Overeating: Are You Using Food as a Form of Punishment?

What is overeating?

“Overeating is basically a refusal to be fully alive. No matter what we weigh, those of us who are compulsive eaters have anorexia of the soul. We refuse to take in what sustains us. We live lives of deprivation. And when we can’t stand it any longer, we binge. The way we are able to accomplish all of this is by the simple act of bolting — of leaving ourselves — hundreds of times a day.” ~ Geneen Roth


I used to be a compulsive and emotional eater. I was obsessed with my weight, calorie consumption, and being perfect. I imprisoned myself with food rules and then beat myself up harshly when I routinely broke them. On my quest for perfection, self-hatred and lower self-esteem were all I ever found.

I searched for answers. I was a fixture in the self-help section of Barnes and Nobles. Everything I read told me that people often use food as a way to comfort themselves but this just didn’t make sense to me. If I was using food to comfort myself, why did I feel so bad when I did it?

Why did I feel so uncomfortable?

Overeating: Are You Using Food as a Form of Punishment?

A deeper part of me seemed to know that there had to be a better way to life. Food and obsessively dieting could not be the answer. I suddenly understood that I needed to look in another direction. I needed to look within for the answers. I needed to stop overeating and go deeper than the surface.

“Overeating is the addiction of choice of carers, and that’s why it’s come to be regarded as the lowest-ranking of all the addictions.” ~ Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman

Once I shifted my focus, my thought system turned upside-down.

What followed were months of deep inner exploration and a major shift in perspective about this perceived problem in my life. I realized that I was not using food to comfort myself at all, but rather, I was using it as a way to hurt myself. The food was a punishment.

The natural next question I asked myself was: why do I constantly want to hurt and punish myself?

This question led me straight to the source of my overeating: my beliefs about myself. The overeating “problem” I spent so many years trying to get rid of was just the effect.

Overeating Are You Using Food as a Form of Punishment

Now I had an incredible opportunity to drastically change my life by looking at its source and bringing it to the light. I knew I had to get really honest with myself and when I did, I discovered what I really thought about myself; I was broken, a failure, and undeserving of love.

For some reason, these fearful thoughts were firmly fixed within my mind, but with this realization, it all clicked. I was using food to punish myself for being so broken and unlovable.

So what’s a girl to do when she realizes she has a whole bunch of negative thoughts about herself and is constantly attacking herself for them?

She changes her thoughts. This is when miraculous changes occur because you’re finally ready to deal with the source. Emotional overeating is the effect; your thoughts about yourself are its source.

In the world, we focus so much on fixing the effects that we leave the cause buried. How can we expect anything to change doing it this way? The source of any perceived problem in your life is your belief in separation, punishment, and brokenness.

In other words, the things you’re telling yourself about yourself. It’s those beliefs that need healing. When the source is healed, the effects disappear. When you no longer believe you deserve to suffer, you won’t hurt yourself anymore.

Overeating Are You Using Food as a Form of Punishment

I applied these ideas by starting to become very aware of the thoughts I let float around in my head. Every time a thought came up that made me feel depressed, judgmental or defeated, I either replaced it with a loving thought, or I surrendered it to the voice for love within me, also known as my Inner Guide. I soon learned that I am not, and never was, a failure, broken or undeserving of love.

Willingness and surrender are all it takes to experience miraculous changes in your life. I didn’t want to punish myself anymore, and the willingness to let it go was all that was needed for my inner guide to rush in and show me how to release it.

There is a strong shadow where there is much light. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather, looking at your fears and being willing to move through them to the peace and love on the other side. I won’t lie to you, dealing with the source instead of the effect takes courage and honesty, but it’s the only way that will create lasting changes. It’s the only way to the realization of just how lovable, deserving and complete you already are.

Have you ever used food as a form of punishment? You can share your comment in the comment section below 🙂


Amanda Christian

Amanda Christian is the founder of the radical approach to happiness called Spiritual Sweat: A Workout For Your Soul. Ready to sweat some love? Amanda writes about self-love, out-of-the-box thinking, miracles, and what it means to be “spiritual”. To learn more about Amanda, visit www.amandachristian.com

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