Finding Freedom From Comfort Eating – Yasmina’s Story
As early as five years old I can remember finding comfort in food. Some of my earliest memories are sitting on the couch zoning out to the television while overeating on various junk foods. That was a reaction even at five years old that I learned to do to survive and escape the reality of my surroundings. During this time my mother and father divorced and visitation rights became the focus of my relationship with my father. During the divorce process something shifted in my relationship with my dad. Instead of feeling safe and secure around him I became uncomfortable and anxious.
As I matured and started to understand his inappropriate behaviors the feelings of discomfort and distaste only grew. Food became my security blanket. Whilst I sat in his smoke filled apartment uncertain and insecure, I would eat until the anxiety subsided.
This response continued throughout my teenage years and beyond. I would binge eat on anything and everything until my stomach felt it could take no more. Then I would sit in front of the television and forget what just took place. It never occurred to me ask myself why I behaved this way. I thought the way I ate was normal. There were physical disadvantages to this of course. When food is your means of comfort eventually people will notice. It’s like wearing your pain on the outside for everyone to see. My constantly fluctuating weight was a physical demonstration of an internal and emotional stress.
The cruel reality was that the more my weight changed the more overwhelmed I would feel and the more I would eat. This shameful, fearful and vicious cycle had more power in my life than anything else. The irony of it is insane and exhausting. Overeating was the cause of my shame yet food was also the first place I would turn to, to try and deal with my shame.
One day about a year after becoming a Christian, I heard the sweet, soft voice of the Holy Spirit reveal something to me. As my hand was poised to grab a bag of candy to binge on I heard Him say, ‘My love, you are looking to food to give you what only I can give you.’ Whoa! My hand stopped midway as I processed what I just heard. I was only 20 years old but my eyes were opened to a fearful habit that I had spent my whole life creating.
If I was confronted with anything that brought me pain, discomfort, insecurity, rejection, or loneliness I would look for comfort in food and as I got older, men. I did not want to face my fears so I covered them instead. I didn’t want to face the fear of not being good enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, intelligent enough, or loved and accepted enough. For some reason I felt I wasn’t any of those of things so I certainly did not want to feel them. So I covered, filled and replaced. In that moment when the Holy Spirit opened my eyes, He also showed me that I had the opportunity to start living out of faith and love rather than fear. I began to realize for the first time that in Christ I was already good enough and more.
I wish I could say that this habit has been easily broken. Over the last seven years it has been a rollercoaster process. The struggle between the truth that has been revealed to me and the reality of what I have known for so long. Like most things in life, it’s a journey. Over the years I have resourced myself with books on the subject of comfort eating and have tried different eating plans to figure out what works best for me. I have to consistently be aware of trigger foods or emotionally driven days. Over the last four years I have really started experiencing breakthrough. I now live a disciplined life that not only helps me live at my best but also honors God. I believe that when I choose to get up early, work out, eat right and go to God instead of the refrigerator for comfort that it honors God. I have had many nights where I have had to deny the cravings of my body to binge because of fear and choose to press into the promises of God.
God showed me through His word that I was already accepted and loved by Him. Before I was even born God knew me and chose me. This means, He knew the good and poor decisions I would make. He knew there would be a time in my life I would reject him and then eventually accept him. He knew me and yet still chose me. This beautiful reality has set me free from the heaviness of fear allowing me to live from a place knowing that I am loved, accepted and good enough. Just the way I am.
It s not easy to share this story and to be vulnerable to strangers, but if in sharing my journey from fear to freedom I encourage somebody else, it’s been worth it.
Photos by @sb_photographs