Anyone with even a passing familiarity with womens’ magazines, Dr. Phil or pop psychology in general knows that Emotional Eating is Bad. It makes you fat, it isn’t Mindful, it doesn’t fill the gaping hole of psychological need and blah, blah, blah. The general drift of current thought is that when you are sad, you should engage in vigorous physical activity to increase serotonin, talk to someone about your problems, pray, meditate or de-stress with a warm bath and a light read.
When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad, I cut off a piece of homemade fudge the size of my index finger, pour a glass of milk, break out the peanut butter, and sit in front of my computer eating bites of fudge with dainty hits of peanut butter and drinking. (The milk). If there is no fudge to be had (which is usually the case) I will eat spoons full of peanut butter with precisely 8 chocolate chips on top, or squares of a Hershey bar dipped directly into the jar.
I don’t eat much as part of this ritual; generally one piece of fudge, one spoon full of PB & chips or two Hershey squares. Interestingly, I don’t even really like chocolate very much. There is just something alchemically perfect about chocolate, peanut butter and milk that can take the sting out of the worst day, the biggest disappointment or an irrational wave of sadness. I have, in my life, tried other folk remedies for the blues, including drinking heavily, hooking up with strangers and watching movies like “Pretty Woman” and “Steel Magnolias.” Unfortunately, I do not tolerate alcohol very well, society frowns on hooking up when one is married with children, and I hate all movies that require of me an endless suspension of disbelief and a perpetually trembling lip.
As for the “Women’s Home Circle of Oprah” remedies, sometimes, frankly, I get sad because I am mindful about everything from Darfur to whether I can afford to get Roto Rooter to look at the drain in the basement. I do exercise, but strapping on the Nikes and going for a brisk walk sounds so incredibly exhausting when I am depressed that I would really just rather fall on my sword. As for talking to someone, it is an intrinsic part of a Colossal Downswing that I kind of hate everybody. Just a little. (And no, of course I don’t mean you). Our bathtub is too small for actual taking of baths, and it’s hard to read in the shower.
That leaves me with no salve except the potent cocktail of the chocolate, the Jif and the milk. (At least it’s skim). Tonight, dear reader, I am grumpy, edgy, and a little blue. I know intellectually that I am blessed, lucky, and truly one of Fortune’s children, and based on past experience I’m guessing that I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling mindful as hell, ready for yogurt and green tea, and having forgotten completely how I felt tonight. I’ll put the peanut butter knife and the milk glass in the dishwasher, and leap energetically into the business of living. Tonight, however, forgive me if I sit licking my knife wounds and engaging in Emotional Eating, the 8th deadly sin.
Psychotherapy from the Pantry
- 1 Large glass of milk, whole, 2%, 1% or skim
- 1 jar of peanut butter (not the natural kind. Tough times call for hydrogenated nuts).
- 1 finger of fudge, 8 semi-sweet chocolate chips, 2 squares of a Hershey Bar
- 1 knife or (if using morsels) spoon
If using fudge or Hershey segments, apply approximately 1/32 teaspoon of peanut butter to end of chocolate source before taking a bite. Bite, drink milk, and repeat. If using morsels, fill spoon generously with peanut butter, count out 8 morsels, press lightly into peanut butter and eat one morsel at a time, drinking milk between bites. Surf the web, read a mindless novel, watch a John Cusack movie or listen to Joni Mitchell until you feel better.