I am shopping for food, and feeling stressed out. I’m simply too tired to think about “managing stress,” especially when the solution is right in front of me.
There she is, sitting demurely in the pastry display case. There is my charmer, surrounded by custards and double layered chocolate cake. There must be slices of key lime pie somewhere, but I need not look any further… I am focused on the “Prima Donna”.
Yes, it’s that slice of cheesecake that sets my brain buzzing. You know…the thick, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth kind with raspberry sauce tastefully draped to enhance her looks.
I’m at a crossroads:
Will I buy that delicious treat, knowing I can pick up a fork and eat it immediately after check out… (Why wait to go home?) Or will I pass by the pastry counter and pick up the organic vegetables and cans of Amy’s soup, the real purpose of this shopping trip?
This choice of indulging in a comfort food depends directly on how centered I feel at the “point of purchase” moment.
If I’m in touch with my inner self – body, mind, spirit and emotions – I understand that I have a choice: I can choose to eat the cheesecake, or not. Cheesecake is just an object behind a glass partition.
Here is another choice point:
If I do select to eat a comfort food, I might eat just one bite, slowly savoring its flavors, while reflecting on what’s bugging me. In this scenario, just possibly I will be able to satisfy a deeper hunger.
However, if I’m totally frazzled, I could eat the cheesecake on the dessert plate, and more. At this point cheesecake has transmuted to a detour around uncomfortable feelings. By eating the pastry, I am taking care of myself as well as I can, at this very second.
That's the thing about stress: The more I nourish my whole self, the more awake I feel and the less likely I am to use food to distance myself from my Inner Being. And I like feeling alive…
Back to the pastry cabinet. Yes, I bought the slice of cheesecake, and I picked up a fork and napkin at checkout, then sat at an outdoor table. As I nibbled my treat, I watched shoppers entering and leaving the natural food store, and something magical happened. I actually began to taste each bite. Watching the world go by pulled me out of the mood I was in. I was even able to put the half-eaten cheesecake back in the box and finish it after dinner.