Our instinct to eat for comfort is undeniable, I haven’t come across a single person that doesn’t acknowledge, at least on some level, the comfort that eating something you enjoy can bring. Taken to the extreme, if you’ve been stranded on a mountain in the freezing cold for a few days, a bowl of hot soup (or dal bhat if you’re on Everest) is going to bring you a sense of comfort and emotional relief, beyond the physical sensation of no longer feeling hungry.
Food is essential for our survival and we’re not robots, so it is absolutely logical that we are going to have an emotional relationship with food. This isn’t an ‘idea’ based loosely on some philosophical nature of the human psyche, it’s fact, rooted in biological science. Food does have a direct impact on our mental and emotional state, through a multitude of pathways, including the release of chemicals and hormones in response to whatever we’ve eaten. So, in and of itself, eating for comfort is a relatively logical solution to help yourself to feel better.
The problem arises when we surrender our own body wisdom and intelligence for the mindless nature of diet mentality and avoid eating entire food groups. Diet rules say a big fat “no” to comfort eating because food, in their model, is just fuel and not to be ‘used’ as anything else.
It does seem that whenever food, comfort and pleasure get involved together, we’re pre-programmed to feel guilty and that somehow it’s wrong to feel pleasure. So, if and when we do decide to answer the call for comfort, any comfort that maybe achieved is short lived and quickly followed by a barrage of guilt, shame and heaviness.
The challenge is two-fold. First, because we have such a rigid view that comfort eating is ‘wrong’ we give ourselves two choices, to do it completely unconsciously or as quick as humanly possible. Second, when we feel in need of comfort, generally speaking, we don’t feel good, and therefore, quite naturally, we are attracted to foods of a similar vibration to our emotional state, so here comes the low vibe fast food! We eat it, despite our belief that it’s bad for us, ride the initial wave of feeling good, and then come crashing down as guilt and a refined carbohydrate coma take hold.
But what if we were able to move beyond the idea of right and wrong? What if we gave ourselves the freedom to comfort and practice self-love with food as a tool to feel better? What if in doing so we were able to bring a level of consciousness and self-care to this that inspired our choices to be more conducive to a sustained feeling of comfort?
When you realize that you don’t feel good and you seek comfort, why is that a bad thing to do? How you go about it certainly needs to be consciously considered, but the process is a healthy one. Why would you stay feeling bad when you could help yourself to feel better? And because food is vibration, emotion is vibration, thought is vibration, eating can be one way to help ourselves when done in an intelligent way. Here are my favorite tips taken from my book, Your BeUtiful Body, to turn comfort eating into a tool of self-LOVE:
Don’t Eat Beyond The Limits of Your Beliefs
There is never any comfort in eating foods you believe are either ‘bad’ for you, will make you heavy or damage your health in someway. Always make choices about food that are within your current belief system, especially when it comes to seeking more comfort and balance. In the meantime, challenge your beliefs and then experiment as you are able to factor in all aspects that effect your state of health, weight and wellbeing.
Focus on Quality
The most enduring comfort will always be found in foods that are quality rich and made with loving attention to detail. There is a vast nutritional and energetic difference between poor quality mass produced foods and high quality handmade foods. You can taste the difference, if you’re paying attention, and your body will feel the difference too. Always focus on quality and choose foods that are befitting your body, don’t allow your standards to drop, even when you’re not feeling good enough!
Allow Yourself to Receive
Many of us are more comfortable ‘giving’ than ‘receiving’, but to feel nourished and comforted we have to open ourselves up to receiving the nutrition and support within food and allow ourselves to experience pleasure, without guilt. The more we are open to receiving, the better the food will get digested and the nutrients will be easily absorbed deep within the body. If we don’t, food won’t get digested well, the nutrients will not get absorbed and the food will accumulate and contribute to heaviness. Practice visualizing your body comfortably receiving the food you eat and all its nutrients, so you can feel comforted, on all levels, and be comfortable indulging yourself in the pleasure that food can give.