My post today is for those of you who are going through the Freedom from Emotional Eating Bible study. As you may know, I just published it in late July, so it’s still pretty new. I have really enjoyed hearing from all of you who are doing the study and am excited to see how God is helping you break free from emotional eating.
What I’d like to do today is share some of the things I’ve learned from all of you as I’ve watched God use these principles in your lives. If you haven’t done the study yet, or if you’re in the middle of it, these are things that will help you along the journey.
I mentioned this in the book, but I’d like to re-emphasize it. Be careful with diets! If you’re already doing well on a diet, that’s great—stay on it and use the study to help you stick to the boundaries.
However, if you’re not on a diet, this isn’t the time to start. My strong recommendation from watching women who have been successful is to focus on establishing your boundaries—not dieting. I wouldn’t even consider a diet until you’ve consistently stayed within your boundaries for at least two months.
It’s much easier to stick to your boundaries if you don’t have diet restrictions, and the most important thing in the beginning is to stop binging and eliminate grazing. If you can get rid of those two behaviors, you’ll probably lose weight anyway without dieting.
Another reason not to diet is that it will help you not to focus on looks. Surprisingly, one our biggest motivations for emotional eating is the fear of gaining weight. If you make your goal at the beginning just to follow your boundaries rather than lose weight, it will help prevent that “eating because I broke my diet” cycle from kicking in.
From what I’ve seen, the women who don’t diet are more successful at sticking to their boundaries than the ones who diet, and I actually think they end up losing more weight too. (This doesn’t apply to women who were doing well on a diet before they started the Bible study.)
If you’re using eating when hungry as your boundary, check out the book Thin Within by Judy Halliday and the Thin Within forum at www.thinwithin.org/forums. The ladies on the forum are really great, and you’ll get some good advice and support.
If you’re using a certain number of meals and a snack as your boundary, try to use hunger as your guide. If you’re hungry for each meal, then you know that you ate the right amount at the last meal. If you’re never hungry, then you’re eating too much at each meal.
Also, at the beginning of each meal, look at the food available and decide what a reasonable amount is (it may be helpful to get a book on nutrition if you’re not familiar with what healthy amounts are). Decide what you’re going to eat before you start to eat. If you end up eating more than you planned, consider that a breaking of the boundaries and make an entry in your lie-truth chart.
Be consistent with your truth journaling. Do it every time you break the boundaries. It may seem like it’s not working. You may feel like it’s a waste of time—but it’s not! For some women it helps already within the first couple of weeks. For others it won’t seem like it’s working at all and then all of a sudden it will kick in on the sixth or seventh week, and they’ll find that their desires are completely changing.
Statistics show that 95% of dieters gain their weight back. I believe that’s because they’ve changed their actions without changing their beliefs. If you change your beliefs, your desires will actually change. Truth journaling is extremely important for long-term success.
4. Scripture Prayers
Try doing this in the middle of your temptation. I just did this two different times in the past week and it completely took away the desire to eat. The first time I was craving ice cream (when I had just had a bowl a short time before). I prayed Ephesians 4:22-24 and didn’t feel like eating the ice cream anymore (for the rest of the day!) Another time I was stressed out and felt like eating even though there wasn’t anything good in the house. I was actually planning to break my boundaries and eat, but I thought, “Well, I’ll just try praying Scripture even though I’m planning to eat, just to see if it works.” It worked. I prayed the perfectionism and stress verses on page 35 of the book and those took away my desire to eat.
5. Work on your emotions.
Since this blog is just about emotional eating, I haven’t talked much about the emotions. However, five chapters in Freedom from Emotional Eating are devoted to handling your emotions, and these chapters will help you learn how to deal with your negative emotions. If you have an overriding emotion in your life that’s making you eat, it’s far more effective to work on the emotion itself rather than not eating for that emotion. If you can learn how to go to God for that emotion, you won’t need to go to food.
6. Be careful with other escape techniques.
Yesterday, I realized I was using the internet to procrastinate. I was feeling distant in my relationship with God and realized it was because I was relying too much on the internet for motivation to do crummy jobs. I know that might sound a little far-fetched, but it’s true. Idols develop slowly, and we’re often not aware it’s happening.
If I’m going to the internet for deliverance from the hard things in my life, it’s becoming a source of comfort to me, and it’s in danger of becoming an idol in my life. Remember the introduction to the Bible study? The way to avoid idols and obsessions is to put boundaries in place. So I have a new boundary with the internet—twice a day if I want to do any browsing. It’s an easy temptation since I’m on the computer quite a bit to write.
Well, that’s about it for things I wish I had put in the Bible study. If any of you have tips or want to share what’s worked for you, write a comment below. I haven’t figured out how to put a comment box on there if you don’t have a google account or blog—I’ll try to remember to ask my computer techie son when he comes home from college. Anyway, I’ve appreciated hearing from all of you, and I’m praying God will give you freedom from emotional eating!