Our food choices and our emotions are incredibly linked. We often eat not because we are hungry but because of how we feel – we are bored, stressed or feeling down. These emotions can trigger us to eat certain foods to alleviate these feelings. They are our ‘comfort foods’. They help to soothe our discomfort.
I’m sure we can all think of times when we’ve reached for comfort food. It tends not to be a calling for a plate of greens, but is typically food that’s high in sugar or carbohydrates such as chocolate, ice cream or a bowl of pasta.
From my clinical observations these foods are some of the most difficult for us to stop eating, and I think this is for a number of reasons. There are biochemical reasons why we might crave them, as well as emotional triggers that we are aware of, but I believe there are also subconscious reasons at play. I believe that all too often we mistake comfort for happiness.
A couple of weeks ago I was in town and came across this advertisement ‘Choose happiness, choose your coca cola’. I felt a rather visceral reaction to what I read. Surely we are not all so devoid of happiness that we believe we can find it in a can of coca cola, or indeed any other food or drink?
Advertising like this is all around us and most of it we are unaware of, at least on the conscious level. However, how much are we absorbing subconsciously and believing that by choosing coca cola, chocolate, ice cream or any other comfort food that we are choosing happiness?
Foods that we eat as a comfort to soothe or suppress an emotion tend to create a greater degree of dis-harmony in our body. They do not address our underlying emotional needs. Comfort is not the same as happiness. Instead when we choose food consistently for comfort it can lead to unhappiness as we are not respecting our body and not giving it what we know deep inside that it needs.
So if you have a weakness for a particular comfort food, why not ask yourself before you next reach for it ‘am I choosing comfort or happiness’ and see what answer you find. Will the food make you feel any happier in the long run?