When Comfort Food Doesn’t Bring Comfort

Damn those mid-afternoon munchies. The ones that make you forage through your fridge and pantry in every hastening circles of panic.

Logical thinking goes into free-fall…There’s nothing sweet here…What am I going to eat?…I need to eat something sweet

Except of course, I don’t actually need to eat anything sweet. I just want to. I consumed my last meal little more than an hour ago, so I shouldn’t really be hungry. I’m eating out of boredom. Or habit. Or just a general desire for a bit of comfort food. Or a little bit of all of the above.

READ – The Pretty Boy

But my partner and I have been trying to “be good” lately. Cookies, chocolate and ice-cream have been on the banned, do-not-buy list for the last few months. So, there’s nothing naughty to get my hands on, exacerbating my state of panic even more.

Instead, we try and fill our shipping cart with natural, unprocessed foods. This includes supplies for our daily green smoothie (kale, apple, pineapple, ginger, lime, mint – try it, it’s amazing!), meat, fish and salad-y type ingredients. All good foods, but not necessarily the kind of food that will satisfy a mid-afternoon munchie attack.

And then it appears. Out of the corner of my eye, and behind a container filled with a ‘raw nibble mix’ (shudder), I spy a chocolate wrapper. I reach over, pick it up and smile to myself. Before you can say ‘do you really think you should be eating that?’, the wrapper is off and I’m scoffing the chocolate bar as if I hadn’t eaten in days.

Not my proudest moment. And surprisingly, not my happiest either. Where is the joy that comes from eating food that biologically might be bad for us (heck – it might not even pass being classified as food), but because of the lifetime of marketing I’ve been exposed to (and yes, my own personal habits and choices too), I know brings me relief, happiness and comfort?

For the first time, there’s none of that. The stark reality is that I didn’t enjoy the chocolate bar the way I used to before I became healthier. This has left me a little perplexed.


When it comes to health and nutrition, I’m definitely not “there” yet. The changes my partner and I are making have been implemented slowly and incrementally. I don’t want to become one of “those people” that can’t eat out because ‘who knows that they put in the food?’. Nor do I want to be restricted religiously with what I can and can’t eat, to the point where it becomes an imposition on others or an embarrassment to myself.

As my early-30s have slowly crept into mid-30s territory, I’ve started doing some reading and exploring new ideas when it comes to the food I eat. Like having a green smoothie every morning. Like intermittent fasting, Like eating less junk food. Like drinking more tea.

These things might not be right for everyone, but they feel right for me – and my body. Which is why I do them, and more importantly, it’s why I’ve been able to stick with them for about 6 months (and still going strong!)

But my reaction to eating a chocolate bar, once an admittedly all too often occurrence, has baffled me. I really didn’t enjoy it. It tasted way too sweet, and also really synthetic and un-food like. The way I remember it feeling was more rich, chocolately and creamy. Where was that feeling? That’s what I was after. That is why they call it comfort food after all, isn’t it?

Am I in some sort of nutrition purgatory, half way between my old “unhealthy’ life, but having not yet arrived at my “healthy” future self?

READ – An Open Letter To ‘Men’s Health’ Magazine

I’m a subscriber to a men’s health magazine. I remember reading an interview with the cover guy a few months ago. The guy actually seemed to be quite switched on and down to earth (as far as mega-chiselled male cover models go at least). I actually really liked what he was saying. He espoused a balanced perspective to exercise and nutrition, which seems to be becoming an increasingly rare approach. He made sense.

But then he said something and I had one of those ‘I don’t ever want to sound like that’ reactions. When asked what his favourite ‘cheat food’ is, he replied pizza. He then added that it has to be home made pizza, because the store bought variety has too much sodium, which gives him a headache.

That comment sums up pretty much everything I don’t ever want to be or say. It comes across as just a little too far over the health conscious line, and veered straight into get over yourself health territory. A slice of pizza once in a while, ain’t gonna kill ya buddy!

But here I am. I’ve eaten a chocolate bar and I’m no longer getting the sensory hit I used to. (I didn’t get a headache, but I did feel a slight pain in my gut afterwards. Guilt, perhaps?) Am I now becoming one of “those” people?

Worse yet, when you try and do everything to be healthy, does that mean you can no longer enjoy the occasional treat? Does something happen to the human body that no longer allows for these simple sensory food pleasures? How can this be? After all, if I’m getting healthier, shouldn’t my body be better at dealing with the occasional junk food I may ram down my throat?

What do you do when comfort food no longer brings comfort? If someone could please let me know (and preferably before my next mid-afternoon munchie attack!), that would be much appreciated!


212 thoughts on “When Comfort Food Doesn’t Bring Comfort

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