How does food become a security blanket? It does, doesn’t it?
Peanut butter is a signal food for me. When I too often circle back to the kitchen to get a spoonful of peanut butter, I know I’m feeling more stressed or upset than I want to admit.
It was a staple food when I was growing up – slapped between bread and jam for a sandwich, in a bowl with a mixer of some sort for a snack, or simply by the spoon, peanut butter was a go-to food.
When my mother passed away in 2003, I all but crawled into my peanut butter jar to grieve. It was a connection, something we shared a love for. For this emotional eater, peanut butter became a comforter and security blanket.
It obviously loved me, as well, because I put on a good 15 peanut butter pounds.
When my grandmother died in 2011, I was even more vulnerable as she was such a loving and encouraging presence in my life. We shared many favorites, including peanut butter, and again, that was becoming my comforter. I knew I had to make a change.
Connection to Specific Foods
Our go-to foods for soothing are often based on memories – experiences, wonderful family dinners or family favorites, holidays, friends, and adventures get wrapped up in the sweet and savory flavor packages. Taste, texture, and scent are tied to our memories as much as sight and sound. They bring us back into a technicolor experience of that time and place, the presence of those we love, and moments of true comfort.
Emotional Eating Exercise
Here’s an exercise I often do with clients. Think about that food that you often crave. What’s your earliest memory of it? What was going on at the time? Who gave it to you? What did it mean to you at the time? As you look back at that, what else might have soothed you?
Spend some time with these questions. We all make these kinds of connections, particularly during highly charged emotional experiences. AND we can adjust those connections to serve us more effectively.
What food and experience have you connected? Want to adjust it?
If you need a little help, don’t hesitate to contact me.