She sat across from me with tears streaming down her face. Her question was buried in remorse and pain. She was having a hard time getting the words out.
I said gently, “Whatever you want to share with me it can’t be as bad as what I’ve gone through having weighed 430 pounds. I understand. I’ve been where you are and beyond.”
She spoke quietly, “Why can’t I stop eating? I eat when I’m not hungry. It’s like the food is controlling me. I am not in charge anymore. What’s wrong with me?”
I explained to her that we all have core emotional issues we don’t want to face. We try to find some way to quiet them because we don’t know how to deal with them. It’s not that we are clueless as to what we should or shouldn’t eat. It’s that we have allowed certain foods to be in charge because they numb our emotions.
We can’t stop eating because we are eating to quiet our negative emotions. We are trying to stuff them down with unhealthy amounts of food and sugary treats. The holidays, birthdays, weddings or any celebrations are times when this is readily apparent. There are tons of emotions surrounding celebrations, some very pleasant and some extremely stressful and difficult to deal with.
We have gone to the quick, immediate fix of food to settle our emotions, but it never helps us deal with what is going on. What we have to understand is that every emotional need we have can be met in God. He is our source, not food. Food is simply fuel for our bodies. Food provides us with energy to walk through this earth. Nothing more.
More Than Fuel?
To many of us, though, food has become more than just fuel. It is a companion, comforter, protector, provider and something we rely on to help us through any of life’s difficulties that involve emotions we don’t like dealing with.
I explained to my new friend that I saw her as a strong, confident, intelligent woman. And as such she didn’t have to be controlled by a bag of cookies or chips. I also shared with her that she wasn’t alone. Many have done the same thing.
We have negative emotions that we don’t want to feel. During our session, we went through four emotions and their first letters spell the word FAIL. These emotions are some that many of us have but don’t want to deal with. They are Fear, Anger, Insecurity and Loneliness.
Fear and Protection
When fear, anger, insecurity and loneliness become core issues in our lives they seem unfixable. They aren’t, though, because God Himself meets each one of these needs. We have to recognize where the root of the issue we are dealing with came from. With fear, the root usually stems from something in our childhood that made us feel afraid.
I used food to soothe my anguish and fears and make me forget that I had them in the first place. This only shoves our fears down into the cellar of our lives where we throw food at them to keep them quiet.
I needed to understand that God is my protector. He is the one who promises that “He will cover me with His feathers, and under His wings I will find refuge; His faithfulness will be my shield and rampart,” (Ps. 91:4 NIV).
Anger and Comfort
Anger wouldn’t have been the I used to describe the feelings I had when I knew I had failed. It would have been frustrated, overwhelmed, stressed, and ready to give up. Still, a slow, boiling anger was the main reason I wanted to forget about everyday life and eat nonstop.
When we are angry or extremely frustrated we want something to calm us down, something to make the angry feeling go away. We want to be comforted. One of the places we run to for comfort is foods made with sugar, fast foods, desserts, chips and dip, donuts, cookies or whatever is readily available.
The Holy Spirit, though, is our Comforter, not food. John 14:26 KJV says, “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
Insecurity and Provider
I felt insecure a lot as a kid. As an adult when I didn’t feel secure in who I was, I would try to be in charge of something, anything in my life. It’s human nature that when we feel insecure, we try to control something even if it is a small area of our lives.
I would tell myself the one thing I can do is eat whatever I want. No one can govern what goes in my mouth because I am an adult. I felt I was in control of something in my life. Then, one day I woke up weighing 430 pounds, and realized I wasn’t in control of food. Food was in control of me.
Everything changed when I finally began to understand that I have to leave all my insecurities, worries and concerns in God’s hands. I can’t control everything. That’s God’s job. I must trust Him to be my provider.
Loneliness and Companionship
I had issues others just didn’t get. Like getting out of breath easily, not being able to walk very far, not being able to find clothes that fit me right, not being able to fit into a booth at a restaurant or being afraid the seatbelt in my friend’s car wouldn’t go around me.
It seemed every day was a new mountain I had to climb and I was tired of climbing. I felt no one understood my issues and I couldn’t tell them. That would be too embarrassing.
Loneliness began to abate when I really tapped into the fact that Jesus is my companion who is always with me. He lived in a body and was tempted in every way just like me. He gets me. He understands and gives me direction, hope and peace when I simply follow Him. I am one of His own. I am part of His flock.
God Is Our Source
We don’t need another diet or exercise plan. We need to understand our core issues of fear, anger, insecurity and loneliness and replace them with core truths of protection, comfort, companionship and provision.
A core truth grows as you walk with God and experience more and more of His truth each and every day. It is what you have experienced. No one can take that from you. As John 8:32 MSG says, “You will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.” It’s our experiences that cement truth into the fabric of our beings.
There’s more in episode 112: Why Can’t I Stop Eating of Sweet Grace for Your Journey podcast. Go here: https://teresashieldsparker.com/podcast/.