Sarah Minkow, Registered Dietitian
Food does more than just provide nutrients. It delights our senses, helps us celebrate special occasions, connects us to people, and defines our cultures. We may bake holiday cookies with our families, celebrate move in day with a pizza with our roommates, cry into our Ben and Jerry’s after a break up, or Netflix and chili-straight-out-of-the-can in bed when needing some down time after finals. And that’s OK! Food nourishes our body and soul and can be an important part of our identity.
Growing up, my grandmother would make popovers for us for breakfast when we would visit. Anytime I have a popover I picture being at my grandmother’s house, pulling up a chair to her kitchen table, and enjoying a buttery, still warm out of the oven popover with her. Now that she has passed, I cherish that memory. Do you have a particular food that makes you feel good?
It’s unfortunate that comfort food gets a bad rap. The truth is, food is a relatively safe way to cope with intense emotions, compared to drugs, alcohol, or self harm. We all sometimes eat when stressed or emotional. The problem arises when the food we’re eating doesn't actually make us feel good, or it’s our only coping mechanism.
When enjoying all foods, but especially those that are more for comfort than nutritional need, I invite you to eat with intention. Put away distractions, bring your focus to the present moment, and take your time so you can really enjoy it. Cultivate a healthy relationship with food and your body by practicing mindful eating — tune into your body’s signals, and learn to trust and honor those messages. There are no foods that are off limits. Remove the strict food rules or restrictions, and you often remove the urge to over-indulge. And remember, your worth or value is not determined by what you eat.
If you’re struggling with your relationship with food, we are here to help. UHS Social Services has dietitians and therapists who specialize in eating issues. Set up a consultation by calling (510) 642-6074.