Do you reach for food when you are upset? More specifically, do you reach for comfort food?Emotional eating is very common. When we are upset about something, it is only natural for us to seek pleasure. We want the pain to stop, so we try to find a way to feel better immediately. This usually has us eating large of amounts of junk food. For a few moments, the sugar or high fat snack gives us pleasure, so we indulge and eat way more than we planned. Because comfort food has nothing to do with being hungry.
I am guilty of this as well. Potato chips are my comfort food. If I’m having a bad day, I will usually talk myself into a serving or three. Because in my painful state I believe that I deserve to eat potato chips. While it may make me feel better for a short period of time, the long term effects of this behavior will only bring more pain into my life. When I overindulge in too much junk food, my body responds with inflammation. My digestive system gets upset and I have horrible bouts of nausea. This brings more pain into my life, so I go searching for more comfort. It’s a horrible, self-destructing cycle.
A few years ago, when my body had had enough and decided to rebel on me, I was forced to make some changes. My diet was one of the first things the doctor wanted me to look at. He asked me to eliminate processed food, gluten, and then dairy. The first 30 days was so hard! I realized that I had emotional attachments to food. It made me cry to not eat doughnuts and fast food. I remember crying in the grocery store and thinking that I could not do it. But the alternative to not doing it was remaining sick. So I gave myself a pep talk and worked on changing my thoughts about food.
I soon realized that willpower would help me to avoid gluten and processed foods for a few days or weeks, but it would not work long term. In order to make a lasting change, I knew that I needed to change my mind-set. That’s when I began educating myself on ingredients and taking a hard look at the nutrition of my food. What I discovered both terrified and delighted me. Seeing all the harmful chemicals in my favorite foods helped me to change my thoughts about it. It no longer sounded appealing to me. Before every bite I asked myself one question, “Is this harmful or helpful to me?” This has helped me to reach for more whole foods that actually heal my body instead of hurting it.
Now if I’m having a bad day, I have a whole list of things that provide me comfort that has nothing to do with food.
- Walk. Walking and talking to my Lord always helps me.
- Bath. Soaking in Epsom salt and essential oils is so relaxing.
- Prayer. When I take my troubles to the Lord, He always helps me.
- Read. Reading the Bible or another book of encouragement helps me.
- Breathe. Deep breathing calms me.
- Write. Getting my feelings out and on paper helps me to see my situation with a different perspective.
- Watch a sunrise or sunset. Sitting in nature and appreciating God’s beauty helps me.
- Sing. Singing comforting hymns helps me to get my mind back to where it needs to be.
- Talk. Sometimes talking to a friend about our problems helps us to see if differently.
- Run or exercise. Cardio helps me to release pain killing endorphins.
The next time you find yourself reaching for some comfort foods, try one of the things on my list and see if it helps you as well. Then work on making your own list.
When we change our thoughts, we are able to change our life.
Have a wonderful day!