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Is it possible that God is trying to speak to you, even in the midst of your emotional eating? He did to me. This is what He said.
As I sat down with the bag of Cheetos, I knew I should have just taken a handful.
It was a long, stressful day. People wanted more from me than I felt like I could give. My best didn’t feel anywhere good enough. I didn’t look the way I wanted to look, I didn’t feel the way I wanted to feel. I longed to be something more, but it seemed I was destined to just be plain ol’ me.
It wasn’t a conscious thing, to eat my way through my emotions, but it’s exactly what I was doing nonetheless.
I needed a break. I needed a distraction.
I needed to feel like I was enough for someone or at least something.
Cheetos don’t expect me to hold the weight of the world on my shoulders. They don’t demand my time and energy and they don’t start drama. They’re givers, those brilliantly orange little snacks. They give me delicious happiness and ask nothing in return. The perfect relationship.
The perfect relationship.
I wanted to feel fulfilled and Cheetos was my drug of choice that night.
They are just so good. Perfectly crunchy, delectably cheesy, and oh-so salty. Taking the whole bag would save me the energy of getting back up for more.
Time-saving and energy efficient? The perfect combination.
So, I took the full bag to the couch. Nobody else was around, so I could eat to my heart’s content without worrying about the judgment from anybody else. No calorie counters, no accountability, no eyes darting back and forth between the quickly emptying bag and the overweight girl in baggy sweatpants shoveling the cheese curls into her mouth.
The first handful was so satisfying. It was everything I wanted it to be. One crunchy morsel at a time, then two, then three.
My speed was picking up by the second handful. With every swallow, I just craved that crunch even more.
The third handful flew by. I’m sure I’d already downed three servings and should’ve slowed down, but my hand and my mouth weren’t listening.
More of a good thing has to be even better, right?
And then I just lost count. All I knew was that I needed just one more handful. Again. And again. And again.
There was no stopping. No pausing. No breaks. I needed to be chewing.
About 3/4 of the way through the bag, I started feeling full.
I even thought about stopping. But I’d already come so far. With only 1/4 of the bag left, it would be silly to stop now.
So, I kept eating. I was getting down to the crumbs and I made a valiant effort to catch each and every one. I dumped the remainder of the bag into my mouth, head tilted back, with a few crunchy little morsels sneakily trying to escape, bouncing off of my cheeks and onto my lap.
Don’t worry, I got them, too.
And then I stared down at the empty bag, with nothing left to chew, and realization set in. I’d just eaten 9 servings, far more than 1,000 calories, in mere minutes.
The neon orange cheese dust that thickly coated my fingers was almost like having blood on my hands from the dreams and goals I’d just killed yet again.
Did I feel satisfied? Nope.
And then the blanket of guilt and shame began to suffocate me.
Well, you’ve done it again. Your willpower ran out and you caved. You’re such a failure. I knew you couldn’t do this weight loss thing. Like you could ever be healthy. You should be so ashamed of yourself. You knew better and you still gave in. You better hide all of the evidence so that nobody else sees what you did because they’ll think less of you than they already do. You’re just proving, yet again, that you really are the fat girl through and through.
And I used to believe every word.
But then…I started listening for another voice. This voice was not loud or condemning. It didn’t shout, berate me, or belittle me. There were no insults hurled in my direction and it didn’t dig up every past mistake I’d ever made just to rub my face in it.
No, this voice was quiet. Still. Small.
Daughter, come closer to me.
It whispered healing gifts of grace and mercy, freely given to me, though I’d done absolutely nothing to deserve them.
You don’t need to beat yourself up over this. I’ve already accepted the punishment for you so you can live in freedom.
It didn’t condone what I’d just done.
The Cheetos didn’t make you feel better. I know they tasted great at first, but let’s find a better lasting solution for next time.
It didn’t ignore the truth of the situation or minimize the consequences of my actions.
The love I have for you goes deeper than just rewarding you for good behavior. It can’t be shaken, no matter how many times you fall short of perfection.
Sometimes the words weren’t even distinguishable, but the feeling was.
You are of great worth to Me, even when you overindulge in things that aren’t good for you. I show you healthy boundaries with food out of love and protection for you, not as a punishment. It is not because I want to withhold pleasure from you, but because I want you to experience the full depth of pleasure available to you in my Kingdom.
And that feeling wasn’t guilt, embarrassment, or shame. It had nothing to do with the mistakes I had already made. Instead, it was empowering, challenging and inspiring me in my future decisions.
I know it’s hard to say no to temptation, but I’ve given you the weapons to fight back. I’m on your side. You’re an overcomer. Put on your spiritual armor and you can win any battle against food, insecurity, doubt, fear, and whatever else tries to harm you.
He wasn’t wagging his finger at me, pointing out what I already knew had been a bad decision. When I was tempted to push away and hide in shame, He quietly and gently beckoned me into His presence with unfailing love.
My plans for you are so much bigger and so much better than you can imagine. Walk with Me through the stress, disappointment, failure, and regret. There are better things ahead, but in the meantime, don’t let go. I’ve got you.
The kind of love that gives you the freedom to make mistakes, but doesn’t lessen when they inevitably happen. A love that desires what’s best for you always. One that isn’t forceful, but is always patiently waiting with arms wide open when you choose to accept it.
I never expected to hear God’s voice in the midst of an episode of emotional eating. It never occurred to me that God would care about my Cheetos binges.
But He did. And He does. And when I started slowly recognizing His voice and listening to it, it changed everything.
I stopped feeling like a failure every time I overate.
I started taking my thoughts captive and throwing out those lies that weren’t from Him.
Instead of eating behind closed doors, it brought me out into the open and took away my shame. It taught me that I could love and enjoy food without overindulging.
When I started memorizing Scripture about overcoming temptation, it empowered me to remember in those moments of food cravings that I had a choice and that He would always provide a way out if I just took the time to look for it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
It taught me that God cares what I eat and that I could honor Him in my food choices just as much as I can in the ways I treat others in my love.
100 pounds later, there are still times when I overeat. They are not as frequent and not as severe as they used to be, but when they do happen, I hear His words of grace in a soft love letter inviting me back to the right path instead of listening to a neverending list of insults beating myself up with guilt and shame to manipulate my behavior.
In emotional eating, as in ALL things, learning to hear God’s voice changes everything.