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Salt, Fat, Sugar: The (Un)Holy Trinity Of Comfort

In behavior, business, education, food, Health, Medicine, parenting, science, women on September 27, 2010 at 4:57 pm
Cover of "The End of Overeating: Taking C...

Cover via Amazon

I just devoured a great book, albeit something of a horror story — David Kessler’s “The End of Overeating.”

As someone trying to shed more weight before hip surgery, (which I am postponing as long as possible), I’m newly focused on food and what it does to the body.

Most importantly, I’m newly focused on when, why, how and where I make poor nutritional choices, especially how I feel emotionally when I reach for a food that is laden with what he agrees is the mood-altering soothing trinity of salt, fat and sugar.

I’ve been so good — eating much less and much healthier than ever before.

But I’m also now acutely aware how comforting this combination is, which is one of the compelling pieces of science in Kessler’s important, highly readable book.

When I do fall off the wagon, I can barely see it receding in the distance.

My worst binge in recent months was the July day I had to say goodbye to my Mom, who I see, at most, once a year and sometimes only every two years; we live very far apart and the costs of hotel, (small apartments for us both with too-big personalities), make it a challenge to do it frequently.

She lives in Canada, and I in the U.S., having traded our native countries.

I hate that goodbye, not knowing when, or if, I’ll see her again. She’s 76, in not-great health, living alone. I’m her only child.

She beat me bloody at gin rummy and I trounced her at Scrabble. That’s a good visit for us.

So it was a plate of Belgian waffles, (whipped cream and strawberries), that morning on the ferry ride back to Vancouver. It was a beer at lunch, and some of the fries that came with my fish and chips. It was a package of wine gums, (a chewy candy I can’t find in New York.)

Yes, dammit, all in one day.

Comfort food. It didn’t heal my sadness, but at least I’m now quite conscious when I make lousy choices and why.

My second most recent, about two weeks ago, was a double scoop of gelato consumed in the lobby of a Las Vegas hotel after surviving the toughest speaking engagement (so far) of my career. Creamy, salt, sweet. Pure (caloric!) comfort was close at hand, literally, as I was feeling shaky, tired and uncertain how the audience thought of my presentation. (Turns out, most liked it very much.)

What’s your comfort food? What pushes you to (over) indulge in it?

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  1. Join the club. I am 60 this year and embarking on a last ditch effort to shed 50 pounds by the time I turn 61 in March. My ‘trinity’ is sugar, salt, flour. On Aug 23 I banished those 3 from my diet and added foods I wasnt used to eating on a regular basis: cabbage, chard, cauliflower, bacon and butter.

    My comfort foods have always been a big plate of pasta (mac n cheese, spaghetti, you name it) served with a hunk of tantalizing hot french bread, and washed down with 2 glasses of red wine.That carb-rich protein light meal is easy to make if you have a pre-potrtioned pasta sauce contingent in the freezer and a box of pasta in the pantry. No thinking after a long day. And the mound of pasta is such a comfort!

    Well, I have shed 15 pounds in a little over a month, and now my meals are pre-planned (get the fish, chicken, pork chop etc from the freezer in the morning), have plenty of fresh leafy green veggies at the ready and get creative when shopping the outer perimeter of the market.

    Other than really missing my fav Mom n Pop brick oven pizza parlor, it has been way easier than any other weight-loss regimen I have tried (altho I have never been much of a dieter.)

    Good luck. You can do it – and Mom would be proud!

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