‘I ate a whole 200 gram block of chocolate last night,” my friend told me recently, shaking her head.
I laughed and then sympathised with her. Like my friend and many women, I’m an emotional eater. Forget about wearing my heart on my sleeve – I wear my feelings on my hips.
Stressed out from too many converging deadlines and not enough sleep? Why, hello midnight snack of spicy two-minute noodles!
Arguing with my mother again? No, I did not have relations with that whole piece of cheese.
Confused and upset by a guy? Just hand me the chocolate, OK?
Don’t misunderstand me. I love food and have an extremely healthy relationship with it for the most part: I don’t diet and I wouldn’t know how many calories were in something if my life depended on it. I exercise regularly and generally make sure I look after myself very well.
But when I’m stressed food is the first thing I reach for. As a coping mechanism it seems relatively benign compared to some of the things I could be reaching for but it’s still not a habit I like.
This is a list of things I have eaten standing next to the fridge or pantry or while seated in my car after a trip to the grocery store:
- smoked salmon;
- pork scratchings (crackling); and
Looking over this list, it’s pretty clear that I like chowing down on salty and fatty things when I’m stressed. What can I say? I never met a smoked or preserved meat or fish product I didn’t like. And none of these products are bad per se; they’re certainly not the healthiest foods around but they’re fine eaten as part of a balanced diet.
However, when it comes to my chocolate addition I blame my mother: while she was pregnant with me she ate a family-sized block of Cadbury Dairy Milk every single day. Do you know how much chocolate that is? I was like a crack baby only with chocolate-coated veins.
Perhaps I need to somehow reset my brain and taste buds to favour healthy food while I’m stressed. Wouldn’t it be great if I naturally gravitated towards fresh fruits, kale and quinoa when tense? I have a friend who once ate fruit and nothing but fruit for a few months and he says he’s never felt better.
The problem is that I don’t want to be good and healthy when I’m stressed: I want to be naughty and defiant because it makes me feel fleetingly satisfied and therefore less stressed before the self-loathing kicks in. Plus, if I decide I won’t eat a particular food group it immediately becomes all I can think about.
In any case, I am good most of the time. Honestly. So maybe the act of emotional eating is actually a a way of letting of steam, in a culinary sense. Perhaps we should actually embrace our inner emotional eater instead of vilifying him or her?
I’d love to spend more time pondering this but it’s late at night and I have at least another 45 minutes of work ahead of me so I’m off to raid the pantry. Ahem. Just keep that last thought between you and me, OK?
There are few things more comforting and sweetly satisfying in life than a homely crumble. You make it with whatever fruit you have lying around before dinner, whack it in the oven and it’s ready by the time you’ve finished eating. I love making crumbles with apples, pears, berries, peaches and rhubarb. But quinces are in season at the moment and the smell of roasting quinces is so wickedly ambrosial I couldn’t resist buying some.
I’d be more than happy to bury my sorrows in a bowl of Quince Crumble any night of the week: this is food to soothe your soul, satisfy your belly and lift your spirits.
- 5 quinces
- 2 cups water
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract
- 75 grams butter
- 75 grams brown sugar
- 1 cup wholemeal flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- Peel, core and quarter quinces and then slice each quarter into three slices.
- Arrange quinces in a suitable ovenproof dish in three layers.
- Pour over water so that it mostly covers the quinces and sprinkle over vanilla. Bake in oven for 2 hours, turning over slices mid way so none burn.
- To make crumble, blitz butter, sugar, flour and baking powder in a processor until it resembles a fine crumb.
- Sprinkle over cooked quinces and then bake for 25 minutes or until crumble is toasted and crunchy.
- Serve with cream or vanilla ice cream.
- Serves 4 people or 1 person nursing a broken heart.
- You could substitute 8-10 apples for the quinces but why would you want to? OK, if you really can’t find quinces you can use an apple like Granny Smith. In that case, don’t worry about baking the apples for the 2 hours – just bake the apples with the crumble for 25-30 minutes.
More dessert recipes
- Sponge Cake with Berries and Cherries
- Rosewater, Cardamon and Pistachio Bundt Cake
- Strawberry and Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
- Raspberry Pomegranate Layered Pavlova
- Sponge Cake with Berries and Cherries
- Passionfruit Sago Puddings
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