For people who diet and/or overeat, there is a tendency to try to get most of one’s pleasure in life from food, thus missing out on the pleasures present in a variety of experiences. It’s easy to get into ruts or to stay in a familiar box of routine activities and not notice all that’s wonderful and fulfilling in one’s life. We can ignore the numerous ways emotional and sensual satisfaction is available.
So what are some of the ways to find emotional and sensual satisfaction without turning to food? Turning to God with our longings is the very first step. Then, being open to see how he is providing for us in ways we may not expect is the next step.
If you long for respect from your children or parents, for example, look for how God is providing you with respect from your Christian family. Or, perhaps, God is helping you learn that respect is not a prerequisite to happiness. Ask him why you feel such a strong need for respect. See if there is a deeply held belief that is not valid in light of Scripture, such as I must have respect in order to feel worthy.
As a single who sought to allay my cravings for affection by eating sweets, the desire to eat was greatly diminished when I was willing to see how God was providing me with affection through my friends and co-workers rather than through the means I thought would be best—through a husband. The affection I craved was in a different package than I thought I needed, but when I saw all the forms of affection that were actually there, the one that wasn’t there didn’t matter as much. This is not to say I never again longed for an affectionate relationship with a man. But, when the longing became painful again, I was better equipped to get past the pain because of the practice of prayerfully thinking through the provisions God had already made for me.
Not only do we need to be open to the creative ways in which God is providing for us, but also we need to become aware of the myriad ways he brings joy and satisfaction to our lives and how these “feed” us. Do you ever go to art galleries, concerts, or auto races? There are certain pieces of art that literally give me goose bumps when I stop to take them in. And the thrill and roar of fast cars and someone crossing a finish line can provide a rush that might even compete with chocolate!
Remember the old John Denver song, “You Fill up My Senses”? God has provided us with a world full of legitimate sensual delights. I have found that my appreciation of the sights, sounds, smells, and textures in my life reduces my desire to try to get most of my pleasure from eating. Also, fully savoring the taste of the food I eat means finding satisfaction with smaller amounts of food. Our physical hunger is not the only hunger we have, but it can, unfortunately, often be the only hunger we feed.