Comfort Food – For The Soul

    

     “Grrr!”  Yesterday was rough! It was a very stressful day at work. Customers were particularly difficult. (Mean people stink!) In addition, I had a couple of personal projects and housework that I felt behind in.  I was tired and my hormones were all crazy. I was overdue for my cycle – PMS to the max! Did I mention “Grrr!”?

     By the time work was over, I felt like a basket case. I was supposed to go out and run some errands with my husband. I still had treadmill time to put in. There was laundry to finish, dinner to cook, and a kitchen to clean. I was hungry. I felt a mess.

     When Tony came home. I immediately went into who, what, when, where,  why, and how mode. “Who are we going to see first?  What are you going to eat. Are we snacking now or having dinner now? When will we be leaving and when will we be back? Where are the plans. I need details, I need structure, I need a break! Why today? How am I going to make it thru the night! Grrr!”

     My handsome and wonderful husband has lived with me for a lot of years (we celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary last month). He has learned to recognize a meltdown right away and is great at diffusing the situation. He immediately countered, “What do you want to do? You don’t have to do anything, you know.” Before long, I was wrapped in his arms, making an alternative plan that included some much-needed comfort time.

     “I haven’t seen you like this in a LONG time”. My husband said as we sat together.

     “I haven’t been like this in a long time. When I exercise regularly my hormones don’t war on me like this ( I didn’t work-out for 4 weeks over the holiday and was paying the price) AND before, instead of venting I would have drowned my frustrations in a 1/2 gallon of ice cream or a pizza. Clearly, I need to find alternative comforts.”

     After reworking the plan while folding laundry together, I began my evening routine.  I cooked dinner. I wasn’t willing to ruin my new way of eating in order to sooth my aching soul, but a little extra cheese on my fajita mix sounded like a good idea and I could clearly stay within my calorie range by adjusting snacks. So, I said yes to 1/4 cup more cheese. I also set aside a 90 calorie Fiber One bar as an answer to my desire to drown my sorrows in sweets. It had a nice layer of chocolate. Just enough to satisfy. This would be the last snack of the evening.

     After dinner had settled I finished my speed walk. The lack of exercise had contributed to the problem so I wasn’t going to skip this. I then spent a little time working on a creative project and relaxing with my evening tea and my snack. When Tony returned I was feeling much better. We settled in together to watch a video, as I thumbed through some magazines.

     I ran across a little piece in the November 2011 Shape magazine that really spoke to me.  It was entitled “Why You Really Crave Fatty Foods” and this is what it said – “If you’ve ever chased a bad day with ice cream or a cupcake, you know junk food can be comforting. Now it turns out the reason may be more biological than emotional. A new study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that people given saturated fat through a stomach tube (so taste and texture didn’t play a role) felt more upbeat listening to sad music than those who received a saline solution. But just because the effect runs deep doesn’t mean you can’t control your cravings. Susan Alberts, author of 50 Ways To Soothe Yourself Without Food, suggests sipping a cup of tea, going for a walk, or massaging your muscles (try rolling a tennis ball under the ball of your foot) the next time you’re tempted to rummage in the fridge for a quick fix. “If you turn to one of these activities often enough,” she says, “you can rewire your brain to associate stress relief with something other than snacking.”

     How neat! No wonder I felt better. The little bit of cheese and chocolate that stayed within my eating plan and calorie goals might have been just what the “nutritionist ordered”. In addition, my walk and my tea were perfect non-food ways to comfort myself.

      Next time you are out of sorts, you don’t have to obstain completely from the foods that comfort you. Have a bite of cheese or chocolate, but don’t over do, then do something else to comfort you. Lets pull out our Inspiration Journals and make a list of non-food ways to relieve stress. I already have two – exercise and hot tea. Those worked nicely for me. How about a bubble bath or giving ourselves a mannie/peddie? We could draw or craft, or paint. Listening to music until it makes us dance sounds great. Watching a movie and/or snuggling on the couch with my bestie (my hubby) always brings me joy.  We could read a good book or flip thru more magazines. We might find another great tip or two. In the Bible,  my God has promised me comfort and he is so true to his word. I think my list should start with prayer, devotion, and meditation. I’m sure we can make quite a long list. I can’t wait to hear what’s comforts you. Make sure for those times of stress, discouragement, or craving, that you are ready with your list of “Comfort Food For The Soul”, so you’ll be less tempted to dive into that ice cream.

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