food issues

Food for Thought: The Holidays

By: Katy Martin, LPC

Oh, the holidays.  Christmas lights are appearing on houses, Christmas music is playing everywhere, and Christmas trees are beginning to glow in windows.  Stores are highlighting great gift ideas and sales.  Stores are filled with crowds and calendars begin filling up with parties, gatherings, and holiday traditions.

And should we mention the food?
Sweets are everywhere, aren’t they?  Cookies, bakery items, and treats that would make fantastic gifts for that person in your life.  (Trader Joe’s has the best!)  Aisles at the grocery store suddenly have entire sections dedicated to making the perfect green bean casserole and holiday trimmings. 
Not to mention the fact that it feels as if most holiday gatherings and parties are centered around food.  Fancy dinners, potlucks with co-workers, cookie parties with friends, and we can’t forget those holiday dinners with the turkey (or ham) and every side dish being some sort of casserole.  We dress up, gather together, and celebrate with the people in our lives.
Food is a big part of this season, isn’t it?  We cannot escape it.  We truly have an abundance of food that God has blessed us with.  For some, it’s wonderful, we’re thankful, we enjoy it.  For some, it’s beyond overwhelming.  If we have an unhealthy or dysfunctional relationship with food, it is a marathon of anxiety and/or destructive behavior. 
How do we stop this cycle?  It might be helpful to share your anxiety with a friend, pastor, or mentor.  Checking in with a therapist can get you on the right track.  Practicing self-care by spending time with people in positive settings, preparing yourself for certain food situations, and maintaining good food and exercise habits that you have formed previously in the year.
In the book, “Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food” by Jan Chozen Bays, MD, she encourages the Zen practice of mindfulness to utilize self-care.  Mindfulness allows you to be fully present in the moment.  Try asking yourself these questions when you begin to feel overwhelmed or anxious:
Am I hungry?
Where do I feel hunger? What part of me is hungry?
What do I really crave?
What am I tasting just now?
I want to encourage you during this time, particularly if you know the holidays are a difficult time for you or if you suspect you’re heading that way.  No matter how severe your struggle is; you can care for yourself and enjoy this time of the year.  
Merry Christmas!

Our Kids’ Body Image

 By: Katy Martin, LPC

Food and body image can be intimidating topics to bring up with anyone, particularly with our children whom we want to protect.  I believe that it is important to be proactive with our kids in speaking praise to their uniqueness and gifts before the world can make them believe otherwise.  We have the opportunity to prepare them for what they may encounter at school, in the media, and elsewhere as they grow.

The book, “I Like Myself!” by Karen Beaumont is such a wonderful children’s book that I highly recommend.  It celebrates uniqueness and embraces who we are in a silly way.  It is a fun book to read but can also present great opportunities for further discussion about who we are and how we look.  And it’s a great resource to begin to plant positive “seeds” of encouragement and acceptance of self at a young age. 

This book is just one small tool in the midst of God’s Truth, wisdom from others, many more books, and so many other resources we can rely on.

How are you planting positive “seeds” of encouragement in your kids?  Are you intentional?  Is this something new to think about?


This is just one in the millions of battles we will have with and for our kids.  God, give us strength to raise our kids in love and Truth.

What Kind of Relationship Do You Have?

By: Katy Martin, LPC
With food, that is.
“On this journey it’s important for you to have a true understanding of what healthy eating really is. We’re not talking about eating only a sugar-free, fat-free, purely organic, or low-carb diet. In fact, healthy eating has less to do with the type of food you eat and more to do with the relationship you have with food and God. Healthy eating in the HEAL sense is having an emotionally healthy approach to food. It means bringing God into the center of your relationship with food and learning to trust and obey the way he made you.” Taken from HEAL: Healthy Eating Abundant Living, pg.35.
Have you ever thought about the relationship you have with food? Are you happy with it? Are you healthy? Is it an abusive relationship? How do you feel?
Let’s talk about it at our HEAL group, beginning soon at Avenues Counseling. This 8 week small group experience will provide insight into your personal body image story and relationship with food. The cost of the group is $125 for the 8 sessions and including materials. For more information, or to sign up, contact Katy Martin, LPC at katy@avenuescounselingcenter.org or at 314-910-1394.  There are just a few spots remaining.

What Does Healthy Eating and Exercise Mean to You?

By: Katy Martin, LPC
It’s not a secret that I love walking with people through body image issues and food struggles. People who know me, know that this is a passion of mine and something I enjoy. However, I often notice that people are sensitive to bring up their own eating habits and exercise routine for fear that I may comment or make a judgment. Please let me clarify what I truly believe:

Healthy eating and exercising are not bad.

In fact, those are ways to take care of what God has given us. We cross the line when our thoughts, hearts, actions, and lives become centered on the next meal, exercise, and overall appearance. When you begin manipulating food and exercise to punish or reward, you may need to reflect on what’s going on inside of you. We read in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” We do not have to be bound by the image in the mirror. We do not have to be bound by the comparisons we make with other people. We can begin to experience freedom in our everyday lives without distraction. Christ provides freedom from the bondage we face in this world, including food and body image issues.

Sure, dessert or a long walk or run is a gift for yourself, but if you are really honest, how much of this is affecting your heart and mind? Deep down, how much of your attitude towards food and exercise directly affects the thoughts about what you see in the mirror and, ultimately, who you are?

If you feel that you can identify with some of these struggles and want to explore them a bit more, feel free to contact me at katy@avenuescounselingcenter.org. If you would like to join in a group discussion concerning these topics, consider our next HEAL: Healthy Eating & Abundant Living group beginning in August. Go to http://avenuescounselingcenter.org/uploads/HEAL_flyer-1.pdf for more information or contact me.