Kummerspeck. Literally translated as “grief bacon”. It’s a German word for the weight gained as a result of emotional overeating. A friend who loves discovering new words posted it on Facebook the other day. I’d never heard of it. I have long admired the German language for it’s outstanding vocabulary, its ability to nail a sentiment which would take a paragraph to describe in English. Schadenfraude is another favourite of mine (the word not the sentiment!)
So why am I talking about Kummerspeck? Because I have it. A good 2-3 kilos of it gained while I was overseas. Now the weight itself is no big deal, I know it will come off after a few weeks of my usual eating and exercising routine. What interests me is the phenomena of emotional overeating.
To my surprise I found eating raw food whilst away was not impossible. My friends were most accommodating, there were many food options when eating out. Despite all this I found my eating degenerated over the two weeks. My rock bottom was the 27 hour journey home (three 7-hour flights and transfers). I ate the entire time.
I learned long ago to be kind to myself when I fall from grace. I have no interest in berating myself unduly – it is unhelpful and self-destructive. My interest is in observing patterns of behaviour and learning from them.
I had not intended to eat 100% raw whilst away, so I don’t feel that I “failed”. What I do feel, is that I saw the link between emotional duress and eating.
Travelling for 27 hours overseas, plus all the packing, organising, checking of passports and tickets, money and credit cards, not to mention trying not to lose my child in busy airports, well, lets just say it was testing to my preferred state of calm.
Now, let’s just get this straight from the outset, calm is my preferred state of being NOT my natural state – which is more like anxious, worried, fearful, and a tad paranoid. It takes a lot of learned techniques; mindfulness, meditation, affirmations and Bach flower essences for me to stay even remotely calm at the best of times.
I’m an anxious person. I can say that now but I didn’t know this for the first 35 years of my life. I thought life was just really, REALLY scary. At one stage, I discovered alcohol made the scary feelings go away and I used that a lot, too much in the end. Alcohol is not an effective treatment for anxiety or depression. It is a little like – to steal someone else’s analogy – beating yourself on the head with a hammer to cure a headache, yes, it’s a distraction but it really only exacerbates the problem.
After I gave up alcohol I was left with my anxiety 24/7. Only I didn’t know I had anxiety. So I just attributed the feeling to various events in my life. I’m feeling anxious because I’m pregnant, a new mum, going back to uni, going back to work, money problems, relationship problems etc. There’s always some external thing to attach anxiety to.
It was only when I found myself at a happier, more settled place in my life that I realised the anxiety was still there. It ebbed and flowed but it never really went away. I saw that my mind would create dramas to be anxious about. Sometimes there were really worrying things happening in my life, but other times I could lose sleep over thinking that I hadn’t bought enough holiday souvenirs to give my family and friends. (Yep, true story from about a week ago!)
Alongside this anxiety was an unhealthy relationship with food. It can go either way with me. When my anxiety is very high and the adrenaline is really pumping, I can’t eat at all. However, low-level anxiety brings on a desire to comfort eat. How do I know when it’s comfort eating? If I’m eating for any reason other than hunger. In retrospect I can see I “comfort” ate for most of my trip, but it really became obvious when I couldn’t stop eating on the return flights home. I mean no one is continuously hungry for 27 hours, right?
Don’t get me wrong, I had a fantastic time in England, and I ate really well, and mostly raw, most of the time. I also ate when I wasn’t hungry because I felt out of routine, out of control, and out of my comfort zone.
To be honest though, anxiety was only part – albeit a large part – of the eating equation. I also noticed a sense of “treating” myself, of not wanting to “miss out”, and not wanting to stand out or be different. It’s hard enough being the person who doesn’t drink alcohol, never mind also asking for food that’s gluten free, dairy free, vegan, sugar free, and raw. I realise I felt embarrassed to speak up about my lifestyle choices. I lacked commitment to myself and my decision to eat raw food.
So now I’m back home. Extremely jetlagged, a little bloated and pudgy.
The good news is that I discovered I didn’t like the way I felt eating processed foods. As soon as I got home I went shopping for fruit and veggies at the organic food shop. I had a craving for mushrooms so I made this amazing salad. I call it my jetlag recovery salad. I also treated myself to some pre-prepared raw crackers and a very decadent slice of raw tiramisu. The tiramsu was made by Naked Treaties, a Byron Bay cafe who now supply to selected health food shops and cafes http://nakedtreaties.com.au/wp/ Their desserts are delicious! I haven’t tried making tiramisu yet, but I’ve included a couple of recipes I’ve found below.
And my nut bag has arrived. Say what? It’s a special muslin bag to make nut milk and cheeses, so that’s the next raw adventure!
Inspired by my friends’ veggie garden in England, I have bought seeds to start my own.
Funnily enough my lapse into Kummerspeck has strengthened my resolve to eat well. Sometimes it is only by falling off the wagon that it becomes apparent how much better it is on the wagon. The comparison made me realise I was onto a good thing. But it doesn’t have to be 100% perfect either. I want to find balance, a way of living that is pleasurable, healthy, and effortless. Here’s to that journey!
The Bounce-back from Jetlag Salad
4 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 capsicum, sliced
1/2 cup thinly chopped kale
1/2 cup mixed sprouted beans
1/2 avocado diced
100g tempeh sliced thinly
1 tsp chopped ginger
1/3 Braggs Amino Acids
1/2 chilli chopped finely
Mix ginger, Braggs and chilli in a small cup or jug. Add tempeh and stir to marinate in dressing. Add to the remaining ingredients in a bowl, mix and serve.
This serves one person so multiply the ingredients by the number of people you are serving.
Raw Tiramisu Recipes: