This week’s Body Love Tip is for anyone who has “go-to” comfort foods during times of stress or high emotion:
To fully enjoy the comfort, you must remove the guilt!
Here are my 3 tips to help you do this 🙂
It’s OK to want comfort!
We all have them: one or more comfort foods (or drinks) that we reach for under times of stress or upset. Whether it’s for their reassuring familiarity or the smell, taste or satisfaction they give us, these foods can be a true source of comfort when we’re in need.
But more often than not, there’s also a sense of guilt that comes with them – either while we’re indulging, or immediately afterwards – which can deny us of their full pleasure or comfort, and lead to them having the exact opposite effect that we’re looking for.
So, what if you could enjoy – and benefit from – them without the guilt?
Well, I happen to believe that you can. In fact, I not only believe that you can, but I believe that you MUST continue to enjoy comfort foods to maintain a healthy relationship with food in general. You just have to know how to do it without guilt or negative consequence!
This is what I’d like to share with you today – and it’s a timely post because I’ve had a particular personal need for comfort over the last couple of weeks, as I was on the home-stretch for finishing up the writing of my upcoming book (Finding Your Forever Body) and submitting it for editing. I’d had a predetermined deadline and was uber-focused to meet it, which required more of my time and energy, and hence more “comfort” to keep myself balanced. Perhaps you can relate to that feeling…
Whenever I’m going through a particularly stressful, busy or emotional time in my life (whether positive or negative), I have one source of comfort that I reach for more often to carry me through: coffee.
Now at first glance, this may not seem like much of a vice, but my body tends to be quite sensitive to caffeine, so it’s not always in my best interest to drink too much of it. And I used to drink way too much.
I’ve always LOVED coffee: the smell of it (sometimes I just walk by the coffee maker just to snag a whiff), the taste of it (mmmm….coffee), and what it represents to me: a warming beverage to be enjoyed either with a good friend or group of friends, or all by myself in the comfort of my cozy pyjamas (tea just doesn’t cut it for me!). I love everything about it, and most days now, I’m happy to enjoy a cup or two and move on with my day.
But when I’ve got more going on in my life, I want more of it!
Whether it’s dealing with a stressful/emotional time, planning for an exciting event, preparing for a move, or completing a big project, coffee is the friend I reach for to help me through it all.
Though it’s one of the most comforting things to me, it can also leave me jittery, anxious, moody and unable to focus – if I drink too much of it. So I’ve learned a few tips that help me to enjoy its comfort, without its negative consequences – which I think could be applied for most other comfort foods too!
3 Tips for Enjoying your comfort foods without the guilt:
1. Know your limits – and set your parameters
The most important thing about your comfort foods to consider is this: the foods/drinks that you reach for to help make you feel better, should NOT make you feel worse after you consume them!
It’s important to listen to your body for this one – some clues to your limitations can be reactions such as digestive distress, skin reactions, mood changes, immediate drops in energy…most of which occur when comfort foods are overconsumed, or perhaps combined with other things that have these negative effects.
Personally, I know that I can only drink 4 cups of coffee MAX before the effects turn from comforting and positive, to distracting and negative. If I drink more than that, I can get headaches, jitters, and lack focus. I also can’t drink coffee past 3pm, otherwise it keeps me up at night. So I drink it “responsibly” – within my parameters!
Whatever your comfort foods, chances are you can pinpoint exactly when your consumption becomes problematic. Best not to wait until the negative effects kick in before you stop – know your limits, plan for how you can stick to them (maybe even measure it out beforehand), and be a conscious consumer, so you can fully ENJOY every mouthful.
2. Choose the quality stuff – because you’re worth it!
Comfort foods can be one of life’s greatest (and legal!) pleasures! But when you reach for the cheap, crappy, low-quality stuff – full of artificial ingredients, chemicals and preservatives – they can quickly turn from comfort into self-sabotage. These ingredients can wreak havoc on the body’s internal balance, causing you to experience negative side effects, and also to overindulge (a topic I also passionately address in my upcoming book)! They create internal chain-reactions because the body’s trying desperately to re-balance itself.
On the other hand, when you choose your comfort foods made from quality, natural and (whenever possible) organic ingredients, you’re giving yourself a much better chance of “moving on” from it easily, rather than beating yourself up with guilt. It also increases the chances that you’ll be more satisfied with less, because quality ingredients are generally more nutrient-dense, and therefore better fulfill the body’s nutrient needs (which in turn helps decrease cravings and hunger signals).
In my case, I’m not opposed to the occasional crappy cup of coffee (hey, with a little cream, I can make it work!), but if I know that I’m in a zone where I’ll be consuming more than usual, I make sure it’s the best quality I can buy. Nothing but high-end, organic coffee beans for this girl when she’s in her coffee-comfort zone! It’s more effective, it tastes better, and I know that my body is processing it better because it’s not being weighed down by pesticides and other chemicals found in non-organic coffee.
Yes, when I’m in need of comfort, I become a coffee snob. And I encourage you to become a comfort-food snob when you’re in your zone too! Sure, it may cost more – but know that it’s a temporary expense to help support you through your “time of need”. And you’re worth it!
3. Adjust the rest to accommodate
When I’m drinking a little more coffee, I know I need to adjust some things around it to be accommodating so I can still keep my body relatively balanced (and ward off the negative effects of caffeine). For instance, more water. I definitely need to drink more water on the days I drink more coffee, otherwise I can become easily dehydrated. I also try to eat more fresh fruits and veggies, and avoid other dehydrating drinks (like wine and beer), and I choose more “grounding” foods containing protein and good fats, over anything containing sugar that could (negatively) enhance my caffeine jitters.
What I put into my coffee also becomes even more important when I’m drinking more of it, so during these times (and even on a regular basis, when I’m feeling motivated), I also like to make my own healthy coffee creamer (from hemp seeds) so I’m at least getting a little healthy fat and protein in every cup too.
It’s amazing how the little adjustments can make a big difference!
Overall, the common theme in all three tips here is to become more conscious of how your body reacts to your comfort foods, and to honour it by setting – and sticking to – appropriate limitations, nourishing it with the best quality ingredients you possibly can, and making healthy adjustments to help keep & restore balance. Simply listen carefully to what your body is telling you, and it can be your best guide.
Your comfort foods can indeed become a regular, guilt-free part of your life – as you learn to embrace them as nourishment for body, mind and soul whenever you need that extra boost.
Did you like this tip?
Please pass it on to the women in your life who can use a little more Body Love!
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Remember: When you shine your gifts, you define your beauty.