Welcome to 31 Days of Hope for Moms! To see all the posts in the series, click here!

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Do you want to eat a doughnut after looking at this picture? 

Will you walk around all day hankering for a piece of chocolate or some chips and cheese or maybe a pop {that’s what we call soda up in the north}, especially when you’re stressed out, tired or feeling upset?

Are you cranky when you eat too much sugar but at the same time feel like you’ll leap out a window unless you eat more?

Do you temporarily feel better after that cookie is swallowed but then find your anxiety or frustration returning a short time later, perhaps even worse than before?

That’s me anyway. I struggle with emotional eating.

Emotional eating is such a difficult cycle to break. I honestly don’t know exactly WHERE the desire to eat when I’m anxious or stressed comes from, but it happens far too often.

I tend to go for sugar, and the problem is that I just want MORE sugar after I’m done eating my cookie or doughnut or whatever I can scrounge up around the house. 

A few months ago, I gave up sweets for a week (I have done it several times since then). The first two days, I was a hot mess. Then it began to get easier. Yet at the end of that week, when I allowed myself sugary treats again, I noticed some things I hadn’t previously been aware of about my body and mood.

I felt bloated. And I was super duper short tempered with my kids.

Could sweets really do that? Affect my mood and body in such a noticeable way? I know the answer might be an obvious “yes” but it was the first time that I really understood exactly what emotional eating did to me. 

You don’t have to be a certain weight to struggle with eating in reaction to your feelings. Emotional eating likely will affect your weight, but it doesn’t always. This can happen to people of all body types.

All I know is, it’s not good for me and it doesn’t solve my problems.

It’s hard to make the crossover from knowing how bad it is and actually doing something about it. It’s been a long, hard process, but I am finally, slowly, getting my emotional eating under control. 

Hope for the mom who eats too many cookies - managing emotional eating

What does Scripture have to say about this topic? It doesn’t address it directly, but we can take comfort that God is more than able to meet all of our needs, even the emotional ones! 

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

 “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Allowing God to have control over our minds, hearts and bodies is probably the biggest way to manage emotional eating. Print this verse on a notecard and hang it on your fridge. I know it’s in a bit of a different context in the Scripture passage, but it’s helpful nonetheless! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this verse in my kitchen and was helped by the Holy Spirit to purposefully turn away from food.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

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Practical Help

Along the way (and just so you don’t think I have this all figured out, my self-control in this area comes and goes often!) I have learned some methods for getting control of my emotional eating, so that I can prevent myself from becoming MORE emotional when I continue to eat sweets. Maybe for you the temptation is salty foods or fatty foods, but hopefully these tips can still apply.

You might not be able to get rid of all the things that make you stressed, but God can help you develop the self-control to respond to those emotions in a different way. Next week, I will address a sensitive topic that sometimes leads to emotional eating–depression. But today I want to share practical tips for conquering this bad habit.

Write down what you eat for one day. That’s all it takes and believe me, you will notice where your eating habits are going wrong!

Decide what you need to deal with and conquer your habits one at a time. For instance, for quite some time I was eating too many desserts and drinking pop every day. I decided to deal with my sugar issues first and still continue to drink my one diet pop a day. It was better for all of us that way ;) 

When you’re first starting to get rid of whatever is bad for you, replace it with something good. For instance, when I stopped eating handfuls of chocolate chips (yes, I did that), I still felt the need to put something in my mouth. So I chewed gum and drank water with ice chips. I chewed the ice chips. Perhaps it’s sometimes the “feeling” of having food to nosh on that’s so satisfying in the moment!

Whatever you do, don’t starve yourself. If you’re not eating very healthy and you cut out the bad stuff, make sure you are still consuming food! Eat nuts, fruit or something else that tastes good but is still filling. It will backfire, badly, if you don’t. Not that I would know anything about that ;) 

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Don’t these raspberries look yummy?

Pray! Read the Word! When temptation is beginning to overtake you, think of a good Bible verse that will get you back on track. Put up Scripture around your house to help you with this practice of self-control.

Remind yourself of how you feel in the aftermath of eating in reaction to your emotions. After my occasions of emotional eating which were done to manage my stress over handling a household with several young children plus some other outside stressors, I would only feel better for a short time. Then, later, my emotions were even worse! I was likely coming down off the sugar high and feeling bad again. 

Exercise. Yes, I left this one for last because I know you don’t want to hear my say it! I don’t want to hear me say it either, because I have a super hard time making time for “heart-pounding” physical activity. But when I do exercise I actually want to eat healthier and I feel better as well. 

What do I do for exercise as a busy mom? I go on walks with my kids and use Fit2B Studio workouts at home. I stream them on my laptop or Roku. A membership is only $10 a month and it provides aerobic workouts, total body strengthening and core strengthening. This program has helped me heal my diastasis recti (stomach muscle splitting) as well!

Try Fit2B for a reduced price! Use code purposefulmom for 30% off a year membership

I still drink diet pop every day {I’m working on it!} and there’s still an empty bowl that makes it’s way into my sink at the end of the night after I’ve eaten my favorite cereal, but gradually I have been able to cut back on sweets and be aware of how they affect me. I am thankful to the Lord for His help and I know that if this is an area in which you struggle, He can help you as well!

Have you found ways to manage your emotional eating and get it under control? Please feel free to share tips or struggles in the comments!

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21 Comments on Hope for the Mom Who Eats Too Many Cookies {Managing Emotional Eating}

  1. Sugar is my nemesis too! I am not an emotional eater, I am just someone who loves sweets, to include donuts! Great practical tips – thanks! I have also heard that Lysa TerKeurst’s book “Made To Crave” is a good one for this sort of thing!

    • I have heard of that book too but have not had time to read it. Yes, donuts are a favorite of mine as well–I wish they could make healthy donuts!

  2. I found you on Motivation Monday and HAD to click on your blog because I am definitely the mom who eats too many cookies! :) I love that you use Bible verses to remind you that you are not trying to do this in your own strength. Great idea to put them on the fridge. I think I might put that pic of the raspberries up too. They look even better than the donuts!

    • Those raspberries DO look good don’t they? I love all the summer fruits and find myself a lot less tempted to eat cookies when those are in season! Thanks for coming by!

  3. Are you familiar with “I Deserve A Donut” by Barb Raveling? I’m going to be hitting on this issue before my 31 days are over (I am about 5 days behind so it will be going into November). She talks about a concept called truth journaling… One thing I’ve come to believe is that as Christians we are often adulterous and go after other idols, e.g., security and comfort. Food can provide that…for a season…then the bills come due. We should find out security and comfort in Him, and not the illusion of food. (I write this as someone who needs to hear it herself). Visiting from 31 days…Love your blog!!!!!

  4. I have eaten many a handful of chocolate chips, I never knew anyone else did that too!! This was a great post. So often you hear the advice about replace your cookie with an apple – which isn’t the same :) but I love that you brought scripture into it!!

  5. Oh, this was so great for me to read! I have been feeling a push lately to take better care of myself. While I’m not an emotional eater, I am a lazy eater. As a mom to 3 little ones it’s easy for me to grab what’s easiest or often just go without. I’ve been realizing lately how unhealthy my own eating habits have become – which is so ironic since I work hard for my family to have great habits. Anyways, thank you for the reminder and the push to make a plan! :)

    • A lazy eater…wow, I have never thought of my eating that way before, but I would say I am like that as well! Not really planning ahead so I can have healthy food ready for myself (even though my family eats fairly well) is such a detriment to my own health as a mom. Thank you for pointing that out.

  6. I’m totally an emotional eater! I’ve done much better over the past few years, but you’re right, it’s a difficult one to overcome. Thanks for sharing some great practical advice for kicking the habit! :)

  7. I was immediately drawn to your post from Motivation Monday, since I can be an emotional eater. These tips were great and even though I may have just eaten a half of box of DOTS, I completely agree that emotional eating makes me grumpy and not myself. Thanks for the great reminders! I’m a new follower from https://faithalongtheway.com.

    • Thank you for your comment, Sarah! And I had to literally laugh out loud at your comment about the Dots–not because you ate them but because I seriously JUST did that same thing the other night! Next time we’ll say no to the Dots! :)

  8. There is a great book out called Trim Healthy Mama! It will help you with your eating! It has changed my life. So thankful for the authors Serene and Pearl who wrote this book. Their plan will energize your life. :)

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