I am an emotional eater. For as long as I can remember, I have used food to numb me from the stresses of life. My constant need for sweet treats is my way out. I completely relate to Lysa TerKeurst’s thoughts on this struggle in her book Made to Crave:
“I’ve realized when the desire for treats is triggered by difficult emotions, it’s not really a desire for treats—it’s a thinly veiled attempt at self-medication. And self-medicating with food even once triggers vicious cycles I must avoid.”
Those vicious cycles…
My history with addiction is long and harsh. I self-medicated with drugs and alcohol for many years, and swapped those substances out for unhealthy foods the day I finally got sober.
About 10 years ago, I was finally diagnosed with these mental health issues I’ve struggled with since childhood. Suddenly, so much of my life started to make sense. I could finally understand all of those years of drug and alcohol abuse at such a frighteningly young age.
It was my way of self-medicating the horrible emotions I couldn’t figure out how to live with.
As I have gotten older and gained a decade and a half of sobriety, I still can’t cope with the emotions. So, I eat…
Thankfully, Lysa’s book is helping me see there is another way out, a much better way to survive the emotional ups and downs we all face.
So, how do we stop emotional eating?
We must deal with our triggers. We must identify our places of emotional emptiness and admit how futile it is to try and fill those places with food.
Like Lysa, I was abandoned by my father. He left a huge hole in my heart, self-esteem, and life. When he came to mind over the years, I turned to other things to fill me, all the wrong things. My long-lost dad is my trigger.
When my depression and anxiety overwhelm me, I try to calm their unwanted advances with food. Mental health struggles are my triggers.
By identifying these triggers like Lysa suggests, we can start to heal our wounds. I can find peace in God, my true Father, when I become wrapped up in that little girl whose daddy left her. God can fill our souls.
My mental health issues can’t be fixed with poor nutritional choices. In fact, unhealthy foods and the sedentary lifestyle that comes with them are the worst things for any type of emotional struggle.
I need to recognize the trigger approaching and cut it off. For me, that could mean more sleep, daily walks, or reaching out to someone who loves me.
We are more than our past, current, and future heartaches. Unfortunately, they are inevitable, but they don’t have to consume us.
We deserve strong, healthy bodies, which won’t come from wallowing in our sorrows and negative emotions. We deserve a life of healing and good choices that comes from filling ourselves with the love of the Lord, not the contents of a paper sack from a drive-thru window.
He is our portion…
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
As always, thank you for being on this journey with me. If you are new here, please subscribe to my free newsletter and let’s get to know each other better.