I remember the first time that I connected food with my mood. I was a freshman in high school and had experienced a particularly stressful day (at 15 it seemed I had many of those). I had to stay in town for something and somehow decided that the few dollars I had on me would be well spent at the soda fountain. The soda fountain was part of an ‘old fashioned’ pharmacy that a friend of my dad owned. I remember sitting down at the counter and ordering a caramel sundae. I think by the third bite all was right in my world. Thus began my turning to food for comfort and relaxation.
Food and Mood
I don’t have any other specific memories of finding comfort in food but it did become habitual. Until I was in my mid 30’s it never affected my weight but I’m sure it affected my health. I’m sure that my food/mood correlation has added to my history of IBS, anxiety and a host of other things. It is funny that while certain foods have made me ‘feel good’ at the time the overall damage has added to me ‘feeling bad’.
I’d like to tell you that after learning more about nutrition and the Weston A. Price concepts I no longer find the need to turn to food for comfort. But I’d be lying…
Recently I had a particularly intense day, not necessarily stressful but a day that required me to be completely absorbed in my task (have I mentioned that tax season here?) and totally ‘on deck’. I had wisely put a nourishing dinner in the crock pot early in the morning before beginning my task but I still found myself wishing for more. So I called Joe and asked him to bring me a ‘treat’ home when he returned from work. I rarely make that kind of a call.
Joe did very well accommodating my desire for this treat. He brought home a store bakery cake and ice cream. I’d like to tell you that once he got home with it I came to my senses and knew better than eat it. After all, I know that the cake frosting is made with some sort of shortening which is a dandy source of rancid and dangerous polyunsaturated fat. Plus the cake itself is made from ‘enriched’ white flour which is completely dead and devoid of nutrition plus contains its own dose of polyunsaturated fat. And to round it off, the ice cream contained wonderful ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil (more of that rancid oil plus the fact soybeans have there own set of disturbing side affects) and a whole selection of other ingredients many of which I cannot pronounce. At least I did not see wood pulp as one of the ingredients. Even knowing all of this, I still had a bowl of ice cream and a piece of cake. And while it tasted somewhat good both were way to sweet and really didn’t give me the mood enhancement I was looking for. I did get some other ‘enhancements’.
I had trouble falling asleep, my skin was itchy, I woke up several times during the night and to top it off I jolted out of bed around 5AM with a cramp in my calf. All of this from a bowl of ice cream and a piece of cake? Possibly. I don’t plan on repeating the process anytime soon to determine if that was the cause.
I’m glad I didn’t get the mood enhancement from the food. It makes me think that maybe that part of my life is over. I’m sad though that I still had that desire to try to ‘fix’ my issues with food. You know, one thing that I’m learning more and more in this real food journey is that I was really messed up before. I always thought we started eating real/traditional/whole foods because we wanted too. We didn’t have any issues with food and it was completely by choice as a way of eating foods closer to the way God intended them. I no longer believe that to be the case.
But if I’m so enlightened now then why do I still want to eat stuff that I know I shouldn’t? Why would I even want to put something that could contain wood pulp into my body, into my children’s body? Why does eating out at restaurants that I know are going to leave me sick still happen? You know that I’m all about compromise when necessary but things like a store bought cake, ice cream and a (poor choice) restaurant meal are not compromise things. These are things that I should just say no too. And I wonder if I said no a little more often if we might be able to make less compromises too…
Please tell me I am not the only one who has a history of self-medicating with food.
Photo Credit: amanky on Flickr