Let’s add this one to our new vernacular, which now also includes “social distancing,” “pivot,” “slow the spread,” “flatten the curve”—even “Covid” and its redheaded stepchild, “Covidiot.”
Kummerspeck: (n) A German word for excess weight gained from emotional overeating.
Literally, grief bacon.
That is, until the last few weeks, when, like mom jeans, emotional eating resurfaced uninvited.
It felt impossible to get sated. I was snacking way more than usual. My belly and my brain seemed to have amnesia around my last meal or snack, and were basically singing “feed me, Seymour!” nonstop.
Pants got tight, the scale showed a number I haven’t seen in many years, and I took a deep breath and did a serious personal check-in.
What I discovered were feelings of shame, guilt, disappointment, and general discomfort. These emotions were about the food but also, perhaps even stronger, about judging myself for being petty and giving any weight (pun intended) to extra cracker crumbs when it felt like everyone’s worlds were crumbling to some degree.
What I discovered is that when emotional eating seeps into your psychological state, when it creeps into your relationship with yourself, your family, your partner, your friends, it robs you of energy.
Emotional eating usually has the exact opposite outcome of what we desire; it starves our energy tank rather than feeding it.
Let me be perfectly clear: this is more of a mental and spiritual health issue than a physical health issue. I acknowledge loud and clear that I have always been fit and physically strong, regardless of the dress size or neon number sizing me up. But what that check-in revealed was that I was totally using food as an emotional crutch during this crisis.
Using food as an emotional crutch is like giving a person with a broken leg a candy bar; they may feel a little better for a second, but it hasn’t actually touched the real issue.
This type of eating behavior is mindless—or perhaps “worse”—it’s with the purpose of mind numbing and avoidance. It lacks awareness. This type of eating behavior lacks grace and consciousness.
Over the last week or so, I’ve managed to slow my own personal spread (too soon to use it like that? Sorry!) by recognizing the void I was trying to fill was in my heart, not my belly. I recognized that just because most things during this Covid-19 global health crisis feel terrifyingly out of control, that doesn’t give me a pass to ignore what my gut really needs and just go nuts on the snacks.
If this post doesn’t resonate with you at all, a genuine congratulations: you do not know the physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges of emotional eating.
If it does resonate with you, also congratulations: you are in excellent company.