I can’t stop eating and I can’t stop writing about it either! It’s my latest mid-life obsession. It could be worse. I could be obsessing about plastic surgery and my saggy, baggy face and body. Oh, that was so last year!
I could blame my eating mania on Handsome Hubby’s six-month devotion to a plant-based eating regime and my own related extreme meat deprivations. I could blame it on the state of the world, or, in a novel switch, I could accept responsibility, and admit it’s about my own limitations and foibles.
But, let’s not do that.
Eating: My Mid-Life Obsession
Yes, we can, in part, legitimately blame my mid-life obsession on my 65-year-old brain and hormones. I eat because I’m older and sluggish. I, alas, also eat because I lack discipline which is also an old story!
And I eat because — dammit — I find food comforting in times of stress — and in times of joy. There’s a well-known term for this kind of eating. It’s called “emotional eating.”
For a long time, I’ve been upset by this aggressive phase of emotional eating, thinking that by now, I should have more control over both my emotions and actions. But hallelujah and hot tamales (yum, hot tamales), I’ve just read an article that supports my emotional eating!
My Mid-Life Eating Obsession is OK?
No less an expert than The Lily’s Editor of Food Videos, Mary Beth Albright, advocates indulging in our eating whims.
“Food, to me, is an opportunity to achieve both immediate and long-term pleasure. Eating in pursuit of good feelings — and in response to negative ones — isn’t a character flaw, it’s a part of our shared humanity,” Albright writes. “I accept the reality and power of emotional eating and no longer resist it
I like the way this woman thinks!
Better Living through Emotional Eating?
Of course, Albright is no mere hedonist. She offers up a few caveats about this whole eating for pleasure thing, urging us to channel our food urges into ways to improve health, particularly our mental health and mood.
In a recent article, foodie Mary Beth zeroed in on four basic emotions: sad, glad, mad, and afraid and provided recipes to improve those moods. She also shot videos showing her making those recipes.
Let’s Get Emotional AND Cooking
Long story short, Mary Beth recommends making vegetable soup when you’re sad; hummus when you’re glad and to celebrate when life is good because it’s fun and shareable; smashed cucumber salad when you’re mad, and blueberry crisp when you’re scared and anxious.
Smashing cucumbers when you’re angry makes sense, but the mood-enhancing logic of pureeing vegetables to smithereens when you’re sad escapes me. It seems mean. And crushing cute little chickpeas for hummus for fun sounds seriously sadistic.
However, I do support, indeed, strongly support, the recommendation to make blueberry crisp when you’re afraid, anxious, or any other mood listed in the dictionary and the DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
“Dr.” Galatz Prescribes
That said, I feel the list for mood-improving foods and recipes did not go far enough. So, here are three of my tried-and-true emotional eating “medicinal” remedies. I’ve turned to these trusty culinary “formularies” countless times through the years, turned to them when my heart was broken by some nasty boyfriend, turned to them when I was homesick at college, turned to them when I didn’t do well on the job, or when it was simply a blue, rainy Monday.
Of course, I’m no chef. That’s a well-known fact. So, I offer up these suggestions minus recipes and minus fancy instructional prep videos
Carrots (Just kidding! What are we? Rabbits?)
Carrot cake – a patina of healthy (those rascally carrots), a dollop of dairy (the cream cheese icing) and lots of sugar. Problematic moods it cures? All! Mad, sad, gluttony, envy, and, as a bonus, it’s good for birthdays, too!
Salami sandwich. Don’t hold the pickles! – NO patina of healthy. In fact, processed meat is one of the anti-healthy meats, but man, oh, man is it good and it’s one of my personal go-to comfort foods to feel a soulful connection to long-ago family in NYC, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. So, it’s a blues-busting, nostalgia-shot-in-the arm, mood-booster! Munch On!
Rice pudding with whipped cream. Good for tummy aches and sweet teeth. Cheers the soul and the heart. Dairy, rice. Throw in a few raisins too. Somehow, it’s just got to be good for you.
This just the shortlist. I could, of course, go on and on … and frequently do!
And while it’s true, my stomach is a regular caldron of food and emotions, thanks to The Lily’s Mary Beth Albright, guilt is no longer in the mix!
How about you, my dear middle-aged muddlers? What are your favorite emotional eating go-to’s? Fess up! No guilt required!
And another question: I’ve admitted that eating is my current mid-life obsession. What’s yours?