In our culture of fast pace life, social media, focus and pressure on fitness we can find ourselves looking at food as “foe” not “friend”. Heart hurts, frustrations of life, loss of hope, loneliness can drive some of us to use food as a source of comfort. Often time we try to fill the belly with comfort when in truth what is needing is comfort in our heart. In addition, in an age of social media many people, especially young people can feel left out and lonely and turn to food for comfort, or look to food as something to control because so much in their life is feeling out of control. Using food in the way of unhealthy comfort or as a means of control or punishment (through starvation) is not only physically unhealthy, but also mentally and emotionally unhealthy. Spiritually the Lord wants our bodies fueled in a healthy way so that we can do all that He has called us to do in our lifetime. If we can look at food as “fuel” and “neutral”, neither something to punish ourselves with or to seek comfort in, we can live out a life that is pleasing to the Lord and healthy.
Some of us may have been in the “habit” of using food as a means of control or as a means of comfort, here are a couple tips to begin to implement to turn this way of living around.
1. Keep a journal–ask yourself some real heart questions and take the time to answer them honestly, review your answers periodically
*Does my heart need to be comforted?
*Do I use food to fill my belly when really I need my heart filled?
*What do you need in your heart? Acceptance, reassurance, peace, love? Be truthful and be prayerfully honest with the Lord, begin to turn your stomach over to Him to fill you with what you are truly needing.
*Do I use food to punish myself? Does God want me punished–or do I know that God is full of mercy and grace and forgiveness and wants to partner with me in being healthy?
*Am I seeking control in my life? What is the reason for this, what feels out of control?
2. Keep a food journal, keep track of what you are eating and when you are eating it so you can begin to see patterns and places you can begin to make changes.
3. Seek an alternative. Ask yourself instead of eating–what else can I do that will bring comfort and satisfaction to your life –is it a hobby? taking a walk? talking with a support person? worship time? prayer?
4. Seek an alternative–if you use food as punishment or for control–ask yourself what are healthy things in your life that you can have control over –ie-how well you do your job, keeping your home tidy, pouring into others, speaking up for yourself, etc.
5. Be in prayer–God has declared he does not want false idols in our lives. If we place food as an idol in our lives, it keeps us from having a healthy thriving relationship with the Lord. Whether that is controlling our food intake or using food as comfort. God is an ever present help in time of need, and if we can stay truthful and honest with Him about our struggle, he is faithful to help us overcome and achieve all we are designed to do in our life.
6. Seek wise counsel–Even with the best intentions to change things in our lives, often times it is profitable to have wise counsel walking with us through the journey. We encourage you to implement the above steps but to also prayerfully consider counsel in the journey.
Several staff members of Desert Streams have experience and expertise in counseling clients through the journey of overcoming food related struggles, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.
Article submitted by: Pam Stinchcomb, LMSW