Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How Do You Handle Emotional Eating?

Today I'm tackling a question from the Help Me With My Dry Spell post.

Julie writes,"I'd like to hear your perspective on emotional eating and conquering it."

Oh boy, sister, do you understand who you're asking about this?!

I was the little girl too heavy to ride the ponies at the amusement park, the college girl who spent a summer wearing jeans because her thighs were too big to be seen in shorts, the expectant mother who cringed at getting on the scale for every prenatal visit, praying she didn't cross a dreaded threshold.

Food has been issue for me my entire life.

Suffice it to say I do NOT feel completely competent to answer this question, nor do I think I have "conquered" anything. But I have made progress through the years, painfully slow progress, but progress nonetheless. Overcoming any habit is a long process I'm still in, but I can share what I've learned so far.

My first big realization came when I noticed I didn't think as I was eating. I'd chide myself AFTER I'd inhaled five cookies. My stomach would rebel with an extra piece of pizza. I'd leave family functions feeling miserable from eating too much. I didn't give a thought to what I stuffed in my face and afterward felt helpless to stop it. I'd pray for better self-control, but continued my bad habits. One day I realized I couldn't expect God to magically give me supreme self-control and do nothing. That's like praying, "Lord, make me an Olympic athlete" and never training. Having greater self-control was going to require something of me. So I started praying differently.

Lord, show me the moment of decision, that moment I decide to eat something for comfort rather than hunger. Stop me and show me the choice.

God is faithful. He started showing me right away. As He did, I felt responsible to choose wisely. Sometimes I did. Sometimes I didn't, but responding to those moments started a training program of sorts for me.

I'm learning to PRACTICE saying no to me. The more I do it, the easier it gets. Not just in the area of food, but in every area of life.

Now before you freak out, let me remind you we already do this. Every mother out there has denied herself sleep to tend to her kids. When a friend needs a sympathetic ear, we put aside what we're doing. We suppress the explosion we'd love to have in the checkout line. We crave the attention of our husband, but give him space when he's busy. We make dinner for our families even when we'd rather have popcorn.

If we can do this on a regular basis in other areas of our lives, we can do it with food, right?

Let me tell you, I am by no means a master. Just the other day, after a phone call stressed me out, I started on dinner and began chomping watermelon chunks as fast as I cut them. I still have work to do, but I have grown. At least now it's fruit instead of M & Ms and leftover pizza. And some days I can deny it all together, not because I'm a self-control guru, but because I've practiced saying no and it gets easier.

When we consider that Jesus told us we are to deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily, the effort seems worth it. In light of that, every little NO to us, every denial of self, begins a practice that brings us closer to God.

Easy? No. Doable? Yes. Over time. With lots of practice. The sooner we start, the sooner we'll see progress.

How do you handle emotional eating?

One NO at a time.

What are your tricks for managing emotional eating?

Photo Credit: awrose

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