Filling The Holes
We have all been there. When we feel discontent and down, like something is missing. We often try to fill these holes with more things, a bigger house, a nicer car, a better job, tastier food, weight loss, the next new diet, and the list goes on. The hole seems to be filled temporarily, and then like a pot hole, it collapses again at the first sign of a heavy weight or an intense storm. Did you know that I used to work in the weight loss clinic? My team and I tried so many behavior modification techniques to help people try to make changes in what or how much they were eating. We tried positive “self talk”, positive thinking, distractions, other emotional coping strategies, and stress management. Many of my clients would do well for a time, but then the old habits would creep back in, almost always. I began to get discouraged, AND, I felt really sad that my clients couldn’t seem to make any lasting progress.
What was the real problem? As I worked with hundreds of people, the answer was clear. These people were still searching to fill these holes of discontentment. The habit of filling the hole with food kept returning over and over because food did fill the hole to some extent for some period of time, but it didn’t last long. We kept trying the same solution to fill the emptiness that was nothing but temporary. We did not realize there was only one solution to the problem that would fill the hole. The solution was God.
Using food to deal with emotional discomfort does temporarily comfort, it temporarily makes us feel better, and it temporarily satisfies. The key word here is temporarily. In order to solve this problem long-term, we need to look deeper. Emotional eating is not always a bad thing! We often eat during happy times and celebrations also and this is perfectly ok. I would even argue that eating to help deal with some emotions sometimes is OK, BUT the problem happens when we use food to deal with the majority of these uncomfortable emotions the majority of the time.
First, we can recognize what we are doing. Many of us haven’t been taught how to acknowledge and work through our emotions in a healthy way. Let’s remember that our emotions are good! They are what make us human and they are a reflection of God. Did you know God has emotions too? Next, when we recognize an uncomfortable emotion, we can learn to sit with the uncomfortableness of it. We can learn to process it. We can learn to talk it out. It might be very appropriate and very necessary to seek out the help of a professional counselor. We can also learn to lean on the Lord when we encounter these uncomfortable emotions. Are we letting God fill our soul with joy and peace even in the midst of unpleasant circumstances?
Remember finding success in nutrition means finding balance in the nourishment and pleasure of food. Yes, we need food to survive, but we should also enjoy what we are eating. When we make food only about nutrition we can tend towards idolatry of body and self. When we make food only about pleasure we can tend towards gluttony. We should also ask, am I enjoying the food more than our God? Has food become the way to fill the emptiness He was meant to fill? If the answer to this is yes, we should consider feeding our souls a little more this week. Let us be people who thrive by using God’s word to fill our spiritual hunger. Let us be satisfied with the Lord and His love alone!
Psalm 90:14 says, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”
Psalm 17:6 says, “I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death.”
Isn’t that AMAZING? God will answer us when we call on him.
What Can I Do to Fill these Holes?
First, remember that it is absolutely OK to include foods that are not 100% “healthy”! Just watch for when you lean too far to the pleasure balance with foods!
To understand if you need to make a change, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I eating this food to deal with some other emotion? Some examples may include: stress, sadness, or loneliness. Remember this is OK sometimes, but we need to be aware and make sure we also have other healthy coping mechanisms.
- Is this food going to fill me up so that I am not hungry for the foods my body really needs?
- How am I going to feel after I eat this? If the answer is guilty, you should explore that. Why would this food make you feel guilty? Who told you that you shouldn’t eat it? What harm will it do?
Next time you are not hungry and you feel like you want to eat all those cookies, which will you choose? The cookies, which will be gone quickly, not satisfy, and result in an unhealthy body. Or, the God who loves you, died for you, and satisfies your soul forever?
I pray for each one of you reading this that you will choose God. Every time you chose God, you will grow in your faith, you will grow in your love for yourself, and you will release yourself from the unhealthy relationship with food.
If you thought this article was helpful, you may also like this one!
For further reading I highly recommend Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst as it digs into learning about how God made us to crave–HIM and not food!