The Nurture-Food Connection

The roots of the nurture-food connection have its origins at the moment of birth when we are delivered to our mother’s breast for nurture. In addition to receiving immunity-building colostrum, we receive the comfort and bonding that tell us that we are safe, warm, and loved. After all, we have had a frightening journey through the birth canal and have experienced the loss of our secure environment in the womb.

The nurture-food connection
begins at the moment of birth.


What an instantaneous relief! Our little hearts are quieted, our fears allayed. We are, in a moment, fully provided for and protected. Therefore, we learn, in the first moments of life, how good nurture feels, and how nourished we are at the breast. How wonderful that God provided this most precious and intense experience for us! He has manifested a facet of his personality as “El Shaddai”, the “Full-Breasted one”, the Mother Heart of God.

As we sojourn through this life, with all its pain: abuse, neglect, rejection, disappointment, abandonment, loss, and grief, we relentlessly pursue that which will halt our suffering and ease our pain. We are like the infant instinctively searching for the breast. It only makes sense that food could easily become the object of our affection.

The Path of Recovery:
Finding comfort that fills us up
without filling us out!


The fewer skills in early life that we were given to address our pain, the fewer options will be readily available to us as adults. The path of recovery then is to “put off” our attempts to nurture ourselves with food, and “put on” other forms of comfort that produce good fruit in our lives and fill us up without filling us out.

Don’t lie to each other,
for you have stripped off your old evil nature
and all its wicked deeds.
In its place you have clothed yourselves
with a brand-new nature that is continually
being renewed as you learn
more and more about Christ
who created this new nature within you.
(Colossians 3:9-10)

The way out of mindless, “unconscious eating” is to begin to pay attention to the feeling preceding the desire to turn to food as comfort. Ask yourself, what am I feeling right now that I might not want to deal with? If you will quiet yourself for a moment, think and pray, something will “rise to the top” of your brain. Label that feeling and purpose to do something different. Tell yourself, “I choose not to medicate this feeling right now, instead, I will do ----------. I know that this will be painful, but I can do hard things!” We can reach out to our Jesus, who is a “man of sorrows acquainted with grief” and know that He will walk with us as we embrace our painful emotions.

Baby Steps are O.K.

Even if you delay the “binge” for 5 minutes, you have taken an important first step. If you choose, then to medicate your feeling away, at least you are making a conscious decision, and you may be able to go 10 minutes the next time.

Remember to: “not despise the days of small beginnings!” (Zechariah 4:10).


This article is by Jennifer Cecil, M.Ed., LPC