I teach freshman composition and my students have to read an article, “Global Wording.” The article is written by Adam Jacot de Boinod, who has written two books that explore unique words from around the world. Boinod points out that some foreign words, like kindergarten, croissant, and feng shui, gained acceptance in English while other words have failed to translate. For example, there is a Central America Spanish word for dancing, pulier hebillas, meaning “to polish belt buckles.” Another Spanish word, achaplinarse, means “to hesitate and then run away in the manner of Charlie Chaplin.”
Although those are pretty great and I do wish at some point in my life to see someone achaplinarse, the word I wish the English would adapt is the German word, Kummerspeck. According to Boinod, kummerspeck translates literally into “grief bacon,” a term to describe emotional over-eating that leads to weight gain.
Grief Bacon. How true.
When we are at our gloomiest, it is the fried, sweetest, saltiest, grungiest food that is sought. Potato chips, mashed potatoes, mac’n’cheese, ice cream. They aren’t called “Happy Meals” for nothing.
Think about local fair or carnival food—funnel cake, corn dogs, cotton candy, onion rings, fried Twinkees, chocolate covered potato chips. These are the foods attached to fun, games, rides, play, and through association, happiness.
During finals week when I was in school and now as a teacher during heavy grading periods, I intentionally keep junk food out of the house and stock up on frozen soy beans and brussels sprouts because if I don’t, you’ve guessed it, “grief bacon,”
Even the healthiest of people will find themselves breaking diets in times of depression. It is not “grief carrots” or “grief oven-baked crackers” or “grief yogurt with granola.” It is grief bacon. Maybe, even chocolate-covered-candy-bar bacon.
So next time you find yourself gaining a couple of pounds after a break-up, job crisis, or loss, remember there is a word for it---kummerspeck.