6 Steps to Help You Conquer Emotional Eating

If you’ve been following along in our series, Becoming a Balanced Beauty, you have seen how we’ve established a firm foundation.  We’ve begun to understand our sin and the truth of who we are in Christ are learning to put on His righteousness. 

We are digging into God’s Word – memorizing, studying and applying truth to our life. 

We have committed to praying humble, faith- filled prayers. 

We are filling our spiritual bodies

We are now going to take another step in this journey of becoming a Balanced Beauty by learning to take care of our physical bodies.  We are going to begin with the battle many of us have with FOOD.

No Diets or Scales

Diets and scales have their place for certain situations and circumstances, but our culture has gotten a little obsessed with them!

I am not a fan of strict diets.  I have seen the yo – yo effects.  I have seen every diet promise something it can’t deliver.

People may lose the weight, but if it’s just the weight that is focused upon, it won’t last or bring any true satisfaction and joy.  

I don’t believe a number on a scale will give you happiness.  That number on the scale also can’t determine what is happening in the heart.  

Even when we are at an ideal weight, food can still be an idol.  We can get obsessed with health and trying to figure out the exact foods we need to eat. 

We are going to take a balanced approach to all things food.

We are going to step away from the scale.  We are going to step away from an ideal body image that is plastered on every magazine cover, TV or social media ad.

Unless there is heart change, weight loss and healthy eating are futile.

Why Do We Eat?

Before we dive into the types of foods that nourish our bodies, we need to get to the heart of why we eat.  The obvious reason we eat is to fuel our bodies. 

God designed our bodies to break down food molecules into tiny, useful chemicals that are sent around in our blood stream to our body’s cells to help it do work, grow and heal.  

God designed hunger pangs to signal our brain that it is time to feed our bodies.  However, I think we can all agree on the fact that we often eat even when we don’t receive the hungry signal.  We also often eat beyond the point of being full.  

Why is that?  

Emotional Eating

There are particular foods that when eaten, release the feel-good hormone, dopamine, into our blood stream.  This hormone is a little bit like a drug.  It makes us happy for a short time.  It doesn’t last, but it’s enough of a happy feeling that our body remembers it.  

The next time we have a feeling or emotion that is unpleasant, our body reminds us of that happy feeling and it becomes a trigger to grab that snack that we really don’t need. 

Of course the foods that release that happy feeling are typically not the broccoli, carrots or spinach that you know you should eat.  It’s the sugary, high fat, salty foods.  The addictive types of food.  When was the last time you just couldn’t stop eating celery sticks?

That’s what I thought – never!  

We probably have recognized times that we have continually gone to the fridge or pantry searching for just the perfect snack.  Then, when that didn’t satisfy, we search again, thinking maybe this time we would find just the right thing to satisfy our craving.  

So what do we do about our distorted use of food?  How do we begin using food for its intended purpose – to live? 

How can we begin to eat to live and not live to eat?

Start Listening to the Voices in our Heads

Begin to listen to the conversations you have with yourself when you eat.  If it’s a deeply engrained habit or response, you might not even have a conversation any more, but keep track of the emotions or triggers when you open the fridge or cupboard door.

Here are some examples.

The phrases you might tell yourself as snacks and treats that you don’t need are calling your name:

“I’ve worked hard today so I deserve a treat.”

“I’ve eaten healthy all day; a little treat won’t hurt.”

“It’s not that big of a deal.”

“Just one.”

“There is no reason to deprive myself;  there are so many worse things I could be doing.”

Emotions and triggers:

Tired, stressed, anxious, angry, annoyed, or you’re procrastinating a hard project (when the kitchen is a disaster and I feel I need a handful of chocolate chips before I get started) – just to name a few!

Recognize the Battle

Realize who our real enemy is – it is not food, but the enemy likes to use food as a distraction for what is most important.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

I Peter 5:8 NIV

The battle began in the garden, with Eve, food and the tempter.

Satan used what Eve couldn’t have to entice her. He made her doubt God’s goodness and filled her with lies. He made her believe what he held was better. All of God’s provisions were not good enough for her and she succumbed to the tempation and ate the fruit.

Jesus was also tempted by Satan and food. However, rather than having a glorious garden full of delicious food like Adam and Eve, he was alone in a desert. He had gone without food for 40 days, and Satan came with his tempting words,

If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.

Jesus refuted Satan’s temptation with Truth…

It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone.”

Luke 4:3-7

6 Steps to help you conquer emotional eating!

1. Use Truth

We need to fight like Jesus did.  He was filled with the Spirit and spoke truth to Satan. 

When we daily fill our minds and souls with the nourishment of God’s Word; put off our sin and put on Christ’s righteousness; memorize God’s truths and seek Him in prayer – we are preparing for the battles we will face that day!

For every conversation you have in your mind, prepare with a truthful response.


What I tell myself: “It’s not a big deal.”

Truth:  It is a big deal if it draws me away from God’s best.  It is a big deal if I am depending on this food to satisfy me rather than the one true God.  The very first commandment says, “You shall have no other gods before me.” 

If I believe anything will satisfy me more than God, it’s an idol, and that’s a big deal.

2.  Trust in God’s Power and Fight with His Armor

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:10-12

3. Pray!!

We need to pray specifically for the struggles we face.  Ask for God’s help and His strength to fight. 

Ask Him to give you the desire to do what is right and to trust Him to give you the power to walk away from the temptation. 

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

I Corinthians 10:13

4.  Utilize your Buddy

Do you have a buddy – a like-minded person you know and trust to help you stay accountable? If not, now is the time to find one!

Make sure your buddy is aware of any particular struggle with food you have.  Have her pray for you.  Then when temptation seems too great, text or call her.  

5. Remove the Temptation

Just as it would be unwise of an alcoholic to keep alcohol in the house, so it is with keeping addictive, unhealthful foods in your house when you’ve recognized the need to take care of your body. 

You can think you can be strong, but trust me – there will be a weak moment and if it’s easy to get to, you will get to it.  It’s best just to not even bring it into the house. (The kids can learn to live without it too!)

6. Choose Something Positive Instead

If you are tempted to eat when you aren’t hungry, or snack on unhealthful things you know are addictive and it would be difficult to have a small portion, here are some things to do instead:

  • Drink water or hot tea.  Sometimes your body just really needs to be hydrated.  
  • Say a quick arrow prayer like, “Lord, help me desire you more than food.  Help me trust you right now and remember that ______ will not satisfy me.  It will only cause regrets later.”
  • Do push-ups or run up and down the stairs, or another activity you can do that quickly that takes your mind off of the food.
  • Text your buddy.
  • Sit and talk with a family member or phone a friend.
  • Work on memorizing scripture.  You can put scripture cards on your fridge or pantry doors.
  • Write in your prayer journal.
  • Make a list of other positive things you enjoy doing.  

Is VICTORY in this area possible?

If we have been used to using food as our comfort for a long time, it will take time to replace that with the comfort God can provide.  Habits engrained are hard to break.  It will take time, but it is possible. 

With God, all things are possible.  As soon as we believe that we are defeated and that we can’t win this battle, we have believed a lie. 

We know the Truth, and the Truth WILL set you free!

Victory is possible and will taste sweeter than any delicacy held out in front of us.  

It seems silly doesn’t it, to think that we can find satisfaction in food that is consumed rather than the Almighty God?  The short-term, temporary satisfaction of any sin seems silly when you step back and see the greater reward that awaits us.  His way is always better.  

The One who heals our souls and renews our minds will rekindle the passion for Jesus when we ask Him.

My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord.”  Psalm 84:1-2

May He be the one we yearn for and crave.  

Get Balanced

It is easy to take extreme methods to gain control or give up and feel like we’ve failed when it comes to fighting the battle with food. 

It starts with a right view of God and the power that is available to fight our battles with His Spirit.  Remember who we are in Christ – a new creation, a temple of the Holy Spirit and we are made for more than an endless cycle of bad food habits. 

We can then begin to make forward progress in this area.  Believe victory is possible, and that we do not have to fight this alone.  

Take Away

To fight the battle with food, we must recognize the battle we are in.  Satan is an enemy doing all He can to take our eyes off of God’s best and tempt us with temporary satisfaction.  

While there are many battles we have to face in a day, we are going to begin working on the battle with food – learning to depend on God rather than food for comfort.  


Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought with a price.  Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Action Step

Begin taking notes of the conversations you have in your head when you are tempted to eat when you are not hungry or snack on unhealthful, addictive foods. 

What emotions do you feel?  Keep track of any triggers that you recognize.  Write them down and share these with your buddy.  

Once you have discovered some of the phrases you use to convince yourself it is ok to indulge, write out a truthful response.  I’d love to hear your truthful responses to those little voices tempting us to stray from God’s best!


Stop eating with every tiny urge.  Learn to listen to your body’s cues.  Make sure your tummy is truly rumbling and in need of food before eating.  Begin using the truthful responses like I shared earlier,

When I tell myself, “It’s not a big deal.”  I need to respond with the truth, 

“It is a big deal if it draws me away from God’s best.  It is a big deal if I am depending on this food to satisfy me rather than the one true God.  The very first commandment says, ‘You shall have no other gods before me.’  If I believe anything will satisfy me more than God, it’s an idol, and that’s a big deal.”

Thanks for visiting!

Did this hit home with you? I’d love to hear how these truths have impacted or helped you, and feel free to share this message with others!

If you want more information and help in dealing with the food battle, here are a couple resources I have read and highly recommend!

Made to Crave, by Lysa TerKeurst

Overcoming Emotional Eating God’s Way, by Kimberly Taylor

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