I have to admit that the Eat Smart, Move More’s Holiday Challenge to maintain and not gain has been weighing on me…no pun intended. I sometimes emotionally eat during the holidays. I do it because I miss my grandmother and certain dishes remind me of her. I understand that others who are experiencing this season may not enjoy the holidays at all and are likely to emotionally eat as well.
During the Thanksgiving holiday, I sat down to eat at different tables. And I kept thinking, easy Joy, just eat enough. But I couldn’t. I finally discovered why emotional eating patterns are so hard to break during a visit with my uncle on Thanksgiving Day. He had baked a ham along with warm biscuits. I was preparing to leave when he asked, “Joy, do you want to take some with you on the road?” My heart skipped a beat. He reminded me so much of my grandmother, his mother, who had passed in June of 2010. This was our second Thanksgiving meal without her, and those were always her departing words, too. Whatever she cooked, whatever she had, she would say, “I love you, call me when you get there, and do you want to take some with you on the road?”
In honor of her, I accepted my uncle’s invitation to take some ham and biscuits for the road. The first bite was in nostalgia of my sweet, late grandmother. With the second and third bites, I relished in the delicious taste. And then I continued to eat, mostly because it was there. By the time I finished, it dawned on me that I had just emotionally eaten. I wasn’t hungry, but everything on my plate was now gone. Oops.
Despite all the reasons to feel guilty about my over-indulgence, I felt somewhat justified because I was with family and friends, and I had prayed over the food and myself. It made me connect to the feasts of the Old and New Testaments, when food was bountiful. It was a time to indulge in company, dance, food and wine. It was a time of celebration. I’m not justifying emotional eating, but rather, I’m pointing out that during this holiday season, there are emotions we each need to be aware of and then work to address.
It is important for those of us who follow Christ to take a stand for health. Health is more than just “maintaining” your weight; it is also indulging in the bountifulness of God’s goodness and grace with natural foods that God provides. Examples of God’s goodness and grace through food might be home-baked bread from non-processed ingredients or ham from a local pig that was not injected with hormones or fed a GMO diet.
God also cares about our emotions, intending for us to rely on God’s grace and truth for comfort. However, we sometimes fail to acknowledge this and may turn to food to fill an emotional void. But during our times of weakness, let us remember that God has already claimed the victory. We can take this opportunity to indulge in God’s goodness and grace through food by paying particular attention to the foods we provide for ourselves and our loved ones. It is important to take the extra steps to provide wholesome foods–foods that God has provided. So I continue to challenge myself, and you, to provide natural, wholesome choices for people to indulge in this holiday season.
–Joy Williams, PHW Regional Consultant
Partners in Health and Wholeness is an initiative of the North Carolina Council of Churches. PHW aims to connect health as a faith issue. Please visit our website to sign your personal pledge to be healthier, and to find out about grant opportunities for churches in NC.