The Best Defense Against Chocolate
I really want to make chocolate chip cookies. Specifically, this recipe. (you’ll never want to make another kind again.)
But I am not letting myself.
Why, you ask?
You should ask. I mean, it’s a harmless activity, making cookies. Often therapeutic. If you wanted to do it, I’d say Go ahead!
It’s not so much the making that is the problem, but the eating.
You see, I’m a stress eater. And it’s been a stressful week.
Some people are stress starvers. When the stress hormones kick in, they stop eating until their emotions tell them the coast is clear. My husband is this way.
But moi? Sadly, no. I’ve been thinking a lot about why I eat and when in the past month. In her book, Daring Greatly, Brene Brown writes about numbing activities.
Shadow comforts can take any form. It’s not what you do; it’s why you do it that makes the difference. You can eat a piece of chocolate as a holy wafer of sweetness–a real comfort–or you can cram an entire chocolate bar in your mouth without even tasting it in a frantic attempt to soothe yourself–a shadow comfort.”
Eating sweets is a numbing activity for me. Sometimes, that’s ok. But not all the time. I am trying to learn how to sit in the emotions and listen to them rather than numbing them through eating. Why am I stressed? Do I need more connection? Do I need more recreation? Rest? Do I need more boundaries in my life?
Recently, our family time has been fragmented and we’ve all been disconnected. This weekend, I spent most of Friday and all of Saturday alone with Ben, Isaac, and Susanna. Tim was out of town officiating a wedding. He arrived home at midnight Saturday night and we rushed off to church the next morning without having really talked since Friday at lunch. Sunday afternoon, I packed in a flurry and headed off with Susanna to drive on a whirlwind trip to Kentucky with my brother for my grandma’s funeral. I returned home Tuesday at lunch, travel-weary and a little sad.
In times like these, I need connection. With my husband, with our family. I need to love and be loved. I need hot baths and nice, sit-down dinners of tasty and nutritious foods. What I don’t need is often what I reach for: sweet foods and rushed eating. Eating a meal standing up, in the doorway of the fridge, or with the pantry open is never a good sign.
I have to remind myself, especially at lunchtime, when it is tempting to just grab something: Sit down, put together a lovely, colorful salad, get yourself a drink and napkin, and nourish yourself. A peaceful meal is so restorative to my soul. Meals with the family are important, but not always peaceful. Occasionally, I need to send Tim off with the three older kids to grab something fun and just sit down alone, maybe with a book and eat slow. Kids can cause you to bolt your food, so it’s important to remember.
When I think about my food choices, especially when stressed, I am aware that I need to care for myself better. For some people, this is allowing themselves a treat. For me, it is putting healthy choices in place and choosing to nourish my body rather than my emotions.
One particularly stressful day, we had plans to go in different directions that afternoon and evening. I called Tim and asked if we could change the plans. Being the awesome husband he is, he said yes. We all came home, had a family meeting, cooked dinner together, sat around the table, listened to music, danced, cleaned, laughed. It was just what I needed: connection, love, belonging– the best defense against chocolate.