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If you've ever turned to comfort food to deal with a bad breakup or another upsetting event, you're not alone. In the United States, tucking into a tub of ice cream seems to be the stereotypical depiction of "eating your feelings." There isn't really a word in English that describes the resulting weight gain, though. To find it, look no further than the German language, which is known for having the vocabulary to express pretty much any idea in a single compound word, no matter how oddly specific.
In Germany, the gentle, understanding word for the excess weight that folks gain after emotional overeating is “kummerspeck,” loosely translated as “grief bacon,” or sometimes “sorrow fat” or “worry bacon.” Maybe keep that in mind the next time you turn to the Ben & Jerry's.
The vocabulary of emotions:
- Fatty foods can have a powerful effect on the brain. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that foods with saturated fat can help block negative emotions. Certain hormones in the stomach signal the brain to improve one’s mental state.
- Compared to other languages, English sometimes falls short in its ability to describe feelings, especially those related to love. For example, the euphoria you feel when you begin to fall in love is called “forelsket” in Norway. Conversely, the bittersweet feeling when you fall out of love is called “razliubit” in Russian.
- Maybe what we all need is more “wabi-sabi,” the Japanese word for the acceptance of the cycle of life and death. Also used to describe the ability to find beauty in imperfections, this is surely a quality we all could use now.