I’m embarking on a new journey today because there is something I am just now ready to honestly confront … I’ve been in a stale, dried-up, going nowhere kind of relationship for some time now and it is no longer working for me.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve used this relationship as a crutch to meet certain emotional and psychological needs that I experience quite often. For example, when I feel sad, this relationship consoles me. When I feel bored, I turn to this relationship to entertain me. When I am stressed, this relationship is there to give me the instant gratification I need to relieve my stress and release some of those ‘feel good’ hormones into my crazy momentary existence. In loneliness, I’ve reached for this relationship as long-awaited welcomed company … a warm hug, a cozy comfortable embrace that fills and satisfies my loneliness. However, even though this relationship has been here for a long time meeting some of my most basic needs in the moment, it has only served to give me fleeting and temporary satisfaction before allowing its abusive nature to wreak havoc on my body, leaving me to feel drained and frustrated, sapping my energy and my intrinsic desire to enjoy life. Just when I’m ready to break up, it stops by once again to bring me the ‘feel good’ I need in the moment, thus keeping me on the hook for one more day.
If this relationship was always abusive, I would have no problem giving it up. But the reality is sometimes the relationship is really nice and those warm and snuggly feelings are quite enjoyable as they lift me out of my despair. So how could I possibly consider giving it up for something more deserving? When I consider the possibility, I wonder what will happen when I encounter the need for satisfaction, for comfort, for warmth, for consolation, and there is nothing there for me to turn to … Hmmm?
I realize by now you may all think I am talking about Rick, my sweet and very non-abusive husband. I am not! I am talking about a relationship I’ve had with food – certain foods in particular which I will elaborate on in a later post.
Several years before I started my recently published book, The Paper Doll Princess, Walking As A New Creation, I was asked by the women’s ministry director of my local church to teach a women’s Bible Study Class on nutrition. At the time, the church ran about 2500 people, and we had a rather large and active women’s ministry filled with some wonderfully qualified teachers. I had taught several Bible Studies through the ministry prior to that so it wasn’t a big deal to be asked to teach something new. But nutrition … of all things? I couldn’t believe she was asking me. At the time, I think I weighed somewhere near 235 lbs at 5’4″ tall. My first thought was “Surely, there is someone in this church that you can find more qualified to teach on nutrition than I.” I still don’t know why she asked, except maybe to gently nudge me in the direction of changing my own habits. My first inclination was to politely say, “No, thank you.” But instead I found myself saying, “Let me pray about it and think about it, and I’ll get back to you.”
Now, I knew I wasn’t a nutritionist, but I generally knew what healthy food was … which didn’t mean I actually ate it. BTW, as a side point, let me say here that just because someone is overweight or obese does not mean that person does not know anything about what is healthy food vs. what is not. In most cases, it is not an issue of knowledge, it’s an issue of the body and the mind and the spirit cooperating with each other – hopefully more on this in a later blog. Conversely, some who are ‘skinny’ also struggle with many of the same types of issues with food. A bad relationship with food takes on many, many forms and the size of a person or the weight of a person does not always tell the truth. I believe many even who are ultra strict with what they eat on a regular basis can still be in a bad relationship with food.
With that said, I was certainly not qualified as a nutrition expert, and I still would not put myself even close to that category. But what I do feel I am qualified for by God at least is to teach the Word of God. Upon contemplating the idea of teaching a class on the subject, I thought it would be fun and interesting to study scripture to see what God has to say about food, nutrition, our bodies and anything else of that nature. For some reason, which I didn’t really understand at the time, I came back later that week and agreed to teach the class, however, with one caveat. I told her I would only teach the class if I could write the study myself using strictly the Bible as my resource. I didn’t want to pick up some random book on nutrition and attempt to teach it. I wanted to study and talk about what God has to say about eating, health, and the body. Thankfully, she agreed.
I did teach the class and I intently studied and wrote all of the material searching from Genesis to Revelation to see what God might have to say about the topics of food and the body. I was surprised to find so many great things in the Bible on the subject matter. I had about 10 ladies that took the class and it was the only time I offered it or taught it. That was almost 10 years ago. Honestly, I got a great deal personally out of both the study and the class discussion. But though I had gained knowledge of truth, my habits and addictions still had a stronghold in the activity of my flesh and have continued to remain there to this day. I didn’t realize then, that God was going to use that study as a jumping off point for me to begin an even deeper study on flesh and spirit realities that ultimately led to the writing of my first book (The Paper Doll Princess, Walking as a New Creation). Now for those who have read my book, you know it is not a book on nutrition at all. However, there is a lot of material in the book that I first began to understand scripturally as I was doing the nutrition study many years before; specifically, information dealing with battles between the will and ‘want to’ of our new human spirit and the will and ‘want to’ of our broken temporary flesh or bodies.
I remember that even as far back as teaching the class on nutrition, my frustration was that I could understand and teach such a subject fluently, but had a very difficult time practically applying the truths I learned to this specific area of my life. All along, I’ve had this question in mind … Is there a way to apply the truths of scripture to help me overcome my own addiction to food? I’ve been playing around with this question for quite some time, but at this moment in my life I believe it is time to experience it. In its fullest scriptural application, I believe my experience should be one of life, freedom, victory, joy and full satisfaction because I know this to be the fruit of walking in the fullness of all I am creation to be thru Christ.
In my lifetime, like most, I’ve dieted many times … Atkins, South Beach, and the dreaded “cabbage soup diet” just to name a few. I’ve counted calories, carbs, fats and everything imaginable. I’ve tried it all, each time having a limited level of success in the very specific goal of losing weight. But in every case, I’ve somehow ended up returning back to that same ole’ familiar abusive lackluster relationship with food regardless of how it made me feel physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Most recently, I did a very strict “diet” plan called Medi-weight. I lost quite a bit of weight (more than 80 lbs) and felt great doing it. I diligently logged every bite that I took, inhaled lots of pills (vitamins mostly, but also an appetite suppressant), got bi-weekly injections of B12 & B6 and a weekly consultation with my dietitian to review my food logs and get my much-needed ‘You can do it’ pep talk. This strict accountability worked really well for me to lose a lot of weight rather quickly. The downside was that it was very expensive and going to the weight clinic 2x a week was cumbersome. I ended up slowly going off of the plan before reaching my goals. Sadly, it didn’t take long for me to return to that same ‘ole bad relationship that I had become so comfortable with in the past only to put about half of that weight back on. 🙁 …. wait a minute, what if weight fixation is not the answer?
I can’t blame my issues on any of those diet plans. They each had positive impacts in my life. Each one of them was genuinely intended to become a “life-style” instead of a “diet” (btw, the newest marketing slogan of popular diets these days … and a valid point as well). The issue lies with me, specifically, something in my flesh that is resistant to making a real change. Inside, I find that I truly have the desire and the ‘want to’ to live a healthy life and eat healthy food. Honestly, I find that it tastes better, I enjoy it more, and I feel better when I am fueling my body with the right stuff. So, what is it that makes me take the cupcake over the piece of fruit every single time? I have some theories based on the Biblical studies I’ve done in the past and based on some things I am currently reading that are more scientifically based.
Let me say up front that I haven’t “succeeded” yet, at least the way success is normally defined (though, I truly hate that term and only use it to make a point). I’ve been afraid to write about this subject for a long time for exactly that reason. But, I think an honest and transparent dialogue about my own struggle might be a good place to start and it might encourage others who are struggling with the same or similar issues along the way.
So begins this great experiment, the goal of which is to fundamentally change my relationship with food by applying the Biblical and Scientific truths I know regarding flesh and spiritual realities. In two words, I call this Food Freedom. Therefore, I am throwing the scale out the window!!! I am redefining “success;” and, I am relishing in the fact that I have learned at least a dozen ways that don’t work for me.
I want to make it clear that I am not writing this to promote any specific diet or eating plan, but I’ll share what I am doing along the way. I’m not writing it to convince you, or anyone else for that matter to do anything. I simply want to open a discussion forum about the struggle itself from a spiritual perspective in a safe environment where we can all share and learn from each other. I also want to share some things I am now doing to try to put an end once and for all to the broken relationship I have had with food. Maybe it will help you in your own struggle, maybe not. Maybe you’ll help me, maybe not. Maybe what I am doing will work, maybe not. I honestly hope it will, but for me today is Day 0.0 – the day that I decide that I want to have a different relationship with food than I’ve had in the past.
For those of you out there who identify with my struggle, will you journey with me?
Today’s Food Diary: Finish the bag of chips in the cupboards, the cookies from the pantry and grab the last fast food hamburger and french fries I’ll have for a while.