I’m not sure about you, but that’s nothing I heard when I was a kid. I would presume that not many of us were offered a handful of almonds or some avocado slices when we were down and needed a mood boost. If you were anything like me, it was ice cream, pizza, and if it was a really special day, we headed to the fanciest of fancy places - Ponderosa Steakhouse where we could eat all the salad, rolls, and buffet offerings one could ever hope for.
Think about some of the happiest times in your life. Birthday parties, summer BBQ’s, graduations, weddings, baby showers, and Thanksgivings and Christmases with family. What do all of those things have in common? Besides spending time with people you love, the next common denominator is that there was always lots of food, and it usually wasn‘t of the healthy variety. Cake, ice cream, hotdogs & hamburgers, casseroles, pies, mashed potatoes, and the delicious list goes on.
In a reader’s poll done by CNN, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and grilled cheese topped the list of most popular comfort foods. Those were followed closely by macaroni & cheese, fried chicken, ice cream, apple pie and the surprisingly specific McDonalds cheeseburger.
It seems that when we get upset, we are symbolically trying to go back and relive our happy childhood via the foods that we ate then. I know that sounds funny, but it seems to be true, doesn’t it? Those are the foods that mom would throw together on busy days after school, for family dinners on Sunday afternoon, or foods we’d eat during surprise McDonalds visits after doctor’s appointments or a particularly stressful day at school. When we eat certain foods, not only do they trigger feelings of happiness in our subconscious minds that take us back to happier times, but there are also legitimate chemical reactions that take place in our brains where feel-good hormones are released.
Sometimes we can grow to be somewhat emotionally dependent on these things to make us feel better. Much like the drug addict that turns to heroine to numb pain, cure boredom, or reward themselves, we use carbs, sugar, cheese, and chocolate to do the same thing. As a matter of fact, a friend of mine just posted an article that she read that said that that on a study done with rats, sugar (in this specific study it was Oreos) was just as addictive as cocaine. Isn’t that nuts?
Also like the recovering addict, if we want to break the cycle of turning to food when we need comfort, we need to detox, develop new habits, and learn healthier ways of managing our emotions - three things that I hope to go into more detail with over the next few days.
Until then, I will leave you with this lovely Bible verse:
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3