Let me ask you something. What usually goes through your mind after a bout with emotional eating? Do you immediately go to God and try to see the situation from His point of view, or are you more likely to just react and leave God out of the picture?
Let’s look at some of our common responses to eating failures and see what motivates these responses and where each one leads:
1. Beat yourself up (figuratively). I can’t believe I ate the whole thing. I’m such a failure. I’ll never get over this problem.
Where does this response come from? Is it remorse because you went to food for your emotional needs, or is it regret that this will really set you back in your weight loss efforts? At least for me, it was usually the latter. God doesn't condemn me for messing up, but the world does condemn me for being overweight, and it was the world I was more concerned with.
We have to be careful to remember that this isn't really about the weight. What it's really about is a life dedicated to food that needs to be dedicated to God.
Worrying about the weight often distracts us from going to God for help with the problem. Why? Because we're so busy condemning ourselves about the weight, that we're not looking to God to see how He feels about it.
To be honest, I think Satan is happy with the fact that we're so obsessed with our weight. Look at Revelation 12:9-10. Satan is the accuser of the saints. Why does he accuse us? Because it works! If we’re busy beating ourselves up, where are our eyes? Are they on the truth that sets us free or are they on the lies that enslave?
God doesn’t condemn us. Look at Romans 8:1 and John 8:1-11. He loves us and not only that He understands what we’re going through, because Jesus was tempted in all things Himself when He lived on earth (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Condemnation leads to discouragement and hopelessness and often depression. This isn’t God’s way!
2. Rebel. You know what? I’m sick to death of these stupid boundaries. Besides, isn’t it a little legalistic to say I have to have boundaries anyway? Having rules just makes me want to break them!
Remember Eve and Satan in the Garden of Eden? The first thing Satan did was try to get Eve to think that God’s rule about the tree was ridiculous. Eve listened and must have agreed. She broke the rule. What she didn’t realize was that the rule was protecting her. Life would have been better for Eve if she had followed the rules.
It’s popular in our culture to say we shouldn’t have to follow anyone else’s rules. Rules restrict. Rules enslave. Having rules just makes us want to break them.
If this is true, then we shouldn’t have any problems once we give up the rules. In other words, if it’s the rules that make us want to overeat, all we have to do is get rid of the rules, and the desire to overeat will disappear. If only life were that easy.
No, if God thought rules were bad, He wouldn’t have given us the Ten Commandments. However, He does want us to be more than rule followers. He’s looking for hearts that want to follow Him, not just hearts that want to follow the rules. Remember Romans 12:1-2? We develop hearts that want to follow Him through the renewing of our minds. Each breaking of the “rules” gives us an opportunity to renew our minds.
3. Escape. Go to sleep, watch a movie, get caught up in a good book—anything to make you forget how much you just ate.
I think this response is generated in large part by our desire to have easy lives. We don’t want to go through the hassles of having to deal with this weight issue over and over again. We just want to be through with it.
Does escape really help us break free from emotional eating though? Are we happy when we escape? No, of course not. It’s always there in the back of our minds bothering us. We haven’t really solved the problem by escaping.
4. Bring your thoughts captive to the truth. Try to remember what you were thinking when you broke your boundaries. Write it down and replace the lies with the truth. Pray some Scripture. See the situation from God’s point of view.
This isn’t a common response, and it’s not an easy response—but I’m hoping it becomes your habitual response! In my next post, I’ll walk you through how this would look in an actual situation.