ReSolving Emotional Attachments to Food

Daughter Clinging To Working Mother's LegMany people use food to meet some emotional need in their lives.

So if you ever find it hard to remove a particular food from your diet, then it is probably because of emotional attachment.

Your change likely won’t last long if you don’t identify and address food-related emotional attachments.

Otherwise, separation anxiety will have you running back to that food.

Here are 2 questions to think about regarding an emotional attachment to food:

  1. What need do you believe that food is meeting in your life?
  2. Is there a better way to meet the need if that specific food(s) is causing damage to your body?

Here is why you must consider that second point: God designed the human body to function with a particular fuel:

“And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food (Genesis 1:29).”

Later, He gave mankind permission to eat meat after the flood (see Genesis 9:3-4):

“Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.”

These specific instructions are comparable to a car manufacturer telling you which type of fuel and oil your car requires.

Do you feel deprived if a car manufacturer tells you that you should put gasoline in your car and not kerosene?

Do you want to revolt because he tells you that your car requires 10W30 oil and not 20W50?

Of course not. Why do you obey the manufacturer’s instructions without question?

Because you respect the car manufacturer’s word.

You believe that the car manufacturer understands more about the car’s inner function than you do.

After all, you don’t know about all the engine parts and how they work together nor the physics behind the car’s operation.

Since the manufacturer does understand the car’s technical aspects, then you trust that he also knows which type of fuel will make the car function at its best.

So you follow his instructions without question. Logical, right?

Since the exact same principle that applies to our cars also applies to our bodies, then why do we often ignore God’s instructions about the foods we eat?

Because of an emotional attachment to that food. The enemy has been preying upon mankind’s emotional attachments to food since the beginning of time.

He often uses food as a vehicle to destroy us.

But God calls His people to wisdom. 1 Corinthians 6:12 says:

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

So while you can eat anything, you should be selective about what you choose to eat. The wisest thing to do is eat according to the Creator’s instructions.

If your heart is to follow God’s instructions in this area, I believe your first line of defense is to humble yourself and pray, asking  for His daily help to make wise choices.

Here are 4 common emotional attachments that people have to food and ways to handle them:

1.Food as Love: A person feels they lack love in their lives so they use food to comfort themselves.

The solution is to experience real love in the following ways:

Get excited about the work the Lord is doing within you to transform you into the image of His Son.

  • Love others. The Lord created us to live in community so that means joining with a local, fruit-bearing church to fellowship with other believers and to use your Spiritual gifts to build up God’s kingdom.

2. Food as Escape: The person is experiencing emotional hurt from their past or in their present and uses food to numb themselves. Food becomes their emotional Novocaine.

The problem with this is that food may numb you from pain, but it also keeps you from experiencing joy.

The wisest thing to do is pour out your emotional pain to God and ask Him to heal you. You may take time to heal (just like a physical wound), but you will come out on the other side stronger, healed and whole.

You will be able to enjoy your whole life, not just settle for half a life (or less).

3. Food as Entertainment: You are bored with your life and food has become something to do.

The solution is to connect with your purpose. The Lord created you for more than eating, right? He gave you unique talents and gifts to benefit others.

That is one of the reasons to connect with a local fellowship of believers through a church. You can discover your Spiritual gifts and use them or engage in outreach projects to meet community needs.

While entertainment has its place, you’ll end up with a meaningless life if your sole purpose is to seek amusement.

Make your life count since you only get one.

Pursue your purpose and you’ll add passion to your life!

4. Food as Belonging: Ah, now this is one I struggled with big time. Food is a means to gather together socially, so there is pressure to eat the way other people around you eat.

If you don’t, then other people may comment on it or even try to make you eat things you don’t want to. You fear standing out or being rejected so you give in to fit in.

The solution is to decide that you do want to walk in wisdom in this area and follow the Creator’s instructions. You recognize that other people have the right to choose what they will or will not eat.

And so do you!

While you will not judge them, you will set boundaries if they try to judge you for doing what is best for your body.

Now sometimes people will pressure you in this regard because they feel convicted when you start to eat healthy. It may make them look at their own habits.

However, it is their responsibility to manage their own feelings, not yours.

Your responsibility is to love people. But draw the line in practicing destructive behavior in a misguided attempt to make others love or accept you.

Find your value and identity in God, not in the opinions of others.

Whew! I know I’ve given you a lot to think about.

However, I believe if you do this daily work of reviewing and resolving your emotional attachments to food, you will find it life-changing!

Be blessed with health, healing, and wholeness,

Kimberly Taylor

Creator of the Take Back Your Temple program

P.S. When it comes to weight loss, do you often know what you should do but have a hard time doing it?

I struggled with this issue on my own weight loss journey, but I discovered that “Nothing is different until you think differently.” – Pastor James MacDonald

The value of the Take Back Your Temple program is that you will learn how to think differently through using Biblical keys to overcome obstacles. You’ll discover how to win the Spiritual and mental battle that often causes us to become inconsistent and get off-track on our weight loss journey.

Join a community of other Christians losing weight and keep it off.

Click here to learn more about the Take Back Your Temple program

  • Virginia says:

    Thank you for this insight today. I really needed it

  • Ashley Baird says:

    Kimberly, thank you for your insightful posts. I have struggled with stress-induced overeating the last few years, but am discovering that it goes back to body image, teenage anorexia, hypoglycemia and hypothyroid, fear, and idolatry of food. In my teens I under-ate and was a skinny health nut who scorned others with less “self control”. As a young mother, I began eating more because my body was starved and I needed nourishment so badly for nursing and living life. This turned into emotional overeating, thinking that anytime I felt stress I must need food. The self control I thought I had was only superficial! I am not overweight but each meal is a battle for me. I do not feel I am doing much better on the outside but in my heart I am now much more aware of the problem and how to deal with the spiritual issues. Talking to my husband about these things has strengthened my marriage and my spiritual life is better because I depend so closely on God.

    I have a question about this post. You mentioned 4 emotional reasons we might overeat. These spoke to me for sure. But I am struggling with what to do about foods that my husband wants but are not the best for me. We eat fairly healthy, but I know with my digestive and thyroid issues I should not eat grains and certain other foods that he likes. He has graciously accepted a reduced amount of those foods, but I still prepare them and I sometimes eat them just because they are there and to find something else for myself means more stress. I believe stress has even more of a negative effect on my digestion than the foods I eat! I often scarf my food in the kitchen or sit down with rocks in my stomach because I’m so stressed trying not to binge.
    In order to eat in a way that would bring healing I would need to have those foods out of the house. My husband suggests lightening up my dietary rules instead of being concerned about what I eat. He has pointed out that I give food too much power in my life as though it had the ability to ruin or save me. Idolatry, plain and simple! He’s right about that, but food does have some effect.
    Basically, do you have any suggestions for this situation? How to balance cooking for my husband, cooking for my own health, and being flexible? How to avoid idolatry of food, whether healthy or unhealthy? How to treat the emotional and physical issues simultaneously?
    God bless you. You have been a great encouragement to me.
    Ashley

    • Hi Ashley, thank you for writing! The Lord created eating for nourishment and wants us to enjoy food. Otherwise, why would he have given us tastebuds? However, we eat must know which foods work best with our brain chemistry and which do not. We need foods that give us energy, strength, and healing to live our best life – for ourselves and our loved ones.

      You said, “I know with my digestive and thyroid issues I should not eat grains and certain other foods that he likes.”

      I believe I can relate to that because I have a wheat sensitivity. Eating wheat-based products make my sinus issues worse. Also, because of my past history with sugar addiction, I choose not to eat sugar as well.

      The way I explained that to my husband is that these foods are like allergies for me. They cause a negative reaction in my body. Because I do not want to have a reaction, I choose not to prepare and eat them.

      However, if my husband wants these things, then I don’t object to him buying or preparing them for himself. You may want to use the “allergy” example for your husband and ask him to prepare any grains that he wants so that they are not a temptation for you. In that way, you both win.

      Here is an article about an experience I had that is similar to what you described: Overcoming the Smell of Temptation.

  • Deb Fokos says:

    Kimberly,

    I couldn’t sleep because I overate, an felt I needed to get up and journal. I can relate to the last post about having different food needs than others around me….it seems most of the time. The ONLY time my needs were similar was when I worked a very strict 12 step program. It was simpler to eat and get on with life then, but I had to leave that group because I couldn’t see why I still had so much anxiety and why my husband’s family gave me such a hard time about what worked with me.

    I can see that my main area of struggle is belonging. I get dirty looks from my mother in law if I bring my own food into the restaraunt of her nursing home or worse yet just don’t eat but have something to drink instead. Yet, I don’t respect my own boundaries with food as if I have a bad day with food I want to keep it simple the next day, yet my daughter and I will go out to breakfast and many times it’s not even enjoyable for me because the choices are so limited I’d rather not eat, then I watch my daughter eat and enjoy herself but she is so stuffed and can’t believe she ate all she did. I don’t want to enable her and yet to her food is love. I do love her and pray she can feel loved, but it is not easy for her as I raised her when I ate very strictly.

    I’m in a woman’s group at my church to heal past emotional hurts. I have breakfast before I go, but the women all like to eat during the 2.5 hour session. I find it distracting especially if I haven’t slept well the night before and I wound up eating some foods I wouldn’t normally eat at all, just because. I would never have done that if I were in the 12 step group. But I wouldn’t have stayed in a woman’s group that was like that either.

    i am attempting to live life without being sequestered into a group, or sequestering myself. I am an adult and am learning to act as such. Yet I struggle in part because of knowing a lot about the body, yet I need to heal and this is messy. In going back over my life, I am seeing ways that I’ve been very hurt and upset by key people in my life and handled it myself instead of going to God. I can only take care of myself and pray for others.

    I have used food to cushion me from: poor choices, or just choices, change, emotional abuse, responsibility as well. This goes deep. I’m so grateful that I can untangle this web here in TBYT. I pray today I don’t use food, instead go to God and put Him first.

  • Julie Olsen says:

    Thank you Kimberly;
    All of your articles, blogs, materials are so rich! I am feeling a little scattered because there is so much to take in. Everything so far hits me spot on. I feel like I have been thrown a lifesaver because I have wanted so much to have what you are offering. Keep being a blessing to me and I am sure so many others. Looking forward to someday posting my success story!

    Julie Olsen

  • Heather says:

    Wow. I’m forwarding this to my email to read it again. And to everyone I love.

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