I have a confession, I was in a dysfunctional relationship for many years. It wasn’t with another person, my unhealthy relationship was with ice cream. It began in my childhood and continued into adulthood. It all started in my grandparents’ living room in Albany, New York. Every night as my grandparents watched the 11’clock news they had a ritual that involved ice cream. On holidays when our small family was together the nightly event involved my sister, cousin and I taking the orders for flavors and toppings. The flavors were of course always chocolate based; my grandfather loved Rocky Road.
I can still hear the sound of the spoons clinking against the small glass bowls. It was a soothing, comforting sound. Unfortunately, this little ritual led to a lifetime relationship.
I have had many difficult times and ice cream was the constant in my life. It was there when I was bored, lonely, or tired. When I couldn’t count on people I always knew I could pick up a half gallon of ice cream to soothe me and keep me company. I tried many times to break off this relationship but my attempts were futile. I was able to use low-fat yogurt, non-dairy versions or even sorbet but I could never completely kick my habit. And so, I finally decided not to fight this relationship, that it must have been serving me in some way. It reminded me of my grandparents who I miss. It was soothing, comforting and reliable. When I stopped fighting it and acknowledged that it served some purpose I was able to make peace with this damaging relationship and not let it have control over me. I can honor that it reminds me of people I loved and that seeking it out means I am needing a connection that is lacking. That’s not such an easy thing to do but fighting against it and trying to control this craving hasn’t served me well.
For many of us, a craving or binge has nothing to do with food. When we crave a particular comfort food, that is exactly what we might be looking for…comfort. If you come home from a long day at work and eat a half gallon of ice cream or a box of donuts, is it really the food you’re craving? Or is it that your job is stressful and unfulfilling or your relationship with your partner isn’t so easy. Maybe you don’t have a partner and you’re seeking out food to give you that nurturing, loving feeling. I invite you to look at what is going on in your life if you are using food as comfort. And instead of trying to control your craving embrace it to understand what it is telling you.