I recently wrote a short post on Weight Watchers social media where I repeated something I had read; “sometimes you really need comfort food”.
To which I wrote; Respectfully, no you do not ever need comfort food. Odds are, comfort food is the reason you are reading this on Connect. Learn to get over those emotions with exercise instead of through food”.
Of course this opened the dialogue for a variety of responses where some agreed to the premise of my posting and some did not. And that was perfectly fine as even the dissenting opinions were all respectful in nature. I like to post though provoking ideas to get people to think and to communicate with one another in order to hopefully help others in the journey towards weight loss, but more importantly, their health and wellness.
I promote ideas towards healthy living while also attempting to get folks to think about changing their personal relationship to food in order to live to their fullest potential. So many of our fellow citizens are sick with ailments that can be traced directly back to their dietary habits. Heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, autoimmune disorders can all be linked to the Standard American Diet (SAD) which is loaded up with sugar and preservatives in order to make the taste palatable or in order to extend the shelf life beyond what is normal. God, if I wanted to eat food that was several months or years old, I would buy a box of military Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s) They are loaded with carbs and preservatives and will also stop you from pooping up to a couple weeks at a time until your body has adjusted to them. That can’t be good, can it? We get a lesser version of this in some of the same foods we pull off any grocery shelf in any grocery store across America. I have heard it said and believe it to be true that if we look at the ingredients label and can not pronounce the names or recognize the ingredients listed, we would be better off putting it back on the shelf.
Friends, who does not like and appreciate comfort foods? I can not think of anyone as they usually not only release dopamine with every bite which makes you feel better in the moment. But they also might bring back memories of a happier time. Despite trying to change the way you may view your relationship with food, I totally get why comfort foods are hard to give up. They help to distract from the problems we may be facing, and or give us the temporary strength we need to face a difficult challenge in life which may be draining our own very essence right down the drain.
For me personally, a chewy chocolate chip cookie takes me back to my Grandma McCollum’s kitchen when I was a kid. She made the best cookies I have ever ate. Her recipe may not have been anything special, yet they were made special by the love from which she hand mixed the dough, and by her all knowing intuition of the exact moment to remove them from the oven to ensure chewiness with every bite.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and sweet treats take me back also to my childhood when we took week end trips to the lake to water ski and camp with family friends on summer weekends. Truly happy times were always had at Sugar Lake where the water was always smooth for skiing and warm for swimming. We had many good times at the lake.
BBQ ribs, baked beans, and cold beer takes me to many a night sitting with my wife and kids with her Mom and brother chatting under the stars about anything and everything under the sun. If it was not BBQ, it would be pizza and beer
Times like these are special to us and we all need an escape at times. Comfort foods provide that temporary reprieve from our problems. Or, maybe we are not having a problem to get through, but are in celebration of a new life coming into the family. It does not really matter, in our society everything eventually gravitates towards food whether the times are good or bad.
What is the harm in all of this. Right now, today, in the immediate present, there is no harm on the surface. Hell, who does not enjoy pigging out on some BBQ and swilling down cold beers with family and friends? With summer time here, we could have celebrations every other day if we wanted by throwing down slabs of meat on the grill to be served with sugary sauces and sweet side dishes.
What is the harm when stressed with snarfing down a large burger and fries or what ever comfort food of choice you may enjoy? If you only do this on a seldom occasion, no harm, no foul towards your health. The problem in America is we turn to food for every situation under the sun that comes in our path on a daily basis. My God, look around yourself when in public and notice the percentage of obese folks over fit and trim folks. It is eye opening when you are old enough to remember when being fat was the exception and not the damn rule of the day. Our appetites are making us fat and sick. And this is going to eventually fuck our lives horribly. I am going to go out on a limb and say that anyone reading this either has an ailment of some kind or has someone in their life who is stoved up with a diet related disease or disorder. Heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes anyone? Autoimmune disorders? Most of these can be prevented or controlled through diet and exercise yet as long as there is a pill which makes you or them feel better in the moment, most will continue eating like shit and hoping their doctor will always be able to fix their asses. Why give a goddamn about diabetes when you can simply eat a pill or shoot insulin in your body to fix it. Who gives a shit about their heart, In today’s world, can’t we simply get a transplant? Our livers and kidneys can be transplanted from the dead too. Why take care of ourselves when pills, shots and or body parts from a corpse will fix your ass to eat like shit another day.
So, I firmly believe we need to not use food for comfort. It is a vice that is too easily turned to for the worse and often. Especially if we have a strong urge, or cravings to eat like crap all the time anyhow. Our diets are making us sick as a country and the cost of health care is sky rocketing for all segments of our society. And it is going to get worse as our citizenry gets sicker with these self inflicted ailments. Ailments that can be prevented or fixed through a proper diet combined with regular exercise. But, nope, too many will always choose the easy route and snark down breakfast pastries and swill on Cokes all day, every day and then bitch about how they are sick. This is about as stupid as the smoker who complains about having COPD while knowing that with every drag they ever took off a cigarette was causing them harm. That immediate feeling of wellness when you eat comfort foods is really no different than sticking a needle in your arm and injecting heroin. You feel good for the moment, then afterwards, you are sick of your self and of your life, yet you keep returning to your addiction. Only yours may not be alcohol, drugs or tobacco. It could be the only vice in the world you have is your addiction to unhealthy foods which make you feel like hell all of the time.
If you have read this far, thank you. If you are thinking this son of a bitch does not understand here is a news flash; I have had a problem with food too. I have sat endless hours in hospital rooms leaving only to the cafeteria in order to fill my gut and clear my head with bad food choices. I have had sick loved one the same as anyone else. I have had my issues with stress where I have stood at the kitchen counter with a cake. And instead of cutting off a piece, I have stood there with a fork and just began eating off the whole cake with the intention of only eating a small bit. And then eating the whole damn thing instead. I have found myself so lost in despair from the death of a loved one that I have sat on my kitchen floor with a can of frosting and a spoon and devoured the entire thing with tears streaming down my cheeks. I too have come home from work pissed at the world only to attempt to get happier with a package of Oreo’s, a jar of peanut butter and a knife. I have eaten half a pack of Oreo’s slathered with peanut butter on who knows how many occasions. The other day I was talking to my friend about those little powdered sugar donut gems which come bite sized. Who the hell can only eat the 6 which come in a package, I can easily eat 2 dozen in one sitting. Especially if tired and stressed.
I am sorry if the tone of this piece comes out sounding pissed, it is just something that I am passionate about as it has been a personal issue for me and still is for some of my loved ones. In my family we have dealt with the issues I wrote of above. I have seen a lot of ugly in the world during my military travels and while working Corrections. I have a love for people and only wish the best for all.
I stand by my assertion that we do not need comfort foods. Folks, if you turn to food when times are bad, you may only harm yourself in the end. If you are a care taker, you must take care of yourself, or, you likely will destroy yourself in the process. If you turn to food when sad and or stressed, find a different outlet to feel better. A good brisk walk, any kind of exercise that increases our heart rate will help you to feel better physically and mentally. If you depend on food to feel better, it is only in your best interest to change your relationship with food.