I have looked at one-too-many, nearly empty boxes of cookies and thought, “Oh no! Did I really eat all of that? What just happened?”
Truth be told, I became a foodie in college. That is, I was a chronic emotional eater. I remained stuck in a vicious cycle for many years until I embraced God’s truth about my emotions and food.
First, God wanted me to face my emotions, rather than stuffing them. He showed me that underneath all the rubble of emotions there lay a fundamental grief: an absent father. I needed to process this grief stifled for many years. Indeed, it is good to grieve, as I discuss in a previous blog post here.
Second, God wanted me to understand that food could never satisfy my soul’s hunger. Likewise, Lysa Terkeurst in “Made to Crave” aptly reminds, “Food can fill our stomachs but never our souls.” (p.64)
In college, I began this process of learning how to let God satisfy my desires for comfort and peace. And it came one baby step at a time.
What joyous freedom has come each time I choose to step away from stuffing my emotions! Each time God shows me how to run to His Word and to release my grief into His loving arms.
Can you relate to being trapped in a cycle of emotional eating? Do you find yourself looking at an empty tub of ice cream or bag of cookies, and wondering what just happened?
Take hope, friend. God has a plan to help us break this vicious cycle. He calls us to step out of the dark den of denial. God beckons us to bravery in facing our stifled griefs and exchanging them for His unending joy.
The Great Exchange Plan
Over the years, I’ve learned to see a pattern in God’s plan for freeing me from emotional eating. It’s always been a process of facing my emotions and exchanging lies for His truth. I’ve named this process “The Great Exchange to Ending Emotional Eating,” and its three steps can be easily remembered in the acronym, I.C.E.
- Identify the feeling. Stop what you’re eating, and ask: What feeling am I trying to stifle with food?
- Confess the feeling to God. Acknowledge the feeling to God. Then ask Him to show you if there’s any lie attached to that feeling. For example, maybe a feeling of anger reveals you believe God isn’t trustworthy.
- Exchange the feeling for a fruit of the Spirit. Invite the Holy Spirit to minister to your heart. Ask God to replace the negative emotion with fruit from His Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22)
Are you ready to make the great exchange? I encourage you to print out the plan below, and put it somewhere like your fridge for a handy reference when you’re tempted to start emotional eating. I’m confident you’ll begin to experience more freedom as you invite God into this struggle. May you know the joy of surrendering your emotions into His loving hands, letting His Spirit weave a tapestry of healing in your tattered heart.
Scripture to Savor: “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Psalm 81:10
Reflect and Respond: What fundamental grief influences your emotional eating? What blessing did you receive from trying the Great Exchange plan?