Finding Freedom from Emotional Eating

For most of my life, I wouldn’t have said I had an eating disorder. 

To me, “eating disorders” were things like anorexia and bulemia: big, life-altering struggles that required the intervention of doctors, therapists and pastors. 

I never realized that every time I ran to the fridge for a snack when I felt sad, or cheated on my “vegetarian diet” (again), or couldn’t stop myself with just a few potato chips (cookies, cheese sticks, etc.) … I was essentially stuck in the same place as those women with “eating disorders” with more clinically acceptable eating disorders.

I was using food to cover up a craving inside that couldn’t actually be assuaged with sweets, salty, spicy or sour.

Today, many women comment to me that they wish they could eat vegan like I do now. “But I just can’t seem to give up the meat, eggs and dairy,” they quickly add. Others tell me they want to kick the sugar or the cola habit. Still others want to go gluten free, but the thought of no cookies or cinnamon rolls sends them running for cover. 

If any of those describe you, I’m hear to hug you and say, “It’s okay.”

I was there, too. 

The first biggest step I had to take to be free of my constant need for food, was to realize that I was in bondage in the first place. 

After my powerful full-body opening in July 2017, at which time the Holy Spirit began to speak me more directly, I began to realize all the ways I was carrying trauma and hurt in body. I also began to see how that trauma was driving me to hold on to weight I no longer needed.

Because I needed to feel safe, my brain was keeping me overweight—essentially—“hiding” me under layers of fat. And the easiest way to do that was with an addiction to animal-based, processed and refined foods. Did the drive to eat every time I felt sad, or to overindulge at every opportunity, disappear overnight? 

No, not in the least. Not by half. 

But awareness is the beginning of freedom. 

Once I knew what was going on, I could take steps to change my thinking, which changed my dominant emotional state and enabled me to finally change my behaviors around the fridge. 

So if you’re reading this today, and you know that you eat according to your mood, not according to your nutritional need … first, you are not alone. And second, the fact that you have acknowledged this pattern is a HUGE step toward breaking free. 

Because the truth is: 

  • You CAN stop equating food with emotional comfort, in the deepest level of your mind. 
  • You CAN come to a place where you no longer desire food except when your body is actually hungry.
  • You CAN adopt a vegetarian, vegan, raw foods or other alternative diet—once you are in a mental and emotional place where the first two points are already true.

And that’s the real issue here. 

Most women I know who want to change their eating are trying to do so without first shifting their dominant thought patterns and their everyday emotions. 

Adopting that new diet, losing weight or taking up more exercise simply won’t be successful if you try to “power through it” or make it “one more item on your to-do list.” 

Heart change and mind change must happen first. You won’t be able to shift your thoughts or emotions overnight. It WILL require that you confess your addiction to God and ask Him to heal you. It WILL take work to discipline your mind and body. But when you learn how to do that, and learn how to relax into receiving a smaller body, fewer cravings, and healthier food … it can happen.

Many of my my friends and mentees have experienced shifts in their eating as a natural byproduct of clearing their thoughts and emotions.

That’s how it happened for me, ultimately, as well. 

I didn’t totally set out to change my eating. My freedom from emotional eating patterns came as a byproduct of shift my thoughts to focus on God and His love, and learn how to live at the high, even emotional state that He desires for each of us. 

Eating can be a FLOW, just like love, money and creativity.

Release the struggle, and step into ease.

When EL SHADDAI Meets FOMO: Who’s really driving our pursuit of love, creativity and money

“Yes, God is more than ready to overwhelm you with every form of grace, so that you will have more than enough of everything–every moment and in every way. He will make you overflow with abundance in every good thing you do.” — 2 Corinthians 9:8 (Passion Translation)

Ever since I began intentionally cultivating my feminine energy, goal-setting has been difficult. It’s not that goals are bad, or that people (ie: women) strong in feminine energy can’t set them and knock them out. I know that’s absolutely not true. But there’s a discontentment in modern goal-setting that fuels a certain amount of pressure, and therefore, achievement.

Did you notice that every keyword in that sentence is more associated with masculine energy than feminine? Discontentment, fuel, pressure, achievement. Masculine energy pushes for something different. Feminine energy—properly channeled—has a deep, restful relationship with the present.

Masculine energy DOES. Feminine energy IS.

While you’re busy being present, it’s a whole lot harder to try to make something different in the future. Because when you’re happy and content in God now, living each moment to the fullest, the future takes care of itself. I have seen that over and over again.

Why is it that concept scares us so much? Even me, who’s done so much work to embrace “just being?”

I’m not sure, but I suspect our pursuit of what we think we lack has more to do with FOMO (fear of missing out) than it does of really wanting what we pursue.

Have you ever noticed that while FOMO may feel compelling, it doesn’t really feel very good?

I’ve been thinking a lot about that in relationship to marriage recently. Though I’ve embraced every other aspect of my life, singleness is still something I’ve worked hard to eliminate—though unsuccessfully to date. But if you look at my life, I actually spend a lot of time alone and am completely happy and totally renewed living this kind of life.

So why, exactly, am I so eager to change this estate that I’m in? Is it because I’m really called to be married—and I sense that deep down I’m supposed to contend for that gift—or is it because I’m 35, never experienced a happy marriage, and worry that if I don’t find it, I’ll miss out on one of life’s fundamental experiences.

The reality is, every woman of God I know well right now is experiencing deep trials in her marriage. I’m praying, counseling and contending with them all for breakthrough. All the while wondering where my Boaz is and all the while wondering, in addition, why on earth I would want the trials my friends are experiencing.

Because the visions of marriage I see in my head don’t include a spouse’s spiritual problems, radical shifts of perspective that happen after marriage, children with health problems or financial difficulties. And I’m sure they didn’t for my girlfriends, either, when they married the husband they have now, all of whom love God, but are deeply flawed human beings.

Funny how saying that changes see.

When I see marriage, I see victory and triumph—not the struggle that comes along with it. Which is what I already have in my single life, just in a different form. Yet when I think about being single, I fear that deep-down, I’m selfishly just passing time for myself and missing out on the “more” God might have for me.

We’re so terribly afraid of missing out on the more. So terribly afraid of settling. And so terribly afraid that our current reality is less than God intended for us.

Or is it just me who feels that way?

Last May, in the middle of a church service invitation, God spoke to me about Isaiah 43, in which He declares that He, the “God-of-Angel-Armies” as Isaiah often calls Him, is Israel’s husband and will care for them as such. The sermon was about the Book of Acts. It had absolutely nothing to do with God as a husband or the prophet Isaiah, yet God brought that passage to my mind and asked me a question so clear and startling, I looked around to see if anyone else might have heard it.

“Am I not Enough for you?”

He asked it several times, and in doing so, brought to mind all the ways He’s cared for me, cherished me and loved me as a good husband would. Does He have skin and a body, to hold me close and pleasure me in bed? No. But in almost every other way, He’s been a far superior husband than any human man would have been. (And I can say that as a woman who’s been in a deeply broken and unsatisfying marriage!)

Yesterday I was reminded of this again, as I pondered how much I love living alone, and wondering if, in embracing this path, I am closing myself off to the relationship God might still intend to send … which is not something I want to do.

But this blog is all about receiving God’s good gifts … so I want you to know, the struggle is real! I’m not always sure where contentment ends and settling begins, or where we’re so happy with what we have that we don’t contend and believe for more.

I can’t answer that question. But I do know last night as I was praying, I heard God say, “I AM ENOUGH.”

It was as clear and forceful as the day He asked, “Am I not Enough for you?” As if, nine months later, He had quit asking the question and was answering it for me, in case I hadn’t noticed.

Doug Addison, the noted Christian prophet, once said that prophecies often take nine months to birth, just like a human being. (I’ve always suspected that prophetic gifting, which flows and responds to the working of the Spirit in the moment, is heavily associated with feminine energy … but that’s another topic for another day.)

Anyway, if what Doug says is true, then this is the ninth-month birthing of that word God gave me nine months ago, even if it came in the form of a question. Interestingly, last August, a lady prophet in my church spoke the same over me before I left for Dubai, saying this would be the place I came to truly understand God as my husband.

She wrote the Scripture reference “Song of Solomon 2:8-17” on a coffee sleeve and handed it me before I left the church that night, the very last night I’d ever spend with my church family at Mercy Hill.

It’s hanging on my fridge right now. I look at it every day and ponder the meaning.

And yet I still secretly wonder if I’ve missed out on God’s best by “settling” for singleness.

Which leads me to suggest …. perhaps my focus is the problem. If the God-of-Angel-Armies is my Husband, and He is also Jehovah Jireh (Provider) and El Shaddai (sometimes translated “Enough,” could there ever be FOMO?

FOMO is me distrusting my own ability to know what’s best for me, and choose it.

ENOUGH is me trusting the God who gives everything to give me what’s best from His overflowing storehouse of provision.

What if I gave myself permission to enjoy my enjoyment of singleness, not fight it or stress about it, and trust that the God-of-Angel-Armies will change the situation when, and if, He chooses? After all, not much could possibly withstand an onslaught of Angels! 🙂

It’s important to caveat, of course, that a person can just be shut down and unreceptive to love—and this is at the root of many of our relationship problems and our sense of isolation or alienation. It’s important to suss out those blockages so we can allow God to clean them out and bless us with a flood of His love, peace and provision.

But happiness in your current estate is not a blockage to more happiness. And you’ll know when you’re truly contented in your estate—with a contentment from God—because there will be absolutely no anxiety around it.

FOMO is an awfully heavy burden to carry around everywhere. It’s fueled by fear, not by a healthy belief that God has more for me. And FOMO is not, by definition ENOUGH. In fact, it’s the very definition of lack. And lack is the enemy of feminine energy because when you live in a place of lack, you cannot, by definition, enjoy the present.

That’s not what I believe, or who I am.

If the God Who is called “ENOUGH” is my God, then the present is more than I need. And if that changes, He will change it for me.

That’s the essence of feminine energy. It’s the heartbeat of receptivity. And, unlike FOMO, it feels … good.

7 Things That Happen When You Get Emotionally Free of your Past

DB52D901-9DFA-43F3-9484-8EBA8B87DB2E

Sometimes, on the healing journey, it can feel impossible to believe that you will ever be free of what happened to you. You’re a goal-oriented woman, and you love to have a target to aim your arrows toward, or a finish line to run for. But when it comes to your emotions and healing from your past, that target, that line, always seems to move.

Some days are okay. Some days are terrible. You’ve been told it will “get better,” but what does that even look like? How will you KNOW when you’ve reached a place of freedom?

At one level, freedom is a lifelong event, and it’s entirely personal. Each day, we can make choices that take us closer to God and closer to total surrender and joy in Him, which will naturally break off the bonds that have held us back. That exact path may look different for each woman, of course. But the process is the same.

However at another level, I can testify from my own experience: you WILL know, that you know, that you know, when you become emotionally free. You WILL start waking up each day with the significant conviction that you are no longer moved by what happened to you: that your life is blank slate now, not a museum to the past.

Believe me, it’s the best feeling in the world.

“But wait,” you say. “I feel like a one-woman triage unit every day of the week, and that still doesn’t give me a lot of help.”

I totally understand. I did too, when I first started this process. Here are seven (concrete) things that you can also expect to happen when you break away from the pain of the past and allow yourself to be totally renewed. If you haven’t experienced these, don’t feel bad. Rejoice that this is what you can look forward to, and keep walking forward on your healing process.

1) You have no desire anymore to talk about “what happened.”

The biggest hallmark of emotional bondage is the fact that your pain will always come spilling out of your mouth—not matter how hard you try “not to talk about it.” Ask your girlfriends; if they are honest women, they will tell you if every coffee or wine date devolves into your personal trauma session. When I was in the worst of my pain, I instinctively looked anywhere I could to get relief. (Anywhere, that is, except to God!)

Stopping yourself from speaking when you are dying inside is not what I’m talking about. When you are in the midst of your pain, you must speak about it long and freely to whomever will listen. But the MARK of having received full healing is when your past wounds no longer define your present reality.

When you get to the place where you are truly no longer moved by what happened to you, and you rest in total peace that God has transformed your pain for good, you won’t even remember to talk about it. People will bring it up, and you’ll be thinking, “Wait, what? Oh right, that thing …” You might even be startled when people bring it up, because your former pain no holds you in a vice-grip deep in your soul.

Please note: I am not referring to activism on behalf of abuse victims, giving your personal testimony, or other types of important “speaking out;” I am referring to the obsessive need to share your pain with others in order to somehow get healing “from” their attention. The attention can’t heal you; only God can!

2) When you think of the people who wronged you, you feel only compassion.

Yes, what happened to you was terrible. Perhaps it was a collection of “somethings” that happened and there’s a parade of perpetrators a mile long: at home, at church, at school, in the community, etc. You may struggle to believe it will ever be possible not to feel the rage and grief that rise up every time their name or face flashes before your mind. But believe me, beautiful woman, it is.

You will know God has healed you emotionally when you can remember these people in your life or walk past something that triggers their memory and yet feel nothing but compassion for them—because you recognize that their own tremendous pain drove them to what they inflicted on you.

3) Your IBS, upset stomach, digestive issues and anxiety heal themselves.

Please keep in mind I am not a doctor and cannot give you medical advice. However, I can offer the laywoman’s observations: in my own life, and those of other women I watch heal emotionally from the darkest, most painful events you can think of, I have witnessed physical symptoms completely break off of those women as they reach healing.

In my own life, when I was in the worst of my emotional pain and disempowerment, I struggled with stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, digestive issues and unstoppable anxiety. As I submitted to the healing process by opening up to God’s love, taking control of my thought patterns, shifting my diet, incorporating gentle yoga, praying daily, etc. I began to notice a drastic reduction in symptoms. Ultimately, this resulted in several miraculous healing experiences. Today, I am symptom-free … without the aid of doctors, surgery or expensive drugs.

4) You naturally stop self-medicating with TV, greasy food, social media or shopping.

Many women tell me they admire my choice to eat meat-light and wish they could do the same—but they say they can’t keep themselves from “cheating” with junk food. If staying consistent with healthier eating choices, managing your spending, limiting your TV and social media time is hard … then you can mark it down, you are still in emotional bondage.

Each of these “indulgences” is perfectly okay and enjoyable in moderation but can quickly become an excuse to get our good feelings from somewhere other than God and ourselves. Needing anything outside of ourselves, exactly who God made us to be, to feel good is by definition a form of bondage.

When you are emotionally free, you won’t “need” these things any more and/or can enjoy them in moderation. Or choose to give them up altogether and not feel deprived at all.

5) You reclaim “painful places” and create new memories in them.

How did I know I had fully healed from the pain of my divorce? When I sat for two hours in the very same coffee shop where I had my last private conversation with my ex-husband … and didn’t even remember that event for about two hours of sitting there. I was SO in the moment, enjoying my work, the coffee and the space, that I did not even recall that my marriage had essentially dissolved in that space. This was not an act of disrespect to my marriage or that conversation; it was a marker that I had finally move on to create new memories in that space.

That is what it truly means to reclaim a space for your own after trauma has marked it. When I came back to my hometown, Milwaukee, after nine months of traveling, I felt that my emotional “set point” had been reset, because I could walk into places that preciously were emotionally loaded from my marriage and divorce, and feel totally free to “own” them again and make new memories that aren’t mixed up with what happened before.

6) Other people’s poor choices no longer affect your joy.

This is a fairly simple one, but wow is it powerful! When you become emotionally free, you reach a place where you realize that YOU are the only person you are responsible for. Yes, you can pray for others. You can seek to be a positive influence. You can give of yourself. But at the end of the day, you are the ONLY person you can truly change.

When you relax into that space where you are no longer responsible for everyone else’s well-being, you can truly release your emotional bondage and your attachment to the idea that other people need to change … which is nothing more than a distraction from how YOU need to change.

7) You feel genuinely happy for no reason.

I know, dear heart. I know it’s hard to imagine this when you are in so much pain right now. But the day will come when all those “weights” on your heart will come lifting off, and you will float down the street, truly in love with you life, no matter what is going on in your material, lived experience.

This will be possible because you will know, that you know, that you know, that your Redeemer lives, and that you are being held by the Everlasting Arms, in the grip of the Everlasting God who never faints or grows weary. The ancient yogis spoke of BLISS, and I believe this is it: the ability to dance your way through life, amid sunshine and rain, because what is happening inside you is no longer contingent upon what is happening outside.

Reading this list and feeling like you could never scale this impossible mountain of emotional healing? Wondering how to let go of the weights that are holding you back — so you can enjoy these seven signs of emotional freedom?

More on that another day.