Today I’m going to offer an explanation of why you use food for comfort, and also tell you what you need to do to change.
Why food? I hear this question a lot. People ask all the time, why can't they don’t use something else for comfort? They wish they were addicted to exercise (not that I see food as an addiction, by the way – it's a way of coping that hurts you – it helps and it hurts, so it's a frenemy, not an addiction).
One woman even said, “Why can't I use meth as a way of coping?” She said, “At least I'd be skinny.”
Oh. My. Gosh. I have no words.
Okay, so, why comfort food? Here's why: as human beings, our very first experience of love, relationship, nurturing, and bonding, connection, is the experience of being fed.
When you see a parent feeding a baby, that baby is cradled in the parent's arms, the mother or father is looking at the baby with a gaze of love. The baby is safe and secure in his or her parent's arms, in a state of absolute safety and bliss.
On some level, turning to food for comfort is a way of getting back to that blissful place of safety and contentment that we all feel, ideally, as babies.
Using food for comfort is an unconscious way of substituting food for relationships. You don't just want comfort. You want to be comforted.
That's really important. I'm going to say it again. You don't just want want comfort. You want to be comforted.
And that implies being comforted by another person.
Of course, relationships can be problematic. People can let you down, reject you, they can be unavailable. Food is always available, and it's always the same. So, food can feel safer than people.
What's the answer? Changing the relationship to yourself.
The next time you're alone – maybe it's the middle of the night, maybe nobody is there – instead of turning to food for comfort, use your words.
Use comforting words, use a soothing voice, talk to yourself in a way that is kind and nurturing. When you use sweet words to yourself, you're more likely to feel better. And when you comfort yourself with words, you don't need food.