“Heart hunger is a compulsion to manage our
feelings and emotional moods with food.”
Healthy Eating & Abundant Living, p. 55
My husband and I have enjoyed one another’s company for most of our almost 30 years together. In fact, I can’t think of a time when we haven’t liked doing things together or even just hanging out together in the evenings and weekends–even through some of the most tumultuous seasons. (Maybe he wouldn’t agree! LOL!…Nope, I just called him to ask and he says it’s true.) Right now is one of those very very difficult times for us, but we still enjoy going out to dinner, watching a video, or on a drive. Sometimes, he even plays tennis with me. 🙂
For as long as I can remember, when Bob has gone out of town–something that his job has always required of him–I have experienced my most emotional, vulnerable times. This goes beyond merely missing him. I am not sure if it is somehow connected to what is an irrational fear of abandonment rooted in childhood experiences or if it is something else entirely. Through the years, though, I have come to see that I am prone to head to the freezer in the evening when he isn’t home. (Not that this isn’t a challenge when he is home, but the pull becomes even more significant when he isn’t home.) Ice cream is my nemesis at times like those. Not just one bowl of ice cream, but multiple bowls. Even better with hot fudge, whipped cream, and nuts.
Fortunately, I have came to a point of realizing this vulnerability. Planning in advance for this when I know my husband is going to be out of town enables me to be successful. I make provision for my spirit instead of my flesh. I try not to have ice cream in the house when I am in this “weakened state” 🙂 and I make plans to do something specific in the evenings to redirect my attention into something positive and encouraging–a tennis match, an evening spent writing, extra time in bible study, or going out with friends.
Developing an awareness of my emotions and various motivations for eating outside of my primary boundary of 0 to 5 eating, has been extremely helpful for me.
Personally, it doesn’t take much for me to think about eating. Being angry, annoyed, discontented, lonely, envious, frustrated, greedy, lustful, resentful, unforgiving, insecure, judging (of myself or by others), caught in perfectionism, prideful, regretful, stressed, rejected, worried, sad, disappointed, disapproved of, joyful, liberated, entitled, hopeless, justified, tired of the struggle, bored, etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseum! These are all reasons I might turn to food outside of physical hunger. My heart insists I feed it at times like this! It seems to cry for food incessantly.
When I am drawn to eat, it helps to ask some questions:
1.) What is drawing me to food right now? Is it stomach hunger? Head hunger? Or Heart hunger?
2.) If the answer is heart hunger, I evaluate what emotion I am currently feeling. (Often, when I am angry, it is a secondary emotion…something else, usually more painful to feel, is the primary emotion. For instance, if someone during my day has said something mean to me, I may feel anger surge up, but what is often at work there is sadness, disappointment, fear.) Giving this question prayerful consideration is a good first place to start.
3.) What is the need that is currently not being met? Sometimes my heart is hungry for love, acceptance, assurance, etc. Pinpointing what it is really hungry for is helpful.
4.) Will food meet the need that is currently not being met?
5.) If I choose to eat anyhow, will eating in response to this emotion actually *cost* me something in addition to the emotion I already feel? For instance, will I be disappointed with myself and will it add to feelings of hopelessness?
6.) Often, when I am drawn to food because of emotion, my focus is on ME ME ME. Is there some way in which I can focus in a more positive direction? Perhaps on the Lord? What about some time spent working on my God List and having a Praise Fest?
Here is what I have found. Ecclesiastes 3:11 seems to indicate that God has set a God-shaped hole inside of me. It is a hole that only a God-shaped “peg” can fill. It cries to be filled. If I don’t understand that it is a God-shaped hole, I will reach for all manner of other “pegs” to fill it. Food is the primary “peg” I jam in there. All the while, the emptiness, the cry for deeper intimacy with God in this moment, calls to be satisfied, longs for me to recognize the only solution to the ache.
Intimacy with our Creator is the only solution to this Heart Cry. I have developed a series at my other blog for developing intimacy with the Lord–even through trials and heartache. The material there is a product of my Thin Within journey, to be honest!
Step 1 – We Get to Choose
Step 2 – Change Our Thinking
Step 3 – Get Equipped
Step 4 – Sing Our Traveling Song!
Step 5 – Fix Your Eyes
Step 6 – Creating a God List
Step 7 – Praise Him!
Step 8 – Praying Scripture
Step 9 – Fostering a Heart of Thanksgiving
Step 10 – Rest in His Embrace
Step 11 – Focus on Others
Step 12 – Practice His Presence
Step 13a – Forgive Yourself
When our hearts are hungry, we want to feed them what they need. At the deepest place, this hunger is one that only a good dose of “feasting on the Lord” can satisfy.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
What will you do today…or in the next week…to feed your Heart Hunger what it really is hungry for…intimacy with your Creator and King?
In reading Heidi ‘s Blog today I am convicted my struggles are based on not treating my head hunger as the heart/God hunger it really is. I am working on memorizing these renewing of the mind thoughts and scriptures today.
– I am being transformed by the renewing of my mind.
– God is doing a mighty work in me, changing me, by the renewing of my mind.
– Romans 12:2 NIV Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
– 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
I have a IPod I use during my work day. I have loaded these thoughts and scriptures into Evernote. I can access them at work to read and memorize.
How is God leading you today?
I am still reading your posting in the blog. I am so profoundly affected by ‘Fixing my eyes’. I have magnified my problem, made myself the victim, focusing on myself , oh poor me. I have made it so big it is about to swallow me whole. God is bigger, greater, more powerful than any of my problems. I choose to magnify GOD!!!! I will work on my “Traveling Songs” this weekend. I am looking forward to finishing you posting, Heidi.
I am so glad it is helpful, Joyce! Thanks for letting me know!
Wow, Joyce. GREAT thoughts! I love the way God encourages me through the comments you all post here. God is showing me that there are so many ways that I still act, think, live independently from him, even while acting like I am so “godly.” Good grief. I have so far to grow…
I have spent some time today looking up the steps that you have listed. You have some powerful tools for us to use. WoW! It will take some effort to choose to do something different. To choose to renew my mind instead of running to food when stressed. To choose to pray for the person wounding me instead of numbing out with some food. When feeling tired and overwhelmed it is far too easy to fall into habitual patterns and than cycle downward but healing is a choice. This has helped me today. I especially like the part about exalting God not your dustmite…that is good…so often I am a ‘victim’ of my circumstance and not a victor in Christ. I choose to change that thinking today!! I also liked the part that you shared on praying scripture…don’t necessarily pray…psalm 55:15″Let death take my enemies by surprise, let them go down alive to the grave” Haha..that is funny but rather pray Eph 1:15-21 for that person…that the Lord’s blessings would fall on this person. I am not a big tech person..don’t even have a cell phone yet…this blog is as techy as I get right now so what I do is copy these good verses and thoughts in my journal and also laminate verses and put them where I can grab them when needed. Thanks Heidi!!!
Yes, Marie. I think this is hard work on the one hand. And then, on the other hand, I think sometimes I start working so hard and God is asking me to just float in his grace and let his river carry me where it will. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that is the image he has given me.
Heart Hunger is my biggest issue. It’s not always from negative emotions that I turn to food. Food is used to share my happiness, celebrate an accomplishment (I deserve to eat this!), as well as comforting me when I am stressed or upset. For the most part I do know what situations are going to trigger me to eat due to heart hunger, so I really like the idea of planning ahead.
Me, too, Linda.