Eyeing That Which Does You No Good — Food As Powerful Medicine

When I was a kid there was a carry-out store I could see from our kitchen window. I lost count of how many days (nights) I ran down our hill and right through those wooden swinging doors to satisfy a sugar fix. Let’s just say I rarely had “spare change” in my possession. Those were the days when penny candy that could actually satisfy a sweet craving (and then some).

To be honest, it wasn’t just a “carry-out” it was also the place we used to “hang-out.” With a candy bar or some other sickeningly sweet treat in hand, my best friend and I would casually munch while we people watched (never assume a candy store is the place you want your youngsters spending their free time…) 😉

Still, most of the memories are priceless for inside that quaint little country store stood the most delicious looking candy display imaginable and it was situated directly behind the counter and spanning the entire upper half of the wall (so no paying “young or old” customer could avoid its temptations). The store owners were applying “smart marketing” before the term was even coined.

While most of my recollections are pleasant ones of visiting this little store, I have to believe my now adult sugar cravings started way back before nutritionists were warning consumers of its evils.

I admit it, I have to fight this predisposition every single day. Some days I do better than others…

So when I was reviewing a book last week titled, Overcoming Anxiety, Worry, and Fear: Practical Ways to Find Peace, by Gregory Jantz, PhD, I couldn’t help but notice how kids and adults alike find specific ways to soothe their jangled emotions (by eyeing that which does them no good).

Jantz’s words hit me (and my childhood memories) hard.

Food is powerful medicine.

Jantz shares –

“From our first moments of life outside the womb, food has been associated with comfort. Being hungry is uncomfortable, even painful. Being fed is relief. When you were a child, you probably had something given to you to eat as a way to provide comfort – or wish you did. Hurt yourself? Get a cookie. Do well? Have some candy. Food, for most of us, has always been around as a mood-altering mechanism, given to make us feel better or to serve as a reward.

Certain foods not only produce physical comfort but also offer up a helping of emotional comfort. That piece of cake or warm, crusty bread takes you back to the kitchen of your childhood. That cake isn’t just cake; it’s the love you remember and long for. That bread isn’t just bread; it’s the relief of knowing someone else is taking care of you and will make everything better. Sometimes food was the only thing that provided you any sort of relief in a turbulent and chaotic childhood. Food and smells mingle in the mind along with emotions and feelings. They become intertwined and, sometimes, inseparable.”

Yep, they sure do. When I think back to my frequent childhood mad-dashes to the candy store, I was always excited…always anticipating…what I might buy to “fit my mood“…

Even as a kid, I was thinking in those terms…something sweet? something sweet and salty? something tangy? something tart?

The choices were endless and seemingly as changeable (as my mood).

Jantz is right on when he says, “Food is powerful medicine.”

And what do we do with medicine?

We take it as directed…not too much, not too little.


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