WELL, THAT WAS A COUPLE OF WEEKS
I have heard from you about how triggering the news in the US has been. How it's re-stimulated memories of abuse for some of you, and how you have been coping, or not coping.
And how coping / not coping may have involved some stress eating.
SO. I have so much to say about all of this, but for today let's just talk about "stress eating." I've written before about St. Traci Mann, author of Secrets from the Eating Lab, whose experiments have shown that "comfort eating" doesn't actually comfort us.
I go back and forth on this, though. Because it does and it doesn't. And when I go back and forth, I usually stop pacing somewhere in the middle of the situation.
So I will advise this: Be kind to yourself, and let's be kind to each other. Those in power, it seems, have other plans. Therefore let us take charge of our experience in the basic, accessible ways we can.
Here are some ways to do that around food:
- Recognize that under extreme pressure, we may revert to old behaviors. During my Worst Year Ever, I actually slept with Clownie, my childhood crochet companion. I freely admit this! (Also you may have heard it first from Clownie, but whatever.) Don't beat yourself up about it. Self-administered beatings render us less powerful. And that's what They Want*. So DON'T PILE ON.
- Recognize, too, that stress eating is not always the same as binge eating. Calling every damn thing a "binge" is kinda Piling On. Take it easy.
- Get out ahead of this, and make sure you've got nourishing food that you actually like on hand. Don't get wedged in a corner with nothing to choose from but celery sticks, Rum Raisin and Fluff™. Because that would be PILING ON. They Might Want this, because industrial food = big profits.
- If you feel an actual binge a-comin on, use the tools I've given you to calm your nervous system and then call a friend or email me. Don't hide out, because isolation so quickly spirals into shame which creates more isolation etc. and guess what? That's Where They Want you. Alone and paralysed. Easy pickins. Obviously, making it easy for them = PILING ON.
- One of my favorite moves is to have a planned meal of things I find 1. wonderful treats and 2. genuinely comforting. For me, usually fancy cheese and fancy crackers. (This weekend in New York I got an Epoisses for SO CHEAP at the French Cheese Board, which exists just to promote French cheese. Prices reflect this!) When the meal's over, it's over. The next meal will have more fresh food and more protein, but since I can have cheese and crackers any old time, there's no Last Supper impulse. Because Last Supper eating is just Piling On and would only result in shame, and I don't need that. Neither do you.
- If you cannot stop yourself piling on, GET HELP of an ongoing nature. Coaching, therapy, a group of friends that meet regularly. Books and emails are great. But there's so much momentum available when we do this work with each other.
And speaking of doing this work with each other: Over the years, many of you have asked for accountability. Ongoing accountability of a nature that's more sustained than what we can do in a few weeks of coaching. So I am making that available. It will be affordable and accessible. And I will have details for you next week.
* You know who "They" is for you. Might be the Inner Critic. Could be an External Critic.
Now then, a recipe adapted from Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques. If I could only have one cookbook for the rest of my life, I wouldn't even have to think it over. Suzanne has been my desert island companion for over a decade.
The first time Mr Jones and I made this recipe it took over three hours with two of us cooking. Now I can do it on my own in about one hour. That's with all of Suzanne's ingredients, which include many more than this simplified version below. Sometime, for a proper Sunday lunch, you should try hers.
(The Busy Person's) Torchio with Cavolo Nero (serves 2, and is easily doubled or tripled or...)
- 4 oz (dry) torchio-type pasta. I like Sfoglini trumpets, and also the torchio made by Rustichella d'Abruzzo. NB: I will often use leftover pasta for this dish. Makes a blindingly fast home-cooked meal.
- 6-8 oz cavolo nero, aka black kale, lacinato kale, and Tuscan kale
- olive oil
- 1-2 anchovies
- 1-2 cloves of sliced garlic
- pinch of dried chile flakes
- salt and pepper
- Italian parsley
1. Cook the pasta al dente and set aside.
2. Strip the kale from its stems and microwave for a couple minutes until wilted. Squeeze the moisture out and chop it into pieces 3" or so.
3. Heat a skillet and pour in some olive oil. Add the anchovies and emulsify them by stirring into the oil.
3. Add garlic, chile, salt and pepper, kale and pasta to the pan, adding more olive oil if necessary.
4. Cook until the kale is blackened in spots, and the fried pasta is crunchy in spots <- so good!
5. Sprinkle with parsley.
6. Optional: Suzanne dresses hers with breadcrumbs sautéed in olive oil, and a currant relish. If you have the time, these are very worthwhile adds.