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Episode 81: Food As a Panacea

This episode of Weight Loss for Food-Lovers focuses on the term ‘panacea’ in relation to food – a remedy that makes you feel better. Molly focuses her discussion on how we perceive food when we are sick, and the interplay between our desires and needs. Throughout the episode, she provides examples from her own personal experiences as well as others’ experiences with food as a panacea.

The perception of food can be warped when an individual is sick due to previous experiences that have associated a certain food with sickness. For some people, this may consist of chicken soup or honey, for Molly it is sweetened iced tea with lemon. Molly additionally explains that this occurrence happens from the thought processes we formulate to assuage the pain – our brains will provide factitious reasons why eating comfort foods is better than eating healthy foods.

Molly encourages the listener to pay attention to these desires when experiencing an illness and to recognize true needs. She states that food, in a general sense, is not always a remedy for wellness, and she provides a list of other solutions that are helpful, including resting, slowing down, and taking medication.

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Topics Covered

  • The definition of a panacea, and how we use food as a panacea when we don’t feel well.

  • Shares her experience as a young child when she was sick and how she perceived food as a comforter.

    • Toast and sweetened iced tea

  • Consider beliefs you have associated between food and healing.

  • The tug-of-war between your desires versus what you truly need.

  • Shares recent experience with an ear infection, and she observed that her brain offered all types of reasons why she should eat comfort food rather than her routine food.

  • Remember to not stray from your normal diet regimen even though you desire comfort food when you’re sick. She lists her normal diet:

    • Protein

    • Vegetables

    • In-season food

    • Healthy fat

    • Whole grains

    • Minimal processed food

    • Exercise

    • No/minimal alcohol

  • This panacea manifests itself from psychological sensations – a belief about the pain. And acting on these beliefs perpetuate the sickness.

    • Shares that this can be especially dangerous because it creates a series of negative thoughts about being sick, ultimately making matters worse.

  • Food is, in fact, not a panacea, rather a desire that appears as one. We need to decipher the difference between wants and needs when we are sick, and not act on those desires.

  • In the moment when you’re not feeling well, the best solution is to take care of the true need

    • Getting rest

    • Slowing down

    • Taking medicine

    • Continuing to eat foods that are nutritious

  • Oftentimes, our body doesn’t want food when we are sick. It wants to expend its energy on fighting the illness.

  • She encourages the listener to recognize when you start craving unhealthy foods when you are sick and take it a layer deeper – be aware of what you really need

Key Quotes

  • “A panacea is something that is used as a way to heal. It’s a remedy, it’s something that essentially makes you feel better. And this is a really common reason why many of us turn to food.”

  • “The connection between drinking sweet tea and not feeling well is so closely connected in my brain because of the way I was raised and because of the way I associated that with comfort.”

  • “What I observed is that my brain started offering up all sorts of reasons why I should eat off of my normal plan.”

  • “The pain by itself is just a physical sensation. It’s not good or bad.”

  • “The truth is that food is not a panacea. It is not something that is a remedy or a solution when you feel bad.”

  • “Oftentimes when our body is fighting an illness, it doesn’t want to take in food to digest. It would rather use its energy to fight whatever the illness is that your body is dealing with.”

  • “Ask yourself, what is it I really need right now?”

  • “I hope the next time you’re feeling physically unwell that you give some attention to what your thoughts are about how you feel.”

  • “I want you to recognize that you have the ability to change those thoughts in a way that help you feel more in control in the moment.”

  • “Being sick is not necessarily a reason to overeat or to eat things off your plan – it’s another opportunity to figure out how you can take care of yourself.”

Links & Resources

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