Comfort has been a HUGE issue for me the past few months! I have spent 30 years of my life using food as a way to comfort myself and since I began eating mostly according to The Whole 30 guidelines, my familiar pattern with food has changed. Gone are the days of chips and dip, Ben & Jerry's, and warm entrees loaded with cheese! And, now, as we have hit the holiday season, and I am also in a season of grief, I am going a little bonkers on this whole concept of comfort because I NEED COMFORT!!!
Fortunately, I am a pretty creative person and I have come up with some ways to satisfy the need for comfort without facing consequences like upset stomach, sugar hangovers (and sometimes alcohol related 😀), and beating myself up for making bad choices.
My exploration of comfort began with me asking myself what is actually behind, or what am I temporarily satisfying with, my go-to, familiar, yet damaging ways of seeking comfort. What I discovered is fascinating! I realized I hit chips and dip hard because I need to crunch out my anger and the intense flavor makes me feel something other than the yucky feelings I am avoiding. I hit Ben & Jerry's hard because I am sad and the creamy sweetness temporarily elevates my serotonin levels giving me a false sense of "all will be okay". I hit warm, gooey-with-cheese entrees hard to feel warm and safe inside.
Wow! Is food really that powerful?!
I know it is from all I have been through in this transformation in how I relate to myself through food.
The question now becomes: How can I still achieve the same comfort needs without diving into unhealthy foods that only end up spiraling further into negativity in how I view myself and feel about my choices???
Here is what I am experimenting with and it is working! Here are my three go-to comforts without consequences:
1. To let anger out, I exercise hard and I journal it out. Sometimes I need to angrily write out my feelings and other times, I just need to release that anger through intense movement. By the time I am done with either activity (and sometimes both!), I feel good. I feel the anger released and I am comforted because the anger is no longer festering inside of me.
2. To elevate serotonin levels, I do anything that makes me happy. I turn on Christmas music or my "Women Rock!" playlist and I sing/dance it out. I seek out one of the boys and start a tickle fight. I step outside, breathing in deeply the sunshine. I call a friend. I read a chapter in one of the many books I always have going. I meditate. I take a nap. You get the point! Fill in the your own happy moment maker and get your serotonin on! Oh, and I am okay with a small piece of dark chocolate melting on my tongue, which is pure joy and science has shown, it does raise serotonin levels!
3. To feel warm and safe, I find ways to wrap myself in a sense of warmth and/or literal warmth. I keep my thermostat just cool enough so I always want fuzzy slippers on my feet and/or a cozy blanket on my lap. I sip warm beverages by wrapping my hands around the mug. I make meals that can be put in a bowl that I can wrap my hands around as I eat. I dim the lights in my home after dinner for a sense of cozy warmth. I always have twinkle lights in my big bay window that glow reminding me of how each of us has a light and when we come together, we invite the world to be safer, more peaceful, light and love-filled place.
Wishing you comfort and joy this holiday season and beyond,