Pain and comfort are two sides of the same coin. Especially when it comes to food.

Last year, I started excavating my diet, wanting to cut out things I knew weren’t good for me. For two months I eliminated all sweeteners and baked goods. It was a revelation. I lost 10 pounds, felt great, and started to understand how much these foods were only giving me comfort, not nutrition. Gladly after the initial two months, I was able to reintegrate a very limited amount of sweets in a healthy and balanced way.

Then, earlier this year, the warm weather prompted me to have one of my favourite drinks from the local coffee shop, a frozen blended coffee. Yum! Except this time, I immediately started to feel ill. The next morning over my daily coffee, I again felt the same pangs in my stomach and decided it was that same instinct kicking in. Coffee just wasn’t agreeing with me anymore. It was time to go without.

But months later my body still craves these things like they are the most potent drugs in the world. Today amidst my stressful day about town, it crossed my mind a hundred times, “oh, I could have a Frappucino!”, “oh look, there’s my favourite bakery!”, “oh look, gelato!!” and on and on. But for some reason today I had the peace of mind to observe those thoughts rather than indulge them. And I realized that when I held off shoving food in my mouth, what I really felt was completely overwhelmed by how stressful my day had been. My brain was grappling every moment for a way to numb that pain for just one second.

I realized that there is a deeper benefit to eating healthy than physical results. There is the pain we feel when we overeat and/or eat poorly, and it is felt in pants that are too tight, and in not enjoying the image of ourselves we see in the mirror. But there is a much deeper pain that goes along with indulging those comforts. It is the pain of the situations that we are suffering through in life, and when we indulge our fancies for sweets and treats (in whatever form), all we are doing is covering up the deeper pain we feel. We create a surface pain – a physical or body image pain – that masks the real suffering we’re enduring.

After having this realization, I took a few moments to have a pretend cry. I say pretend because my day hadn’t actually upset me to the point of needing to cry, but I needed to have those same heaving sighs to let myself release the weight of the stress upon my mind. It felt good and I realized that I wasn’t hungry whatsoever. By foregoing the comfort, I could also forgo the pain – the superficial pain. And that allowed me to deal with the real pain underneath, which freed me from both the pain and the comfort – the duality – and left me feeling calm and centered. And that certainly gave me more peace than a bowl of ice cream ever could.

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