It’s a sitcom cliche:  the young couple breaks up and the girl eats a quart of ice cream to soothe her broken heart.  In real life, eating a quart of ice cream leaves you feeling nauseous and groggy.  You wake up the next day, with your heart still broken and your jeans feel too tight.  So why do we do it?   We know it isn’t going to solve our problems but all we want in that moment is to end the pain.  Food has become more than what feeds our bodies, it has become the drug of choice when we are sad, lonely, bored or grieving.

Eating carbohydrates and fatty foods doesn’t eliminate pain but it does deaden our ability to feel it.   Cookies, candies, cake and pasta, potatoes, chips and all the variations.  These comfort foods give us a momentary break from feeling the stuff that’s going on inside.

In April 2021 Laura Brehaut wrote in the National Post“According to a new Agri-Food Analytics Lab study, more than half of Canadians are turning to food for comfort during COVID-19.     According to a new study by the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, 77 per cent of Canadians are under more stress as a result of the global health crisis and over half (51.4 per cent) are finding comfort in food.  Of the 42.3 per cent of Canadians who say they’ve gained weight, 37.3 per cent report an increase of six to 10 pounds since last spring.

 People have been affected by the lack of normalcy in their lives” “Food can be a source of comfort and you dont tend to measure the impact of those extra calories.  After 14 months, it adds up.”

Many of us are marching our newly acquired covid pounds right into the holiday season where the temptation to overindulge has always been fierce.  This holiday season, choose your treats with an eye to your long term health instead of thinking only about the momentary bliss of having that extra sugar cookie.

When uncomfortable feelings arise see if you can find a healthy outlet to tide you over during this challenging time: buy yourself a journal and write about your feelings, talk to a trusted friend, or do something physical that makes you feel strong.

Sharing food and laughter with friends is a wonderful part of the season so don’t deprive yourself but have a plan.  Before you head to a gathering eat a healthy snack so that you won’t arrive feeling hungry.  While you’re out, choose the treat that you’re going to enjoy the most and enjoy it, that way you won’t feel deprived if you pass up some of the other goodies.

This holiday season, make choices that will leave you feeling energized. Choose to eat and drink the things that are going to leave you feeling your happiest and healthiest self as 2022 rolls around.

Written by Catherine Mitchell, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist serving the Durham Region.