Ditch Comfort Food, and Try These Tips to REALLY Feel Better
Whether it's potato salad, macaroni and cheese, ice cream, pizza, or chicken pot pie, comfort food seems to always be around, no matter the season or the occasion — you name it, you'll find one of them showing up just when you "need" it most.
Where Does Your Comfort Food Come From?
Most people gravitate toward comfort food during stressful times. The foods each person chooses as his or her "comfort food" might be different, yet they generally have the same function: to soothe a person during a stressful, sad or difficult time. In general, these foods are high in fat and/or carbohydrates and also savory and/or sweet enough to provide a temporary lift in spirits. Unfortunately, they do not solve the underlying issues and generally end up making you feel worse in the end.
In general, a person's chosen comfort food is something they remember eating when they were children. Most likely, it is a food that made them happy. For example, did your mom ever take you for an ice cream cone after a bad day in school to cheer you up? Or did your parents drive you to the donut shop after you lost a sports game to put a smile on your face? If so, those yummy delights might be exactly what you crave when you are feeling low as an adult.
How to Replace Comfort Food
The best thing you can do if you are someone who depends on comfort food to lift your spirits is to swap this bad habit with a good one. I tell my weight loss clients to replace comfort food consumption with a "comfort workout!" Sound a little crazy? It's not, and I promise you it works.
How to figure out what your "comfort workout" is? First, think about the type of workout you love most. It might be running, lifting weights, hot yoga (so you can sweat away your stress) or perhaps a casual walk in nature. Whatever type of workout brings you the most joy is the one you should aim to do when you are feeling stressed. Not only will this active behavior benefit your mental and physical state, it will also take the place of the high-fat and high-carb treats you previously consumed to try make yourself feel better. This will leave you feeling more refreshed and clear-minded so you can truly deal with the issue(s) that were causing you emotional turmoil.
If you don't have time to do a workout, and you need immediate soothing, you could try a "comfort meditation." Taking five minutes to breathe mindfully in a meditation will benefit your body far more than spending five minutes eating sweets. Here's a video that explains how you can do this in just a few moments without leaving your chair.
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A Note for Parents on Treating Your Kids With Comfort Food
If you are a parent, I urge you to be conscious of the things you offer your child when they are feeling sad, upset or just feeling blue. If you use food to help your kids feel better, you might inadvertently be creating a bad eating habit that will stay with them for their entire lives. When my son has a bad day, I don't offer him sweets to make him feel better. Instead, I often take him to the bookstore to buy him a new book. He loves to read, so this brings him joy. Think of something you can do for your child that brings them pleasure other than treating them with comfort food and sweets.
Everyone remember, the next time anxiety or sadness comes creeping into your life, choose to do the "comfort workout" or "comfort meditation." I can promise the end result will always be better for you than eating comfort food.
Readers - Do you have a go-to comfort food? What is it? Macaroni and cheese, ice cream, something else? Leave a comment below and let us know. Had you ever heard of a "comfort workout" before? Do you have a favorite workout that you might try to use this way? Share your experience.
Kim Eagle, founder of Earn That Body!™, is revolutionizing the way personal training is done through her virtual coaching program! She has helped hundreds of clients around the world lose weight, get ripped and most importantly, get healthy. Her enthusiasm about healthy food & fitness is contagious! She is a trainer who gets the job done, and she eats “excuses” for breakfast.