As the weather starts to warm up, and we move into the final third of the year things start to get crazy. We start to feel the pressure of moving into the silly season, the holidays, and we feel rushed and overwhelmed. A sense of pressure and expectation. So much to do. So much to get done. So little time. We have to keep up. Perhaps that sense of being pushed and pulled in every direction and perhaps not being able to say no.
In the midst of this pressure, there is the sense of that heavy burden on our shoulders and a need to find expression, and relief. A way of finding ease and comfort. But how do we find that relief? How do we find that outlet?
For many of us, food is that comfort, that refuge, that place of mothering. Food is that one reliable source we can go to, that will give us that sense of being calmed, grounded, soothed, held, pleasured and allow us to relax. Food is available, it is available now, and we can do it in the comfort of our own home, and in private.
Sadly, food isn’t the answer. The feel good feelings don’t last for very long. And the cascade of shame, anger and disgust that follows leaves us yearning and hankering for even more refuge.
When we are stressed or lonely, overwhelmed or angry, our mind wants to move us away from those negative feelings towards safer feelings of comfort
The truth is that our minds and bodies are one, they work in unison. When we are stressed or lonely, overwhelmed or angry, our mind wants to move us away from those negative feelings towards safer feelings of comfort, fulfilment and positivity. And in its wisdom, the mind draws on memories of food associated with happy times, fun times.
The body remembers too. When we think back to happy times, they are usually around eating, celebrating with food, connecting with family and friends with food. Food is central in the memory. However, what is really crucial, is actually the feeling – the feeling of being happy, the feeling of connection, the feeling of being with people, the feeling of fulfilment. Most people connect the positive memories with food and not the feeling, and hence when we feel bad, and think back to good times, it is our bodies cue to signal hunger. We fill ourselves up with food instead of the emotion.
Food is not a replacement for a feeling. Food is not able to nurture you. It cannot insulate you from your feelings and your emotions. When food becomes a means of self-medicating and numbing out, food loses its ability to nourish.