The last few months I've been watching what I eat, and I'm down twenty-five pounds. However, this past week has been fraught with emotion over several things, and the diet has slipped. Yesterday I drank an entire carton of eggnog and ate an Aero mint chocolate bar. Today it was cold tuna salad and coconut cookies. Must knock it off and get back on my good behavior. But it is interesting how we turn to certain comfort foods when stress overwhelms us.
Is it because food is so good at evoking memories, and we want to remember cosier, kinder times? I always associate sloppy joes with my grandma's house (my favourite place on the planet), and there's nothing like my mom's hot chocolate to make a person feel loved and snug. The scent of mint takes me right back to my grandpa's farm. Shwarma zips me back to Florence, where we ate a lovely plate of it. They say that smells trigger memories more than sights or sounds. I associate certain foods with certain events, certain people, certain feelings from the past.
When my daughter-in-law wants comfort she goes for her mom's macaroni and cheese. My sons turn toward caramel popcorn. This week my husband has been hunting down the sour cherry candies his dad used to eat. If I'm down, I always crave creamy things like banana cream pie and rice pudding. (And eggnog. Ahem.) I don't know anyone who, when they are depressed or upset, says, "Man, I wish I had a big bowl of lettuce right now!"
The cravings will pass, the emotions will lighten in time, and I will be back on track. But for today there will be no self-recrimination. No sense of failure. Today I will just be gentle with myself. It's been a hard week.