By Brittany Cermak
I don’t know about you, but when I am stressed, bored, sad or happy, I seem to turn to food. Whether it be situations where I am cramming for an exam, thrilled that the exam is over, or I’m upset about an argument, I turn to food every single time, even when I’m not hungry at all. The foods that I often turn to are the ones most people turn to for comfort contain sugar, salt, or fat.
The bad news is research shows that the food components of sugar, salt, fat and even a crunchy texture, are habit forming and addictive.
Again, I said habit forming. So, what if I broke those habits by changing my actions when I undergo times of stress, sadness, happiness or boredom?
What if I turned to God instead of turning to food?
I know you might be thinking, that sounds like a great idea, maybe I could try that. Then, when the opportunity actually presents itself, it seems like you can do nothing else except for opening that pint of Ben & Jerry’s. And this makes sense! Why? Because, God is not physically there when we are experiencing these situations and feelings, but food is. Food seems more dependable than God because you can actually see it, and touch it, and taste it--you know it is there. So, what am I supposed to do instead of pulling out those Oreos to cope with stress and other emotions?
Well, I am definitely not perfect, but I have tried to avoid walking into the kitchen every time I am stressed.
Sometimes, I head to my room and open up my daily devotional to re-read what I read that morning. Or, if I can make it, I will head up to the chapel or mass, and usually bring a family member along with me. A trip to my church also allows me to worship the Lord and receive Communion, where I can see the Eucharist, touch it, and taste it. I’ve found that even confiding in a family member about my stress (whether it is about a relationship, school, work or just trying to avoid emotional eating), getting a great big hug (which always makes me feel better!), and asking them to pray with me for a moment, seems to do wonders.
So, instead of wasting time trying to eat my feelings away
I know that it is much more beneficial to speak to my family, friends and the Lord for help and guidance. But, when I cave in to the munchies, I pick myself back up, recognize that it was not the best choice, and ask for God to lead me to making better decisions in the future.
Now you might be thinking, these trips to church or the chapel are not nearly as convenient as the bag of Wavy Lays that I have in the cupboard.
What about those times late at night where I worry about a sick family member? Even turning to the Lord in personal prayer, cracking open the best book in the world (the Bible) or even check out some relevant bible verses online, can help relieve emotions that you may be feeling. One of my favorite verses that I turn to in times of stress is from Isaiah 41:13, “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you ‘Fear Not,’ I will help you.” When I close my eyes, take a deep breath and read this, I feel His peace coming over me and that I am able to avoid those tempting snacks.
In the end, food is a quick and pretty socially acceptable comfort.
But, food does not talk to you, feel for you, or provide you long-lasting help or make your feelings go away. Time invested in speaking to God, even if it is just in your car as you have problems running through your head, will be more fulfilling because God can listen to you, speak to you and guide you through life. It all starts with creating habits, but do not give up too quick as research shows it takes twenty-one days to form a habit. Forming a habit that brings me closer to God, will give me more happiness than any food could ever bring.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brittany was Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio! She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). She serves as a dietitian in research in order to study diet usage among groups of people to observe health improvement. When she is not studying, you can find her baking (yes, she knows it is contrary to her field, but she grew up with this delicious hobby), reading about food and nutrition, drinking coffee, watching Disney movies, competing in triathlons or hanging out with friends and family. Her life mission is based on the bible verse from Galatians 5:13 - Serve one another in love!