It was my birthday several weeks ago and I sat with my husband over dinner at a charming bistro in New York City. It was a happy occasion meant for celebrating the day and sharing good times. A funny thing happened during the dinner that led to a bout of emotional eating, triggered by a food brought to the table that had been a childhood favorite and not touched in years. The waiter brought out a complementary plate of Genoa salami as an appetizer. It was not something that I would have ordered from the menu in my wildest dreams since the food tastes of my grown-up mind steer toward plant-based with grass-fed meats from time to time.

Despite how I view food nowadays, there was a magnetic draw to the salami place, which in retrospect was the triggering of fond memories of eating salami as a child. It seemed like it was a family staple. I used to love salami and lettuce sandwiches on Italian bread.  Likely the most nutrition came from the lettuce, but I digress.  One of my favorite salami memories was trotting downstairs late at night for a salami sandwich for a midnight snack. If I did that today I would probably have heartburn in a heart beat.

As these salami memories welled up in my heart and mind, bit by bit, I polished off the whole plate. It was also intriguing what I chose to order for dinner, an unlikely combination of minestrone soup and later a hamburger as a main course. Again, in retrospect, these were two of my favorite foods of childhood.

So there you have it – from appetizer to main course, my choices were emotionally driven. It only took one food that was a favorite back in the day to drive my dinner choices. But childhood is not all roses and some unpleasant memories are always part of the picture, which I also believe led to losing control of the food brakes.

But I learned a lot from the experience, which is basically to be more attuned when choosing foods that I would likely stay away from today and to catch any emotions that may get stirred up in the process. As we catch our emotions, let’s live some of the memories or choose to let them drift away. Either way, we do not always have to let ourselves act out our emotions by overeating because, like any other excess in life it can run away with us.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”- Hippocrates