Stephanie was one of the most powerful project engineers in Montgomery County. She was responsible for a huge real estate venture being built. As she walked into my office she exuded a strong, controlling, even intimidating presence on her large frame.
However as she sat down, her demeanor crumbled. To my surprise she teared up, “How can someone who is responsible for million dollar projects, feel so out of control?” She asked. “I can tell a hundred men what to do, but I can’t seem to tell myself to quit eating! How can a lowly chocolate chip cookie break my self-discipline?” She confessed that sometimes an entire bag of cookies or potato chips became her dinner. My heart immediately went out to her. This gruff looking woman had a marshmellow center.
Until people understand why they eat, they only mask the problem. In Stephanie’s case, I knew it took a lot to ask for help. I assured her that she wasn’t crazy; there were good reasons why she felt as she did.
1. Sugar releases chemicals that act as a tranquilizer on the brain. It has a relaxing effect that comforts and calms the soul. Small amounts soothe and stimulate the endorphins that react as pain killers. In a highly stressful job, where it constantly required instilling confidence through her abilities, she couldn’t risk showing weakness at work. Therefore sugar became her drug of choice after work. She needed to break that chain of destruction. I urged her to try listening to invigorating or relaxing music on the way home and choose another outlet to reduce stress such as joining a fitness club.
2. It’s not uncommon for someone in authority to feel that although they’ve moved heaven and earth to get where they’ve gotten; believe “stinkin’-thinkin”. “Gee, if they knew what I was really like, they’d know I wasn’t worthy of this position after-all.” (It’s not just women who feel this way.) Crunchy foods allowed her to subconsciously “crunch” down on all that insecurity. We began to develop strategies to help cope with her feelings of insecurity. She chose to spend a half hour each evening de-stressing with a walk, aroma therapy or an inspirational book.
3 In her fast paced environment, many times she worked through lunch to meet a deadline. She brought fattening granola bars with her and ate on the run. When she returned home, her body was starving for nutrients so her brain instinctively reached for the fastest energy available: sugar. I recommended better snacks like grapes, Triscuits with swiss cheese, apple slices or bring a thermos of homemade soup or a turkey sandwich to eat on the run.
4. The last reason I knew would be harder for her to accept. Working in a world of men, her largeness gave her power. As a woman in a man’s field, she was determined not to be dominated and size allowed her to convey that. In her mind, daintiness didn’t transmit power. It turns out, her father was a large man, a very authoritarian figure who demanded obedient, respectful children. Those unconscious feelings of “domination through size,” stayed with her. She continued to believe the lie that size meant strength, and sadly never found the inner resolve to release herself from it.
Real power comes through God, not through men. Realize we have a Heavenly Father who wants only what’s best for us. He understands we can’t be perfect, so let’s strive for excellence in all we do. He knows however, if we continue to follow a path of self-destruction, it will have consequences. He also wants you to know that He doesn’t make junk and that you have value simply because He made you.
Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”