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September 1, 2009 / Katie

Comfort Food

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
• soda
• 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:

• praying
• 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
• sleeping
• 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.?

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8 Comments

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  1. LivingTheQuestions / Sep 1 2009 6:11 pm

    Self-soothing behaviors:
    –writing in my journal: amazingly effective
    –singing
    –making soup
    –ordering (too many?) books from online bookstores
    –sitting still on my sofa and staring at the wall for awhile (I know this sounds bizarre, but I think it’s my way of just feeling the feeling, being in it, and realizing that I’ll survive it just fine)
    –walking my dogs to the park, sitting down in the middle of the field and tossing the ball for them
    –just petting the dogs, cuddling with them
    –calling my friends
    –napping

    Another great post. Thanks!

  2. Frances / Sep 1 2009 7:10 pm

    My main comfort foods are:
    – Butter cake
    – Pasta, especially spaghetti bolognese
    – Cookies and cream ice cream
    – A mug of hot Milo
    – Soft boiled eggs and toast soldiers
    – Booze. (Depending on what I feel like, it’s usually a lager, a G&T or a glass of shiraz or pinot noir)

    My ultimate comfort activity is a swim at the beach. I’m Australian and I’ve lived on the coast for almost my entire life. I am firmly of the belief that a swim in the ocean can fix everything.

  3. Noelle / Sep 1 2009 8:59 pm

    Playing video games. Totally stress relieving. I <3 them.

  4. Nicole / Sep 1 2009 9:17 pm

    when it’s comfort food that I’m after I tend to go for sweet and warm (brownie, flavored coffee, hot cookie).

    soothing behaviors: baking, walks, internet surfing, journaling, something crafty, driving down winding country roads (not much of an option for me at this point) and my newest: staring at Lake Michigan.

  5. living400lbs / Sep 1 2009 10:08 pm

    I first identified “comfort books” and “comfort objects” for traveling.
    – A lavender-scented candle (in a lidded tin) and matches.
    – My favorite lavender-scented room spray.
    – Book of Common Prayer.
    – We’ll Always Have Parrots, by Donna Andrews.
    – The Adept, by Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris.
    – Murder Must Advertise, by Dorothy L Sayers

    At home, yes, I read — books, blogs, cartoons. I play Tropico, where I run a small Caribbean Island, or The Sims, or Puzzle Pirates. I have a glass of wine. I do yoga. I take a bath. I listen to music. I talk with friends.

  6. Twistie / Sep 2 2009 12:39 am

    Comfort foods: cream of tomato soup, mac and cheese with several kinds of good cheese in it, fresh-baked scones, hot chocolate, creamed spinach.

    Comfort behaviors: watching old movies (Errol Flynn is a favorite), reading (particularly Anthony Trollope and Jane Austen), baking, cuddling with my cat and/or Mr. Twistie, killing off my Sims horribly, singing Melissa Etheridge songs at the tops of my lungs, taking long walks.

  7. Twistie / Sep 2 2009 1:00 am

    Comfort foods: cream of tomato soup, mac and cheese with several kinds of good cheese in it, fresh-baked scones, hot chocolate, creamed spinach.

    Comfort behaviors: watching old movies (Errol Flynn is a favorite), reading (particularly Anthony Trollope and Jane Austen), baking, cuddling with my cat and/or Mr. Twistie, killing off my Sims horribly, singing Melissa Etheridge songs at the tops of my lungs, taking long walks.
    OH! You’re my new favorite blogger fyi

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