How do you handle: Loss? Pain? Discomfort? Anxiety? Grief? Fear?
Or just an ordinary day that goes from bad to worse?
I am probably going to sound totally off my rocker when I share my thoughts here in a bit. And there’ll probably be several nay-sayers in the crowd. And I must say this “coping mechanism” must definitely be handled with great care. But… then again, what I have to say could be the very thing someone really needs to hear.
So back to the question above. How do you handle stress?
Journaling? Yoga? Meditation? Reading Scripture? Prayer? Working on a hobby? Music? Video games? Essential oils?
Several articles I’ve read suggested common ideas like: limit caffeine, get involved in physical activity/exercise, get more sleep, try relaxation techniques, talk to someone, keep a stress diary, manage your time, learn to say “no”, etc.
These really are fantastic ideas. Probably lifestyle habits we should regularly be investing our time and energy in with or without stress/anxiety/pain. They truly lead to a balanced, happy life.
But may I suggest a little something else that may be just the trick to quickly soothe your frayed nerves and wrecked mind?
This coping mechanism has been SO shamed in the media and by our culture. And it’s really sad that this is so.
Want to know what I think is an excellent and almost immediate calmer of the mind and body? Something you easily have in your home right now this minute? Something most everyone can afford?
I warn you. With this strategy, there is most definitely room for abuse/taking it too far. It needs to be approached with great caution. More on that in a bit.
So what’s a simple, quick way to feel better?
Ok, here comes gasps and boos and what-have-you.
But I stand by it. I truly think God gave us food to help take the edge off crazed/hurt emotions and mental distress.
When you’re hurt, angry, and overwhelmed, doesn’t it make you feel better to eat a piece of hot, freshly baked bread with a pat of melty butter? Mac-n-cheese? How about a hearty bowl of soup? A bowl of ice cream? Cookies? Donuts? Chocolate?
BUT, quantity is everything here.
1 slice of baked hot bread with butter. Not a whole loaf/stick of butter.
1 bowl of mac-n-cheese. Not the entire pot.
1 bowl of soup. Not the whole pot.
1 dessert bowl of ice cream. Not the entire pint.
1-2 cookies/1 donut. Not a baker’s dozen.
1-2 pieces of chocolate. Not the entire bar.
Moderation is key here! Absolutely key!
Only take a small amount to take the edge off. Go slowly. Savor. Focus on the taste and feel of what you are eating. Experience the nuances of flavor.
They call it comfort food for a reason!
And it’s OK. I’m telling you– it’s ok.
For so long, we’ve been told that using food for comfort is bad, wrong, going to make us fat, etc. Then, when people do turn to food (because it works almost immediately), they instantly feel guilty. Which just adds more fuel to the inner turmoil they’re experiencing.
I’m telling you– it’s false guilt to feel bad about turning to food for a bit of comfort! It’s not real. Shake it off and let it go.
Food is ok! It’s not sinful!
Most can agree with me that after a stressful event/season, a comfort food taken in moderation and savored slowly gives the mind, body, emotions, and soul a “sigh”… a breather… a must needed break and calm. It literally “takes the edge off”. And it does so pretty darn fast.
It allows the body to relax for a moment so that you can think clearly and plan and figure things out, or rest/sleep. It gives you the “ahhhh” needed to make good and right decisions. And it pairs beautifully with the many other coping mechanisms mentioned earlier in this article. No one single strategy is going to be the fix-all. Food alone isn’t going to “fix” the problem. It’s going to have to be done alongside other strategies.
But I want you readers to know that using food is a-ok to take the edge off your hurt. Just use moderation and care. Shake off that unnecessary guilt you may be experiencing. Add to your plate other calming techniques, too.
And remember this: say you *want* to over-do it in the comfort food department because you are REALLY upset about something. Know this: if you decide to binge, you are only punishing yourself and your body. And the problem or stressor hasn’t been solved. It’s still there. And now, the guilt you are feeling IS real. You overdid it. You lost self-control. You abused your body. You are making your body suffer unnecessarily. Even if someone did something horrible to you, and you are SUPER upset– a binge is a punishment on you alone, and not on the other person. This may seem harsh to hear, but it must be said. It’s never ok to overeat or to drown your sorrows with food. It doesn’t make you feel better. It doesn’t clear up the mind. It doesn’t calm the nerves. It hurts you. It makes things worse. The original problem has now been compounded even further. It can also set some people up for a future food addiction if they repeatedly do this to themselves.
So please, when I say “try comfort food to calm down”, I am NOT advocating over-indulgence at all.
So enjoy that cookie. Enjoy that piece of cake. Enjoy that bowl of mac-n-cheese. Go on and take the edge off. While you’re at it, try some yoga or journaling, too. Take a nap. Go for a walk. Do whatever it is that makes you feel good. And don’t wear that unnecessary guilt associated with using food for comfort. It’s ok.
Hope that helps. Hope you can now try releasing that white-knuckled grip you may be hanging onto that “food for comfort is bad”. It’s not. It’s good. Enjoy it. Feel a little better. Let go of false guilt.
There’s some “food for thought” for ya. 😉
Blessings to you!