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Creativity and Binge Eating

You may have read the title of this blog and thought I meant to pair creativity with “cooking” not “bingeing.” But the way creativity relates to a binge is exactly my focus, because much of what you get out of it is what you’re seeking in your wild food sprees.

In “Creativity—A Bright Light in Your Golden Years” by Walker Meade (Better Living, 7/13), Alice Flaherty, assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, says the creative drive results “from an interaction of the frontal lobes, the temporal lobes, and dopamine from the limbic system.” Although you may think that folks are either creative or they aren’t, according to the article, “A good deal of research suggests that everyone is capable of tapping into his or her creative spirit.” This is good news if you’ve been abusing food rather than expressing your creative drive more appropriately.

Have you ever heard someone say they forgot to eat because they were so caught up in an activity—making jewelry, playing the piano, refinishing a chair, or planting their garden? These are all creative efforts. You don’t have to be Monet or Alice Walker to consider yourself creative. Creativity comes in all forms, from the every day—redecorating your living room—to the exceptional—Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.

June Lebell, a Sarasota radio personality who’s also a musician tells us that for her, “creating is living.” She’s not talking about making a living, but about the life spirit which pours out of her when she’s creating. Her advice is always to give an endeavor a try, advising, “The most that happens is you succeed. The worst that can happen is you learn.” A powerful statement for you failure-phobes.

And now to my point about bingeing: when you’re creating, you’re off in a world of your own making, a place where you can be and feel as free as a bird—precisely what you’re often seeking in binge-seeking and –eating behaviors. During the prelude to a binge and the binge itself, you’re lost in space, absorbed in the present moment, burning with desire and intensity. Thing is, it’s not food you really want. It’s the experience that releases pressure in your brain and body and makes you come passionately alive.

No surprise that when you binge and when you’re creative, you get a surge of dopamine in your brain. This surge is what you yearn for, not cheesecake or fudge. Allow yourself to be open to creating. Create what? you might wonder. I don’t know exactly, but I do know that when you’re in the midst of whatever it is, you won’t be thinking about food.