By Kristin Stephens, MS, NTP

Throughout this series on establishing a healthy relationship with food, I’ve discussed ways to indulge this holiday season, how to prepare for a holiday gathering, and how to reset yourself.  Today, I want to focus on another piece to a healthy relationship with food: finding out why you are drawn to a particular food at a particular time.

How often have we called ice cream a comfort food? Is it because you’ve reached for it when you were having a bad day? Is it because of the sentiment surrounding it, or a memory from when you went through a rough patch, or did your parents give it to you as a child when you were feeling blue?

To me, comfort food is defined as something in which you seek solace and consolation. You turn to it when you’re not feeling your best. You tend to be drawn towards foods which have previously comforted you, whether that was as a child or as an adult. The next time you feel this draw to find comfort in a food, stop yourself. What feelings, emotions, or thoughts are you trying to deal with at the moment? Ask yourself: is there a better way to handle this without food?

Often times, the answer is yes.

It’s time to create new habits surrounding comfort food.

My first suggestion in creating a new habit is to simply find another way to cope and be comforted which doesn’t involve food. This can include talking with a loved one, journaling, or doing something good for someone else. These small acts can help you process what you’re experiencing without turning to food.

My second suggestion is to redefine what constitutes comfort food to you.

I personally enjoy the process of making a cup of tea. Picking out the perfect mug. Filling the tea kettle with water, and hearing it whistle when it’s ready. Unwrapping the tea bag and placing it in my mug. Pouring the hot water over the tea bag and sitting with it while it steeps. Adding a touch of honey and a squeeze of lemon, and then taking that first sip.

What’s not comforting about that?

Why can’t tea be your new comfort food? Or oven-roasted broccoli? Or a big salad you take time to prepare?

Why can’t you make up a new ritual which will help alleviate the sad feelings or the overwhelm of the day? There’s nothing to say you can’t!

Find what else in your life brings you comfort and seek those things the next time you’ve had a rough day. I think you’ll find even more consolation when you’re able to clearly work through your emotions and thoughts without worrying about food.

To have an in-depth discussion on how developing a healthy relationship with food can enhance your overall wellbeing, contact Pure Nutrition + Wellness at [email protected], or call 844-787-3935.

Be Well,

Donna Stephens, BCN, CNHP, LDHS
Kristin Stephens, MS, NTP