It’s no secret around here I struggle greatly with depression which unfortunately often leads to emotional eating. Those of us who deal with mental health and food addiction issues often find ourselves in a valley of hopelessness and exhaustion. I’ve been there many times.
Depression can manifest in different ways for each of us. We may take to the bed for days, isolate from friends and family, or binge eat to stuff down our emotions. I recently chose the latter, dealing with unwanted stress and sadness through copious amounts of the most unhealthy food choices possible.
When those overwhelming feelings of sadness hit me, I will usually turn to food for comfort. I wish this could be in the form of an apple or green smoothie, but it more often is found in large servings of fried, sugary, and/or highly processed options. So over the past few weeks, I’ve turned to some of these as I’ve fought my lifelong nemesis, depression.
Here’s the good news: I woke up this morning knowing today can be different. Having these difficult episodes so often over my lifetime has definitely shown me they are temporary. Even though I may find myself hopeless at times in the midst of those days, I know without a doubt from past experiences, I will once again overcome the darkness.
I want to share some tips with you on how I’m picking up the pieces today, recovering from the many unhealthy choices this latest pitfall led me to, and ways you can move past emotional eating binges as well. Depression easily leads to overeating, but we don’t have to stay in bondage to food or emotions.
During our darkest moments, we must keep an open conversation with God. I tend to shut Him out when my hope starts to wane. This is truly the exact opposite reaction we should have.
By constantly checking in with Him whether I’m trapped in my bed or stuffing down my emotions with food, He can help. We can pray for emergency assistance or even choose prayers of thanksgiving for all that is right in our lives. I know the second one can be extra hard in those times, but gratitude can transform our minds in the most amazing way.
We also must spend time with our ears open to Him. Listening intently can give us insights as to what possibly triggered our latest depressive episode. I may be taking to the bed because I actually need a day of rest. Instead of feeling so guilty about the one day that it turns into three, perhaps I should take 24 hours to relax because I need it.
When I’m eating everything in sight, by stopping and regrouping with Him, I may quietly hear how I need to reach out to a friend or my husband. Food may be replacing loneliness or a number of other things it can often pretend to be. If we are not listening to God, it’s easy to stay trapped by not understanding a possible way to freedom.
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
~1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
Forgive yourself. No matter how long it lasted or whatever reason is behind your current depressive episode, allow yourself to move on. Don’t stress about the amount of time you wasted laying around or how many unnecessary calories you stuffed in your now extended belly.
This guilt becomes a vicious cycle that will never lead to the road exiting that valley. Our self-hatred and loathing quickly lowers us into deeper despair every time. Let it go…
Journal your thoughts, emotions, and what you are eating on a daily basis. Writing down the foods we are putting in our bodies, along with how we feel emotionally and physically before and after their consumption, helps us on so many levels. By journaling this in the middle of a binge, it can help stop us in our tracks. The awareness and coming back to our present moment is absolutely invaluable.
Journaling also helps us to fully process our emotions and experiences. Telling our stories, both the good and hard parts, is life changing. This not only serves us, but can be used to help others dealing with the same struggles.
Writing this for you helps me understand what’s happening in my own life. Each personal story I share here leads to a commitment to follow through and make improvements. My true desire is these stories help you in some form as well.
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Do you have any tips on dealing with difficult emotions and the poor food choices they often lead to? I would love to hear them in the comments!