Why does it hurt so much?

Emotional pain is no stranger to someone with a food struggle. In fact, if you struggle with food, you probably find yourself stuck in the following painful cycle day after day:

  • Uncomfortable feelings of dissatisfaction, anxiety, and depression
  • A pressing desire to get rid of these feelings
  • Use of food to numb the feelings (binge, purge or starvation)
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, self-hate, and hopelessness after the food abuse
  • Resolution to never binge, purge or starve again
  • Lack of ability to honor these personal boundaries
  • Right back to number one to keep on repeating the cycle day after day…

If you are trapped in this cycle life can be downright EXCRUCIATING.

If you’ve lost some weight through diets and programs before and you find yourself back in your old stretchy jeans and black T-shirt then the pain can almost be unbearably. The shame and the inability to change can make you isolate yourself from people and sink into a deep pit of depression.

Why does this hurt so much?

There are two reasons why people experience deep emotional pain in this struggle:

1. Most people experience pain because of the symptoms and consequences of an eating disorders such as; obesity, clothes that don’t fit, shame about their physical appearance, lack of intimacy in their marriage, illness due to the disorder, relationship problems and social isolation because of the eating disorder.

2. Some people experience pain because of the spiritual problem behind their eating disorder: They feel a deep pain about the distance it creates between them and God, and a sorrow for not being able to live a life of self control. They despised being mastered by food and they ache because they let gluttony and idolatry into their lives. They also have a deep sadness about grieving the Holy Spirit in the process.

You might actually experience all of the above,  but only one of the scenarios that I’ve described can bring you to a place of permanent change.

Most people just want to get rid of the intense pain caused by the symptoms and consequences and they try to fix it with diets, drugs, surgery, purging, and excessive exercise, BUT THEY DO NOT FIND LASTING CHANGE! It’s like putting a band aid on a deeply infected wound. The pain prevails…



TRUE SORROW is when we hurt because WE CAN’T STAND A LIFE WITHOUT GOD AND WITHOUT SELF CONTROL, not because we can’t stand being overweight and unattractive.

I have never seen a woman overcome this struggle permanently without a TRUE CHANGE OF HEART. I know it’s hard to hear, but if we desperately want to look good, but still want to overeat, still want to hang on to certain occasions where we binge, or still have our times where we just don’t care, then the pain that we’re feeling is only about the symptoms and we only want a band aid, not true healing.

This struggle between SORROW ABOUT THE SYMPTOMS and TRUE SORROW FOR THE SIN can clearly be seen in BULIMIA. When I struggled with bulimia I couldn’t bear being overweight and judged by others, but I couldn’t bear being without my favorite piles of comfort food either. I wanted desperately to be free from the symptoms (extra weight) but I didn’t want to give up the sin (gluttony and idolatry). I settled for a band aid, instead of God’s healing power, but it proved to be DESTRUCTIVE AND DEADLY!

Ask God today to bring you to TRUE SORROW for your SIN and then to TRUE REPENTANCE.

You ladies know my heart, I don’t mean to be hard on you, but I have to tell you the truth about this struggle, or you will carry the pain with you forever.

Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart today: WHY ARE YOU REALLY HURTING?

**If you recognize that the pain you’re feeling is only about the symptoms and not about the sin, then please sign up for my free Week 1 where I talk more about this topic.

**If you are already a member and realize that this is still very much a HEART ISSUE for you, then come join us on the forum as we encourage each other to seek TRUE CHANGE not mere band aids for our symptoms.

Jesus is waiting to forgive you…His arms are always open wide to welcome a wayward child, bind up her broken heart, and free her from the chains that bind her…

In His never ending Love

PS: Inspiration for this post came from “When eating becomes sin” by Jack Huges, as posted by Marie on her blog Redeemed from the Pit of Bulimia. Thanks Marie!

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11 thoughts on “Why does it hurt so much?”

  1. Wow Heleen! This article is one of your best. Once again, thank you for your honesty and your constant encouragement to those of us who struggle. Being honest with ourselves and facing the truth head on is vital to our freedom. God won’t leave us where we are but we must take the first step in acknowledging where we truly are. Thanks for reminding us that true sorrow leads to true repentance. I needed to hear this!

    Heleen, you make me want to be better…not perfect…just better.

    Thank you!

  2. Wow, Heleen. You have written this directly to my heart and where I am at right now. Thank God for you. I can completely relate to feeling sorrow after I’ve binged, but really only sorrow from the symptoms of my overeating (feeling fat, clothes that are tight, etc), not true sorrow to God for my sin. I will pray for true sorrow and repentance. Thank God, we always can have hope in His love and forgiveness. Thank you for this article. God bless you.

  3. Heleen,

    Again, excellent and thoroughly biblical post. You are absolutely correct in distinguishing between “worldly sorrow” and “godly sorrow” in relation to bulimia – good points.

    I also wrote a chapter in my book (and posted as a 3-part series on my blog) the difference between regret, remorse, and repentance – specifically for bulimics, but the principles apply to any sin. The series is here:





    Understanding (and implementing) true repentance is such an important part of overcoming an eating disorder that it deserves to be spoken of (and written on) much, although you’ll find that those in the ‘mental health’ fields will attack you for even suggesting that bulimia is a sin that needs to be repented. God enlightens the conscience of those who truly seek Him…may we all be found among that number!

  4. I struggled for many years with the guilt and couldn’t seem to accept that Christ forgave me over and over again, because I wasn’t forgiving myself. I guess I thought I knew better than He what an awful preson I was for not complying to what I knew I should do. It was many years of punishment. Somehow, I had to accept two very important truths in order to take my focus off the shame I was feeling and on what I need to do to make things better. I had to accept His love for me evern when I am not so loveable, and I had to accept that the desire to overeat is just my cross to bear and work with. It may be with me all of my life and that is finally okay. Why should I be immune from having a cross to bear? Everyone else has them and Chist referred to those i the Bible. I had to have one to learn and grow as a Christian. So, if it is mine as it is, then it is a problem to be solved. How best can I carry it and do it is a Godly manner. Not how can I be attractive or look good. It is not about my being worthy. Christ died to make me worthy. But, how do I solve the problem that I have and so, my focus is not on the good or bad of it, but how to solve it . I ask for forgiveness from Christ daily and sometimes more often, but my focus is not on the sin but on how not to sin. If Satan can keep me focused on how bad I am, then I em automatically sent to the guilt and not to the problem solving to take care of the problem. I have felt guilty all of my life and have not focused on a permanent solution. Not my focus is on the right place and I know over time, and I don’t care how long, so long as I am working to correct the problem, that I am where I should be. If I continue to let the devil beat me down, I will never get anywhere and instead of being thankful for the cross I bear and all it has taught me, I will be overburdened with guilt that has already been forgiven and will get no where as I did for the largest part of my life. Hope this is clear. I’m rambling so will stop. God bless you all and your efforts.

  5. Thanks for sharing your heart Pat. You are right, the guilt and shame that comes with this struggle can keep us in a place of defeat for sure. Guilt and shame are two of the enemy’s greatest tools. That is why we should repent from the sin in this struggle that has been keeping us from God (gluttony, idolatry, pride and unbelief) and then ACCEPT GOD’S FORGIVENESS and start the process of surrendering our lives (and our eating) to Him daily.

    You are also right to say that this might be a life long struggle Pat. I do believe however that if God is using it as a means of growth in our lives, we will be growing closer to Him daily, and although the struggle with overeating remains, we will recognize it as the thing that keeps us close to the heart of God.
    However, if it still separates us from God and fill our lives with anxiety and fear we might ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and see if there is still sin left that we have not repented of. Walking it out with God daily (even though we might fall at times) is different than trying to fix it ourselves without God (diets, drugs etc)

    Thanks for bringing up this very important matter of guilt Pat. After repentance there is no more condemnation (and no more guilt) for those who love God, there is only surrender daily to grow closer to Him and love Him more every day.

    In His Love

  6. You are so correct about each of us having something we struggle with, yet that very struggle is what keep us close to Jesus and depending on Him. Such truth. Thank you.

  7. Lord,
    I come to you in the name of Jesus and I thank you for Heleen. Thank you for using her to touch my life as well as others. I am SO SORRY for holding onto selfish ambitions for losing weight. I want DESPERATELY to walk closer with you and to lose my sense of self of what this world has told me I should be and find who YOU say I am. I want to live a live of self-control so that I can become the woman that you made me to be. Please forgive me. I repent from this way of life and I surrender to you COMPLETELY,

  8. Finding that kind of repentance and sorrow in my heart…….that has been the kicker for me. I want it but it has been so elusive. As I listen to the webinars and do my own study on the subject and study God\’s attributes and memorize and do a daily food journal (even if I don\’t end up following it) and have accountability………I am finding the sorrow and repentance beginning to grow. It isn\’t something that I can work up on my own. Oh, one other thing I do which should be first and not last because of it is the foundation to everything else …………is to pray for God to give me that repentant heart that I need. And I would ask for your prayers as well. Thanks.

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