We’ve been writing quite a bit on the blog on the things we do to find peace and relieve stress in tough times. We’ve talked about dog walks, hikes in the woods, yoga, time with friends, and beautiful music.
Mostly those things, in addition to being instrumentally valuable in terms of health and stress reduction, are also valuable for their own sake. It’s just plain good to spend time with friends and appreciate joy in the world.
But I confess that in addition to the things that I want more of in my life, I’ve also been eating a lot of delicious food. Delicious food also is good for its own sake. But I’ve been eating more of it than I like, on reflection, and I haven’t fully appreciated a lot of it. I’ve been eating for comfort, not joy.
Now I’m a defender of eating for comfort. It’s not the worst thing you can do. (For me, and for lots of people, alcohol might be worse. There is also a lot being written right now about drinking one’s way through the next four years. I’ll pass on that.)
Food serves a lot of purposes besides nutrition. My blog post which defends eating to relieve stress is also about what I cooked on the US election night. That post seems sad and naive now. I thought it was going to be a stressful evening but that it would all end okay. I confess too that when things started to go bad, I found refuge in sleep. “Wake me when Hilary wins,” I said to Jeff, before drifting off.
Four years is a long time to be comfort eating. And it turns out I’m not the only person thinking about this. See Stress Eating is Now an American Pastime Thanks to President Donald Trump.
In an interview in the New York Times TV producer, director and writer Judd Apatow talks about stress eating and gaining weight. He says, “Most of us are just scared and eating ice cream.” Me too. Salted caramel ice cream is this year’s favourite. Sometimes I worry I am going to associate the flavour with Trump trauma.
In another New York Times piece called Trump Made Me Eat It, Joyce Wadler writes that her Greenwich Village Weight Watchers group is talking lots about Trump weight. Trump tweets, she writes, and instead of your usual low cal yogurt you find yourself reaching for a chocolate croissant.
Barbra Streisand is also tweeting about Trump and food. “Donald Trump is making me gain weight. I start the day with liquids, but after the morning news, I eat pancakes smothered in maple syrup!” the singer tweeted.
Oh, and just in time, a new study seems to show a link between stress, elevated hormones, and obesity. However, the researchers note that they aren’t really sure about cause and effect. After all, in a fat phobic society it might make sense that larger people are stressed out by attitudes towards their bodies. That is, being fat might be stressful (duh!) rather than stress causing overweight.
In all of this, I don’t mean to trivialize politics. Or to make this all about healthy eating. Or even to criticize eating as a way of relieving stress. But I am interested in the choices we make in hard times. What fuels us to engage politically? What choices support our active, politically and otherwise, lifestyles?
How about you? Are you making your usual food choices in these tough months? What’s your plan for eating in the time of Trump?