I equate the relationship I’ve had with food over the years to what it would be like to live with an abusive husband or spouse. It doesn’t matter that he hits me again and again and makes me feel insignificant and powerless, as long as He brings me roses and rubs my feet on occasion. In other words, he feeds some perceived ‘need’ that I have, so I keep going back to him again and again. When I begin to recognize the abuse, I muster up the courage to leave, but then I feel that I can’t live without him meeting the few needs for which during the past years of my life, I have learned to count on him. Aargh!
So right now, I choose that this is my moment. I’m done! I may be tempted when the perceived need arises, but I recognize that this relationship is not a healthy one for me and that there are much better things designed by my maker to meet my needs.
So my first move is to kick him out! Clean out the pantry, purify the fridge – throw all his stuff out to the curb for the trash collector and choose life and what is good for me. After all, I am worth it.
I am certain that over time I’ve gained more weight and become less healthy in the “I’m gonna go on a diet tomorrow …” mental place than at any other time. In many ways, it really is like staying in a bad relationship, knowing that it is getting you nowhere, but not finding enough courage to let go of it. You continue to postpone the breakup knowing that in doing so, you run the risk of escalating the abuse to dangerous proportions. Let me say this is a horrible place to live not just because it is unhealthy for our bodies in the future, but because it robs our life from freedom today and keeps us living in guilt and bondage to food.
Has this ever happened to you? You realize that you feel bad and have been adding on some extra pounds. You know this is not good for you and you sincerely want to ‘do better.’ But there’s half a bag of chips in the pantry, some left over dessert from last night in the fridge, and tomorrow you are going to a party where there will be too much tempting stuff in the potluck for your current level of will power. So what are another couple of days, right? So you set the day … say Monday as the day you will start correcting your poor eating habits. Between now and Monday, you decide that because Monday is coming, you’d better clean out your pantry and fridge by eating all the ‘bad stuff’ that’s left in them so you won’t be tempted by them come Monday. You also decide to grab a few extra of the favorites you know you’ll have to pass up for a while. Monday comes and a friend wants to take you out to lunch, so what’s just one more day? Before you know it, months of Mondays have come and gone and you have been consuming far beyond what you want or need because you think your healthy lifestyle is just around that corner.
If I were to be honest, and I am committed to doing so, I have been in the “gonna go on a diet” mode for several months now. My last diet (Medi-weight) had been pretty successful over all as far as the specific goal of losing weight goes, but I got thrown off the wagon when I went on an extended vacation. Not being able to cook for myself, and eating out with family and friends a lot, I decided to let myself be free to eat whatever I wanted and I used the idea of vacation as an opportunity to eat all the things that I had felt I had been deprived of regardless of whether or not I wanted them. Freedom was not the real problem, except that it started a chain reaction of hormonal and chemical imbalances in my body that led me back into my food addiction. The problem really came as soon as I got back home, I empowered my flesh in the law as I hit the “should of,” “could of,” “ought to,” place that is often coupled with guilt and that blah feeling that comes from eating all the wrong things. Then, as I saw the progress I had made on my last diet slipping out of my grasp, I hit the oh so dangerous “gonna go on a diet mode” described above, and have been there now for several months adding pound after pound.
One thing I realize is that even though most of the diets I have done in the past worked as far as a ‘losing weight’ tool, they never changed my relationship with food. The most successful and free I have been is a day close to when I was about to publish my book when I woke up and thought, “what if I applied what I know scripturally about the flesh and my new human spirit to my addictions to food.” It began with one statement:
I am free to eat whatever I want. The question is what do I really want? I want to be healthy and have energy instead of sluggishness. I want to feel good in my skin. I want to enjoy life with my family and not get winded walking around. I actually love the flavor of healthy and nutritious food more than the synthetic man-made stuff I’ve been eating. This is truly, the ‘want to’ of my heart and mind. So because I am free to eat anything, I am free to eat foods that fuel my body properly and I am just as free to say no to things that make my body feel bad.
It may sound crazy, but it worked. Freedom is a great place to start. Biblically speaking … “all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.” – 1 Corinthians 6:12-13
For several months thereafter, I enjoyed eating good nutritional food and I did it with complete freedom for the first time in my life. I call this the “sweet spot,” because it was very different than times in the past when I was “on a diet” of “thou shalt” and “thou shalt nots.” For months, I experienced this ‘sweet spot’ with food, until I hit a chaotic time in my life with a very busy event that kept me from the grocery store, from planning and cooking and ultimately led to my derailment. The added stress from the event also likely released chemicals in my body that wanted a “quick feel good” that comes from that junky stuff and I allowed myself freedom to indulge, which in and of itself wouldn’t have been the worse thing except that once I went too far, my body fell hormonally out of balance and put me right back into familiar food cravings and addictive cycles. This led me back to a place of bondage to “would of,” “should of,” “ought to,” “gonna;” and, that to me is the worst place of all. There are two things at work here, I allowed my spirit to stop expressing the freedom under which it was created, and then activated the activity of my flesh by the law of “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not” enslaving me again in the chains of guilt and bondage. At the same time, my flesh was super-empowered by the stuff I was shoving into it – sugar and salt and unhealthy fats that spun my hormones and chemicals out of whack.
So, there is one big thing I learned from the experience, though admittedly haven’t mastered it … It starts with freedom! But this time, while I am enjoying this freedom and living out of the ‘sweet spot’, I want to pursue a fundamentally new relationship with food hopefully ending the cycle of abuse once and for all.
TODAY: Clean pantry, clean fridge, then off to the grocery store to begin treating myself to a healthier lifestyle.