Up until just a few months ago, for most of my life, food has been my security blanket. Whenever I had a rough day, an interaction that left me feeling insecure, or my depression began to enclose on me again, I knew exactly how french fries and a cheeseburger would make me feel. I knew they wouldn’t reject me, they’d make me feel the same way they always did, and I could enjoy them for about ten minutes. Ten minutes of comfort. Ten minutes of easing the pain of being tormented by depression and insecurity. Ten minutes of feeling “happy”.
For a brief moment, I felt good.
But all of those brief moments of good tasting mac-n-cheese, mashed potatoes, garlic bread, and pizza left me feeling empty inside. When my plate was clean and the dishes were done, I was still insecure. I was still depressed. I was still ashamed of my body.
And each time I ate a curly fry dipped in Arby’s sauce, I gained a little more on my waist, and lost a little more confidence in who I was.
Why couldn’t I control my weight? Why couldn’t I have controlled what I had ate three months ago, so I look different today? Why was the person in the mirror so much different than who I thought I was?
To be fair, I didn’t eat fast food or carbs all of the time. I did not seek comfort in every single meal. Primarily, I ate pretty good. I ate a standard “food pyramid” American diet with the occasional fast food. But I did eat impulsively sometimes. And sometimes I’d stretch those ten minutes of feeling good into twenty minutes by getting a second helping of a meal. Part of this was biological; when we eat a few carbs, our body starts wanting more, so we eat more. The other part of this was psychological. We feel good when we eat carbs, so we want more.
So, week after week, I lost the food battle. The weeks turned into months, and the months turned into years. And after I had lost enough battles, I became overwhelmed with the feeling of defeat. That feeling of defeat controlled me. It became a part of who I was. Most of the time, I hung my head down in shame. I avoided pictures with my family. I avoided mirrors. I avoided people, because I didn’t want them to see me like this.And the extra weight that stuck to my body stood as a testament to my lack of self-control and my battles lost.
And so the cycle would continue. I’d eat to numb that pain. I’d eat to feel in control. As if I were telling myself, This isn’t something that is happening to you, it’s something we are choosing. It’s ok to be a little “thick”. I’d eat for that ten minutes of feeling “happy” again.
Then, I started Keto. For those of you that are already ketoers, you probably know the feeling of eating just for the sake of getting your body some nutrients. Eating keto usually means eating a lot of the same foods over and over. After about two months of keto, your body starts to stop craving carbs all the time. I thank God that I had the discipline to keep it together for those two months, to get those cravings out of my body!
It wasn’t until recently that I realized I’d been winning the battle, though. While at multiple Christmas dinners this year, I realized my plate was not as full as it was in previous Christmases. I did not make excessive trips back to the food to fill my plate again. I did not feel overly stuffed or uncomfortable with the foods I ate.
In fact, over Thanksgiving, I lost a pound. And over Christmas, I maintained my weight.
That is what real comfort food, my friends.
Food that makes you feel comfortable in your own body. Food that helps you exude confidence, rather than defeat.
Food that’s “good feeling” lasts longer than the ten minutes you are tasting it, you have that good feeling every time you look in a mirror. Food that gives you fuel to be the person that you know you are. Food that doesn’t make you feel guilty or fuel your depression.
Real comfort food isn’t about what makes you feel good for a fleeting ten minutes. Comfort food is about fueling your body so you can be confident in who you are.
And this is why I won’t go back to the other lifestyle. Its about more than what is on my plate. I don’t want to go back to hanging my head in shame. I want to continue to be happy with who I am. I want the food I eat to reflect who I want to become.
I broke the cycle. I’ve won the battle. It’s about keeping it that way now.