In Defense of Food

If it didn’t work, we wouldn’t keep using it.


Ice cream was my favorite binge food, especially when I was in physical pain. Food numbs pain. BC or Goodys powder, lots of water, and ice cream used to be my migraine relief team.

We don’t acknowledge how powerful food is, not only at numbing mental and physical pain, but at elevating mood. The positive effects are too short-lived, the negative effects too long-lasting, though, for me to be willing to medicate by overeating high calorie foods any longer. But I want to recognize, and maybe even respect, that food does work, temporarily, and that’s why I kept using it. I wasn’t being stupid or purposefully, even subconsciously, self-destructive, and I will feel guilty no longer.

I still turn to food, just better choices, for comfort and relief. Again, IT WORKS. I’ve learned to enjoy warm and soothing flavored herbal teas without sweetener. Last night I ate a serving of frozen mango as my dinner fruit (not ice cream!) to help my headache. And yesterday I made tea from ground ginger and one teaspoon of sugar to help settle my stomach, rather than drinking ‘ginger’ soda.

Tuesday afternoon I got a migraine, and that night I started a stomach flu. Ordinarily the minute I could eat, I would have downed a box of saltines and a two liter Ginger Ale. I didn’t want to do that yesterday, though. Saltines, like all bite-sized snack foods, don’t work for me. Somehow I see each cracker/chip as too little to count, and eat the whole package, without ever feeling like I’ve eaten anything. How can I eat thousands of calories in chips without feeling the least bit full? So instead I made saltine alternatives with flour tortillas, first brushing water and kosher salt over the surface, then baking until crispy. After cooling these are almost saltines, but they were satisfying, and I understood each one counts. 

Last night I lay in bed fantasizing about eating lots of ice cream. Really, that’s who I am. And I still had a migraine. I planned to find a pint (not as bad as a half-gallon) of something low-calorie, hoping I could find a pint for under 500 calories (much better than real ice cream). But I worried that even this lighter version of overeating ice cream would undermine my growth. Why do I feel I need this? Can I get the same need met another way? Can I let this need go?

I decided for now to let it go. I will look for one of those 1/2 cup cute baby ice cream containers when I get the energy to go to the store, though, because I want some ice cream, but I want one serving of Ben and Jerry’s. I don’t trust myself with a pint unless I’ve got three friends ready to share it.

All this agonizing over food – and during a stomach flu. I have to be the only person who fantasizes pizza and ice cream while sick like this. Still, I’m making healthy choices today, and that’s what matters most.

I found two good articles about fighting emotional eating:

Emotional Eating vs Mindful Eating from Harvard

Stop Emotional Eating Before It Starts from sparkpeople



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