When I was child, I associated sweets with comfort.
Back then I thought subconsciously, “Food is love.”
My mother was a single mom. She worked a lot to take care of my younger sister and me.
Before she would leave us with the sitter, she always gave me money so that I could go to our neighborhood convenience store to get candy.
I felt deep loneliness when my mother left to go to work. But did not know how to handle that loneliness.
The only comfort I had as a child was a chocolate bar. Eating the candy made me feel better.
Unfortunately, I took that same coping pattern into adulthood. Whenever I felt emotionally stressed or upset, I craved candy and other sweets.
I never realized that I was coping with life emotionally the same way I did when I was five.
Can you relate to food being associated with love?
Many people aren’t aware of it when food is meeting an emotional need in their lives. That is why they often resist changing their eating habits.
They fear leaving an empty space where that food used occupy.
Take my example. When I was 240 pounds, I viewed Pepperidge Farm coconut cake as a close friend.
When I went grocery shopping, I brought my friend home. I would get a piece of the cake, sometimes several pieces. Then my friend and I would settle down on the couch to watch television together.
The cake would taste good. It gave me a feeling of fullness, intimacy. But afterwards when I was stuffed, I’d feel sick, ashamed, and guilty.
In a way, my relationship with food was like being in an abusive relationship – or as I’d imagine it would be.
I’d try to get out of the relationship by going on a diet. But I did not stay away for long.
After all, it meant losing that comforting relationship. Maybe I wasn’t happy, but at least that relationship was familiar.
Grief and fear seized me whenever I thought about life without my friend. So I always went back.
But then, my friend turned on me. A chest pain hit me on December 11, 2003. I thought I was going to die.
Then God said, “It is not supposed to be this way.” I had a choice to make.
Was I willing to replace that old friend with a new one, one who would truly love and care for me?
You see, in all that time I failed to realize something.
Sweets could not love me back!
Through His wisdom and much prayer, He showed me how to change my beliefs.
He gave me the strength to change the way I shopped too. At first, I could not even go down the same aisle where the cake was!
If I did, I would find myself looking over at the cake with longing, tempting myself to take it back home with me.
It felt weird and wrong to change my habits at first. That’s the way it is when your brain is adjusting to a new pattern.
However, God was with me every step of the way.
I knew that if I could make it through the adjustment period, I was on my way to a healthier life.
I wanted to live with purpose and joy. My old eating habits threatened that vision, so they had to go!
What about you? Think about the foods that you love to eat – the ones you can’t imagine living without. It’s typically not just “sweets” or “chips.” It is a specific type or brand that you run to consistently.
What emotional roles do those items fulfill in your life?
Those emotional roles represent real needs. Are you ready to deal with the real needs in your life rather than using a particular food as a bandage over it?
When the real needs in your life are met, you live in a more stable emotional and mental position.
Take comfort in Psalm 91:1-2. God has power to meet your every need:
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
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”
Thank you Kimberly, I had healing from this testimony today!
Praising God with you, Jerrilyn! He always delivers the right word at the right time 🙂
As I read this I began to reflect on my upbringing as it relates to food. It was the focus for every celebration, holiday, and event. Get a good report card? You get to go have fast food. Pizza was a biggy. Portion control was never a thought or taught. What I learned is food makes you feel good, it’s fun, and fixes everything. I’m so glad that TBYT emphasizes renewing and healing your mind and soul with the Word of God. I’m so grateful for your testimony! It encourages me!
Amen, Maria – thank you for sharing that feedback!
Wow, does this hit home with me. When you said “In a way, my relationship with food was like being in an abusive relationship”… this was a light bulb moment for me. I have known my night binge eating was obviously a problem, but I couldn’t get to the actual root to the problem. I knew that’s where I needed to begin before I could change this bad habit. The answer to this is Love. I use food to comfort me when I am feeling lonely/looking for comfort at night. I realize that my night binge eating stemmed from an abusive relationship and being hurt by someone I loved. I have forgiven them, however this issue was forgiving myself. I have been condemning myself, and allowing the enemy to tell me I am not capable of being loved.
I know now this is completely false. I know God has forgiven me and is pleased with me. If God can forgive, then I must forgive myself too. I turned to food to fill that love, and was afraid of losing that feeling linked with overeating at night.
I choose to no longer live in condemnation because Christ lives in me, He loves me, I am accepted, and He is pleased with me.
I feel a sense of peace understanding this. Like you said food will never love me back. Jesus has a love for me that I could never even fathom. I must show my gratitude by showing my love for him back through worship and prayer not just in the morning when I feel strongest, but at night when I feel weak too.
2 Corinthians 12:10 “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Thank you thank you. I am have so much hope and excitement for this journey. I am ready to Take Back My Temple!
Thank you for your transparency in sharing the insight the Lord has given to you Jenna. I know it will set many people free who are facing similar issues!
This is so true. A few weeks ago after a rough day at work I said to myself I need a hug. So i went and fixed me a brownie and added some vanilla ice cream. That was when I realized I had a food issue. Shortly after that I brought your book. I’m praying more about what I eat.
It is great that you recognized that Dorla! The fact that you needed a hug was a legitimate need so may the Lord show you how to meet that need through His wisdom. His love for you is immeasurable. May you receive it whenever you need it: “I don’t feel God loves me…”
My struggle with food is i have to eliminate a lots of food cause of a healt problem. And then when i am really hungry i got agitated for some reason. Chips,nachos,even cheese it’s my fall down . He show me how to do it but i still struggle to do it. One day i do good an the other day i don’t. Only God will heal me on this. Thank you all for sharing . I am not alone in this.
Yes!!!! This is my story. Food is my friend. My issue is at the end of the day (especially after a tough shift at work) But I’m struggling in letting this friend go
Hi Kylie – thanks for your transparency. What you wrote shows the issue clearly: The Lord gave us food as a blessing. The issue comes when we endow food with properties it does not have. That is when you have an emotional attachment to food. I recommend checking this article out to see if it gives you additional insight about this: Is Food Your God?. God bless you!
I can identify with you so easily. I remember turning to food at about the age of 13 the first time. I have Asperger’s and childhood was very difficult because of that (although, of course, I didn’t know it at the time–just thought I was a bad person who for some reason beyond my comprehension could not make friends) and the things it brought into my life. There was sexual bullying by other children when I was 13, and I found out years later there was the possibility I was raped at the age of 9. Since I have no memories of the incident that happened at 9, I am not sure it actually happened though. I still clearly remember the 13-year-old thing. That same year, I remember getting some powdered sugar and butter and making a batch of icing to eat. I wasn’t careful, though, and left behind evidence in the bathroom. My mother and her sister found white powder in the sink and even tasted it thinking someone was using drugs. They found it was powdered sugar. Of course, they knew it was me even though I denied it. Aspies are generally speaking not very good liars.
20 years later, after discovering another of my first husband’s infidelities, I ran (not figuratively, but literally) to the pantry for a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese. My daughter was not yet in school at the time. She observed this “crazy” (in quotes but probably should not be) behavior.
It is now 46 years later, I weigh 245 pounds and have been through innumerable diets, some of them Christ centered (Weigh Down Workshop, Thin Within, Grace and Strength, and Finding Balance). Yet the black and white thinking, which is a trait of asperger’s, along with the heavily ingrained pattern of believing that food will love me back immediately whereas sometimes it takes time and patience, sometimes a lot of time and patience, to “feel” God loving me back, are clear indicators that food is still my idol.
I see my adult children, both also on the spectrum, exhibiting the same faulty behaviors. It makes me nearly physically sick to see my 28-year-old daughter using food the same way I do. She is so beautiful with huge green eyes and thick, luxurious hair; but, because she is a bit taller than me I suspect she weighs even more than I do. My son uses cigarettes and alcohol as his idols. Neither of them are serving Jesus.
I’m in tears as I write this because sometimes it feels hopeless. And yet. . . faith is the substance of things hoped for. How to get that from my head to my soul! How to make the hope turn into faith!
Thank you for sharing these blogs. I have not yet been able to save the money to join your program. Plus, I’m nearly to the point where I’m not sure anything can work and wondering if this might be my thorn. Indeed, in some ways I’m glad because it keeps me being tender toward my daughter whereas if I did not suffer the same affliction I might be prone to ridicule her as other members of my maternal family have me.
Thank you for letting me vent. God bless you and please keep helping as many as you can.
You are welcome for the venting space, Jackie and I pray for your healing because we serve a God who specializing in healing…physical and emotional wounds. I think you may be interested in this article because it speaks to your concerns I believe: Ministering to a Hard Heart (Prayer). I pray the Lord illuminate this word in your heart 🙂
This is so good Kimberly. I can relate with this in a big way… Such truth in this article and so helpful. Thanks for all you do to encourage and help the body of Christ. Or should I say to help the bodies of the body of Christ. 🙂
Ha, ha – I saw what you did there Donna. All glory to God!
Thank you for your message of hope and empowerment
You are welcome, Kat – I am grateful to God for the opportunity!
I can identify with those Pepperidge Farm coconut cakes…Yes, they were delicious but afterward I hated how I felt & looked. The weight seemed to come on alot at one time
Yeah, that seems to be the way of it. Weight is a lot easier to put on than to take off. But with God, nothing is impossible and with His help, we can make wise choices in every area.
I feel so blessed that you’re all in my life. I have come home finally. Thank you so much! I kept saying the only
way I’m going to lose my weight was with my precious Lord Jesus.
Thank you, Lord and Kimberly.
I plan on learning a lot, you are opening doors that I need desperately to go throw, but I not by myself.
You are welcome, Mae – so glad to be walking with you through this journey!
I so identify with this! I’ve been aware of the fact that food is my friend, my dysfunctional friend, for quite sometime. My mom was very mentally ill and my childhood was full of emotional abuse and neglect, loss and abandonment, and food was my constant companion. The only other thing more constant was the extreme loneliness I felt, which always led me back to food. Of course, that led me to guilt and shame. 6 yrs ago, God brought me to a faith based program and I lost 125lb! I replaced food as my first love, with God as my first love. Physically, though, the way I was eating was not nutritionally sound. It was very calorie restrictive, but it worked. I had a big life change and then experienced several big losses as soon as I came to the end of the program and I’m afraid to say, I relapsed. I gained back the whole 125lb plus 20 more and I was left with so much guilt and shame. I don’t even know how to start again. I want to break for good the vicious hold food seems to have on me, but it feels like the connection is so strong that I will never escape it. Then, I feel guilty for that lack of faith, cause I know that nothing is stronger than my God. Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief.
Hi Patti – I am praying for you! You said regarding food, ”It feels like the connection is so strong that I will never escape it.” It may FEEL that way, but is it the truth? No! That’s the first thing that needs to change – is for you to change the story you are telling yourself. Ask the Lord in prayer what is the next step to take to get you back on track. You aren’t starting over because you’ve gained experience that can help you move forward. Life doesn’t stop just because we decide to lose weight. Whatever method we choose, it must work within the context of the life we live…stress, heartache, and all. May God bless you as He walks with you through this journey 🙂
Hi Kimberly , Even as I read it’s like there’s a drawing to those foods a sense a warm comfort reading about them and thinking about them , definately a relationship that is soooo deceptive , it actually angers me to think I’ve allowed myself to become a slave to these foods , it’s like a lion is roaring inside of me for freedom and not the white knuckling freedom but true freedom thru the grace of Jesus. Christ . I started your course take back your temple , food was my first love before I was saved and it has been an adulteress affair since becoming a Christian off and on . I desire to be free to be ALL God has for me . And be rid of this bondage once and for all and have Christ be the lover of my soul and completely dedicated to Him and bring glory to Him in His temple and be a witness of His grace .my desire has always been to do what you are doing but I can’t give away what I don’t have. Thank you for you ministry in this area love in Christ Linda
Thank you, Kim for your email article today on, “When Food is Love”. I shared in our FB group about a very specific time in my life when I turned to food for love. My parents were divorcing when I was 16 and all I could do was eat and eat and eat. Through your article the Lord tied it back to love, the love I lost when my Dad left ( I lost my Mom too through her struggles) and I have still been looking for love in all the wrong places. I have been looking for love through what I do, and from the approval of people and from chocolate. I have had a hard time recieving love, approval and acceptance from God. I haven’t stopped running from Him yet, completely. The things that I have tried have not worked and have never worked, I need turn my attention on God and His answer for me. I want to. Thank you!
I’ve been back to my old habits. I ate 6 small candy bars today, a bowl of sugary cereal, pot roast with 2 slices of bread, a glass of diet soda, and a handful of chips. I’m humiliated beyond words. I’m crying, I don’t know what to do, and how to stop. I love nothing else in this world more than my Husband and our 2 perfect children and I can’t stop this deadly habit of eating junk. My family always embraced good food, and good times with food. This makes me so upset that they laid this upon me, and won’t help me. I hate my body. I’m tired of dieting, my husband always says he loves me and I’m not fat but I’m so tired of hearing that. It’s a lie. I am fat. I picked up this habit after being pregnant 4 years ago, and it’s only gotten worse. I feel like I will get back up again only to fall off and eat more.
Andrea, your comments broke my heart. I’ve been there. I don’t have any fancy advice but just wanted to let you know heard your words today and am praying for you right now in this moment!! You are not alone!
❤Thank you, Leah
I totally identify with this article. My problem is sometimes, I don’t even feel the guilt of indulging. It is so comforting. But I have almost killed myself letting this pattern go on in my life. So, I must change, I must give this over to God, every time, I start down the road towards this sinful thought pattern! It is so ingrained in me. I remember when my mother died, when I was in high school, my best friend came at dawn the next day – and she brought our favorite Little Debbie’s peanut butter bars. I have always remembered that with a smile. You are so right, Kimberly, we MUST replace our comfort and warmth – false comfort and warmth, that we get from food – with Jesus Christ,, our Lord and Savior who truly supplies our every need!
Reading this I realize I equate food with love. And I have for years. Ever since my dad died when I was 5 (I’m 41 now). In this moment I see it. I’m looking for love. Love that only God can give. All this time I’ve been thinking food has always been there for me and never failed me. Even when people did. And also in this moment I realize food HAS FAILED ME! It hasn’t loved me back! I’m overweight, uncomfortable, dry skin, bloated, aches and pains! FOOD HAS FAILED ME! THIS ISN’T LOVE!! God is love!
Thank you for Take Back Your Temple! It has blessed my soul tonight!
I think coffee is my love. I hadn’t realized it before as it hasn’t been detrimental to my weightloss journey, but it is a love I run to when I am stressed, lonely, angry, etc. I get overly excited over a new coffee flavor, new spices to try, new ways of brewing. I get angry when I can’t get to it in a timely manner in the morning. When I want to procrastinate at work, I go make coffee. Every trip to the grocery store makes a stop in the coffee aisle to peruse flavors and coffee gadgets to make “the perfect cup”.
It doesn’t even matter if it’s decaf. I still love it. (I drink decaf in the afternoon/evenings) so it’s more than a caffeine craving. I love the warmth in my mouth. It’s cozy. My coffee makes me feel all happy.
I’m so grateful it’s not a sugary food I run to (anymore!) but even though I’ve replaced food-idol with coffee-idol, I know there is still a core spiritual issue that I need to work through.
Great post today. – Leah
Thank you for the uplifting words. I recently had Bariatic Surgery and it was only then that I realized my addiction to food. It hasn’t been easy. I thank you because you really understand how I’m feeling. Your words of wisdom and Scriptures help to get me through each day. Be Blessed!!!
You are welcome, Erika – I give all glory to God!
Unfortunately as a child my relatives fed me TOO WELL.
As a teen, young adult, between men, food, or substance addiction. This was my comfort. ‘ Bout killed me.
When I got saved, I moved to an isolated, persecuted life. I kid you not. Loneliness is my “normal”. Food was my friend. I gained weight. I’m working on change and getting my health back in order.
Today, I’m pulling closer to the Lord Jesus. I want to make salad my friend *not REALLY but I must* Loneliness is still a factor, but that? Is sanctification. I can’t hang with everybody and truth be told, I still MISS men. I’m growing and changing in Christ.
Hi Saint – God often uses the tests in our lives for a testimony to others that they can make it through as well. Praise God that He’s begun a good work in you and will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus!
Thank you Kimberley. I shall now do it Gods way. Blessings.
Wonderful Hattie – that’s the best way 🙂
yes, I’ve sought comfort in food. I still can’t eat one Oreo, choc. covered graham cracker, nacho, etc.. I obsess on food tooooo much. I need this journey. food is to me what alcohol is to an alcoholic, but I want out/better. I want freedom to be me and be free of food compulsions.
You can have it, Sylvia – one day at a time, one choice at a time. The journey involves inward and outward changes. By inward, I mean examining your beliefs around food and outwardly, by adjusting your environment to support the new way you’ve chosen to live. May God bless you on this journey!
I want to cry when I read the hurt on these pages. I struggle to make better choices too. I know who I am in Christ and pray and depend on him for grace and wisdom. His word is my guide, my comfort and my source of life. Yet when it comes to making the better choices and using the spirit within me I give in to the carbs, sweets and comfort foods to often. I have 10-15 lbs still left to take off and I sabotage myself on a regular basis. The emails I get from Kim help me a lot but I feel like food still has a strong power over me.
Just recently I had the same thought you shared…turning to Jesus when I feel lonely. Recently, the challenge of feeling lonely is one that could send me to food to find comfort. Instead I’m allowing Jesus’ love fill that hole. I am remembering how much He loves me and I can focus on His love and redemption and I find myself responding differently. The pain of loneliness dissipates and I feel better without using food to dull the pain.
Praise God, Christine!
I can identify with this eating for love, I know God loves me but I’m always by myself.
I’m loved starved for love, just my heart to be healed and I just wanted to be loved.
Hi Sunflower – I understand the need to feel loved. God promises to heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. So take this promise to heart and allow Him to fill you up during this season. That is very important because if you feel starved for love, you are vulnerable to settling for scraps. You don’t want that. You want God’s best. I pray He will put it on your heart to look around you and courage to reach out to others so that you are able to receive love even as you give it to others. Proverbs 18:24 – “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”