Food is fuel, but outside—and inside!—circumstances can cause us to develop unhealthy eating habits. Amber Lia examines internal and external food triggers—things like boredom, community or event gatherings, shame, stress, and emotions that drive us to eat. With personal stories and practical advice, she’ll give you some tips on how to navigate your food triggers and exchange them for healthier, more God-honoring habits!
you know, our enemy is gonna try to tell us that it’s too hard that you can’t have victory. You’ve tried too many times before. God says to us that we are a new creation. He says that he is an ever present Help in trouble. We are not the victims of our past. We do not have to listen to shaming language. Mm hmm. All right. Welcome to the focus on the family broadcast, helping families thrive. John What is your go to food when you’re stressed out? When I’m stressed out. If there is ice cream in the house, I will eat it. How do you know this? I think I’m not connecting the dots between stress and eating. Um, I just like ice cream, basically. I’ll eat it because I like it. Maybe that’s why I’m not stressed. Is that a stress thing you asked the question and that’s what I would eat if I’m stressed out. Okay. I’d say ice cream is probably mine too. Which chocolate? Or vanilla? I’m a straight vanilla bean guy. Try it once in a while. We’ll, you know, paul writes in first Corinthians 10 31. So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do do all to the glory of God. So I say, okay, I’m going to eat ice cream to the glory of God try it tonight. But it does give us a little insight and we’re going to learn a lot today. This might be one of those shows. That’s an intervention for me. I don’t know. Maybe the team is playing this so I can identify I eat certain things during stressful periods. I’m not sure. But I’m looking forward to talking with our great friend Amber leah who has written a wonderful book. Food triggers. I think most of us are going to learn some things today. Indeed. Uh, Amber has been here before. She’s a popular guest. She’s a certified health coach, a blogger, a speaker work from home mom. She has four boys. Somehow she finds time to write great books and as you said, jim her book food triggers exchanging unhealthy patterns for God honoring habits Of that book forms the foundation for our conversation today. Get a copy from us here at the ministry when you call 800 the letter a and the word family. Amber, welcome back! Thank you so much for having me. I always love being here. Now. This is an off the cuff question. It just hit me. You probably know enough about food triggers that you can categorize people like me like john maybe like gina dina. I mean, seriously, I just don’t think of food being a kind of a pressure thing for me. I would just eat ice cream because I like it. It tastes good. Yeah. Am I wrong? That makes a lot of sense. You’re not wrong and you’re actually hitting the nail on the head because culturally we have become fairly cavalier about and our eating habits. So you’re part of the cavalier about your eating habits. How would I need to change? Well, statistically, the majority of us are overweight or obese currently in America in America. I’m sorry. And listen, there’s no judgment because that was me just a few years ago. So I’m right there with you. I speak from a place of experience, but many of us are turning to food to cope and it has become normalized that we are using food for purposes that it was really never ultimately intended for. And that was where I found myself in a bit of a pit and God has been faithful to help me get out of it. So that old adage, you know, don’t live to eat, eat to live right? How does that apply in a biblical context? Well, you know, anything that we make into an idol is going to be a path toward our demise. And what a lot of us don’t realize, what I didn’t realize is that I was using food for the wrong purposes. And so it had become an idol for me. So any time that food is turned to for reasons other than it’s ideal purpose, which is fuel. You know, food is supposed to be for nutrition. It’s supposed to help us maintain our bodies, Our temple God calls us to take care of our bodies and to steward them well. And so when we start turning food into anything other than nourishment and fuel and doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it. We can, but for me, I was enjoying it too much. And I was using it for emotional purposes and for other things that it was never intended to be used for. And that’s where I went wrong When you started your health journey, your friend tammy raised a question for you. What did she ask you and why did that make such an impact? Yes. I had known tammy for many years. We had met at church and a mommy and me class and we were both fairly fit at that time, 15 years later. Fast forward many kids later. And she and I both were at a place where we had allowed our wait to get out of control. And I was watching her, she was sharing online about her weight loss journey. And I’m watching her. She’s getting healthier and I’m getting more miserable meanwhile. And so finally, I just had a conversation with her. I said, tammy, you know, what are you doing? How do I get ahold of this in my own life? And she said, look, I, I got rid of a diet mentality. I dialed in on what was the root cause of all of this? I found a simple plan that worked for me and you just need to make a decision and you need to find out why you want to get healthy. Why is this the right time. And so I thought about that and I considered, why do I need to make a change? And there were several key things that came to the forefront for me as I considered, am I gonna keep going on this path toward becoming unhealthier and unhealthier or am I going to make a change and start to actually deal with this issue? And I realized, you know, I’d wake up in the morning. I bet a lot of listeners feel this way I’d open the closet door and it was just like dread. I hated getting dressed in the morning because I was very uncomfortable. I didn’t like the way I looked in the mirror though, that was not the, the main reason I needed to get healthy. I really got to about two o’clock at the end of the day, you know the afternoon, the school day with my kids, I was tired all the time. I realized that my kids were watching what I was eating, I was setting a pattern for them and none of that was okay with me. I needed to make some changes. So those wise were pretty strong for me for my kid’s sake. And then I did feel some spiritual conviction too that I wasn’t taking care of my body. You know that verse that you mentioned earlier, whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do it as unto the Lord. I was kind of doing lots of other ministry stuff as unto the Lord, but I wasn’t literally considering what I was eating or drinking. One of the things I’m hearing clearly is you have to be motivated. I mean you were in this funk if I could call it that fog and you know, you’re just getting up every day, loathing, looking in and getting dressed and then by two o’clock, no energy. I hear all that and then that motivation occurred. So what are the practical ways to achieve once you’ve got the realization that I’m not in a good place now, what do I have to do? What are some of those practical things that we can do? So I began to just look at my day, where were the times of day and the types of foods that I was eating that were triggers for me. And once I got clear on that it made it much easier to put a practical change into place. So I noticed for me, okay, I’m tired By the end of the day I have these four lovely boys, but by the time they’re in bed I’m wiped out and I just wanted to sink onto the couch and reward myself for getting through the day. And so for me, like john is ice cream, I would go to the freezer, open up the refrigerator guy would scoop the ice cream for me and it wasn’t just a serving size, it was a nice big bowlful and I would eat ice cream every night for years. And so I began to realize that if I keep doing that, obviously that’s not going to be supportive of getting healthier. And so I had to say, okay, put a different plan in place. You have to put a little sign on the freezer. Amber kitchen’s closed after dinner, brush your teeth so that you have that minty fresh feeling. You don’t want to sabotage that. And just yeah, just some simple practical things to remind me, hey, that old pattern isn’t serving you, you’re doing things differently now the kitchen’s closed. And then internally, I also had to realize that the pull to ice cream two sugar to some of those foods was a numbing mechanism for me as I spent time with the Lord and really tried to pray through Lord, why am I turning to food so often? Is it just the sugar or is there more to it? I realized that I was not processing a lot of my emotions grief in particular. I’d had a miscarriage a couple years earlier and there were things that I just had not fully worked through with the Lord and I knew that I needed to process that emotionally. And that was a key turning point for me and my husband and I think boredom eating might be more category. I can relate to. You know, you just nothing else to do. Yeah. So you’re not even hungry and you go to the pantry and open it up and find those puffy cheetos. It is a big one. Yeah, that’s the boredom for me. That started early on when I was a mom with young kids. I had a big transition in life. I had been working now I’m home with kids, my husband is going off to work and while I wanted to always be a mom, that was the thing I looked forward to most in my life, I actually found myself not enjoying the mundane nous of that everyday routine and I would, you know, get up, cook, clean, do the parenting. And I started to grow frustrated with my life. I thought really, you know that I don’t feel like I have a lot of purpose. I mean I know that raising my kids is an honor and that it’s a blessing but try as I may. I was bored. I didn’t enjoy it. Like I thought I would, I loved seeing my kids discover their world. Meanwhile my world started to shrink and it felt much smaller and so that just turned to, well I can cook. I’m home. I’ll just start cooking all these amazing things and I’ll try new recipes. It’s just something creative to do, fill the time and before long, you know, somebody had to eat all that food. It was me. I was the one that was there. The littles didn’t eat very much. So it put me on a trajectory of this pattern of overeating as well. And it was because I felt very purposeless at that time. This is focused on the family with jim daly and our guest today is Amber leah. We’re talking about her book food triggers, exchanging unhealthy patterns for God honoring habits and will encourage you to get a copy of that today, click the link in the program notes or give us a call 800. The letter A and the word family described how you get rid of the boredom eating though. How do you give it the boot and what do you replace it with? Okay, so the ultimate food fight is exchanging unhealthy patterns for God honoring habits. That was the ultimate food fight for me. So I had to look at that pattern of just cooking to try to fill the hole, which it didn’t really just being bored and say, okay Lord, I need to get back to my quiet time with you and be more intentional. So when my kids took a nap instead of baking, I went back to my bible and I started to explore like what is the thing that need that I’m seeking, what is the hunger that I’m really craving. You know, what is that thing? And so I began to realize that I just felt purposeless, even though I loved being a mom, I didn’t feel fulfilled. And I began to recognize that I had a lot of selfishness that I was making everything about me. You know that I wasn’t enjoying this instead of again, doing everything as unto the Lord, you know, even that mundane task of taking care of the home and and the joy of being with my kids, that there was great purpose in that, that that was a blessing and I had to reorient my thinking and where God had me in that season and turned to him instead of the food. Yeah, that’s good, I mean that makes sense to me, I mean try something different than putting something in your mouth, right? It is such a weird based habit though, it is a human being, Why do we lean into that? Because it’s what everybody around us does too. I mean culturally this is just what we do, everything is so focused on food and it’s very accessible and we have tv shows about it and it’s everywhere you look, there is food and so we’re just conditioned to turn to food at every moment for everything for every occasion. If we’re sad, we turn to food if we’re bored, we turn to food if we’re excited, we’re celebrating a win at a soccer game, who’s the snack parent, you know, who’s got all the treats, everything is about food at churches, food christmas time, it’s the cookie exchange, you know, we’re just very much focused on food that does say something about how God wired us though, there is a uniqueness there, that the bonding around a meal etcetera, family evenings around dinner and there’s something really good about eating together Yeah, and were designed for community but when community means food and that’s our focus we can get off track. So we don’t want to neglect getting together, we don’t want to neglect being together but we also want to be careful about what that culture looks like and how can we foster it to make it something that’s actually going to serve both our health journey and the other things we’re looking for in community like the fellowship. So you know my husband, he had a group of gentlemen that would come to our house and yes the fire pit we had the fire pit and we would you know Hollywood is a difficult place to be when you are a believer and so they need encouragement and so we would put on this lavish meal and uh just a good old fashioned fire pit in the backyard overlooking the valley. Beautiful just sometime of encouragement and prayer for these men working in Hollywood and I would take a lot of pride in putting out this lavish spread of lasagna and garlic bread and and all kinds of desserts, multiple desserts you know lemon pie with lemons from my orchard and I took a lot of pride in that. Yeah right my italian husband that was a reward for him. Yeah and so eventually though when I started on my health journey and I made a decision to change and to really find my purpose instead of continuing to pick my poison, which was the food and to really begin to look at, how I even host events and, and approach community. I had to change all that. You know, we started doing barbecued chicken and lovely salads and instead of all the desserts, you know, we would have a fruit platter with some yogurt dip and it changed and guess what? Nobody complained, nobody said, oh, I missed the cheesy garlic bread and they came back to 2nd and 3rd time they kept coming back because really they were there for the fellowship that was their focus. I was trying to make it about me and about the food and they didn’t really care about that. It was the gathering together that matters okay. So that’s good because you’re hosting that you can decide what to make and what to put out. You can feel good about it. But when you’re going to somebody else’s fire pit party, yeah, what do you do to manage? You know, kind of looking for the things you can eat. Yeah. So when you, when you’re going to a gathering and you know, there’s going to be food there and likely it will be things that you may not want to eat. I say, don’t go hungry, first of all, eat before you go choose something healthy that you feel good about. If it’s a potluck or something that you can contribute to or even if someone is willing to host, you can still offer to bring something, bring something that is on whatever plan that you want to use or whatever type of diet that you may be, um fostering in your home and contribute in a way that’s healthy. But ultimately I try to make a goal at every gathering to be a blessing to others, to meet at least three new people to engage in conversation and to stay away from the food table. I don’t need to make that my focus. It doesn’t have to be all about the birthday cake instead. What about the people that are there? What, what in what ways can I notice the decor and the, and the fun things around me and all the other touches that the hostess or host has um done to make this a lovely event and not so much care about the food. No, it’s so true. And last night, I mean we had some guests over for dinner and I wasn’t feeling like dessert, I didn’t need it and we had a good meal and then jean put cheesecake out for everybody. And that’s the point. You got to say even if it’s on the plate in front of you, you got to kind of push it away. I didn’t really have the desire, but I ended up eating it. Yeah. Just because it was there, it’s there. Yeah. And you know, I think a big thing that people miss out on when they’re going to gatherings or events or they’ve just been asked over for dinner is Yeah, I know, but advocating for yourself, you know, saying to your host, hey, I just want you to know I’m on a health journey, I’m eating healthier these days. I do not want to inconvenience you. Is there something maybe I could bring oftentimes people will want to accommodate you? You know, they’re, they’re there to bless you. And so advocate for yourself, don’t be afraid to let people know about the changes that you’re making, sticking with that stress eating. Why does that have such a hold on us again, we kind of started there, but we’re wrapping into the end here. And what can we do do about it. So with stress, there’s a few things that we can do a lot of us exercise to lose weight and exercise. For me, my new way of thinking is that exercise is really for stress management. It releases endorphins. Yeah, it it does. So if we can think of exercise, not as a way to lose weight, let’s let our nutrition do that. But let’s think of exercise activity just to release endorphins to help with stress. But then also looking at that pattern of turning to food when we’re stressed and let’s replace it with a God honoring habits. You know, maybe you just need to take a bubble bath. Maybe you need to put on some worship music and light a candle and just have some calming behaviors. There’s certain things that we can do practically to combat those patterns. But then also again, always to go to the root of it and say, okay lord, you tell me to cast all my anxiety on you and I’m not doing that. So I need your help, I need you to help me cast my anxiety on you to put in place some healthier habits that are going to combat the stress and to recognize that God is for us and he doesn’t want us to operate from a place of feeling emotion for our emotions too. Um enslave us. Our emotions should serve us. So paying attention to the stress to the emotions, to all of those things and then going back to God and saying Lord help me to use these emotions these circumstances for good and not for my harm. Yeah, I like the idea of finding ways to calm yourself down because this, this environment that we’re in always ratchet you up. So to be intentional about finding ways to calm down, that’s a good thing and I’d say even a biblical thing, right? It’s kind of separating like jesus did separated from the crowds from time to time, I’m sure the disciples were thinking, but your God, you can do so much in this time, so just keep working Lord, I mean that’s not healthy. He didn’t demonstrate that and he peeled off and got kind of got his tank filled up again. Let me let me ask you in terms of emotions, emotions in general can drive that overheating. Like we’re describing, you have a three step process that you use. I think it’s stopped challenge choose described those well, emotions beckon us to move quickly. They want us to react and to do it now and emotions are great, but they are not great if we’re often acting in the moment and we’re irrational about it. So the idea of stop challenge, choose and I like to even put, breathe in there, stop challenge, breathe and then make a better choice. Stop when the emotions rise, challenge them, dig a little bit and say, okay, why am I feeling this way? Why is my body tensing? Why am I having the urge to drive towards the drive through instead of home? What are what’s happening right here? Challenge it dig into it and then choose make a choice. I’m either going to choose to give in and to yield to this moment or I’m gonna choose to honor what I’ve committed to and being healthy and remembering your why in that moment, But being cognizant, being aware, being intentional, I think is what God calls us to do that self control. You know? And I hadn’t thought of this, but it popped up in that example, the feeling that you had to finish everything right? I mean, that’s where I make a mistake. I mean, somehow I don’t know how I got that, that, you know, beaten into my head, but somehow something is on your plate. You got to eat it all counterintuitive, right? Why do I have to eat it all? Yeah, Well because they’re starving Children somewhere. What kind of argument is that? I know and globally, right now more people are actually dying from overeating than malnourishment. So those days are behind us think of that and portion controls and portions are out of control and that’s a good way to do it though, isn’t it? I’ve heard people that have done that, they just cut the meal and half absolutely the other half of the doggie box or whatever they call it. Now start looking at labels and see what a serving size actually is. My kids don’t eat out of a bag anymore. They, if I hand in the bag, they’ll wait for a bowl because they know mom’s gonna ask them to portion it out and you know what’s so good about that. You start feeling the change and it kind of reinforces the positive choices that you’re making. Now you go to the wardrobe all the way back to the beginning of this discussion when you talked about opening your, your wardrobe. Now you feel a little better. You’re a little more motivated for all the right reasons. So I think at the end here, it’s really speaking to that person, maybe you know that woman who you described before, that is loaded with guilt and shame and she might be in that spot. I don’t want to create the poundage, but it’s more and Guys to I’m there, you know, I’m thankful I’ve lost about Â£30 over the last couple of years, but I got more to go but speak to that heavy ladened heart, you know, she doesn’t even know, she can just put the left foot in front of the right foot. And my husband is mentioning it way too much. It feels overwhelming for many of us and what I want listeners to know and understand is this doesn’t have to be hard. There are some very simple things that you can do very simple practical exchanges that you can make, that are going to give you a lot of freedom and movement in the right direction, even just having 88 ounce glasses of water every day, trying to protect seven hours of sleep. Being intentional, enlisting an ally in your life that can journey with you on your health journey. There’s a lot of simple things that make a big difference. Don’t be overwhelmed. You know, our enemy is going to try to tell us that it’s too hard that you can’t have victory. You’ve tried too many times before. It’s always going to be the same and that is not the God that we know God says to us that we are a new creation. He says that he is an ever present help in trouble. He says that his plans for us are good to prosper us and not to harm us. And so we are not powerless. We are not the victims of our past. We do not have to listen to shaming language, but we will need to exchange those unhealthy patterns with God honoring habits. It starts with truth and then practical steps in the right direction. But there is so much hope. Yeah, Bring on the asparagus to bring it on so good. Thank you so much. And what a great book. Food triggers and you’ve hit so many key issues and it’s like anything, you know, food sex. I mean, these are core thanks to who we are as human beings that God created for the right direction. And then we give up the truth for a lie and thank you for the reminder that God’s way is a better way. And I hope people will tap into focus on the family. Get a copy of this resource. It’s such a great book. And if you’re struggling in that area, which I think 47% of us adults are according to the obese statistics, we should go ahead and get this book and put it to work today. So get in touch with focus on the family. Be part of the ministry. Make a donation of any amount. One time gift or even better monthly gift that helps us really stabilize the budget and we’ll send you a copy of Amber’s book as our way of saying thank you for being part of the ministry donate as you can when you call 800 the letter a and the word family 802 326459. Or click the link in the show notes to make that donation and request your book, Amber again. Thanks for being with us. Thank you for having me. It’s always such a blessing to be here. I hope your listeners will be encouraged on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. I’m john fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in christ