Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Closet Eating, and How Smell is Tied to Emotions and Memory

I don't know about you, but I was a closet eater (I have so many stories about this that I'll save for another several blog posts).  Of course, I would enjoy a meal out or over at someone else's house, but it wasn't until I got home, that I would really cut loose - you know, get a HUGE bowl (or trough, as the case may be) of ice cream, topped with chocolate, bananas, peanut butter, pineapple, strawberries, caramel, butterscotch, nuts, whipped cream and several cherries?  Then I would sit back on the couch, unbutton my tight-fitting jeans and essentially pig out while watching tv.  Or after having a meal out in public, I would come home and ransack the 'fridge to see what else I could snack on (even if I wasn't hungry).  The point is, when it came to eating, I did the bulk of it in the late evening when no one else (except my Mr. Charming) was around.

I think it's pretty common for people to want to hide their addictions and for me, food was an addiction.  I didn't want to think about the consequences, I only wanted what made me feel good at the moment.  Food has always been my "feel good" escape.  It was a big part of growing up in my family.  Food (and not just any food, really great food) was served up good, hot and in mass quantities whenever we went over to Grandma and Grandpa's house (who happened to live directly behind us on the next block).  It meant family gatherings with good company and warm feelings.  So many wonderful memories and feelings for me are tied to foods and their smells.  I still think of bellying up to Grandma's breakfast bar whenever I smell rye bread; the smell of bubble gum (Bubble Yum brand) and I am instantly 6 years old searching her "gum drawer" for a piece; and Christmas time - Christmas was Grandma - peanut butter balls, rum balls, fudge, divinity, pies galore and tons of other foods...all masterfully and lovingly laid out across her enormous Christmas-spread table.  I sure miss her.

Do you know why your memories are so closely tied to smell (and food)?  Turns out, the olfactory nerve is located very close to the amygdala, which is the area of the brain that is connected to the experience of emotion as well as emotional memory.  It is also very close to the hippocampus, which is associated with memory. 

We are actually programmed to connect smell to our emotions and memory!  A blessing and a curse, I say!  I really am a very olfactorily-driven individual (always have been).  I don't know why those senses seem to work overtime in me, but I have noticed that I am able to enjoy smells a lot more now, without feeling the need to be in the place that they took me.  I don't need to taste those peanut butter balls to know that I loved my Grandma.  I don't need to eat my mom's best meal (sweet 'n sour chicken with pork fried rice, in case you're wondering) to know that she taught me how to be a great cook.  I don't need to devour a huge sundae to know that because we did it in our younger years, my husband still loves me just the same (okay, MORE)!

I love the ability to smell.  I cherish my memories and I still feel deeply.  I just choose to hold the memories and not the food.

PS - I understand emotional (and closet) eating and I'd love to help you overcome yours.  Give me a call or drop me a text 541-999-2313
Speaking of cherish, how cute is this little guy?!  We had a short visit from April and Nici (and of course, Logan) last month.

I love this picture for so many reasons: the look on Logan's face as he stares at Laethym, his onesie (so cute) and the look on sweet Nici's face.

Group shot

Nici insisted I get in on the action and happily took over my camera for a few shots! Avonleigh threw the petals in the air (impromptu) just as she took the picture.  I love it. 

Nici's necklace - love, love, love it! 

Another one of my favs

1 comment:

Becky said...

I kid you not sweet and sour and fried rice always reminds me of your MOM! On a side note I can totally relate to this post! Thank you so much for sharing. Something I will continue to think about when I decide if I'm hungry or just emotional on this road to a new healthy me! :)