Comfort vs Discipline

Comfort food photo

Photo by jeffreyw

Think deeply about whether you are still attached to needing food for comfort.

As you grew from baby to toddler to teenager to adult, you had to learn to regulate your own moods and handle stressful situations, away from your mother or caregiver. You had to develop the mental and emotional skills to handle life’s daily challenges all on your own with minimal help.  If you still use non-biological eating as an artificial mood changer to reduce feelings of discomfort, you have not yet completed this essential task of human emotional development.  You may be fearful and resistant towards being independent, but perhaps you also crave the comfort of having someone else provide you with something tasty and delicious to suppress your emotional stress.

Self acceptance reduces the need for external, artificial sources of comforts and encourages us to reward ourselves with better health through better food choices. It’s a virtuous cycle of better behaviour that supports well being at every level.

Recognise finally that by eating the wrong food, you will only feel worse afterwards

Although many years may have passed since you were an infant, you may still have a residual emotional habit of needing food for comfort so that even now, eating actually changes the state of your emotions. At least temporarily.  When you feel anxious and emotionally stressed, eating temporarily defuses the anxiety, almost as if it’s capable of turning down the intensity.  It’s very helpful to recognize that overeating actually works.  It comforts you in times of distress, and that’s the dilemma.  But as you know, this soothing feeling doesn’t last for long, because once the food is finished, the old self-hatred kicks in.

Pause to consider how you will feel after eating the wrong food. Fast forward to the point when you’re feeling less than happy with yourself! Now choose a healthy alternative and visualise the glow of achievement that accompanies a great choice. Pause and look for better alternatives. The key is in that moment of reflection that creates real choice in your life. 

Break the chain of repetitive behaviour. Recognise the real reason YOU decided to overeat and then take steps to avoid connecting the apparent reason to comfort eating.

You probably learned to eat something tasty as a coping method in times of stress and this simple habit easily degenerates into overeating.  Check your list of situations where you typically risk overeating and write down an alternative way of dealing with each of those challenges. Think about each of them. Remember your new list of alternative strategies to overeating. And put them into practice.

Recognise that eating to try and recover the comfort felt as a child will never work for you!

Drug addicts keep using drugs because they long for the feeling of their first high. But it’s something they’ll never be able to achieve. It’s exactly the same phenomenon as the fact that you can never fully return to the comfort of infancy no matter how much food you eat. 

How else could you find a state of calm and comforting security? You’re an adult. You have a vast array of choices. Choose one simple, healthy alternative and use it every single day from now onwards.