Needing and Sharing Comfort Food: It’s Human. Dump the Guilt.

Well, it’s time to fix another body part. It’s like I’m in a “Surgery-of-the-Year” club. The dues are pretty high, but what can I do? I need functioning joints if I can get ‘em.
This year, it’s my left shoulder. I didn’t injure it, but due to my “loose ligaments” and arthritis, I tore the supraspinatus muscle, which is part of the rotator cuff, as well as the biceps tendon a few years ago. I was able to rehab with physical therapy and chiropractic (see “It’s All One Big Huge Freaking Circle”), but then in April, I mowed my lawn and made a mediocre problem a bigger problem. I literally tore the crap out of that supraspinatus.

Every night I sleep against a pillow fortress (BF calls it The Great Wall of China) which elevates my arm enough so I can sleep with minimal pain. However, the last few months I’ve been awake most nights at 3 a.m. with a burn in my shoulder so hot I could supply enough energy to keep my town in electricity for a week. (This, in addition to hot flashes, makes my nights really interesting.) I get up and take 2-4 Advil with a glass of soy milk or a piece of cheese because if I don’t, the Advil will eat my gut. Too bad NSAIDs aren’t a weight-loss aid…

In addition to the muscle/tendon tears, I found out today that my biceps tendon is not where it should be and needs to be “moved back into place.” Hmmm… Sounds like fun. Doc will also clean out the arthritis. Afterwards, he’ll stitch and patch me up, put me in a sling, and send me home where I won’t be able to shower or wear a bra for at least a week. Can’t wait. And I wasn’t even a bad girl this year! Santa better treat me well…LOL

Oh, I kid you. It’s not all that bad. It could be a lot worse, I know that. And I could also choose to drown my sorrows in food, which, for a moment, I thought about doing.

As I posted on Lynn’s Weigh on Facebook: “I saw my orthopedic surgeon today and I admit, my first thought after getting into my car after the appointment was, ‘I want to eat.’ Granted, I was hungry, but I wanted to eat something to console myself. I thought about it and was grateful that I recognized this feeling and met it head on. It didn’t stop me from getting vegetarian dolmades at my favorite Greek restaurant, but I understood why I wanted them. And not only are they awesome comfort food, they’re not horrible for me, either :)”

I took my dolmades and a Greek salad over to my daughter’s house, where she and the g-babies were eating lunch at the dining room table. I sat down next to Claire and opened the Styrofoam container of dolmades. We all chatted while they ate their chili and I my pieces of grape leaf heaven. Then I opened the container of Greek salad: lettuce, feta, red onions, tomatoes, olives and peperoncini.

“I done, Mama,” said Luca and he got down from his chair. I thought he was going to go play, but as I talked to Cassie, the little munchkin crawled under the table, climbed up on to my lap, grabbed a piece of lettuce and ate it. “Mmmm…” he said.

Claire then said she was done, too, and started eating my salad. Who knew salads were finger food? They also ate the pita that came with the dolmades (I’m still gluten-free! Three weeks in and I feel great!), dipping them in the Greek salad dressing that is so absolutely fantastic I wish Greek Stop bottled it. But the don’t. And they won’t. So sad.

Anyway, my salad was gone and they were still hungry, so Claire went to the fridge and dug out a bag of spinach and dumped a bunch into the Styrofoam container so she and Luca could continue to graze. It was wild watching them eat lettuce and spinach, leaf by leaf. When they were done, Luca was covered in dressing and very, very happy. Claire was a little more neat, but she still had olive-oil hands, and after she washed them, proceeded to dry her hands on my jeans, laughing so hard she almost peed herself. Who knew Greek salad could get you so high?

I did! That’s why it, and the dolmades, were my go-to food when I got the shoulder low-down from Doc today. Comfort food – when used in moderation, and particularly when it’s shared with people we love (Thanksgiving and mashed potatoes, anyone?) – is OK. Dump the guilt! God knows I spent years during my weight loss/maintenance feeling guilty for eating food that soothed my soul. I’m so over that.

I did a little search-a-roo on the Internet and found a few recipes for dolmades that I will attempt to perfect before my surgery in December so I can make them (with my one good arm and an assistant) when I need comfort food during rehab. I’m going to try a vegetarian version of this recipe from Food Network or this one from Living and Loving in LA or both!

How do you respond to your inner “You need comfort food NOW!” voice? And if you choose to eat a comfort food, which one or ones are your go-tos?

7 thoughts on “Needing and Sharing Comfort Food: It’s Human. Dump the Guilt.

  1. I sympathize with the shoulder situation, I had my right shoulder reconstructed 2 years ago, although recovery was long and painful I'm so glad I had it done and am now totally back to normal……and very much pain free!

  2. Shoulder surgery – ouch! But it sounds like the surgery and recovery will be worth the gain.

    I try not to comfort myself with food any more, but when I do… I chose grapes. The crunch and sweetness combined with using my fingers somehow seem to meet the need, er, want.

  3. I had stuffed grape leaves yesterday at breakfast because of where I was for the meal. I love them.

    I am so sorry about your future shoulder surgery and i hope you will have a quick and painless (or at least comfortable) recovery.


  4. Ugh Lynn – I am so sorry about needing another surgery. I do transcription for an orthopedic clinic and they do lots and lots of shoulder surgery and people are always coming in saying how thrilled they are with the results.

  5. I reach for spinach leaves! Sorry to hear about another surgery. I am having my 4th in 2 years on Halloween day! Luckly, all of mine were elective (getting rid of loose skin after losing 300 pounds) but, hopefully, this will be the last!

  6. Oh my gosh Lynn. I can't believe you are going to need another surgery so soon. My advice: make those dolmades the day before you go into surgery so they will be waiting for you a couple days later when the need for comfort food arises.

    I don't know. Sometimes I seem to have gotten rid of my need for comfort food. Sometimes it seems what I crave is my new healthy diet. Like cottage cheese and fruit and walnuts. Mmmm.

  7. Hopefully, the surgery will be easier than it sounds. It will be great to get the shoulder corrected. I love Greek food too and especially stuffed grape leaves. I've never tried making them though. Let us know how you like the recipes.

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