Comments on
Food and Chronic Pain

fruit(Wo)Man cannot live without food.  For anyone living with chronic pain, food can either be a friend, or an enemy.  Food can contribute to healing, provide energy and sustain life. 

2 thoughts on “Food and Chronic Pain

  • September 3, 2013 at 1:57 am

    I have had a love/hate relationship with food for most of my life. I thought I had defeated that monster years ago, but it reared its ugly head when I developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. My rational for indulging in my old comfort foods was “I can’t do anything I used to enjoy, so at least I can enjoy this!” I went from freedom back in to bondage in the twinkling of an eye.

    I know I’m not the only person to have a dysfunctional relationship with food. However, I have never seen someone explain so clearly how I feel about it. Thank you for your courage and honesty.

  • September 5, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    You ask, “How do you go about having a healthy relationship with food?”

    One way, as you mention, is to view food as “a source of survival and sustenance.” Just as an automobile needs gasoline to run, the human body needs food to function and survive. You wouldn’t put anything else but gasoline into the fuel tank if you wanted your vehicle to operate properly. Similarly, if you want your body to run efficiently (chronic pain aside), then don’t throw anything but real food down your gastrointestinal tract (the body’s fuel tank).

    Another way, which is most applicable to those living with chronic pain, is to take pleasure in something you HAVE control over. That is, the food you put in your body. For many people with chronic pain and no-fault illnesses, the helpless feeling of having no control over their situation can be downright depressing. Thus, one approach is to focus on aspects of one’s health that you do have control over. And the best way to do this is to start cooking your own meals. You don’t have to cook all the time, but cooking more will put you in touch with the food you put in your body. You will start to develop a healthy relationship with food. The recipes don’t have to be extravagant, but simply meals that are good for your body. You’ll see food for what it is — fuel for your body. In the process you’ll hopefully start to get motivated about learning new foods and making meals from them. More importantly, you’ll begin to take comfort and personal satisfaction in knowing that you are doing your best to be “healthy” despite your no-fault illness. In addition, cooking can also serve as a distraction from one’s pain (unless the act of cutting or chopping food is too painful for some).

    Finally, I cannot emphasize enough to keep all junk food (including unhealthy comfort food) from being around the house. Just as a recovering alcoholic shouldn’t have any alcohol laying around, those who have a tendency to thoughtlessly grab snacks and other unhealthy choices when they are depressed or in a lot of pain shouldn’t have those items within their reach. When these items are not around, then you really have to make an effort to go acquire them. This will give you time to think about what you are doing and why you are craving the item(s). Otherwise, when it’s right there, mindless eating takes over.

    I’ve been in chronic pain for almost 30 years (long story) and I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years. Despite my very healthy diet, I had one terrible vice — diet soda. I could go through a six-pack or more a day with no trouble. I really wanted to kick this habit. Finally, I took time to think about when and why I consumed so much of this rotten product. I realized when I became overwhelmed by pain and responsibilities, I would mindlessly grab a diet soda. Then once I had one, I would get hooked into getting another, and the pattern would just repeat itself. Once I addressed the stress and health anxiety issues, I was able to quit that liquid crap three years ago cold turkey. Since my taste buds have been reconditioned over this time, when I tried a diet soda a year ago, I didn’t even like the taste of the drink. It also helped to not have any of it lying around the house.

    BTW: Life is too short to worry about being “10 pounds away from [my]…correct weight for my age and height.” Let it go. Stop counting calories. Focus on eating well and preparing most of your own food. And from one man’s perspective (and probably many others), men don’t care about an extra 10 pounds. Then wouldn’t even notice. And if they did, that means they’ve seen you in the buff, which means they should count their lucky stars instead of calories.


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