Winter Comfort.

Wednesday December 14, 2016

It was Paul Young in 1978 who sang about toast. This was long before he laid his hat anywhere or lived in the love of the common people. I don't know if he has ever suffered with depression, but he certainly knows about the value of comfort food.

We all know about healthy eating, don't we? We know we should eat lots of green vegetables, low fat protein, nuts, seeds and fruit. We know about limiting our sugar intake and that our carbohydrates should be slow releasing; oats and potatoes, not white bread and pasta.

But oh, when we are down, when our energy levels are low, toast is so simple, so easy. The scent of it entices. That crunchy outside and warm chewy centre, that unctuous drip of butter and sweet embrace of strawberry jam envelops our taste buds and makes everything better; even if only for moment.

My own particular favourite is a toasted bagel, spread with crunchy peanut butter and thick cut oxford marmalade. It's something I rarely eat when I am well.

I don't know about you, but when I am down, my taste buds actively reject all the food that is supposed to be good for me. Even reading how a diet rich in Omega 3 oils and leafy green vegetables is good for depression cannot overturn the slow stomach roll that accompanies the thought of mackerel and spinach. Swapping that image for pan fried salmon with pak choi, or crispy grilled sardines on a bed of balsamic roasted Mediterranean vegetables, doesn't help: I only want toast.

Or rice pudding, if someone else makes it for me.

It has to be sweet and bland and easy to eat. It has to be comfort food.

Books too, have to be comfort books; books I have read so often I almost know every word.

And people. Please don't make me meet anyone new! Please don't let me have to deal with the difficult people I already know. During this time my husband, son and eldest daughter are primed to shield me from difficult family members.

And yes, there is a price to pay. During this time of depression, I put on weight. Because I do not have enough energy to swim or walk further than 100 metres, my fitness levels decline. Relationships suffer for lack of attention. Inevitably, my business income plummets.

There is hope. The darkness is beginning to grey around the edges. Dawn is coming. I know from past episodes that this suffocating oppression will lift as suddenly as it descends. Once more my mouth will water at the thought of stuffed seabass and trout, crisp from the pan. I will desire the whole orange, not just the marmalade and toasted bagels will once more be a Sunday morning treat instead of a staple food.

Health, and all that means, will return. It can't come soon enough.

A Moodscope member.

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