Comfort Eating

“Imagine waking up on Christmas Day as a seven-year-old boy, full of excitement, joy and wonder of how the day would unfold. The pleasure of sitting down to watch a favourite movie or a family show; the magic of unwrapping gifts and sharing a festive meal. But something didn’t feel right for me that morning. I wasn’t certain why I felt uneasy, but I sensed the atmosphere and sadness creep over me like an overbearing shadow. What was missing?

2019

In the kitchen, my Mum was busy preparing Christmas lunch. Our festive meal would consist of a roasted turkey with all the trimmings! This meant I would have to eat my annual Brussels sprout – a crowd pleaser at our table. I noticed Mum was unusually quiet. She was always soft with her affection, but hard to read. She didn’t really enjoy cooking any meal, but I sensed the simmering stress gently bubbling under the surface. Maybe this year I would eat two sprouts, to try and cheer her up.

We gathered round the tree to exchange gifts. Dad was not there. I had been wondering where he was going to be for Christmas? He had moved out a few months earlier and I saw him on weekends, but this was the first time we gathered as a family since he had left. Nobody was talking about him and the heavy silence was interrupted with the next present that was passed for me to unwrap. It felt strange not having Dad with us.

After our ritual present unwrapping, I retreated to my room with my stash of seasonal treasure, placing the gifts on the bed next to my Christmas stocking. An orange and a red shiny apple rolled out from the stocking and I caught a glimpse of the multipack of six full size chocolate bars. I admired the colourful writing, removed a wrapper and without thinking, took the first bite. It felt good as my teeth broke through the layer of milky sweetness. I savoured the moment, sitting for a while to enjoy the sensation.

There was still a long wait until lunch and my stomach felt empty. I spied the red velvet stocking, the discarded fruit and chocolate bars in their shiny wrapping. Maybe one more bar would satisfy my emptiness. With the experience of youth on my side, I merrily munched through all six of them, drifting away in a sweet dream.

The muffled voice of my Mum downstairs brought me back to reality, calling us for lunch. We took our seats, laid with special plates. When lunch was served, I sat looking down at my plate brimful of turkey, sausages wrapped in bacon, vegetables, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and my favourite – bread sauce. Mum, liberated from her cooking duties, was in a happier mood enjoying her annual glass of Vueve du Vernay. Relieved, the bubbles had lifted her spirit, “I’ll only have to eat one sprout,” the last item on my plate. With my stomach swelling, I just managed to squeeze in some Christmas pudding coated in brandy sauce – the final spoon stretching my elastic stomach to its limit.

This was my first experience of comfort eating. I didn’t really know why I had indulged in the chocolate bars, then stuffed myself with food… it was like an unconscious trance. The emptiness I felt inside had not gone away. That day’s tension, led to the pattern of eating to fill a void. It took time to cement into a coping strategy! But the foundation was laid for binging and addiction to junk food. Throughout my adult life, I often, to cope, would conceal or hide my overeating, secretly indulging on my own.

If you or a loved one have experienced overeating or comfort eating, feel free to connect with me. I offer lots of free advice and share strategies to overcome the self sabotage and heal suffering. I have spent the last few years figuring out how to neutralise my ego and rise above my own suffering, to create a life I love. I have learned it is better to live in the present moment rather than letting your past define you. My desire in sharing my story is that you will know how to reconnect with your soul and create a life you love. I hope you will find your path to connect with your heart and honor your true self.