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How I Break Free From Emotional Eating—My Journey To Healing

God understands your food struggles. Break free from emotional eating with His grace and find healthier, more compassionate tools to transform your journey.

Hi, my name is Greta, and I struggle with emotional eating. It’s not something I’m proud of, or a banner I want to wave around for everyone to see, but emotional eating is an issue in my life. 

The fact is that being an emotional eater is a battle many of us struggle with, but it can be hard to talk about. Why? Because emotions are complicated and messy. They aren’t nice and neat, and it can be really hard to bring them up to the surface to share with others.

But we need to. If our emotions are the source of our overeating problems, then we must dig down to their complicated root system and uproot them once and for all. If we don’t, our emotions will continue to rule and dictate our entire lives, and their consequences will wreak havoc on our lives – and waistlines.

We also feel guilt and shame when it comes to compulsive eating disorders and the binge-diet cycle many of us have been caught up in. We feel like we’re the only ones with these struggles and that overcoming food addiction is not something within our reach.

It’s time to change that once and for all. It’s time to refute the lies of the enemy and declare our freedom from emotional eating for good. And it is possible.

Keep reading for more.

Recognizing Emotional Eating Patterns

Before we can begin to understand what emotional eating is, let’s look at the differences between physical hunger and emotional eating.

What is Emotional Eating, and How Does it Show Up for Me?

Physical hunger is the biological need we all have to eat. God designed our bodies to need food to fuel them, and he gave us cues to recognize when it’s time to add more fuel. Our stomachs feel empty, they may rumble, and we can even experience a nauseous feeling as our bodies tell us it’s time to eat. 

We may feel a lack of energy or fatigue as blood sugars drop and our bodies remind us that it’s time for our next meal. We might even notice our mood take a dip as physical hunger begins to creep in. Our body is letting us know it’s time to stop and eat. 

However, while emotional hunger might manifest as physical symptoms that mimic physical hunger, its roots are deeply grounded in our emotions. We’re sad, so we use food for comfort and to help soothe. We’re angry, so we use food as a temporary distraction. And the list goes on.

The truth is, I don’t usually find my emotional comfort in eating healthy salads or meals packed with protein. When I’m giving into emotional eating, I’m finding my temporary satisfaction in comfort foods comprised of highly processed carbs and sugar. You know, those things that light up the pleasure sensors in your brain and make you feel temporarily better.

Just like any false substitute, emotional eating will make you feel better temporarily, but it usually only lasts a few moments after the last bite you take. Then, almost instantly, you’re left sitting with all the same emotions you had before, plus the added shame, embarrassment, and defeat you feel from giving in to emotional eating.

And the cycle continues. 

The Negative Impacts of Emotional Eating

Becky raising her arms at the top of the mountain with aa text overlay that reads as How I Break Free From Emotional Eating—My Journey To Healing.

Using food to address emotional problems will only create more problems in your life and won’t help you deal with the emotional triggers that caused you to turn to food in the first place. It will put you in bondage with food, turning to it for comfort that it can never ultimately give you.

From there, food addiction and weight gain quickly follow, and those two issues will bring even more emotional baggage, fueling a very vicious cycle that can feel impossible to extricate yourself from.

Emotional eating can, and will, affect the relationships in your life. Perhaps you’re avoiding dealing with certain relationships, and you’ve turned to food instead. Or perhaps your reliance on food for emotional support has damaged certain relationships in your life.

Emotional eating will affect your self-esteem and body image. Each time you choose to turn to food to address emotional voids in your life, you dig your hole a little bit deeper. And each time, it feels a little more impossible to climb out and undo all that’s been done. 

The weight of our emotional problems can feel impossibly heavy on their own, but when we add in the cycle of emotional eating and the effects that come along with it, we can feel defeated and incapable of making positive change.

I know. I’ve been there, I am there, and I’m fighting to break free with you. I’m tired of allowing my anxiety to manifest itself in a big bowl of ice cream late at night. Or allowing my feelings of loneliness to be consumed in that large glass of wine over supper.

I’m tired of seeing the number on the scale climb with my feelings of defeat and despair. I’m tired of trying to satisfy my hungry heart and the spiritual issues in my life with food, all the while knowing it can never completely satisfy.

I know there is a better way, and I know that victory can be won, but I also know it has to start with me.

The Turning Point—Finding the Root Cause

Most of the time, when we’re struggling with food and wanting to lose weight, we turn to diets. We, and by we, I mean I, feel that if we just find the right diet, all of our problems will be solved. 

Maybe if I just cut out all the carbs, or maybe if I only eat carbs at certain times of the day? Maybe I should try more intermittent fasting, eating more veggies, eating less sugar, or no sugar. Maybe if I alternate my big meals, try this elimination fast, or give up this food group…

The list goes on.

Why Diets and Willpower Didn’t Work for My Emotional Eating

Changing your diet strategy might work for a few days, weeks, or maybe even a month, but you will always find yourself reverting back to old habits and old ways. And before you know it, you’re back in that familiar looking pit holding your bowl of ice cream.


Because diets only address the surface level problems of your emotional eating. They address the what of your eating, but they don’t address the why. And if you don’t dig down and figure out the reason behind emotional eating and food triggers, you will always revert right back to it.

My Shift Towards Understanding My Emotional Triggers

This is where it gets personal. Personal, uncomfortable, and downright squirmy. In order to break free from emotional eating and walk in freedom from the bondage of food addiction, we have to identify the emotional triggers that cause us to turn to food.

It’s going to require us to dig deep and unearth things in our lives that might be uncomfortable to confront and deal with. Remember, it seems easy to mask our emotions with food, but the reality is it’s not. Using food to deal with emotional problems always brings about more problems, it never solves anything. 

Nothing changes if nothing changes, and something has got to change. I’ve tried all the diets, I’ve made all the plans, and I’ve prepped all the food. But my heart is still aching and longing for something that no amount of food has been, or will ever be, able to soothe.

I have to ask myself: What emotions are causing me to turn to food for comfort? And, if food isn’t the answer to my emotional struggles, what is?

We must not ignore the fact that much of what’s been described thus far is rooted in the spiritual, not the physical. The enemy wants us to focus on the physical aspects because it keeps us from working on the spiritual aspects. He knows it’s the spiritual side where real healing and change takes place.

Dear friend, I am speaking to myself here as much as I am speaking to you. The answer to the hurt in your life, that manifests itself as feelings of:

  • sadness 
  • fear 
  • loneliness 
  • anxiety 
  • despair 
  • worthlessness
  • boredom  
  • …and more

…will only ever be Jesus. No amount of food will ever fill the void that He can, and will, fill in your life. 

When we turn to food to fill that emotional void in our life, it’s because we’re actively avoiding seeking out the Holy Spirit instead. We’re trying to fix with the physical what can only be healed with the spiritual.

Once we get to the point where we can recognize that we’re doing this, and increase our own self-awareness, we can begin to heal our emotional hurts with the One who has the power to do so.

We will be able to manage our negative emotions, learn stress management and self care, and begin to form new healthy habits to get us through each day.

Strategies That Work for Me —My Emotional Coping Tools

Once you are aware that your eating is rooted in the emotional rather than the physical, it’s time to find some coping tools to stop it in its tracks. You still need to deal with the emotional aspects, but this will help you not run to food. 

  • Anxiety: Exercise, nature walks, deep breathing, puzzles
  • Boredom: Hobbies, creative projects, connecting with friends
  • Sadness: Journaling, therapy, talking to a trusted person
  • Loneliness: Time spent with friends, Bible-reading, prayer

As you’re working to understand the roots of these emotions in your life, and as you allow healing to take place, it’s important to find new outlets for these emotions.

Over time, you will be able to manage your negative emotions, learn stress management and self care, and begin to form new healthy habits to get you through each day.

Breaking Free from Emotional Eating Isn’t Linear

Breaking free from emotional eating isn’t linear. Meaning, you will experience setbacks along the way. 

And that’s okay. There are going to be ups and downs. Times of immense progress and days when you slip up. This is where grace comes in.

You will need to learn to trade your guilt for grace. Don’t allow the enemy to tell you that one slip-up or mistake unravels all the progress you’ve made. Don’t allow one setback to take you back to where you started.

Instead, give yourself grace. It’s going to happen. Forgive yourself, get back up, and continue walking in the newfound truth and freedom you have found in your life. 

Changing My Relationship with Food

Now that you’re identifying emotional eating habits, it’s time to change your relationship with food. After all, you need to eat to live, but it’s time to do it in a healthy way.

One way to do this is through mindful eating. This means paying attention to what you are eating, enjoying it, and savoring each bite you take. 

This looks like taking time to sit down and eat your meals, rather than eating on the go. Choosing to enjoy meals without distractions from TV, your cell phone, or anything else that can take your mind off the subject of eating. 

Mindful eating will help you enjoy your food more, leaving you feeling satisfied afterwards and not craving more.

Intuitive eating is about understanding your body and giving yourself permission to follow its cues. It’s about working with yourself, not against yourself. It’s less about a list of rules hung up somewhere, and more about understanding what works for you and doing it. 

Making these two changes in your relationship with food will help you make lasting changes, and you will see long term benefits. 

Finding Support and Resources

If all of this seems overwhelming, please know you don’t have to do this alone. There are many places to find help and support as you navigate breaking free from emotional eating. 

From therapists specializing in eating disorders to entire groups dedicated to helping you overcome the obstacles to freedom in your life, there is someone or something near you.

There is also a plethora of online help and community support available in online forums. Click here to join our FREE Christian Weight loss Community.

Most importantly, don’t feel like you’re alone in this. You’re not. So many women are struggling with this very thing, but there is hope. 

Continue reading for another story about  hearing God’s voice and overcoming emotional eating.

Helpful Resources for Breaking Free from Emotional Eating

For more resources, check out the following:

FAQ’s about Breaking Free From Emotional Eating

Memorize some Scripture to verbally rebuke your emotions when you find yourself caught in the snare of emotional eating. Be mindful. Walk away. Try to keep trigger foods out of your home so it won’t be as tempting to fall back into emotional eating. Find an accountability partner.

It is possible to change the unhealthy patterns in your life and find freedom from emotional eating. But it won’t happen overnight. Continue making strides, and, bit by bit, you will see your life change for the better.

Emotional eating involves overeating to cope with negative emotions, while binge eating involves overeating large amounts of food in a short time, often with feelings of compulsion or lack of control. Emotional eating can be a factor in binge eating.

Eating nutrient-dense foods, whole foods, high-protein meals, and sugar-free foods (or foods with naturally occurring sugar) can help you feel satisfied after eating and less likely to overeat and crave more. Avoid eating highly processed foods or foods high in refined sugar.

That will vary person to person. There is no right or one size that fits all here. This is your personal journey. Do not rush. Take things one step at a time commit to discovering freedom for yourself. Its worth all the time, energy, and effort.

It is possible to overcome your struggle with emotional eating and have a healthy relationship with food. I know it seems really overwhelming right now, but just take it one step at a time. Remember, you are not alone in this struggle, and there is so much support available to you.

Take it one day at a time, or even one moment at a time. Lasting change doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen with faithful and continued efforts on your part. Remember to rely on God’s strength and exchange your guilt for grace when it’s needed. 

And don’t give up. There will be setbacks and failures. Get up, brush the dust off, and keep making strides forward. It is possible to have a healthy relationship with food, and you are one step closer now.

Becky raising her arms at the top of the mountain with aa text overlay that reads as How I Break Free From Emotional Eating—My Journey To Healing.

More Resources To Help You Overcome Emotional Eating

A Weight Loss Prayer For Emotional Eating

How To Deal With Stress Eating For Women

Pray for Self-Control Using 9 Powerful Bible Verses

4 Spiritual Roots of Weight Gain and How to Fix Them

Sample Meal Plan for Recovering Binge Eater