My daughter and I were shopping yesterday and because of the supply chain issues it is sometimes difficult to find items we either need or want. This is not a complaint, just an observation. This is a difficult time for many people and we are lucky to have what we need. New sneakers can wait.

However when we finished shopping my daughter asked if we could stop and pick up take out at the restaurant next to the shoe store. I joked, “Even though we didn’t find everything we were looking for, there is always plenty of food.” I counted and near that intersection by our local mall there are 14 different fast food restaurants, a Target and a Cub. We couldn’t find her new shoes or a new bag but we could choose to eat anything we wanted. There was definitely no shortage of food choices.

There is plenty of food within reach all the time. Many restaurants will be within driving distance for most of us, portion sizes at each of these locations are huge and if we are fortunate most of us also have plenty of food in our pantries and refrigerators. We have more food today than any generation before us. Food is always there for us in today’s society. 

This is a metaphor. Not only is food literally there for us, it is also there for us emotionally. When life doesn’t go as planned, food is there. It doesn’t judge us and doesn’t talk back. It tastes good and stimulates chemicals in our brain that make us feel good. When we are stressed, when we want to relax, when we want to celebrate, food makes us feel better. Chocolate will always be chocolate. You can always count on it. 

We all know however that this is not necessarily a good thing. It’s nice to have food be a part of celebrations and family traditions. It is a big part of our lives. But what if that emotional attachment goes too far? What if we use food to soothe us and it becomes unhealthy? 

I know I eat for emotional reasons at times. For me food equals peace and relaxation. I am always on the go. At mealtimes I allow myself to take a break. This can cause issues. Finding ways to take breaks and find activities I enjoy is something that I work on daily.

If you are also an emotional eater it is helpful to understand why. It is not necessary to know exactly the cause but it may be beneficial to you. What is that need that the food is fulfilling?

If you feel it is an issue for you, you may need to find other ways to comfort yourself. This could be simply finding something else to do. Are you eating because you are bored or don’t have enough activities that inspire you? What makes you happy? What else could you do? For me it is usually something active or creative. Something that I am trying now is to find more time to dance. I teach dance, however I don’t have a lot of time to just dance for myself. It is important to find time to play and express yourself in ways that are fulfilling for you.

What if you are using food to comfort yourself? Maybe you are not getting the support you need from someone in your life, your job is not fulfilling, or you are just not happy. I just finished reading the book “I am Enough” by Marisa Peer. It is all about relying on yourself to give you what you need. Do you need someone to tell you how great you are? Then tell yourself, “I am amazing!” You can always be there for you. Do you wish someone would send you flowers? Send them to yourself! Do you wish your boss would tell you what a great job you are doing at work? Tell yourself. Tell yourself you are beautiful, wonderful, amazing and fabulous. Do this many times a day everyday. Take 10-20 minutes a day to tell yourself amazing things about yourself. It seems silly but it really works.

Try not to rationalize this exercise. For example you may feel you need to lose weight before you can tell yourself you are beautiful. Or you need to get a promotion before you feel like you are good at your job. For this to work you have to say “Who cares! I am going to be that person who is there for me and I am going to tell myself I am beautiful! I am going to support myself and be my best friend.” If you really practice this you will be amazed at how quickly your insecurities start to fade. It does take practice and dedication.

Food is always there for us. Most of us don’t need to worry about not having enough. However, try not to let food become the answer. We need to find other ways to find love, peace and comfort. It may take therapy and a deeper understanding of yourself. It may also just take being there for yourself. Be your biggest cheerleader! Tell yourself how wonderful you are everyday!