Overwhelmed and Overeating: How to Get Unstuck

It’s a familiar scene.  You have so much to do and yet you are wandering around your kitchen, looking into the fridge, opening the door of the pantry, and even considering a run to the local Harris Teeter, just to avoid the work that really needs to be done.  The next time you find yourself grazing in a haze of overeating simply because you are overwhelmed and procrastinating, try these steps:

  1. Have a quick “Overwhelmed and Overeating Awareness” celebratory moment.  The fact that you have even identified that you are eating without physical hunger as a way to avoid work or to numb stress is a huge victory.  Yay for you!
  2. Say a prayer and ask God to help you.  I remember sitting in my counselor’s office and asking her what to do when I’m “eating and eating and eating, but a tiny part of me knows I need to stop”.  She said, “Ask that part of you to pray for you.”  Brilliant, that woman was.  And it often works.
  3. Leave the kitchen.  I repeat, leave the kitchen!  James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you”.  This kind of “overwhelmed and overeating” scenario is definitely its own kind of devil.  If you need to, watch a Drastic Measures video to remember it’s okay to be extreme when it comes to taking care of yourself.  But do leave the kitchen.
  4. Get a pen and paper and start writing.  Write what is bothering you — perhaps some conflict you had that day, some anxiety about something that is yet unresolved, or the fact that you have a mile-long “to do” list that is capital S-stressing you out.  Name it and put it on paper so it can get outside of your head and stop leading you in a downward spiral.
  5. Do something!  Terry Matlen, author of The Queen of Distraction (I highly recommend this book!) talks about looking inward to identify which unfinished task is bothering us the most, as a guide for knowing where to start in taming our chaos.  Rather than looking at the piles and lists and messes outside of us, we can notice what task is causing the most inner angst and start addressing that to calm our stress.

Step by step, with God’s help and some common sense, we can tackle the mountains that are overwhelming us and experience freedom from the pull of the kitchen.

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” Psalm 143:10

Steven Mast