Lifestyle | Health & Wellness

Stress Eating: When Life Isn’t Fair or Throws You a Curve

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Curveballs, Fairness & Life Lessons

My good friend Stephen’s mother died. It was not unexpected, but still, when life brings you a big event, it can be stressful. Time for stress eating, anyone?

rugelach cooked.4

Stress Eating

In times of stress, many of us turn to food. In these instances food can present as two sides of the same coin. On the one hand we might start stress eating, which is never good, whether we are FODMAPing or not.

At these times we often eat too much, eat things that we shouldn’t eat or sometimes, not eat at all. None of these approaches is helpful in the long run.

On the other side of the coin is how we use food for more appropriate comfort. As I type this there is Chocolate Cherry Pecan Rugelach chilling in the refrigerator. Stephen and his family will be sitting shiva tomorrow night and I wanted to bring something. Stephen knows me from my baking-focused days and it made sense to me to create and bring a baked treat.

Not only because it would most likely be welcomed as many people would be in attendance, but also because it was a way for me to offer something that I spent time making just for him and his family.

Baking and cooking for me can be a meditative experience. As I work with the ingredients I think about who will be eating the finished dish, that I hope it will fill them with joy or at the very least, solace. Feeding someone is a very intimate experience. You can nourish someone, sustain someone, by offering food.

You can show that you are, and have been, thinking about them – that you care – and it can represent that they are not alone. In fact, sharing food can be a gift.

rugelach being made

The Unfair Part

Certainly when someone dies, there is often a sense of unfairness. Hopefully, as in this case, they lived an incredibly full, loving and recognized life.

So, what struck me about this that was unfair? The rugelach. I know, I know that sounds petty. But here is what unfolded in my head: I decided to make this particular rugelach because it is so luscious and not something you can find in the neighborhood deli or bakery.

I wanted to make something extra-special. I’m talking wheat flour, real dairy cream cheese and sour cream in the dough, cherry preserves and dried cherries. FODMAPs, FODMAPs, FODMAPs, and more FODMAPs. Why did I take this approach? Well, because it wasn’t about me, first of all.

I wanted to make something that Stephen and his family would really like.

But here I was working with all of these ingredients that I shouldn’t eat and I started feeling left out. That led to stronger feelings of yearning, which lead to feeling a bit pissed. Why do I have this damn IBS? I want to eat this rugelach! I want to pick at the caramelized, crispy melted brown sugar/cinnamon/melted chocolate/cherry bits on the baking pan. I want to eat a finished piece with the flaky cream cheese pastry and have the cinnamon sugar crumble all over my hands so that I can lick my fingers.

But if I do, I will most likely pay for it with IBS pain. Maybe one rugelach won’t send me reeling, but the thing is, I don’t know. I could find out, I suppose, but I am feeling resentful that I even have to be thinking like this. That a tiny pastry could be my undoing.

Feeling Deprived

Okay, I’ll fess up. Here I am writing daily on FODMAP Everyday telling y’all not to feel deprived and here I am being sidelined by a 2-inch pastry. The thing is, I am human and so are you.

I’ve had a pretty good track record. I’ve been on the diet for 2 years and pretty much never feel deprived. I think the biggest issues come when eating out. I look at restaurant menus and the anxiety sets in – mostly because even after I ask questions I do not always trust that the servers truly understand what I am asking and/or that they will accurately relay information to the kitchen.

And deprivation isn’t even the right word for those instances, it is more “frustration”.

I do believe as more and more people come to understand what the low FODMAP diet is, that it will become easier for all of us to navigate restaurants as well as the supermarket.

So my takeaway is this: having IBS is a pain, sometimes literally. It can sometimes feel like it is controlling our lives. Even on the best days we have to recognize that it is present and take care with what we put in our mouths and how we manage stress.

Know that you are not alone in your human-ness.

I have decided to try half a rugelach when they are out of the oven. Life is too short to not at least try.

FOLLOW UP

I ate almost a whole rugelach and I survived without any repercussions! You never know unless you try. It was as amazingly good as I expected. I would have liked another, and yet, truth be told it was so rich that the portion that I did eat was enough. I got to take part in a “normal” culinary activity and was no worse for the wear.

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