My friend M came round yesterday afternoon for a natter and a cuppa. She watched with raised eyebrows as I tucked into a gigantic bowl of fluffy mash made with loads of cream and butter and followed up with a rather large slice of gooey, dense chocolate brownie studded with walnuts.
"Now that is what I call proper comfort food. The perfect antidote to post summer holiday blues." I said as I licked the last crumb of brownie from my fingers and pushed my plate back with a contended sigh.
"But I thought you didn't do comfort eating! Isn't that what Beyond Chocolate is all about?" she exclaimed in surprise.
Well, it depends on what you mean by comfort eating," I replied...
When I hear women talking about 'comfort eating' on our workshops, I hear tales of secret, guilty treats. I hear about feeling out of control. I hear about eating to cope with frustration, loneliness, anxiety, boredom. I hear about the ensuing remorse and self disgust.
When I eat for comfort I wait until I'm hungry, I put it on a plate, sit down and focus and I stop when I'm satisfied. 'Satisfied' usually means: very full tummy, feeling happy and congratulating myself for knowing what I need and making sure I get it. I enjoy every moment and every mouthful.
Years ago, eating was the only way I knew to comfort myself. It was the answer to life's injustices, woes, foes and disappointments. I ate because I didn't have a clue what to do otherwise. Today, I have a host of tools that I can use to cope with the ups and downs of life. It's my life's work. Eating is just one of them and I occasionally use it because food is delicious and sensual and, yes, so comforting.
My mums meatballs with peas and rice, very creamy cauliflower cheese, salami and avocado sarnies, malt loaf spread thickly with butter, Nutella eaten by the spoonful and liquorice all sorts...these are just a few of my favourite comfort foods. They are the ones I turn to when I've had a rough day, am in need of a pick-me-up, in the week before my period and when it's cold and gray outside. They are like old friends - I know they are there for me when I need them and that they can be relied on to provide the comfort I am looking for. Guilt, remorse, secrecy and shame are not part of my comfort eating equation. It does what it says on the tin. Comforts. Full stop.
How do you eat for comfort?
Join us on our Stop Emotional Eating workshop in London on 9th October to find out how to stop comfort eating without giving up your favourite comfort foods.