We're not supposed to connect emotions to food, right? We're not supposed to eat for comfort or so that we feel better. Food should not be our pleasure.
But the thing is, food is connected to emotions. Food is comforting. Food is pleasurable. Food does make us feel better.
This was reinforced for me when watching NOVA's "Can We Make it to Mars?”--a significant portion of which host and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson spends with astronaut food scientists. In the segment, they reference the psychological importance of food and quote several astronauts.
“When you're in space, stuck inside, basically, a can. Food becomes...kind of a highlight of the day.” -- NASA Astronaut Jerry Linenger
“You have to eat in order to survive. But what people don't...understand, I don't think, is the psychological aspect of food.” – NASA Astronaut Clayton Anderson
“Because it is one of the few pleasures you have control over. And I think, people serving on submarines have long understood the importance of food for crews' well being.” – NASA Astronaut Andrew Thomas
Of course, most of us aren't astronauts or part of submarine crews. But when it comes down to it, food has psychological value. It's something most of us don't think about...because we don't have to. It's something you mightn't think about lest you suddenly find yourself lacking.
I'm not saying food is the main course of emotional and psychological well being. However, taking pleasure in food is, in fact, helpful.
I recognize that most people's relationship with food is fraught, some people consistently rely on food for comfort in ways that are harmful to their well-being, and some people become unable to control their binging (just as some people become unable to control their urge to deny themselves food--let's not set up a false dichotomy where anorexics and bulimics are 'in control' unlike binge eaters). But that doesn't make pleasure in food inherently bad or taking comfort in it an inherently negative behavior.
Food has value for your mental health. Food has psychological value. You are not a bad person because you take pleasure in food. In fact, overall, we're probably better for it.