Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Myth of Comfort Food

We are half way through the first food and feelings e-course and it is going so well. I wanted to include the following excerpt from the program, because it is a subject people may not think about that often, the myth of comfort foods. I use food here but in reality one could substitute any other thing outside ourselves we long for, use, buy, in an attempt to make us happy. There is another  e- program starting February 14th. I am also in the works of putting together a physical weekly group. Please feel free to contact me for more info on either.

We have to be very careful with the term "comfort food". Much like we have to be careful with the idea of a comfort drink, a comfort gambling session, or a comfort shopping trip. We get into dangerous territory anytime we start to look outside ourselves for comfort, for love, for feelings of peace.  The term implies it would be possible for food to give us comfort. That food has the ability to give us love. That it could brings us peace or happiness.The truth is we cannot find happiness in another person,  another job, another location, and certainly not in food.  If we think something “out there”  will fill us, we will always come up empty. And if it’s food we are using we will be continuously hungry,  because no amount of food is going to fill the emptiness we feel. We may temporarily suspend the emptiness for a moment but it will return. There is no possible way to fill an emotional need with food, or anything else in the world of form for that matter.

So, in my opinion, the term "comfort food" is a total misnomer. In fact, I would suggest that most times those "comfort foods" are in fact the opposite of "comfort". They perhaps should be called  “discomfort” foods, because they are anything but loving to our bodies or our soul. Those foods that we are eating to “comfort” ourselves, do not love us back. They distract us from feelings we are being called to attend to. They also typically,  fill us with chemicals, unhealthy fats, artificial ingredients, and other non-loving things and usually in large quantities. How does your body feel when you eat them? Does it feel loved? More important question, do you feel lasting comfort, peace, and contentment? Nope. Because nothing actually happened to those feelings that caused you do eat in the first place.Those feelings that wanted comfort do not disappear with a few bowls of macaroni and cheese.

We might even utter the phrase “I had a tough day (or a good day) so I deserve that …(fill in food here)”. Hmmm...ponder that statement for a minute. What we really deserve is food that reflects and respects our inner divinity, and food that supports our emerging authentic selves. What we deserve is to nourish ourselves, fully. That is real comfort food. Food that honors us on our path. We deserve food that supports us as we negotiate our inner landscape, not looking outside for fixes in the form of fast food, cake, skittles, or ice cream.

Now, that is not to say we can't enjoy our food, have fun with our food, and eat "unhealthy foods" from time to time, just that we cannot depend on food to make us feel better. You see, everything we do in life is a reflection of what we believe about ourselves. Our relationship with food is no exception.When we feel joy, when we are in love with ourselves, our food choices reflect this. When we are honoring ourselves we honor our intuition, and we choose foods that honor us. If we find ourselves eating in a way that is not honoring ourselves- eating for "comfort", eating until we are overfull, not eating when we are hungry, depriving ourselves, or simply choosing lifeless foods, we need to take a look at our relationship with ourselves. Our intention behind all our choices matter. Last week we spoke about love and fear and how every choice we make comes from one of these two places. Even what we decide to put in our bodies. What we choose to eat comes from either an intent of love or fear. But contrary to popular belief, comfort food (In the typical way we think about it) is not love. Some of the qualities of love we spoke about last week boil down to truth, non harming, and compassion. When we believe food can soothe us in these ways, or make our hurts go away, we are believing a myth. This is not loving. This is fear, which is far from comfort.

The truth is, our bodies yearn to be in alignment with our greatest selves. Our cells know what they need to function optimally. Have you noticed just how much our bodies when left alone do so much for themselves? We don’t need to tell our bodies how to breathe, or how to digest food, or how to see or hear. We just need to get out of the way. Yet, we so often override the system, ignoring the messages, by not trusting our innate hunger guidance system. We have hit the override button and decided we could not be trusted. We make loving choices when we honor our true selves.

How would your food (or anything else) choices change if you only ate with the intention of love?

“The choice to eat wisely is not important simply because it leads to an arguably more attractive you; it isn’t important because it offers the possibility of a smaller dress size; it isn’t even important simply because it’s healthier. It’s important because it’s an act of love. It’s a way that you feed who you want to be- the healthier you, the more beautiful you, the more comfortable you, the happier you. And what you feed you call forth. You are not treating yourself when you eat excessively; in fact you are withholding sustenance from yourself when you overeat, for in doing so you are withholding love. “ ~Marianne Williamson


  1. I think that you are right on @ food (or withholding food) not always being the comfort one is intending....but also feel that control is an issue....if you are 100% in love with what you are about to eat but can only eat that beloved item at your own house, at a certain time, never in front of others, etc. then control can become the (false) comfort. The choice to restore our sense of satisfaction no matter what we are or are not eating is important and sometimes letting go of that inner control freak is a lovely gift too. IMO :0)

  2. Well said and thanks for your comment. No doubt "control" can also be an issue. Again, I get back to the intent of our behavior. For some with a history of eating issues letting out that "inner freak" :) can be a non loving behavior (much like saying to an alcoholic to go just ahead and let loose). Perhaps, what might look like "control" on the outside is, in fact, a more loving choice for that person. Maybe scheduling meals, or eating in solitude, or finding foods that feel good to them (even if it looks odd to others) is exactly what that person needs to heal in some way. Maybe that is what freedom looks like for that person. Maybe not. From the outside we can never tell. It again comes back to intent. Letting loose for some is great and for some not letting loose is great too.

  3. i think you are absolutely right about it all being a matter of intent,,,thanks for gently turning on the light , Aleka!

  4. Thank YOU for the comments and "food" for thought...pun intended :)