Having once eaten my way up to 240 pounds and a size 22, I ate for many reasons that had nothing to do with body hunger.
Overeating is becoming even more common in an age of food abundance, advertising, and the addictive properties of man-altered foods.
Although both sexes can struggle with eating too much, I’m gearing this article toward women simply because I’ve heard our stories most often through emails.
Here are the top 10 reasons women can eat too much, gleaned from my emails over the 16 years that takebackyourtemple.com has been online, plus my personal experience.
These reasons are in no particular order:
1. Permissible Self Care
You may feel guilty or that it is selfish to take time for yourself and have become so busy taking care of everyone that you put yourself on the shelf.
So food becomes a way to “rest” and make yourself feel special without feeling guilty – at least temporarily.
2. Emotional Novocaine
Food becomes a way to numb yourself to uncomfortable feelings, such as anger, anxiety, stress, boredom, depression or frustration.
3. The Food is There
Leftovers are calling you from the kitchen or you are over-enthusiastic in “tasting” the food you are preparing.
Before you know it, you’ve grabbed a little bit of this and that until you have consumed the equivalent calories in a meal.
4. Last Supper Eating
If you are a diet veteran, then you are probably very familiar with “Last Supper” eating (also known as “Get while the getting is good”).
You are so accustomed to going on diets that you tell yourself that you better eat up your favorite “goodie” because you won’t be allowed to have it ever again.
5. Relationship Building
Food becomes a way you show love to others. After I got married, I found myself gaining weight. I discovered a simple reason for it.
I had started fixing my portion sizes larger subconsciously.
I was cooking for my husband and preparing his plate as well, matching my portion sizes to his!
He is a big guy and I’m a petite woman, so no wonder I was getting bigger eating as much as he was.
To deal with the issue, I asked him to prepare his own plate or when I prepared his plate, I was careful to fix the portion size appropriate for my size.
6. Something to Do
Eating becomes a habit that you do when you are bored or you use it as a form of procrastination.
You use it as a delaying tactic to avoid an activity that you view as painful, either consciously or unconsciously.
7. Food Insecurity
You may have experienced hunger as a child if your parent had difficulty putting food on the table.
The official name for this one is “food insecurity.”
Deep down, you are afraid of experiencing insecurity from lack of food again, so you overeat as an insurance policy.
8. It’s New and Improved
Food becomes a form of excitement. I experienced this one on vacation once.
When you travel, do you anticipate eating food you’ve never eaten before (new food) or eating familiar food, but prepared a new way (improved food)?
This can also happen when you attend a new restaurant or want to try a new food item advertised on television.
The fear of scarcity is behind this one: “If I don’t eat it now, I may never get the opportunity to eat it again.”
9. It’s Free
You can be vulnerable to eating too much at church dinners, banquets, family holiday dinners, or eating out on an employer expense account.
Since you are not paying for it, you want to eat as much as you can to take full advantage of the freebie.
10. Bottomless Food Pits
Have you ever had the experience of sitting down to watch T.V. with a bag of buttered popcorn or potato chips in hand, and then found yourself reaching into an empty bag a short while later? If so, then you fell into a bottomless food pit.
It’s keeping a large serving in front of you, eating mindlessly until it is gone.
I wrote this article to make you aware of the many environmental cues that can tempt you to eat when you aren’t hungry. In that way, you can seek God’s wisdom as to effective ways to handle them. He promises:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:5).”
Which of the top 10 reasons do you struggle with most often? Take a moment to write them all of them down.
Then submit these areas to the Lord in prayer, asking Him to renew your mind. Humble yourself and set your mind on obedience to the Lord so that food will regain its proper place in your life.
Your change may not happen overnight, but keep meditating on God’s word and keep practicing whatever the Lord teaches you to turn that situation around.
It may not be easy. After all, they don’t call it a “Faith of fight” for nothing.
But if you hang in there and refuse to give up, you are destined to win!
Be Blessed with Health, Healing, and Wholeness,
Author of the Take Back Your Temple program
P.S. Do you struggle with overeating sugar? If so, you are not alone!
Overcoming sugar addiction was a key factor on my journey to losing 85 pounds and dropping from a size 22 to a size 8.
In our 14-day Sugar Detox Challenge online course (inside the Take Back Your Temple program), you’ll get the same success strategies and support to gain peace in your eating habits and achieve lasting weight loss.
Click here to learn more about the Take Back Your Temple program.
“Prayer for Weight Loss”
These points are so significant. I experienced a similar trap and forgot myself and the quality of my food choices slipped over a short period of time. I look forward to reading the hyperlinked articles following your points.
Much to insight to be gained! With love and thanks in Christ, Karen
You are welcome, my Sister – may you prosper and be in health as your soul prospers!
I identified with 9 of them! It was AHA after AHA after AHA! Lord have mercy! This makes so much sense to me! Father, please help me! I want to be free!
Freedom is yours, Ki – the Lord gave us the path: “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31-32).” The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom to do what we cannot on our own. He will lead you day by day. Listen and follow 🙂
Great article- Thank you! I mentally checked off 7 of these. If I don’t stay hyper-vigilant and keep my head in the Word, I find myself on that very slippery slope and it’s so hard to climb back up!
It sure is, Nancy! So much better to practice prevention that have to clean up after the mess. May God continue to bless you on this journey 🙂
Wow, I used to do 6 of them! God has little by little strengthened me in each area so that they are a thing of the past. “All things are become new”. And God NEVER berated, criticized, or belittled me. He showed me Words from His Scripture that changed my heart little by little. His faithfulness and kindness amaze me! And He has in His kindness given me gracious loving sisters like you to help along the way….How Great is our God, sing with me, how great is our God…and all the world will sing, How great is our God. hugs to you.
Hugs back to you, Debra! Praising God with you for His deliverance power!
While all struck a chord on some level, definitely Permissible Self Care and Emotional Novocain are the biggest reasons / problem areas for me.
Thank for your feedback, Mary – awareness is the first step to change. God bless you!
food can become a idol that replaces the comfort of the Holy Spirit
Hi Renate – I agree! I actually wrote about that here: Is Food your God?
Permissible self care and emotional novocaine . I see myselve in both and even the one where it says when you watch tv you eat chips or pop corn and you empty the bag. I know the food is not a problem but we have emotion inside that’s not heal.
Please keep me in prayer i just can’t do dieets anymore i keep gaining the pounds that i lost
I am praying with you, Gillian. May the Lord open your eyes and give you understanding as to what your next step should be in Him to prosper and be in health as your soul prospers!
I can definitely identify with most of the reasons here that I overeat. I will have to pay attention and be ready to avoid these traps and have a different mindset to change my eating patterns
Amen, Rena! One of the things I’ve learned is to really pay attention to the direction of my thoughts because when we go astray, it is always going to start there!
Wow! I actually found myself eating for all 10 reasons at various times! Thanks for this gentle reminder
You are welcome, Joyy! We’ve all been there.
How true this is, thank you for sharing
I fall prey to a lot of these. One thing that I do, which I didn’t see mentioned but could fall under another category, is eating for energy. I always am dying for a snack – particularly sugar or chocolate when I wake up from a nap. I’m hoping now that I’m not working early in the morning I won’t need many naps, but I would love a verse and a plan of attack for those times.
Hi Christine, Thanks for writing! I believe there are a couple of articles you may want to review regarding your challenge:
The Hidden Reason We Overeat
The Beliefs that Keep you Overweight
Did you eat sweets when you were dieting and losing weight? After you lost all your weight, did you go back to eating sweets?
Hi Judy – I did not eat sweets because I found I was very sensitive to sugar. After I lost weight, I ate sweets rarely. Still do. The reason is whatever method you lose weight, it has to be one that you can live with because if you go back to eating the way you did that made you gain weight in the first place, you will gain it back.
Thank you, Kimberly. You’re an inspiration to me!!
Thank you so much for the excellent topic. There are times that I still fall into the bottomless pit mode. Thank you for making me aware of this. I’m actually not fully aware why I do this. It sounds crazy. I think sometimes I get complacent with how far God has brought me . Thank you for reminding me that I have to take this to God. I feel blessed to be a part of this community ❤️
I am so glad the article was helpful to you. You are a blessing to the TBYT community as well. We are helpers to one another.
I so identify with this article. Under Emotional Novocaine – I think it is something women do, or I know that I did, (which is why I am grossly overweight) that is “acceptable” in the Body of Christ. I don’t drink alcohol any more, but when stress hits – it is acceptable to my friends if I need “a chocolate fix” or I am craving something salty, etc. I ate when I should have been PRAYING for my problems! Now, because of this, I have the consequence of using food as a drug – a problem my sin created: I have alot of weight to remove! But with God’s help, I am living in control now – and these articles and this program really speak to me! Very enlightening and powerful use of the Word of God! Thanks!
You are welcome, Holly. I thank God that He sent His word to heal us and reveal to us His abundance of peace and truth!
Since I was a young girl food has always controlled me and self-control was never easy for me.as an adult I’m still struggling inspite of the health challenges I have. I hate the way I look,feel, and the way clothes make me look. I’ve done fasting,dieting, diet pills, seen councilors and been prayed for,but nothing works for me. Under neath my skin I’m dying and yet I still can’t find the source that can help me break free from bondage. Yes, I have ask God to help my addition to food and yes he gave me a plan but my flesh is weak and in the end I turn back to food to comfort me. What should I do?
Thank you to all who responded to this article! To answer your question Mary, I actually have a question for you. All of the help I can offer is through Jesus Christ and rooted in the Bible. While you don’t have to answer this publicly, when did you accept Jesus as your Savior and what led you to make that decision? Jesus is the author and finisher of faith, so your faith in being able to change will determine your success. Faith begins with your belief in God’s word and your daily walk with Him.
I recommend reading the 3 articles below. Search your heart, asking the Lord in prayer what’s really holding you back. What are you afraid of? The truth is, everybody’s flesh is weak including mine. So you are not the only one. We have different areas of weakness but it is there. That is why we need a Savior to help!
You said the Lord already gave you a plan. So there is your answer. What is the first step you can take to do what He has already told you to do? Start there. Remove the things that feed your weakness. Do the things that make you strong. Simple, not always easy I know! But start where you are.
Here are the articles:
Do you have the Faith to change?
When Enough is Enough
Christian Weight Loss: Wins
Boredom and procrastination I think are my biggest challenge right now… I know eating out or church events were really bad for me until I realized all i need to do is to ask my host if I can take some home with me … they usually are happy to pack me a huge serving which I get to enjoy several other times or at the restaurant I ask they bring me a container at the same time as my meal then I pack away a big portion of my plate and enjoy it again at least two other times.
Thank you for sharing your wisdom!
I am def #1!
My scripture I choose to focus on is Psalm 119:37
“Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”
This was a really enlightening article. Many of your emails are great reads for me! Sometimes, I just need someone to say the tough things (like, “You’re overeating for this reason…). Now that I have faced the truth, I can take steps to change the habits I’ve developed. Thank you very much for this article! Brutal reality.
I really appreciate today’s reading. I particularly like the part in Psalms 23:
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
This takes away the stress of my disappointment in myself and where I have let my weight go and how it looks like I am still gaining :-(. But We are Destined to Win the Fight of Faith!
I have hardly any control over much due to over dominating in laws. So, this past weekend it was revealed to me that I overeat because it is something I can control in the midst of in laws taking over attitude. With the Lord’s help, I can relax and eat wisely and not for spite to the in laws. Pray for me please.
I have gained over 80 pounds over the last 2-3 years. I have totally lost control. Several women in my church are interested in starting a group that would help us loose the excess weight plus get money for our youth group to go to camp in the summer. Can you help me get started on the best way to lead these women to success in weight loss and success in getting our kids to church camp this summer. Thanks.
Thanks for contacting me! I actually have materials available for those who want to use TBYT materials for small groups. You can learn more here: https://takebackyourtemple.com/group/
I also suggest as an individual, you check out my free small step weight loss tips to get you started on the right track: https://takebackyourtemple.com/small-steps-to-weight-loss-tips-start-here/
God bless you!
I eat for 8 of the 10 reasons why people overeat. I experienced overeating 3 times this past week and I feel awful. Plus I have severe acid reflux disease which means when I overeat I cannot sleep at night. The interesting thing is that I started exercising this week consistently, went outside walking which I haven’t done in at least a year and it felt fantastic. Now to exercise and eat healthy at the same time is my commitment starting now!
Good fir you! JoAnn
Don’t be sooo hard on yourself! Rey! it is a process! There is a light at the end of the tunnel! You! are not alone!