult to lose weight when the phrase, "Comfort Food" carries so much (no pun intended) weight. Being an emotional eater, and looking to food for relief, or pleasure, is dangerous.
I know that when I am upset there are certain foods that instantly make me feel better. When talking about the pleasure principle, for me, nothing makes me feel better than peanut butter and crackers.
It's gotten to the point where even if I'm not upset, eating some crackers and peanut butter brings back the impression that I was upset, but now am feeling better, and I draw comfort from this.
As with anything, I can't eat too many, but even a quick consumption of a package of Ritz crackers makes me feel fully emotionally replete.
Being driven to consume certain foods based upon a visual stimulus is even worse.
How bad are fast food commercials when you're trying to diet?
Those commercials are the worst because even if you don't like Wendy's (which I don't), there's nothing more tempting than seeing a commercial for a Wendy's double burger (or anything) and then feeling compelled to go get one RIGHT NOW.
Then there is the olfactory stimulation that makes us crave certain foods
For instance, does the smell of freshly popped popcorn instantly take you to the theatre where you want to comfortably settle in for a film?
I cannot go to the theatre and not get popcorn. It's virtually impossible. Yes, I've done it a few times, but it's hard for me to focus on the film without my hands having something to do (knitters get this, I'm sure).
And the smell of popcorn literally drives me crazy.
And then we have the memories that are the most dangerous of all - the situational comfort food.
Does the thought of a snowball fight, or building a snow fort make you crave chocolate chip cookies and hot cocoa?
When someone mentions a Sunday dinner, does your mind immediately conjure up fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese?
The worst thing to happen, however, is to eat just because it's there.
I can't tell you how many times while at work, or reading, or watching a movie at home, I've opened a bag of crackers, totally ignored the serving size, and started munching away only to look up a short while later and find that three quarters of the bag is gone!
Potluck dinners, or all you can eat buffets are like mined battlefields.
So much to try, and all these good foods - its impossible not to go back up for just one more round.
Even literature is filled with images of families eating meals, and celebrations filled with ritual feasts.
We probably need look no further back than our religious rituals to see how closely intertwined food is with the rite. Look at our holidays - Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter - even the supermarkets know what to stock. Have you ever bought Halloween candy in September, just so you're ready, and then found that you have to buy more because the first batch has been consumed? By you?
The only place where I am safe from consuming food is when I'm drinking beer.
This is hardly a plus, since beer  has never been considered a valid diet aid, but I just can't mix my vices, so I don't even eat peanuts (not that they serve them anymore) when I drink.
I believe there was a cartoon character who said, "When I drinks, I drinks, and when I eats, I eats."
Or maybe that's just something I made up in my head when I was drinking (not that I really do a lot of that, so don't worry).
Life with food cravings is tough, and I wish there was some magic pill that would shut off my food stimulation switch.
I do realize, however, that finding comfort in food is all about mental satisfaction, and has nothing to do with a physical need.
I just have to remind myself that food is not there to make me emotionally well.
But dang, it sure does taste good

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