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The Best Defense Against Chocolate

Posted on May 15, 2014 by in Faith, Recipes | 1 comment

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.




1 Comment

  1. Oh Ashley! This brought tears of familiarity to my eyes! Sweet sister! how I want to just take you out and treat you to a lovely lunch and quiet coffee-chat at Panera to nourish BOTH our souls! (And we will SOON!) –“nourish yourself”–I love this. Yes, please do! So many, including YOU, need you at the best you you can be. So please, take care of yourself. It is so hard, the juggling act and “noble” draw to be the self-sacrificing, dying to self, moma we so long to be, but please, remember to (& I am reminding myself of this too!) give yourself that word we have often talked of: GRACE. Grace to be human, to be tired, to NEED. I’m so thankful you were sensitive and listened to the “need” and acknowledging your humanity (which I find is so humbling sometimes!) you allowed God to meet that need with such a sweet time of reconnection. We have found, so many things can be “let go of”, even if for a day or a season, and we reconnect to Him and each other, even ourselves. I’m proud of you for taking steps this direction. One thing that really helped me in the process of making those healthy choices that I am reminded of I need to continue to put into practice was, I fed the “littles” and gave myself a quick, but nutricious snack, and then when they went to their rooms for quiet/rest time for a few hrs, I would then make myself that healthy salad or meal, maybe a cup of tea, take a tray and go to my room, or sit quietly in the empty living room (only if it’s been tidied up previously so as not to distract your peace), and just be–or read a book, listen to worship music, pray, whatever brings you peace in that moment. Many times were spent just quietly communicating or crying out to God those needs, those empty places where I felt drained and needed filling (and too often tempted to fill myself). This is one of my prayers for you in this season, from Isaiah 40, “she that waits upon the Lord, will renew her strength, she will mount up on wings as the eagle, she will walk and not grow weary, she will run and not faint.” May you find yourself FILLED with His presence according to your every need as you wait patiently upon the Lord. May He give you the daily bread of the grace and strength you need, even if just for today. And may you enjoy the sweet fellowship of His presence and love for you as He pours into you. Love you.


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