When my husband gets man-flu (‘himfluenza’) , he wants comfort food. For him, that’s shepherd’s pie, apple crumble, and custard.
A few days later, he’s back on his feet and feeling fine.
But how do you find comfort with food when there’s a never-ending list of symptoms, aches, and pains? Where do you draw the line?
In the past week, I’ve had a headache for three days. My feet have been numb and had stabby pains. I banged my funny bone on a doorframe on Tuesday and it’s been hurting ever since, my arthritic knee has acted up, my neck muscles have been super-tight and achy, and one of my fingertips hurts for no apparent reason. Welcome to the fun-fair of fibromyalgia!
If I ate comfort food for every ache and pain, I’d be as big as a house. Yet it is tempting to feel ‘deserving’ of a little something, just for surviving the day.
In fact, the opposite is true. We need to be more diligent about what we eat, to ensure that what’s working WELL in our bodies can continue, and not to add any more stress or strain.
I know a woman with lupus. She lives on her own and struggles to get to the shops, or cook, or make herself eat. So she decided to stock up on the one thing which she had an appetite for – cream cakes. For weeks she ate eclairs, custard tarts, cream slices, and doughnuts. She felt indulged and full.
But those cakes had a dark side – one day she couldn’t get up her stairs. She had to start sleeping on the sofa, which exacerbated her pain. And it wasn’t until someone asked her what she’d been eating that she made the connection – her diet was so limited that she was now suffering from muscle atrophy and the beginning stages of scurvy and beriberi!
She wised up and started eating a slightly more balanced diet – although she still struggles with shopping and cooking she’s making sounder choices, and feeling better for it.
There’s nothing wrong with comfort food. But it shouldn’t be eaten at the expense of more nutritious dishes. A good ratio of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats will make you feel better in the long run than a steady diet of ‘treats’
My personal solution has been to find healthy ways of preparing treats so that they fit easily into my eating plan. At the end of a long day of pain or fatigue, my mouth doesn’t care if it’s a healthy black bean brownie or a slice of cottage cheesecake – but my body knows the difference. And it feels good for that.