I am an Emotional Eater. It’s something I have really noticed about myself recently, but I know it’s something I have done most of my life. Mayo clinic defines emotional eating as “. . . eating as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness.” I eat when I’m hungry, when I’m stressed, when I’m lonely, when I’m sad, but most often I call it a reward.
We paid off all our debt? Celebrate with food!
I had a stressful day at school? I deserve to relax and just order a pizza.
Cody is gone all week for rehearsals? Hey, I kept the house running, time for ice cream!
I also justify my eating because of my cravings. For years I have gotten CRAZY INTENSE cravings. We’re talking basically pregnancy cravings without the pregnancy. I get so fixated on whatever food it is that I can NOT stop thinking about it. Cody has made many late night trips to the grocery store just to get me to shut up. (Thanks, babe).
Where my emotional eating stems from
I never thought anything of it, mostly because I feel that so much of life is spent around the table. Family gatherings, time with friends, big events – we spend them all around the table! I don’t think that is necessarily a problem on its own, but I think it made it harder for me to see my emotional eating as more than a physical issue, but as a spiritual issue, too.
In fact, emotional eating seemed to be reinforced not only in general life events but in events in the church.
Celebrating Christ’s birth or resurrection? Time to stuff yourself with a big feast!
Funeral? It’s a sad time, let’s give you a ton of comfort foods!
Church gathering? Can anyone say casseroles, rolls, and jello salads? These are basically the entire reason that they even build churches with basements.
Looking back at my life, I think that on a subconscious level, these events and experiences around food taught me that when we are sick, sad, happy, or feeling ANYTHING at all, stuffing yourself with comfort foods is the way to go.
The spiritual side of emotional eating
I had always heard that God wanted me to treat my body like a temple, but I always associated the temple with church and my church experience with casseroles galore. I never really saw the problem, but when I think about the context of the early temples in the Bible, it sheds a whole new light to the idea.
The first we hear of a temple in the Bible was Solomon’s temple. He built it with the finest of materials, including overlaying the whole place with gold. The most important function was to house the ark of the covenant, and the temple was the most sacred place, dedicated to the Lord.
In 1 Kings 9, the Lord tells Solomon that as long as he “walk before me faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness,” the temple will remain. But if he or his descendants “turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods,” the temple will turn to rubble.
Think about the metaphor there. The literal, actual temple would remain standing as long as Solomon was putting God first. If he turned away from God, the physical temple would TURN TO RUBBLE. If I am supposed to treat my body like a temple, I need start by taking the amazing care that Solomon shows. The temple is not a dumping ground for anything and everything that looks good at the time. It is not built quickly, it is not built with cost or effort as an object. What would the first temple have been if Solomon had just decided to build it from mud and sticks, because that was easier or faster? Why cover the whole place in gold and waste all that money? Yellow paint should do the trick, right?
These things seem so simple as we look at scripture, and the decisions are clear to see. If God instructed me the way he did Solomon, the decisions I make that affect my body would be simple! Well that’s EXACTLY what I’m learning he has done. It may not be specific guidelines of “eat this, do this, don’t do this,” but it does address what for me is the root of my emotional eating. When I eat because of the emotions I’m feeling, I’m turning to food to satisfy when I should be turning to God.
1Peter 2:2 Tells us that what would should crave is “pure spiritual milk”. We are designed to crave, but what we ought to be craving is Jesus instead of junk food.
Next steps to overcoming emotional eating
Now I have the head knowledge. I understand that I am an emotional eater and that physically AND spiritually this is not good for me. What I am working on is putting it all into practice. It is hard to undo years and years of poor emotional eating habits! Here are some of the steps I am taking:
- I am in an emotional eating support group right now. Here, I am learning to overcome emotional eating with help from other people who are further along in the process than me and by sharing stories with people who are in the same place as me.
- I am preparing myself for a NEW program coming out next month called the 2B Mindset that addresses weight loss and healthy eating not from a starvation or calorie-counting standpoint, but purely from the mindset. (ps. I’d love to help get you set up with this program if you’d like!)
- When I want a reward for something, I try to either find a non-food option or go for a food that will properly fuel my body!
- I am working on my relationship with God and learning day by day to crave HIM above anything else!
I know I have a long way to go, and this struggle is going to take more than a couple days of attention in my life. However, I know I CAN overcome it with the help of my community and my God. If you are interested in joining a community that will help you overcome emotional eating, please reach out to me at [email protected]. I would LOVE to chat and hear your story!