No matter how delicious Mom’s homemade cookies were, when we’re trying to learn how to deal with stress without eating, we may need to face that food does not equal love. That can be a difficult lesson to learn. After all, the people who cared for us probably cooked their way through every celebration or heartbreak of our young lives. We really did feel better when warm sugary goodies come out of the oven, not only for the taste, but because someone had baked them to make us happy.
As we grow up food helps us make friends in the world. We gather for pizza, we buy special snacks for the big game, we plan wedding cakes, learn to throw dinner parties, and deliver meals to soothe our neighbors’ illnesses or grief. Breaking bread is an ancient ritual that shows we belong, we care about each other, and we enjoy our shared lives. Plus, for women, good cooking traditionally showed you were competent, and supposedly knew the way to a man’s heart.
Sharing food can certainly be a joyful experience. But, if we don’t learn to separate the love from the goodies, we can find ourselves looking in the fridge for comfort every time we need a friend. Especially when we are under stress, food appears to offer pleasure and solace without any strings attached. It doesn’t ask questions or make demands. If we are not careful, though, we can abandon the sharing and start to deal with stress by turning to food alone.
Food as food tastes better than food as therapy. If you’ve ever had a mindless food binge to cope with stress, did you really taste much? Or did you sort of inhale anything you could find. Re-experiencing good food with an attitude of awareness teaches you to savor each bite, and allows you to be more truly satisfied.
Eating awareness can also be your first big step to deal with stress without eating. When we start renewing our relationship with food as food, it’s almost like we don’t want to waste something really tasty by only using it to relieve stress.
Idle hands will make you fat. Our bodies are made to move, and our hands seem made to be busy. But with modern society giving us so many opportunities to simply sit and be distracted, our hands don’t have much to do except endlessly move from munchies to mouth. Especially if we use mindless entertainment to try and deal with stress, heightening our zone-out experience with chocolate or chips just seems like a natural part of the process.
Instead, try learning something fun that requires using your fingers. If you’ve ever been so involved in a project that you lose all track of time, then you should recognize the no food opportunity here. Knit, crochet, play a musical instrument and sing, write real letters to long lost friends…even reading a book keeps your hands busier than staring at a screen.
Don’t look to cooking to find love. You may love cooking, and be able to pound a lot of stress out into various kinds of dough. But cooking in order to gain someone’s acceptance or affection is like trying to relieve stress by causing someone else to eat. Unfortunately, other people can never eat with enough gratitude to fill your need for love, and you can find yourself terribly let down if they don’t appreciate every mouthful.
If you enjoy cooking and don’t want to eat it all, consider giving your talent where it is really needed. Feeding those who are truly hungry is far more fulfilling than forcing food on people who are afraid to say no.
Food can be a joy and a blessing. Appreciating good food is a way to enrich our lives. And giving thanks for the food we have, can help us find better ways to deal with stress rather than by trying to eat our way through life.
Have any food stress issues? Let us know in the comments below. We love hearing from you. And don’t forget to share on your favorite social media. We like new friends, too.