Comfort Food (Essay, Part 1)

When I turned 50 I jumped into Payette Lake with my swimsuit on and then beneath the screen of green-black lake water, I took it off. It was a two-piece so as I tread water I fumbled first with the bottom half, trying to curl it off over my hips, and then the top, which was stretched like a tight rubber band across my chest.  I didn’t care that there were three or four people staring at me on the dock where I slung the two parts of my swimsuit; or that a few male swimmers seem to be circling nearby like sharks.  I was celebrating a half century of living.  I wanted to feel free and alive.  Still, as I slid my hand underwater over the skin of my cold belly and thighs, the image of a slick round dolphin came to mind and I sighed inwardly: if I want to live another fifty years, I needed to lose weight.

That somber thought seemed to trigger others as I dog-paddled farther and farther away from the dock.  What would life be like the next fifty years should I live so long?  No doubt I’d experience an increasing number of losses, my youth leading the list of greatest hits.  And how would I cope?  Drugs and alcohol never did much for me, but food, the very thing I needed to restrict, has always been my go-to pain killer.  Advil might help a back ache, but oven-fresh chocolate chip cookies can turn a bad mood good.  Food is cheap–and legal. Over-imbibing potato chips will not cause a car crash. It’s the least expensive fun you can have.  Cheaper than an amusement park, an ocean cruise, or a hot date.  Oprah, I’m sorry.  Emotional eating has its place.

4 thoughts on “Comfort Food Part 1: Coping with Life Past 50

  1. Boy, can I relate, probably most women in our culture of thin is better. Let’s just focus on being healthy and do away with scales, the model weight myth, and other negativity around body image. I’m delighted you did this at 50. Maybe I’ll make it a marker event for age 65!

    1. I’m hoping Carolyn that lots of women are “letting go” of those nasty eating patterns we had when we were younger, skipping meals and starving. Thanks so much for reading and let’s go hiking soon!

  2. I hate that our society makes us feel this way. We celebrate all the wrong things! Let’s be content in knowing that we’ve earned our place here on earth and women of all shapes and ages should ignore the negative messages we’re bombarded with daily. I’d love to hear about your freedom moment when you’re 65!

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