Calling All Catholic Emotional Eaters!

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Image Credit: Artomatic 2009 Kerrin’s Appetizers by Mr.TinDC (2009) Flickr, CC

Emotional eating…it’s not really something people need explained. Most of us know we’re emotional eaters. I would guess most Americans suffer from this problem. And it’s not just about crying into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s when something’s gone wrong. Emotional Eaters eat when we’re happy too! We tend to celebrate life’s ups and downs by eating special food because we feel that we “deserve it.” And there’s the rub.

We don’t deserve to eat carby/sugary/restaurant/salty foods no matter what kind of day we’ve had. We must remember that the only thing we deserve is the penalty of death for our sins. Harsh, I know, but that’s why Jesus is so important. We can’t lose sight of the gravity of what we deserve. And peppermint mochas aren’t going to bring you peace because your soul yearns for Christ.

Of course eating isn’t bad and celebrating life with feasts isn’t bad either – that’s one of the great things about being Catholics. Where it becomes dangerous is when we COMPULSIVELY lean on food instead of Jesus. When we CAN’T celebrate something without cake or ice cream or going out to dinner… that’s when we have a problem. When we can’t think of another way to soothe our anxieties or our bad day besides diving into a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream…that’s when something is wrong.

There’s hope! With Jesus, you can kick your emotional eating habit. It won’t be easy but Jesus will make you strong. I wrote an entire booklet called the Catholic Weight Loss Companion for Emotional Eaters that talks about how to lean on Jesus and let go of your compulsive eating habits. It’s FREE so you should head on over here and download it.

Below I’ll give you the top ten tips I feature, although the booklet has LOTS more information about each of these tips:

  1. Lean on the Scriptures
    Pick a verse from the Bible to say 10 times before you put a bite of food in your mouth. This helps you to calm down and to detach your emotions from eating.
  2. Offer It Up
    One of the beautiful things about being Catholic is being able to offer up our suffering by pairing it with Jesus’s suffering on the cross for people and causes that are important to us. Choose a person or a cause for each day of the month and then let this be the reason you don’t reach for free donuts at your next office meeting. You can get a copy of my Offer Up Monthly Suffering worksheet here.
  3. You are beautiful. You are important.
    We are so mixed up about beauty these days. The word has been twisted by the devil and photoshopped by the public. Don’t give into that lie. You are beautiful because God made you. He chose to make YOU specifically, right now, to do His work in the world. Draw on that amazing truth to help you feel beautiful inside and out.
  4. Willpower is Limited
    Your willpower is a limited resource and it drains like a battery during the day. If you’re tackling a new diet, minimize your exercise or [gasp]don’t do any at all. If you’re like me, doing a workout blows most of my willpower and then I don’t make good eating choices for the rest of the day. Weight loss comes from what you eat, not from exercise. Get your healthy food routine down first, then slowly add in exercise.
  5. The Secret Weapon
    The secret weapon is …. water! You need to be drinking a ton of water every single day, no excuses. This will help you feel more full throughout the day and it will help your body to run in a more healthy way. Water to the body is like gas to a car. It doesn’t seem like it’d be that important but it is and water will give you more energy throughout the day!
  6. Falling Off The Wagon
    When you do end up eating something unhealthy, don’t give up and dive cheerfully into Emotional Eating Land. Just pause, say an Our Father and move on. You don’t have to beat yourself up. You don’t have to let your healthy goals get derailed. Forgive yourself and move on. It’s really quite simple.
  7. Kicking Out Your Food Demons
    Many of us have deep seeded issues that fuel our Emotional Eating habits. I highly recommend reading Unbound by Neal Lorenzo to help you discover and release some of the negative stuff that’s bouncing around your brain.
  8. Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
    You already know this is going to happen. You’re going to have a bad day. I want you to visualize two scenarios. First, picture what it feels like to give into your bad day and eat a whole pizza (or whatever your thing is.) You can imagine its cheesy, bready goodness, I’m sure. But you can also imagine your tummy ache, your bathroom issues and the guilt you feel the next day when realize it wasn’t what you really wanted. Second, picture letting the pizza go and choosing something healthy instead. Maybe you eat some strawberries with some honey on them. Yum! Now you feel proud of yourself! Now you feel energized and ready to see your progress on the scale! At least now you know what choices you have. It’s up to you.
  9. Know You Can Do This
    If you’ve tried over and over and over again to diet and stop being an Emotional Eater…nothing has changed. You are not strong enough to do this alone. Accept that. But with the help of Jesus, you can overcome this. His strength will seep into you and puff you up like the next Superwoman! You can beat this habit of yours. You can turn your life around and choose to be healthy.
  10. Positive Affirmations
    I’m a big fan of squashing my negative inner voice and replacing it with a cherry positive one. You can download an app called Think Up and record your own affirmations and it will set them to music. I listen to mine nearly every day. I have 50 affirmations in there. Some are scripture and some are just things I want like, “I am kind to my children” or “I make healthy eating habits all day long.” The more you listen to these, the more they will become embedded into your subconscious and you will start to be a better version of yourself.

If you want to get the whole booklet, it’s free, and you can head over to here. It’s really easy to turn into a small booklet so you can keep it with you in your purse all the time.   hope it’s helped you as much as it’s helped me. Plus there’s lots of before/after pictures of me and everyone likes those! I’ll be praying for everyone who reads it to have a healthy and holy 2016!

Copyright 2015 Sterling Jaquith
Image Credit: Artomatic 2009 Kerrin’s Appetizers by Mr.TinDC (2009) Flickr, CC

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About Author

Sterling Jaquith is a wife and mama to three girls under 5, lives in Boise, Idaho and is the host of the Coffee & Pearls show. As an adult convert, she had to discover Catholicism on her own. She is so in love with the truth and tradition of the Church that she dedicates her life to helping lukewarm Catholics discover the passion and joy of our great faith! She writes at www.sterlingjaquith.com.

6 Comments

  1. Hi Sterling!

    The topic of emotional eating is so sensitive, and it’s brave of you to tackle it. I struggled with the spectrum of disordered eating to the point of serious health problems in my late teens. I have since recovered. Because of my history, I wanted to point something out.

    From what I have read in the article and in the booklet, I sense some apprehension of carbohydrates. For example, you wrote, “We don’t deserve to eat carby/sugary/restaurant/salty foods no matter what kind of day we’ve had”. I understand your point from a spiritual perspective. However, physiologically we do deserve to eat carbs and sugars. All of the healthiest foods for the human body – fruit, vegetables, and starches – are primarily composed of carbohydrates. Moreover, sugar (glucose) is the only type of fuel that is usable by the brain!

    The low carb craze has taken America by storm, but it is incredibly dangerous. Low carb diets work through ketosis. This is a process by which the body rapidly burns fat (and depresses the appetite) to continue to function once its energy has been depleted. I have suffered the effects of ketosis: severely low blood pressure, depression, fatigue… It was only after I started to base my diet around high-carbohydrate plant foods that I stopped feeling like a crazy person.

    Binging is not the result of a lack of will power. Binging is a survival instinct that takes over when someone has severely restricted their calories, particularly those that provide the most efficient source of energy for the body and brain: carbs! In other words, it is often the case that what looks like emotional eating is really the body’s cry for nourishment.

    Here are some links with research on this subject:

    The China Study: http://www.amazon.com/China-Study-Comprehensive-Nutrition-Implications/dp/1932100660/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452568685&sr=8-1&keywords=the+china+study

    The Starch Solution: http://www.amazon.com/Starch-Solution-Regain-Health-Weight/dp/1623360277/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452568699&sr=8-1&keywords=the+starch+solution

    Brain Over Binge: http://www.amazon.com/Brain-over-Binge-Conventional-Recovered/dp/0984481702/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452568712&sr=8-1&keywords=brain+over+binge

    The Low Carb Fraud: http://www.amazon.com/Low-Carb-Fraud-T-Colin-Campbell/dp/1940363098/ref=sr_1_1?s=gift-cards&ie=UTF8&qid=1452568846&sr=8-1&keywords=the+low+carb+fraud

    God bless you!

    • Sorry this looks like such an impossible chunk of text. I did leave space between paragraphs when I was writing. Not sure what happened here.

    • Hi Sarah! Thank you for your post. In my booklet I talk about how every person has dietary restrictions and has to pick the right thing for themselves. I’m no doctor and I make no recommendations for others. I myself find that gluten makes me feel pretty bad and I’m fairly lactose intolerant too. So I have to stay away from those things if I want to have energy and lose weight. When I talk about carbs here, I’m talking about pizza, cookies and fettuccine Alfredo. I think most everyone can agree that it’s hard to get healthy when you’re eating too much of those! Thanks for the links. I hope they’re helpful for people who can tolerate gluten in their diets!

      • The links are not only for people who can tolerate gluten! Gluten is merely wheat protein. It is easy to have a high carbohydrate diet without wheat.

        What is unhealthy about pizza, cookies, and fettuccine alfredo is not the carbs. The main caloric source of these foods is fat. Eating potatoes, corn, rice, oats, etc. – none of which contain gluten – is high-carb eating. Eating pizza is high fat eating. The diet industry uses the buzz word “carbs” to promote an overall mentality that has people afraid of starchy vegetables. It is based on blatant misinformation. My worry is that perpetuating the idea that carbs are bad in themselves deprives people of the most heart-healthy and healing foods on the planet…the foods that God intended for human consumption! (Genesis 1:29)

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