Emotional Eating and One Good Decision at a Time

Emotional eating is a real thing. How do you combat it? This is a good read on a first step.

Have you ever made a commitment but decided to throw in the towel?

You started to believe the lies in your head or came up with reasons to justify your indulgence?  

I’m no expert on nutrition, and thankfully there are experts in the Tribe that can give you qualified advice. What I can do is speak from personal experience from my ongoing health journey and pass on some tips to help you overcome some roadblocks on your path to a healthy life.   

There are many great books, websites, and podcasts that have helped me learn more about nutrition, exercise, and overall healthy lifestyles.  Instead of going into all of that now, I want to share with you how I was able to make one good decision because that is what I feel God calls us to do--make one good decision at a time, humbly walking towards him.  

I was able to say no to this delicious box of Duck Donuts that a friend surprised me with last weekend, and this one good decision is part of my journey to humbly walk towards God, one step at a time. 

Please take a moment to pay respects to these sweet, sweet donuts.  

Emotional eating is a real thing. How do you combat it? This is a good read on a first step. RockThis.org

Are you familiar with Duck Donuts?  They are piping hot donuts topped with an assortment of flavors made fresh when you order.  We discovered Duck Donuts while on our family's annual vacation to the beach a few years ago.  Since then, at least once during our week’s stay, the early risers head down the road to try to beat the crowd and bring home the sweet smelling goodness that is Duck Donuts.  Since my nephew started driving this past summer, the donut runs have increased with a more-than-willing driver combined with eager financial donors.  Ah, just thinking about our week at the beach makes me crave those sugary treats!  

I love the idea of having all things in moderation, but this is really hard for me, which is why I love Duck Donuts at the beach. But that all changed this past fall when word spread like wildfire that Duck Donuts was coming to town!  I didn’t know whether to be excited or nervous.  I mean, yes, the donuts are amazing, and I usually eat too many while we are at the beach, but my saving grace was that they were at the beach

Here we are, a year later and the donut shop is open and thriving!  I am thankful to see someone’s business grow and spread the donut love with non -OBX visitors.  However, their expansion into my neighborhood has left me with the dilemma of whether or not I should have Duck Donuts at home.  You see, the thing I have learned over the years is that when it comes to food, I give myself an inch then I take a mile (or ten).  That one donut could easily spiral into the whole box of donuts, then it’s on to the old Halloween candy that I have resisted for months, which suddenly starts calling my name while I am home alone, like the “Tell Tale Heart,” except it’s chocolate.  

You may be thinking, “Well, that escalated quickly.”  Yep, you are correct, but that is the thing about me and food: it escalates quickly.  There doesn’t really seem to be a gray area.  I struggle with things like self-control and moderation, but I have also found that I can have those things if I abstain from letting things slip in here and there.  There is a fine line between indulging to satisfy my cravings to avoid feeling deprived and indulging to satisfy my cravings, leading to a total derailment.  

When it came to Duck Donuts, I decided I would hold off on having any and would try to keep them at the beach. Perhaps if we had company or another special occasion, I could have it as a treat.  Maybe if someone bought them, and I happen to have one, that would be alright. What if I drive by and can smell them from my van….get a hold of yourself, Samantha!  The justifications started popping into my head, but thankfully, I held out.  Honestly, the opportunity never presented itself--other than driving by and I kept the windows rolled up--until last week when my sweet friend dropped off donuts just because.

There was only one problem. My husband and I had recently made a commitment to complete a Whole40 (like a Whole30 but we wanted to focus more on God than just the food).  Our eating habits had spiraled out of control this winter, and we not only gained weight but were falling into a sluggish state.  We knew we needed to make a commitment to each other and ask God for help to break the bad habits and sugar addiction we both had developed again!  But now, donuts.  Not only donuts, but friendship donuts, so I thought to myself, “I deserve this little treat.” 

That’s when it hit me!  A few months ago, a friend of mine shared the book I Deserve A Donut And Other Lies That Make You Eat by Barb Raveling. Finally!  It was like reading my diary when it came to justifying my reasons to indulge in unhealthy food.  Someone who understands me!  The best part though is that she ties this struggle to our relationship with God and provides Bible verses to help overcome these temptations.  Raveling says, 

I Deserve a Donut is a tool you can use to go to God for help with eating. It contains questions and Bible verses you can use to have a conversation with Him about life and food. The questions and Bible verses will help you change your desires in the moment of temptation, so you won’t even want to break your boundaries.”

This was the first time I saw something that addressed the thoughts in my head and tied it to scripture.  

In the chapter on justification Raveling says, 

“The key to overcoming justification eating is to realize that your boundaries are there to protect you from those times when you feel like you have a good reason to break them.”

Yes! This isn’t a temptation but a test, one that God has been working on me for years to overcome!  Thank you, Jesus!  I remember emails my husband wrote to me during our first Whole30, and one that stopped me in my tracks was about self-control. It read, “Help me to understand that when I pray to You for more self-control, it isn’t an instant change that takes place, but rather a series of events and/or tests that You put me through to teach me the proper way.  I know all of Your ways are just and true.”  

Does this mean I won’t struggle in the future to resist temptation?  

Of course not, but it does reinforce my belief that I can say no, and I can move forward from this struggle.  John 5:8 says, “Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk."  God wants us to pick up our mat and walk, move on, keep going! 1 Corinthians 10:23 says, “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say--but not everything is beneficial.  ‘I have the right to do anything’--but not everything is constructive.” (NIV)  This scripture keeps me grounded when I start to have a pity party and question why I can’t eat like everyone else.  

 If you have struggled and turned to food for comfort (as I have), that is nothing to be ashamed of.  It could be an indicator of a bigger problem.  God wants us to bring our struggles to Him!  When we turn to God, He reminds us that, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  

Saying no to Duck Donuts may not be as big as an accomplishment as I am making it out to be, but it was a win that I will take!  Even though I have been working on this for a few years, this little donut victory felt like the first step towards walking it out with God rather than simply following a healthy lifestyle or adhering to the rules of a diet.  It isn’t about not eating the donuts; it is about honoring my commitment to God.  1 John 2:5 says, “But whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him.”  

I have a long way to go, and I know God has so much more planned than simply what I am or am not eating. If this is one way I can grow closer to Him, I will work to honor that. 

Emotional eating is a real thing. How do you combat it? This is a good read on a first step.