Food Craving Is A Way To Deal With Stress In A Tumultuous World

Mindy and her husband in London

Photo: Mindy is feeling sad and anxious over the horrific events in London, where she recently visited with her husband. Such difficult times find people craving food.

By Mindy Gorman-Plutzer

As I sit to write this column, I’m feeling sad, quite anxious and overwhelmed as a result of recent events in London. My husband and I enjoyed five fabulous days there only months ago.

Combine this with a recent health scare (under control now) and I can’t help feeling every bit of 50 Plus.

I was going to write about sugar cravings and the hidden sugars in our most popular “healthy choices.” I wanted to talk to you about the friend who flaunts her nutritional expertise as she orders a salad that, unbeknown to her, has a day’s worth of sugar, and douses it with a fat-free dressing. Then she wonders why she craves that after-dinner cookie, intends to eat just one but manages to polish off quite a few.

But what are we actually craving? In troubling times when the next traumatic event is only a headline away, it’s worth thinking about.

We crave love, serenity, touch, control — and then, of course, there’s chocolate! Who doesn’t want more sweets in her life? These days, who doesn’t need it?

Intentions Thwarted

The news cycles, social media overload, political environment and threats to our safety wreak havoc with our intentions to eat well and choose wisely. Not to mention the uncertainty brought about by our maturing bodies and life-cycle events that send many of us looking for comfort in the refrigerator or pantry.

I so clearly remember how on September 11, 2001, after knowing my daughters and loved ones were safe, I went straight to Trader Joe’s and roamed the aisles until the store closed at noon. Not only was it a good distraction, but it kept my mind in the kitchen — nesting, organizing and connected to what felt safe.

The bottom line is that uncertainty is uncomfortable. Our relationship with food comes into play here for several reasons. Food is a constant. Our very first association with being nurtured is food-related. We turn to food for comfort; it connects us to memories of happy times spent with loved ones.

For some, there is even comfort and safety in the control that comes with dieting. That occurs when we don’t trust ourselves to know that we can stop when we’ve had enough to eat. With respect to this, not everything is uncertain. You have the power, the intelligence and capacity to slow down and respond in the moment to what is going on in the majority of situations.

If you find yourself standing in front of the open refrigerator or pantry, pause and ask yourself what is it that you are really hungry for.

Consider Your Options

The truth is that the best way to deal with the discomfort brought about by uncertainty is to sit with it, be present with the reality that you have choices. Choices to be grateful for what is; choices to breathe into the uncertainty and know where you are is a culmination of all the life you’ve experienced; choices to re-frame and re-write the narrative for what was and what is yet to be.

In these uncertain times, the desire to self soothe is strong. If food is what calls you in such times, remember that “hunger” can also be metaphorical; sometimes what we’re craving has nothing to do with food at all. We can feed our needs outside of the kitchen in ways that are truly nourishing. This is The FiftyPlus Life.

In addition to being a board-certified health coach and nutritional consultant, Mindy Gorman-Plutzer is a Certified Eating Psychology Coach in Manhattan. She is the author of The Freedom Promise: 7 Steps To Stop Fearing What Food Will Do TO You and Start Embracing What It Can Do FOR You (Balboa Press). For more information, go to Follow her on twitter at @FreedomPromise.



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