Comfort Eating or Comfort Starving: Which is Your Guilty Pleasure?

I have heard many people talk about weight they need to lose because they gained weight as a result of comfort eating. Comfort eating is eating not out of true physical need to eat but to soothe unpleasant emotions. Just got rejected? Pint of double-chocolate goodness. Then guilt. It’s a common method of coping. Been there many times.
Some people actually have difficulty eating when they are stressed. I have been there too–not very much because, in general, I am a fan of food. They are doing the opposite. While it’s not comfortable, it’s the other side of the coping coin. What I have never heard is someone who lost weight because of emotional stress say they need to eat more to gain the weight they lost during that difficult time. In fact, it appears to be a more respected way of coping. Moreover, it’s the envy of all of us who could “lose 10 pounds.” Why is that?
Why is the sin weight gain and not weight loss? Aren’t both unhealthy responses? Why is one with emotionally induced weight gain to hang her head in shame and the emotionally induced skinny to hold her head up high? I have a theory.
Our culture is trapped by image. Image is everything. The envied image is projected in every direction. We all know what it is and where we rank. The farther we are from the imagine–or the closest attainable version we’ve created in our head–we either feel shame or pride. It’s very difficult to fight the pull. Clearly, skinny is in.
There’s a second whammy for those that are in the Christian subculture. Discipline is highly valued. Did you not x,y or z today? Good for you! You are on the right path. You did x, y and z? How can you call yourself a Christian? You got to get it together. The stress induced weight loss can look like disciple. The gain–sloth or glutton.
This can be applied to other areas of life as well. Do you work too much? Do you play too much? Both of those can be coping. One of those looks more responsible on the outside. Only God fully knows how much of that is just avoiding the real issues of life. Keeping busy is just another way of coping.
It is so difficult to see the disciplined-looking behaviors as something to stop doing or turn away from especially since the accolades are given and the reputation is established. People will be disappointed and may even chide. That fear may be an indication there are other motivators than being the wonderful–exceptionally committed, amazingly disciplined–person you are hailed to be.
So, what does repentance look like. Painfully frightening. Incredibly freeing. Repentance might be giving yourself permission to have a day off and to play. It might be be to break all the rules of “shoulds” for a time–this is for the person who struggles with relying on being good.
For the person who downed the box of yummy goodness and is sitting in crumb-faced guilt, the answer isn’t found in a great diet. There are deeper issues to be resolved than trying to be good–otherwise that person is just swinging to the other side.
Whether you tighten the belt or let it all hang out as your way to live with the you, you wish you weren’t, both don’t lead to rest and peace in your soul. While I am not recommending ditching all responsibilities to soul search, time looking deep within is necessary. Where is your identity rooted? Where can you find true rest in being…in just being? It’s no easy task but well worth the effort. I haven’t attained it, but I want to get there.


About Cheryl

Professional Blogger Guitar teacher Wife Mom Writer Cook Baker Photographer Computer geek Crafter
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