How To Avoid Kummerspeck

HowToAvoidKummerspeck This is a post about overeating.

I took German as a third language (French was a required second language at my school) when I was in high school. I have never been very good with languages so adding a third to an already shaky framework was a recipe for disaster. Needless to say I did not learn to speak German though I did gain a profound appreciation for the way the German language can combine words to create idiomatic expressions with nuance and complexity. One of my personal favorites (as a word not an actual emotion) is schadenfreude which is the feeling of joy experienced by hearing about someone elses troubles. How's that for malicious envy? Today's word of interest is Kummerspeck which means the weight gained from emotional overeating, literally translated as grief bacon. Grief...bacon....let that sink in for a moment.

People develop all sorts of positive and negative relationships with food. Nutrition is the basis for health and unfortunately many of us stray pretty far from the path at times. For the year or two before I was diagnosed with Crohn's I was eating McDonalds for breakfast every morning (after smoking at least 3 cigarettes) coffee from a construction hot truck, usually McDonalds for lunch again, and then a variety of greasy, fried, food-like products throughout the rest of the day. Now obviously that was a terrible way to exist and cleaning up my diet and eating real food was one of the biggest factors in my improved health.

A few years later, when I was training Ironman France, and before I knew much about high fat diets, I was eating roughly 8,000 calories per day and probably 85% carbs, which was fine when I was biking 4 hours per day but shortly after I completed Ironman France, I started to get massive addictive sugar cravings. I don't admit this very often but it's something I struggle with even today. It's hard once you realize that there are so many neurons in your gut, thinking for you and subconsciously telling you what IT wants.

So how do we avoid Kummerspeck? Here are two things that I believe can really help.

1) Mindfulness - use a food tracking app like Thryve to bring some awareness to how your food makes you feel. If you can associate cause and effect than you can help yourself avoid the things you know will lead to upset or simply subpar performance.

2) Food as a Pleasure - ideally it should be a pleasure to eat your food but sometimes it becomes a crutch. Either we convince ourselves that a bad meeting or even a good workout deserve a pint of ice cream or we give in to our limited supply of willpower and convince ourselves that these are good decisions. Using an app like Stress Doctor to train your heart rate variability and your nervous systems response to stimuli can help enormously. Instead of getting a huge rush of neurotransmitters every time you pass a bakery you'll naturally start to dampen those signals, which ultimately allows you more focus and greater productivity.

If all else fails just repeat in your head "GRIEF BACON, GRIEF BACON, GRIEF BACON..."