Posted in Of Psyche

Of Comfort Eating

Food Porn. Oops, I mean Prawn.

I could have called it binge eating, or emotional eating, or recreational eating. But, comfort, says it most accurately. I’ve been doing a lot of that, on and off, the last few years. But, lately, it has taken the cake. Or biscuit.

I’d like to call it a muffin top, but it has long ceased to be so. It used to be a steady doughnut. Not an almost two-dimensional vegetable cutting board, but ever so slightly protruding upwards and airwards. Which is fine, because no matter what the media has been telling you ad infinitum, you do need some fat to protect your internal organs. But, at the start of my quarter-life crisis, it graduated to a muffin. And now, it pretty much looks like a one-pound sponge cake, and even makes me believe I can fill it up with a one-pound sponge cake in one go.

On top of that, I’ve never been able to make a habit of exercising, or even enjoying it. The doughnut condition was made possible by the fact that, despite not liking exercise, I am rather nervous and fidgety, requiring to pace and move around instead of staying still. And also, frequently facing dental or digestive problems as a direct consequence of eating too much of something that is not good, kept things in check. But, now, it seems I’ve learnt to accept that, for the sake of finding comfort and coping with life.

It is not an extreme case, and you’re unlikely to see me in any horror documentaries anytime soon. But, what was initially just a necessity to buy clothes in a larger size and acquiring the beginnings of a double chin, is now a full-fledged ‘my body feels differentscenario. I walk differently, move differently, lean differently. I don’t move around as much as I used to, and I either think about or eat food all the time. Doesn’t help that even when you’re reading health articles, you are faced with a gallery of food-porn pictures. I call it comfort because it is not just semi-repellent salty or sugary foods. Just the act of eating something is so comforting, I could binge on cucumbers!

I believe there are different reasons why people eat extra – more than their bodies need to get through the day. The classic one is just because they enjoy certain disgusting but delicious food items. Others, because they are bored and eating gives them something to do, and the activity becomes a habit. Some, because they really enjoy trying out new foods, even making them, and do not think about the consequences. And some, like myself, who find that food helps them calm down, or sustain them emotionally through a situation, something that can be achieved with salad or boiled potatoes, just as with potato chips and samosas.

Everyone has bodies that react differently to food. I know plenty of people who stay the same median weight and figure, whether they eat less or more. My non-exercising median is also the doughtnut, which goes away if I do work out three or four times a week. The doughnut is just as flighty if I eat extra, because I can see the food getting absorbed into my body as fat, refusing to move, until I work out a system, usually one that involves not eating that again, or anything like it, and exercising.

Even writing this blog post has made me slightly more anxious, and even if I had a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits an hour ago, I made myself a sandwich of highly processed cheese and white bread while writing this. I’m also constantly thinking about the last sweet in my fridge, even though I don’t need it, nor do I particularly like its taste and texture. But, I know I’ll have it, just to stop thinking about it.

Though I’ve enjoyed writing this blog the past two years, I don’t enjoy making it out of my quarter-life crisis. Perhaps, it would make more sense to you if more details were given, instead of it seeming like the whinings of a Millennial, making much ado about nothing. (I went and had the sweet.) But, I know that the way I move my body, and the way I go about my diet, is not the way I am, or perceive myself to be. And I wish I could go back to that, and spend the next hour doing something productive, instead of looking up reviews of restaurants to go to on Sunday, even if I got sick the last few times I ate out.

What is your relationship with food? Any tips on curbing comfort eating?


Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

11 thoughts on “Of Comfort Eating

    1. Makes sense. I’m semi-vegetarian, but I did go full vegetarian once, for 6 months, and it did “feel” better. Though I won’t claim anything, because food orientation easily causes offence. That’s the second quotable quote from you today, Geoff! I’ve written both down!

      Btw, this might be a little presumptuous, but if you haven’t listened to the rockier Blondie albums, then I definitely recommend them. Most people listen to albums 3, 4, 5 where things are more mainstream but still very good. But, albums 1 and 2, Blondie(1976) and Plastic Letters are relatively raw and edgy enough to show why someone would want to synthesize Debbie Harry’s personality, and inject them into clones since 1976.

      1. As a huge fan, I’d probably rate Parallel Lines last among the first five albums. It’s always been a little uneven for me, but people remember it best because of a few hit singles. The next album, Eat To The Beat, is much more consistent and self-assured. Though, I would recommend starting with Blondie (1976) because, after all, “Blondie is a band.”

  1. Meditation helps.

    I used to have a fairly unhealthy relationship to food. When I felt guilty about eating — which made overeating intriguing. Which mirrored a crazy culture. When I started seeing food as good and healthy, I got better.

    But like I said, meditation helps. Brings comfort.

  2. Hi! I found this post after looking up your post on tagging, which was helpful, thanks!
    I loved your line “I could binge on cucumbers”! And your honesty.
    I think our relationships with food are hugely important, and that there is so much healing to be experienced as we explore different ways of satisfying our cravings. Comfort eating seems to be a lot about filling a hole in us that is never really filled by food. I used to have a very intense love/hate relationship with food, which mirrored the love/hate relationship with myself. I hated having needs and not feeling able to fulfill them in my relationships with people or food. Eventually I moved to the wilderness and kind of started from scratch, and even though I can’t say I love myself fully and completely every day, all my relationships feel much more healthy and balanced. Personally, I love to explore ways to make my everyday foods more satisfying with fun, homemade condiments, healthy baked treats, foraged foods and more. I love to make platefuls of food that look really pretty and make me feel happy just to look at them while I eat them. I also eat very slowly and focus on all the pleasure in the sensory experience. I just wrote a post on getting out of food ruts you might want to check out.
    I hope this helps! Feeling way out of whack with food really sucks, and I’ve definitely been there… (sympathy noises)

    1. Thank you so much for writing this. I definitely agree with everything you say. When I was younger, even in my early twenties (I’m in my late 20s now), I definitely had a good relationship with food. I’m semi-vegetarian, so apart from a few types of meat and fish, I really had a very varied diet, and savoured everything I ate. Definitely a lot of fruit and veggies. Now, it’s almost like a quick fix, a “high”, usually delivered by very fatty, sometimes over-processed food. Food is a lot like love, where it can be savouring the sensations or obsessing with it. It has become an obsession now!

      There are some changes happening soon in my life, so I do hope it has an effect on the way I “think” about food. Hopefully less because I think about it all the time! I’m also seriously considering changing my diet, though nothing drastic. I had a coffee brownie and an apple pie the other day, and I really wish they didn’t please me (and my waistline) as much as they do!

      Thank you again for writing this. I really appreciate it.

      1. You’re so very welcome! It really means a lot to me to be able to help even a tiny bit!
        And I was so happy to see your comment on my blog! To me, these kinds of conversations give me hope and much joy!

        For me personally, I don’t mind feeling somewhat obsessed with food. I think about food many hours of the day, but it’s not like it used to be when I was having a really hard time with it. It’s more like I’m obsessed with figuring out the absolute yummiest thing I could make to eat next, which is usually pretty fun!

        That’s great that you have some big changes coming up. So much opportunity for shifts of consciousness when our life changes for some reason.

        Have you ever thought about keeping small portions of things like coffee brownies in little balls in the freezer? Then, each time you really feel in “need” (or…intense desire!) of something like that, you could make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and sit down and really enjoy it. Maybe you would decide you want or “need” a second one, maybe not. The little balls might last you a week, or they might last a single afternoon… but either way, it’s highly possible that you would taste them and appreciate them more this way.

      2. That’s a great idea! I did try something like that with chocolate, though it is easier to do that because they usually come in squares or individual pieces. To be fair, I had something in the pastry department after a long time on that day, a good few months at least. Other ‘sinful’ treats had been doing the trick meanwhile, like icecream. For the time being, I’m thinking about restraining myself, starting with not buying such food items for home (as I tend to buy more) and eating them at the shop instead. Another thing I’ve been doing the week is eating only when I am really hungry. Usually, because I “snack” most of the time, I don’t get properly hungry except when I wake up in the morning. Being hungry before meals makes me appreciate the food better which, as you pointed out, makes me enjoy the food more.

        Thank you so much for your help. I feel like I’m speaking to a doctor!

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