I come from a long line of emotional eaters. Our language of love is so tied up with mealtimes that you can practically tell the mood of each home by what is being rustled up in the kitchen.
A welcome is salmon sandwiches with capers and lemon pieces. A good report card is slow-roasted chicken with herb butter. Support is Ouma rusks dipped in tea. Sunday family time is spaghetti bolognaise or cottage pie. Parents-going-out is pasta and pesto with cheese and olives. Just simply happy is ice cream in a cone with hundreds and thousands sprinkled on top.
Negative emotions are not communicated by specific foods but by a lack of care. Disappointment is more likely to be communicated by a slightly overcooked and squishy plate of fusilli than a harsh word. Sadness can be found in too many toasted sandwiches for dinner in one week. Bitterness is an ordered-too-late takeaway meal, or no-dinner-at-all-I-ate-with-the-kids.
But emotional eating is one thing and emotion eating is quite another.
How many emotions I have chewed on and swallowed instead of expressing them? How many times have I offered biscuits instead of words of support? A packet of chips rather than a ten-minute chat to find out why my kids are whining so much today? How often have I expected my husband to see the roast chicken as an expression of love rather than just a meal? How many times have I read too much into a steak sandwich?
I have been comfort eating through most of the winter. As we come into the full beauty of spring, I am going to communicate differently with myself. Ideally, support will be a few minutes of silence, love will be a hug and disappointment will be a good cry. And food will be a sublime, perfect experience of taste and nourishment.
Well. After this bag of wasabi chips. Have you tasted them? They’re just like first love – but better!