Life is not easy. There are no guarantees and nothing says that every dream we have will come true. How many coping mechanisms are available to us when we hit a speed bump in life? Alcohol, drugs, sex, exercise (yes, it’s an addiction for some) and food. Of all the things I’ve listed, how many of them are ACCEPTABLE by the church? See where this is going? Sure you do… we all have to EAT, don’t we? In church, food is practically a requirement to join. We bond around it, laugh around it, listen to speeches and lectures around it and at funeral dinners, we mourn around it.
Is it any WONDER that people use food to soothe them in their lonely moments of solitude? The struggle is real, folks – and the church condones it. They practically encourage it. I’m not blaming the church, rather I’m making it aware of the problem so that it might help members who may well be suffering.
I couldn’t afford counseling, but I went to Overeaters Anonymous meetings (at a church, ironically) for about a year. I learned to identify triggers that make me want to use food for comfort instead of fuel. I learned that in church, it is praise and prayer and focus on Christ that matters more than the fellowship around the potluck table. Food does nothing except fuel this earthly body. It does nothing to bring me closer to the Lord. I get that eating around the table helps people bond – but that’s through conversation and laughter and the like. How much food and what types of food I have on my plate is still my responsibility.
If sister Suzy fixes her famous hummingbird cake, it shouldn’t make me feel obligated to have a piece if I know that it will send my blood sugar into orbit! That kind of psychological pressure is almost too much to bear. People mean well – I know they do… but you can’t wrap up a piece of cake for me to take home and eat. It will be thrown down the garbage disposal because my health is more important than me making sister Suzy feel good. How I wish folks understood how damaging this behavior is to one prone to emotional overeating.
There was a time when I would have taken the cake and eaten it in the privacy of my room with a tall glass of milk. What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Eating cake because someone could not accept the answer NO THANK YOU… it’s insane. I may love sister Suzy… but she needs to respect me enough to accept the answer NO. Leave it and don’t wrap it up and send it home with me. It’s cruel and devastating to my health.
The most wonderful bonding experience I ever had with a church group was when we went on a bike ride. It sounds silly, but it had nothing to do with food whatsoever – it was just fun. We were talking and laughing and pedaling along together down the bike path. I remember thinking, “This is so cool.” It was – it really was.
I know why there are potlucks. You’re not going to get people of all ages together for a bike ride. Potlucks are a way of getting everyone in the same fellowship center – and the fact is, we all do need to eat. I just want people to be aware of the fact that some folks are trying to avoid emotional overeating, and pushing bad foods on them is not helpful. But I’m not as weak as I used to be. I’m not the people pleaser I used to be. Through those meetings and with God’s help, I’ve learned that it is ultimately my responsibility to deal with the situation. Sister Suzy, thank you so much for this piece of cake. What happens with it from that moment on… that’s on me, and with God’s help, it won’t end up IN me!
Folks… emotional overeating is real. It takes a long time to learn that love does not equal food. It takes a long time to learn that eating food is not going to make anything better. Only reading God’s Word and prayer will move mountains! Hummingbird cake… not so much. 🙂