In one of my first posts, I discussed how it is problematic to conflate emotional eating with chemical dependency.
I really believe that eating comfort food as a self-soothing behavior is not a morally bad, or even necessarily unhealthy, action. No self-soothing behaviors are intended to fix the problem, they are there to calm us down, soothe us in the moment, or provide a “bridge” for coping with the pain until such a time when we can truly face it. Emotional eating becomes a problem at the same time any of the other self-soothing behaviors become a problem—when they become a long-term avoidance strategy such that we never address what is causing our emotional pain. So as long as they’re not problematic, self-soothing behaviors are actually a really important part of taking care of ourselves. They are an important part of being a fully alive person in a world that sometimes throws curveballs our way.
My favorite comfort foods are:
• macaroni and cheese, especially the Veleveeta kind
• hot, gooey brownies or chocolate chip cookies
• buttered biscuits
• mashed potatoes and gravy
• a glass of wine
But I have a whole ton of other self-soothing behaviors that have nothing to do with eating. In fact, today was kind of a rough day and I’ve got a Gilmore Girls DVD on the TV in the background because it is soothing to me just like comfort food.
Some of my other favorite non-food “comfort foods” are:
• singing and/or dancing
• re-reading a favorite book, often Harry Potter
• giving myself a massage with oils
• lighting a candle
• doing a finger labyrinth or raking a Zen Garden
• listening to soothing music
• taking my camera on a “photo walk”
• talking or cuddling with a friend, sister, or spouse
• being near a lake, river, or ocean
What are your favorite comfort foods and other self-soothing behaviors that you engage in to feel better in the short term when you are feeling stressed, angry, upset, sad, etc.?