Do My Feelings Affect My Eating?


Yes, maybe, but…

I have the best intentions to live a healthy lifestyle but I just don’t stick with it.
Sometimes I just don’t feel like it.

The Balanced Life
One of the great distinctions of the First Place program is an emphasis on balance in all areas. When it comes to “head and heart,” it is vital we keep things in equilibrium. We must be honest and aware of our emotions. They are important to our mental, physical and spiritual health. But we cannot trust our emotions to give the right direction all of the time. As we examine our personal history, we will discover patterns that are at times helpful and others hurtful. Our feelings can be key to how we treat food and as a result, impact our health.

Feeding the Feeling
Happiness – Celebrations can be “reason” to eat a feast. We give ourselves permission to enjoy food as an
ession of good times. We find examples of this in the Bible, as well, where Jesus met with friends and shared a meal. Food is not the enemy. It is a gift of God and can bring people together; however, as with all good things, food can be misused. To eat healthily does not mean we shun parties but that we use our head, as well as our heart. Think before we go and prepare by not going hungry. Go with a determination to eat in moderation and make the best choices available. For example: Leave off fat, added sauces, or sugar toppings.

Sadness – Many people use comfort foods in times of sadness. It is an attempt to ease the pain of whatever has been lost by being distracted with food. This has very little to do with physical hunger and will only detract from emotional pain for a short time, but will not heal it. This can lead to binge and compulsive eating, which in turn leads to discouragement, which leads to sadness. Some may actually go to the opposite extreme and quit eating, but in either case, food no longer becomes the fuel for the body and we become less capable to cope.

Loneliness – Often we can feel alone or at least unimportant to others. This can happen when we are isolated or in a crowd. To depend on food to be a friend is “looking for love in all the wrong places.” This is fueled when we feel unworthy, resentful or bitter. These negative feelings that are not addressed in a healing way are great motivators for us to NOT take care of ourselves. After all “nobody really cares about me anyway, so why bother?” The advantage is that we can pick our “friendly food” without rejection and at any time we want. The problem is that there is no relationship, only escape from the pain of loneliness.

Healthy Feelings
Feelings were God given. They serve a purpose. But they need to be handled in the way that God intended. They often serve as emotional nerve endings to let us be aware of both pain and pleasure. When we are authentically happy, sad, or lonely, there are appropriate ways to express them. Feelings are good ways to bring issues to our attention. There are times, however, that feelings need to be challenged, especially when we see a pattern in our lives when we have followed their lead to “not so happy” places.

Our feelings will play a role in our eating. They are part of what makes us people who are created in God’s
image. They are only part, and we are responsible to see that both mind and heart play their roles in how we live
our lives.

So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

I Corinthians 10: 31

Dr. Bill Heston

Bill Heston works on the staff of First Presbyterian Church of Houston