A colleague of mine comes from a family with weight problems. Although it’s not obvious to most people, she works very hard at keeping her weight under control. She’s just a few pounds above what she considers her maintenance weight, and she’s been working, in the face of job and family pressures, to not gain anything else. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
And there, in the middle of our office, someone had left a plate of really good cookies – the kind that are worth it.
I turned around when I heard my name, and there she was – taking a big bite out of one. But what surprised me the most was her body language. She was all tensed up and had that air she gets when she’s annoyed beyond her capacity.
My reaction – and I regretted it immediately – was to tell her to stop stress eating. She said that she wanted it – I responded that she could have it, but only after she’d calmed down and could enjoy it.
She actually stopped while raising the cookie to her mouth, and said that I was right. I handed over a tissue for her to wrap it in, and said that it was important to separate the food from the emotion.
Whew! that was a close one! We’re lucky that we’re becoming close friends, as I’d never say this to a stranger. I didn’t see her eat the cookie, but I’m hoping that she enjoyed every bite of it when she was able to.
But this also got me to thinking: can we EVER separate food, especially desserts, from emotion? After all, we don’t eat cookies, cake, etc., for nutrition, but rather for pleasure. Or stress. Either way, it’s an emotion.
It seems silly and unnecessary to cross treats off the list forever. Control, moderation, mindfulness, awareness, balance all seem to be pieces of the puzzle. And, for me, that means portion control [no bags of chips or boxes of cookies around here!], and conscious decisions of what’s worth it, and what’s not. If the first bite isn’t great, I actually toss the rest. Really!