Why can I not stop eating? Maybe you’ve heard yourself say those words out loud or maybe you’ve just been saying them in your head. You just can’t seem to overcome emotional eating.
Better yet – maybe you’re the type of person who always puts on their stretchy pants before sitting down to eat a meal because you know that you cannot seem to stop yourself from overeating.
If you’ve said yes to any of these questions, then you are in the right place because this blog’s topic is all about overeating and gluttony. We are going to look at what the Bible has to say about it, plus I’ve got two truths and two tips for you to take away.
Before I say anything more about this topic, I want to just address the fact that this is a difficult topic to speak about. Please understand before you read this that everything that I share here today is said from a position of love and not judgment.
Over-Eating & Gluttony
So…what is gluttony? Gluttony can be referenced to different areas of our lives, but I am speaking particularly from the perspective of gluttony with regards to food gluttony. This is in reference to overeating, and over-indulgence with food.
The Bible tells us that overeating is not good for us and also that it’s wrong. We know this is a topic that is not often discussed in Christian circles, but it is in the Bible so we shouldn’t shy away from it.
I think one of the big reasons why this has turned into such a difficult conversation is because as women, so much of our self-worth is wrapped up in our cooking, what we look like, what the number on the scale tells us each time we weigh, and in what size we wear! It’s a big-time comparison game about how we think we should look. And so as soon as the conversation of overeating and gluttony comes up, we get self-conscious. We feel like somebody is personally attacking our self-worth. We feel like they are telling us that we should look a certain way or be a certain size, or have a certain shape and we feel like curling up in a ball on our bed and never eating again.
I’m here to tell you that’s not what we are talking about. I’m not talking about what size you wear, what shape you are, and I’m not talking about what the number on the scale says because that’s going to be different for each and every one of us.
Healthy Does Not Mean A Certain Number On The Scale
Healthy does not mean a certain number on the scale! A healthy weight looks different for you than it does for me because God has created each one of us uniquely.
So then what is this conversation about? This conversation is about our health; this conversation is about being able to live your life to the full. John 10:10 says:
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.John 10:10 (NIV)
He has come to give us life and give it to us abundantly! It’s difficult to live life to the full when we are sick and unhealthy because we are living a lifestyle where we are overeating. Being overweight can really affect our health, so again this conversation is difficult because we come at it from a position of attacking somebody’s appearance or how much they weigh, but that’s really not what this conversation is actually about.
This conversation is about our health and about treating our bodies like a temple, not a trash can. So once again, if anything that I say begins to make you feel defensive, then I just want you to know that everything is said here in love. If you begin to feel defensive, maybe that means it is time to examine what’s going on underneath the surface of being defensive.
Why Do We Overeat?
So let’s begin. First of all, why do we overeat? Let’s discuss this question and then I have two truths for you about the topic of gluttony and overeating, and then I’ve also got two tips for you to take away.
There are many different reasons why you and I may be overeating. Sometimes it’s simply because the food just tastes so good! Maybe you’re making such delicious tasting food and it’s just too easy to overindulge. Or…maybe you just can’t stop eating all that processed junk food; it’s like an addiction!
Junk Food Is Designed To Keep Us Wanting More
Well, I’m here to tell you that lots of the ingredients in junk food will keep you craving more and more of it. Unfortunately, it’s designed to keep us wanting more! There are ingredients and chemicals added that keep us wanting more of it and keep us over-indulging.
Have you ever felt like you just can’t stop eating that bag of chips or chocolate bar until it’s all gone? There is so much sugar added to so many foods today, and research has proven that sugar is highly addictive, so if you have felt like this, you’re not alone.
So in order to stop overeating junk, we have to be aware that we could be addicted and this addiction is causing us to be gluttons.
Social Pressures and Social Norms
Sometimes we eat because of social pressure or because of social norms. If you get invited somewhere for dinner and you know the hostess has prepared this great big feast, even though you are full you feel like you can’t refuse the dessert, even though you know you are overeating. You feel like you must go ahead and eat the dessert or you will offend the hostess.
Sometimes it’s because we can’t get food out of our minds; we become obsessed about food! Why is this?
Feeding Our Emotions
One of the biggest reasons is that most of us use food to feed our emotions. We feed our emotions instead of actually feeling our emotions.
Emotional eating is another big reason for overeating or gluttony.
- We eat when we’re happy.
- We eat when we’re sad.
- We eat when we’re stressed.
- We eat when we’re mad.
- We eat when we want to celebrate.
- We eat when we have friends over.
- We eat because we are bored.
- We eat when we are lonely.
- We eat when we want to be entertained.
We eat for just about every emotion we have and this is called eating your emotions. Most often we turn to food to address our feelings and emotions because we don’t actually even know how to process them. Eating food feels good at the moment and that’s one of the big reasons why we overeat. We aren’t processing our emotions and eating helps us bury them.
Overcome Emotional Eating
First Truth To Overcome Emotional Eating
The first truth is that overeating (gluttony) is not good for us! Now this might sound like a very basic truth and you’re right – it is. But the fact is even though it is a basic truth, many of us are struggling with overeating (gluttony)!
I want to share one quick verse from the Bible.
Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path: Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.Proverbs 23:19-21 (NIV)
There we go – right in front of us. This verse tells us that gluttony is harmful to us!
Gluttons and drunkards are categorized together here. We don’t want to become poor or drowsy. We don’t want to be clothed in rags. We are called, as believers, to treat our bodies like a temple. I often say, “treat your body like a temple, not a trash can.” We know this but so often we ignore it.
This is where my first tip comes in for you.
First Tip To Overcome Emotional Eating
Address and Surrender your relationship with food to God.
Have you ever surrendered your relationship with food to God? Have you ever invited God into your weight loss journey? This is a big area of your life and yet you may not have ever considered inviting God into this aspect of your health. We are told to invite God into every other area of our life, but somehow we seem to miss this one.
It’s time we surrender this area of our life to God and ask Him to help us address our relationship to food. Many of us:
- Are obsessed with food.
- Have been in the fad diet culture mode for so long that our relationship with food is just mixed up.
- Don’t even know what to do about it. We have some very mixed-up messages in our brains around the topic of food.
Take a banana, for instance. How many people have stopped eating bananas because we believe what diet culture has taught us – that bananas have too much sugar, too many carbs, too many points, too many calories so we shouldn’t eat it! But…we go ahead and eat a whole big bag of chips without thinking. A banana is a clean whole food that God created for us to enjoy, and we need to eat them in moderation, but a banana is not what made us become overweight.
You can see… we’ve got some really mixed-up signals in our heads. A banana is full of vitamins and minerals, it has potassium and folate, it’s not processed, it’s fat-free, it has fiber and it gives us energy and fuels our bodies well. A banana has a host of good things that are beneficial for our bodies, yet we have been conditioned to believe that we shouldn’t eat it. Instead, we have turned to processed junk food that actually harms our bodies and we think that is okay.
It’s all the processed junk food that is causing us to overeat. All the chemicals, preservatives, hidden sugars, maltodextrin, food additives and colorings etc. is causing us to crave more and more of the same thing, and we are becoming a society that consumes way too much sugar and creating an epidemic of type 2 diabetes. We are addicted to junk food and we just can’t stop overeating.
Address Your Relationship With Food
addressing your relationship with food is the first step. You have to become aware of your relationship with food and ask yourself, do I have a problem with food? If you answer honestly and know that this is a problem, then it’s time to start addressing your relationship with food.
What does food actually mean to you? Can you answer this?
Is food comfort for you?
Is food nourishment for you?
This is kind of a complicated question, even though it’s so simple. Taking the time to figure this out will help you immensely. You will actually find freedom with food and this is so refreshing.
If this is something that you want to learn more about, Ruth and I actually have a Food Freedom Workshop that you can check out. It’s a 5-day workshop, but it only takes about a half-hour out of your day to watch a video from us, and then there is a worksheet that requires some introspection. This workshop has helped thousands of women learn to take back the control that food has over them and learn how to surrender this aspect of their life to God.
Ultimately, as believers, we want to surrender our emotions and our weight loss to God. We want to honor Him with our bodies. We want to treat our bodies like a temple, not a trash can.
Second Truth To Overcome Emotional Eating
The second truth is that we are called to live a life of self-control. Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit we read about in the Bible.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
I don’t know about you, but I have to sing a little song in my head if I want to be able to recite them all. Self-control is listed as a fruit of the Spirit so we know that we need to use self-control in the area of food too. We need self-control in choosing what to eat and how much to eat, but for many of us this can be very challenging.
How do we actually practice self-control when we are not only obsessed with food but also have such a mixed-up relationship with food?
Second Tip To Overcome Emotional Eating
Always use wisdom over willpower.
Now you might be saying, what does that even mean? For just a moment, let’s think about willpower like a muscle. We know we can develop and improve our willpower just like we can build our muscles. We have worked hard to build stronger muscles, which is great, but our stronger muscles are only going to take us so far. It’s the same with willpower. We cannot rely on willpower alone because that willpower is going to fail us.
If you think about willpower as a muscle and you are hanging off the side of a cliff for dear life, waiting for help, your willpower isn’t going to be strong enough to hold you there for three days until help can arrive. Your willpower will keep you there for a period of time, but it will wane and it will fail you. Think about how many times you are able to walk past the junk food cupboard or a donut on the counter. You have willpower for a while, but before too long your willpower caves and you give in to the food.
So willpower is not the solution, which is why I like to talk about wisdom over willpower.
What Does Wisdom Over Willpower Mean?
I believe if we can remove a temptation today so that we don’t face the temptation tomorrow, that is wisdom over willpower!
So let’s break that down even further. Here is an example in my life. Wisdom over willpower for me means that when I go to the grocery store, I do not buy a bag of chips. If I do buy the bag of chips, and I know they are in my cupboard because I put them there, then tomorrow when I am snacky or hungry in the afternoon my willpower will wane and I will reach for those chips.
So by using wisdom in the moments when I’m not feeling tempted, like when I’m at the grocery store checking things off my list, I am using the wisdom to stay away from the chip aisle so that I won’t have to rely on my willpower when I’m tempted. I’m using wisdom by not having the chips within my proximity so that I can exercise self-control.
Another example of wisdom over willpower would be to purchase some healthy treats to have in my fridge, like fruits and vegetables, rather than the chips in my cupboard. This way, when I am hungry, I’m not tempted by the chips. I can open the fridge and have a healthy snack that is already there waiting for me. (I love blackberries and that’s an amazing treat.) So I am using wisdom over willpower in this situation.
There are so many ways with food where we can use wisdom over willpower. A lot of it is choosing to get the food out of our proximity. Sometimes it’s about deciding and pre-deciding before you’re going somewhere, like the grocery store.
Another example of wisdom over willpower is when you know you’re going out for a meal, and you know that you always overeat and struggle with self-control at the place you are going to. In this situation, we can put wisdom in place ahead of time and remove the temptation. Ask your friend or spouse if they are okay to go somewhere different this time. Or pre-decide on what you will order and stick to your plan. Often when we have already pre-decided in our minds, we will then execute our plan much easier. Wisdom over willpower works!
The Bible Gives Us A Way To Overcome Emotional Eating
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
Remember the Bible says that we have a way out of our temptations every time we are tempted – we just need to use wisdom over willpower all the time.
My prayer for you today is that you will be encouraged through these 2 truths and 2 tips and not feel defeated. We have the Holy Spirit living within us which means we have the power to conquer this battle with food. We are overcomers and do not need to feel defeated. Christ has already won the battle for us so let’s claim the victory!
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”Matthew 19:26 (NIV)
It is possible for you to live a healthy lifestyle that you actually love.