Do You Use Comfort Food to Medicate Pain?

Just about everybody loves comfort food. (What do you mean, “Just about everybody?” EVERYBODY man!)

The problem with comfort food is its potentially addictive and destructive nature when comfort food is used to medicate pain. And we live in a society where there is a lot of pain to medicate, especially if you are the wrong class (lower or disappearing middle) or the wrong race (African-American or Latino) or especially combined with these, the wrong gender (female).

Comfort foodEver notice how relatively cheap sugar is? And French fries? So yes, I’m talking about comfort food and fat. One way of looking at body fat is that it is roughly proportional to the amount of entitlement and discounting you have to put up with in order to get through the day. In other words, the class and race you are part of. You don’t see a lot of overweight wealthy people these days, in case you haven’t noticed.

Now unlike Mayor Bloomberg in New York City, I am not advocating that we take people’s Big Gulps away from them or stop Wendy’s and other chains from “Biggie Sizing” it. I would advocate that we address the real pain that many people, especially the poor and underprivileged in this country, experience and medicate with comfort food. Instead of trying to pry the comfort food away, let’s work to change the underlying conditions that lead people to de-value their health in their more fundamental struggle for survival.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

3 Responses - click here to join the conversation to “Do You Use Comfort Food to Medicate Pain?”

  1. Debbie Zucker, LCSW says:

    Bravo John! I appreciate that you are looking at food struggles in the context of race, class and gender. It’s a refreshing, rare, and critical. This lens is unfortunately the last lens many social policy people, healthcare people and psychotherapists, think to use. Let’s change that!

  2. […] Why is it so hard to resist the siren song, the addictive attraction of mindless entertainment and plentiful, empty calories? […]

  3. Karen says:

    You have hit the nail on the head. I think I am finally getting the tools I need, and finding my inner strength to confront this situation. I will look here for more wisdom to help guide my journey.

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