Emotional Eating | Turn to God First
This girl here loves food. My relationship with food is on better terms now but when I was a little girl I developed a pattern of emotional eating.
Emotional eating is turning to food for comfort, safety, or happiness. On many occasions I gobbled down food to counteract boredom and loneliness.
My grandmothers and both parents have always been great cooks. So it was easy to connect good feelings with good food. Unless there were lima beans on my plate, I ate until I was beyond full.
I was only a child so I never said, “Hmmm… I’m feeling sad today, let me eat ice cream.” I’m not sure if most people consciously plan to use food as an emotional outlet. For me, it just happened over time.
Food contented me and I felt satisfied. It was a temporary override to the aspect of me that was unhappy. After awhile it was automatic to crave certain foods when my soul felt empty.
I didn’t know then that there was a God that I could turn to meet my emotional needs.
In elementary school my cousins teased me about my belly. I had skinny arms, skinny legs and a swollen stomach. Not because of genetics or slow metabolism, I just loved to eat.
When I turned 12 my belly fat started to make its move to other parts of my body. I cared a little about being overweight, but not like I cared about food. They don’t call it “comfort food” for nothing. Food truly made me happy.
The glitch was that I had to keep eating to maintain contentment. This is not a good thing when sugar and fried foods are what satisfies you most.
I was an only child and didn’t have many friends. I felt lonely, but food was my escape. With money I saved, I visited the convenience store on my way home from school almost every day.
Then I’d plop on the sofa, watch television and indulge in barbecue chips, pecan rolls, Sugar Daddy caramels, and a giant pickle. That was my favorite combination of junk food bliss. I had it all consumed before my mom arrived home and still made room for dinner.
I signed up for the high school track team when I was in seventh grade and ran track and cross country until I graduated. Being an athlete helped me to lose weight. I exercised all the time but my emotional eating habits did not change.
This may sound ideal. Eat whatever you want and run laps to burn calories. But in short, I turned into a thin person who was unhealthy and still emotionally broken.
After high school I had an opportunity to be a walk on for the track team at my university, but I was not fast enough to be competitive. So, I hung up my running shoes and gained twenty pounds.
Emotional Eating vs. Prayer
By this time I had just begun my journey with God. I was new to the faith and knew very little scriptures. Prayer was something I only did on occasion because I wasn’t sure how to pray.
My habit of emotional eating was hard to break. Food was still the thing I turned to first for bits of satisfaction.
Then I reached a point in my life where food failed me. I looked to food to be my savior but there is only one.
I went through a deep depression and I wasn’t happy with myself. There wasn’t a pastry, pork chop or plate of macaroni and cheese that could deliver me.
I wasn’t that little girl restricted to a few dollars worth of junk food. I was making my own money, lived in my own apartment and could eat as much as I wanted.
However like everything else we put before God, emotional eating failed me. The stress in my life was too big for McDonald’s to handle. After a Big Mac (or two) my problems remained and I was still hurting.
Then the depression had a different effect on my mind. I became repulsed by the food that I once took comfort in. Feeling overwhelmed with hopelessness I turned my plate away.
My weight dropped so fast and I became so thin that some were concerned that I turned to anorexia to lose weight. I found no solace in loving food or hating it.
Emotional eating filled by belly but it did not satisfy my soul. I wanted cookies and cakes to be the glue to mend my broken heart, but it only added to my frustration. Food was a band aid for wounds that were too deep and wide.
Our emotional distress is often connected to a spiritual need. Life will always have its problems but we can find peace and the strength to stand by depending on the power of prayer. God must come first in all things. Even in our struggles, first seek the Kingdom of God.
Spiritual things strengthen our spirit.
When everything else failed, all I had left was prayer. It should not have been a surprise to me but prayer was enough to jump-start my joy. On my knees, bowed before God, I firmly put my trust in Him.
In that moment a wind of peace and safety blew over me. It was comfort food for my soul. God said all that I needed, He would supply.
After praying more than I ever had before my perspective on life and who I am as a woman of God changed. Talking with God and hearing His Word inspired me to transform my entire life from the inside out.
God broke the chain of emotional eating in my life.
I prayed more, controlled my food portions and stopped depending on food to comfort me. Prayer is where I find refuge in times of trouble.
We sometimes mistake spiritual hunger for something else. If we only reach to appease the appetite of our fleshly bodies, the essence of who we are remains hungry and thirsty for change. It is nothing short of trying to fill a bottomless bucket.
“…but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life.” (John 4:14 ASV)
Do I enjoy food today? You better believe it! The right foods are gifts from God to give strength and wellness to live life abundantly.
There is nothing wrong with appreciating good food, but I keep food in its appropriate place. When I need emotional relief I first turn my heart to prayer and communion with God. Taste and see that the Lord is good!
Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
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