Although it’s the lies we believe about food (and eating) that make us give in and eat when we shouldn’t be eating, it’s the other things going on in our lives that make us start thinking about food in the first place.
If you were to look at your life and assign percentages to all the emotions and situations that make you eat, what would it look like? This is how mine would have looked eight years ago:
Good food available (that I was eating because it was there and really good, not because I went out searching for it on a bad day.) 5%
I was an unhappy, discontent person in those days, and I ate to try to make myself happier. The solution wasn’t to get a great life, to eat within boundaries, or even to learn the truth about food, although all of that would have helped me lose some weight, I’m sure.
The real solution was to die to myself and the idea that I had to have a certain kind of life to be happy, and then to live for God—to learn to love Him so deeply that I wouldn’t need a relationship, a lifestyle, an adventure, or a delicious treat to make me satisfied.
Thank God, He started me down the path that led towards Him. I was actually a Christian at the time—I had been one for about 25 years already—but my life wasn’t all about God. I was thinking I needed other things to make me happy.
Anyway, He started changing me. One of the main things He used to do that was truth journaling, and through renewing my mind on a regular basis, I began to see my life through His eyes. I lost my discontentment and unhappiness, because He gave me joy. I was no longer easily annoyed, because God helped me see others through His eyes.
So if you look back at my chart—I lost 75% of my reasons for overeating. Naturally, I lost some weight, and it stayed off because God had changed the way I thought and viewed life. I wasn’t just using self-control to keep from eating.
Now if I were to analyze my life now, I would still have reasons for eating too much. In fact, I now have a couple of new ones: stress and fear of gaining the weight back. Stress, because I’ve added writing to my life, and fear of gaining the weight back, because I’ve lost it.
These are two new areas to truth journal for me. I have to put in the effort to see these new things through God’s eyes, because when I’m in the habit of viewing them through His eyes, they’ll no longer bother me and cause me to eat. Does that make sense?
What you could do if you wanted, is to analyze your own life. What would your percentage chart look like? What’s making you feel like eating the most in general (realizing that this could change on a daily basis)?
Emotional eating is such a huge problem to overcome, because there are so many other problems feeding into the behavior. When I look at my percentage chart, I think, “No wonder I always gained the weight back every time I lost it. My life hadn’t really changed, only my eating behavior for a short time.”
There’s no way I could have tackled all those problems at once. When I started working on those areas of my life, weight wasn’t even a motivating factor. I just wanted to get rid of the sin in my life. Losing weight was just a an unanticipated and pleasant side effect of bringing my life into submission under God.
Why don’t you try to make your own percentage chart and see what you learn? It might give you an idea of what to work on. I hope it will also help you understand yourself better and not be so quick to condemn yourself when you fail at your boundaries once again. Because when we look at our percentage charts - it's no wonder we have problems!