“You are what you eat.”
Do you believe that statement?
I think it’s more accurate to say, “You are what you consume.”
More on that later.
As a person who recently acknowledged a food addiction, I’m beginning to see it’s not really about the food. Yeah, yeah. I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t know. But bear with me anyway, okay?
For most of my life, I’ve reasoned my diet wasn’t hurting anyone. But I’ve come to realize it has been hurting my relationship with God and the way I see myself. Food addiction is tricky. I mean, we need to eat to stay alive. However, that’s only the physical part of it. We all know it’s possible to use food for more. And while we’re at it, let me say that I think food addiction is one of the most (if not the most) “acceptable” sins in and outside of the church.
In my recent post “My Confession of Food Addiction,” I acknowledge how my relationship with food and God are closely linked.
So, with the Lord’s help, I decided to do something about it. I devised a plan of action (read about it here). And now I’m living happily ever after. Wrong! More like all hell broke loose. Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit. I’m a fiction author, too, ya know. But seriously, things got hard. Things got real.
I honestly believe there was a shift in the spirit realm when I admitted and repented of the addition.
The devil saw my submission to God as the red flag of a matador and came charging with all sorts of temptations and triggers.
I’m sure it doesn’t help that I’m the author of a fictional book series called Beauties from Ashes which exposes an aspect of the spiritual realm including battles between angels and demons. The books also deal with how the enemy uses our habits and addictions to keep us prisoners and far from God’s freedom. The devil doesn’t like when we expose his crafty ways.
When the Lord opens the eyes of one of His children to see an area of bondage, the enemy works overtime to keep the believer chained to slavery.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
I recently found myself in some tough waters emotionally. Let’s just say there are lots of changes going on in my life as I approach turning 50 in September. One major thing (aside from hormones going berserk) is my middle son, Chad and his sweet wife are most likely moving out of state.
When Chad called and told me the news, my heart sank. Although I am proud he will be advancing in the career of ministry— for which I’m super proud—I felt a sense of loss. It was the final straw in an already emotionally charged few months.
So, what did I do about it? I had a pity party, of course. And no pity party is complete without junk food, right? For others, it could be alcohol, porn, drugs, shopping, cutting, etc. My drug of choice has been food. And I turned to food for comfort and to help me numb those raging emotions and hormones.
As I wallowed, I ate cereal. Watched TV Ate chips. Drank soda. Watched TV Ate various snack foods. Watched more TV I remember thinking, this doesn’t even taste good. But I still kept eating and watching TV until it was time for bed. After laying there feeling completely defeated, I fell off to sleep until I woke in the wee hours of the morning sick to my stomach. Hmmm, I wonder why?
Never in my life have I eaten to the point of vomiting (that is without sticking my finger down my throat. I used to be bulimic, but praise God that is in the past).
Rather than go back to bed, I decided it was time to talk to God. Ya think?
I sat with my Bible and book about food addiction called Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst (ah, the irony!) and cried.
And my merciful, faithful Father met me with words of comfort and promise.
He didn’t shun me or condemn me. He held me and whispered into my spirit,
“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24
God reminded me that even though I avoided Him, He was still with me.
Yes, God’s Spirit was with me as I stuffed food in order to stuff emotions. But He loves me anyway and His mercy for me never comes to an end. Have you ever thought about that? As Christians, we have the Spirit living in us at all times, which means we drag the precious Holy Spirit into our sin!
God’s desire for me is FREEDOM which is readily available through the life-giving and freeing power of the Spirit (Romans 8:2).
And yet, there was an important factor I had not dealt with. God revealed a few things to me. My Five Step Plan of Action was great but I needed to deal with a root issue in order for the steps to work.
Although I knew what the Bible said, I didn’t really believe that I have access to His power over my food addiction. Maybe the power was useful for other stuff, but not my problem with food.
Sort of like how the characters from the Wizard of Oz didn’t believe in themselves. The cowardly lion didn’t think he had courage and the Scarecrow didn’t think he had a brain.
The root of my problems with food was embedded deep.
Food addiction was a resilient weed that stemmed way back in my family lineage. And the root of the weed has many spider-like veins that ran all through my mind. Things like my mom had food issues and her father had food issues, too.
As with any weed, it must be yanked out by the root. And pulling weeds is hard work, y’all.
But I was like Scarecrow. I’ve been searching to fill a hole called “validation” my entire life. Just like the scarecrow, I felt I needed a degree, a pedigree, awards, accolades to prove I am someone with a brain.
Whenever I felt “less than,” food was my go-to.
Can you relate? Do you suffer from the Scarecrow Syndrome?
I recognized that when I shut God out by stuffing with food, I let the enemy have full access. I needed to change the way I handled the “less than,” “If I only had a brain,” thoughts that had kept me consumed with negativity searching for comfort and validation from food.
So, I asked God to help me see my true value. And He did this by taking me to His Word.
Want to know what God thinks of you? Click who-i-am-in-christ for a FREE printable PDF.
I wanted to consume His Word and promises when my body is telling me to consume food.
My cravings for food have now become an indicator of my true craving for Jesus.
And so, the real journey has begun.
Rather than give in immediately to the cravings (bread, chips, whatever), I stop and ask God into it. Is this the Scarecrow in me, believing lies?
Again, your issue might not be with food. Maybe it’s alcohol, sex, or shopping, etc.
Lies are counteracted with truth.
I’ve been arming myself with the truth of God’s Word. I have go-to Scriptures for times when the cravings are screaming, “feed me!”
I’m beginning to see truth in this statement: You are what you consume.
So, let me consume more and more of God’s promises!
Yeah, that’s right. Rather than feed myself with temporary cravings of freshly baked bread, I’m feeding my soul with the BREAD OF LIFE. I’m consuming Life and not death! Sin leads to death. My food addiction is sin. Anything that takes the place of God is a sin.
I’d like to tell you that I feel completely free. But I don’t. Not yet.
My brain has been hardwired with unhealthy thoughts about myself and food. It’s going to take some discipline to:
- take those rebellious, unhealthy thoughts captive
- and make them obedient to Jesus ( 2 Cor 10:5).
But what I can tell you is this: I’ve had some spiritual epiphanies that have loosened the hold of my chains to food.
I’m going to be sharing this journey with you in hopes we will also share victory over addiction together.
My friend, we can do this with God’s help! Are you with me?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.