Isn't it funny how those foods we crave when we feel down, upset or lonely are called "comfort foods", when what they actually do in reality is only add to our discomfort?
How many people, do you think, are walking around today carrying an extra 5, 10, 15, 20 lb or more of "comfort" around their middle, hips or thighs? Can it really be that comfortable to be wearing our pain, now compounded into physical form as well, as if the emotional form was not already enough?!
Today we're going to wake up and smell the coffee/bread/potatoes/cheese/chocolate for what they really are, but before we do that, let's take a moment to look at why we feel we need comforting anyway.
First of all, I want you to list the times you eat when you're not hungry. This may include any or all of the following:
When I'm feeling... Sad, tired, bored, angry, upset, disappointed, uninspired, lost, alone, confused, happy, excited, overwhelmed.
You may very well have some others of your own to add; please do as you'll be working with your list on this coaching exercise.
When you have your list, write down next to each emotion what food/s or drink you tend to reach for when you're feeling that way. Be radically honest as this information is vital.
When you're done, see if there are trends. Do one or two particular foods or drinks show up more often than the others? Or do you choose different foods for coping with different emotions? Chances are that there are some foods that show up in your list over and over, and these are likely to include bread (or other wheat products), cheese, ice-cream, chocolate, wine and potatoes.
Keep this information; we'll be working with it later.
Now to the "comfort" part.
I want you to imagine for a moment, feeling one of those emotions that triggers comfort eating for you. For the purpose of this exercise it is a good idea to choose one of the most common ones so you can easily get in touch with the emotion and your pattern around it.
Now, as you have that in your mind, stay with me here as I discuss what this emotion is really all about. You may have heard before that "emotion" can also be read: e-motion, with the "e" standing for energy - thus we have "energy in motion". Really this is what emotion is. It's a form of energy within ourselves that is trying to move, and with energy being what it is, it wants to be experienced, brought to consciousness and then, if it is not a positive energy, to leave us by moving up and out.
Now this is all fine and would be perfectly okay, if only we didn't want to stop feeling negative emotion as soon as we start to sense it! You see, we have very much become a people who live in a lot of fear, and when we start to feel anything that feels remotely uncomfortable we head straight to the fridge, freezer or drinks cabinet. What's important to recognise here is that there is no comfort in this old-school response, it simply stops the energy moving through and instead buries it - for the time being anyway. It is never going to leave if it's being buried temporarily; in fact it just gains strength and "importance" when it could have been up and out!
So what is it about these foods that make them feel so comforting?
Well, there are different aspects to each and every food, but generally speaking, we choose a food because it is sufficiently heavy or deadening to our senses that it allows us to "not feel". It has been shown that it is pretty much impossible to process food and emotion at the same time, and so when we eat these foods our body naturally chooses digestion because it is in its best interests to do so, and so consequently we don't "feel".
But of course this doesn't make the pain go away. It simply stops it for a while. And the more pain we feel, the more we are likely to eat in order to stop that energy from moving around.
The irony of this is that if we allowed ourselves to feel what it is we need to feel, then we could do something about it. We already know that comfort eating doesn't solve anything; in fact it only makes things worse as now we have weight or health issues to deal with on top of it all!
Instead, we would do far better to recognise that the negative feelings we are experiencing are our servants - they are telling us what isn't well in our world, so that we know what needs to change, so we can be the happy, healthy and peaceful people we are meant to be!
As this article is in two parts, the second part coming next week, for this following week I'd like to invite you to play a game with yourself in the days that follow, and when you go to reach for something you see as comforting ask yourself, "What am I trying to escape from here? Why am I reaching for this food when I'm not actually hungry?" When you have your answer, see if you can resist the temptation to quash the feelings that are trying to rise up and instead feel them, be with them, allow them to inform you as to what is wrong and why. You can still go ahead and eat the comfort food if you feel you still want to, but at least get clear on what's triggered the behaviour in the first place.
Next week I am going to give you the solution to your comfort eating patterns. Having been there myself for many years, I know that breaking free of comfort eating can absolutely be accomplished - and how! I'm going to walk you through some of the most common "comfort foods" and explain why they are so common and how you can replace them with something more constructive. We'll also be looking at "why raw?" in this whole scenario and why raw foods should become the new comfort foods - they have a very strong case! When you truly get how raw foods can be your ally in this story, then you'll be on the path to setting yourself not just free from the old-school comfort eating, but also setting yourself on a path to way more positive emotion than you ever thought possible!
Sounds good? Then I look forward to sharing all of this with you next week!
© 2012 Karen Knowler WOULD YOU LIKE TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR ON YOUR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Karen Knowler, The Raw Food Coach publishes "Successfully Raw" - a free weekly eZine for raw food lovers everywhere. If you're ready to look good, feel great and create a raw life you love get your FREE tips, tools and recipes now at www.TheRawFoodCoach.com.