Have you ever said, “Why did I just eat that? I wasn’t hungry.” If you finished your third cookie, or ate the scraps off your child’s plate or made one too many trips to the buffet table, you are probably frustrated with yourself and engaging in what we call mindless eating. Mindless eating isn’t based on hunger but is all about using food for unintentional purposes like comfort, stress reduction or even reward.
Food should be enjoyed. It should be used in community, for fellowship and celebration. Jesus ate with his disciples, celebrated at weddings and feasts and was concerned about feeding the hungry. God wants you to enjoy eating and if you have developed a negative relationship with food, that needs to change. If food is your enemy, your source of constant battle, is controlling you or feels out of your control, listen up.
How do we know that God wants us to enjoy eating? In the beginning, God created a garden of delights for Adam and Eve. They were given quite the buffet of choices. Genesis 2 says they could eat freely of all the food in the garden, that this food was pleasant to the sight and good to eat. But Adam was instructed not to eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because he would surely die. And of course, you know the story, the only tree they were told not to eat from became the tree Satan used to tempt them. This temptation set up the Fall of Man. And since that time, food has been used for both enjoyment but has also become a source of temptation for many.
Thinking about food as something from which you are deprived begins to create a negative relationship with food. Adam and Eve could have enjoyed all the delights God created for them but they focused on what they could not have. When we do this, we set ourselves up for a fall.
So when you have the urge to eat and can only think about getting a specific food, allow the thought to come and go and don’t try to suppress it. Eventually the thought will pass. The more you fight the craving, the more likely you will give in to the temptation. The key is to learn to eat with intention and apply the PAUSE principle I discuss in my book, Press Pause Before You Eat.
Purpose in your heart to become more aware of eating
Attend to the moment, pay attention to your body, mind, emotions and spirit when it comes to eating.
Understand WHY you are eating at any given moment. Try to identify WHY you want to eat—busy, stressed, rushed, etc.
Strategize ways to stop mindless eating
Execute those changes. Act on what you know.