Recently, I got an email titled “Still Struggling.” The man, whom I’ll call Jim, said he was fighting food addiction. Jim mentioned he feels his options are: a national plan with prepared foods or weight loss surgery. He wanted to know my advice.
I get many emails like this. Most attach a long story about how they got to the point they are at. My heart goes out to Jim and the others who write me because I so understand where they are.
In my past there would be days I mindlessly ate anything and everything usually with my eyes glued to the television set watching reruns or on the go while working insanely long hours trying to meet a deadline for a Christian publication.
I might have eaten an entire bag of potato chips and two dozen cookies all downed with a two-liter of diet soda. And my head told me I was still hungry.
Today, I have to remind myself to eat. Then, I make sure what I eat is actually fueling my body instead of killing it.
The million-dollar question, of course, is how did I get from point A to point B. Jim, and others like Jim, are waiting for me to give them the answer.
The Truth About Food
Here’s the truth, food was never meant to be your friend and companion. God made food for one thing—to give you energy to live a productive life. I certainly couldn’t do that weighing 430 pounds. I was going to have to lose weight — a lot of weight.
To do that I had to change my behaviors. This is a truth doctors try to force on patients. They try to tell us what, how and when to eat and not eat.
Weight Loss as a $20 Billion industry to which I readily contributed. I spent thousands of dollars on every program, even the one Jim thinks is his last ditch effort. Every plan and program I ever went on worked, as long as I stayed on it. As soon as I lost the weight, I’d go back to my regular way of eating and gain back the weight plus more.
Weight Loss Surgery Negated
It even happened with weight loss surgery. I thought it would be the ultimate magic cure. Yes, I lost weight the first two years, but I was both angry about not being able to eat sugar without getting sick and grieving the loss of sugar as my closest friend.
I hadn’t accepted yet that I was a sugar addict. I kept telling myself, like every other diet I’d been on, I can’t wait until I can eat what I want again, mainly anything sweet.
And sure enough with that mindset, I soon began to drink diet sodas, which mimicked sugar and stretched my small stomach. Then, I ate a little candy, then cookies, cakes, brownies and pretty much anything I wanted.
As happened before with other diets and programs, I began to gain the weight back. Though this time, I began to panic. I had greatly altered my body and completed the last effort medical science had for obesity.
Here is where I discovered the REAL secret to weight loss. I had to change my mindset and eat the things that would give me fuel instead of just pleasure.
I accepted I am a sugar addict. In order to get free of my addiction I not only have to stop eating sugar, I have to own that this is my problem.
This is where I had to break up with my best friend, Sugar. I had to say good-bye for good.
No behavior modification will work for those who are morbidly obese until we understand what our relationship with food is right now and how it MUST change.
I remember clearly when my mentor asked me, “Where did you learn your relationship with food?”
The problem with food and overeating, begins with our answer to this question.
Grandma Does Not Equal Food
I knew instantly where I learned mine. It was at the hands of my Grandma, the one I loved more than anyone else in the world. To give up eating all things I learned to eat and cook growing up was going to be difficult.
Although Grandma was gone, it felt a lot like I was sticking a knife in her back. It felt dishonoring to give up the cultural way I’d learned to eat. And yet, I also knew, even from the grave, she gave me permission to do what I needed to be healthy.
My Grandma was not her famous oatmeal cake, chocolate pie or hoecake. She was the one who held my hand, cried and prayed with me through all of my difficult seasons. She’s the one who gave me hugs no matter what I did.
If she was here she would be the one proudest of my weight loss. She became my inspiration rather than my holdback on the journey.
God Wants Us Healthy
Understanding that it would OK with Grandma was important, but even more important was finally understanding how very much God wanted me to be healthy.
I began to see how I had put all the things I loved and craved above God in my life. I felt I couldn’t or wouldn’t want to live if I could not eat the things I craved.
Knowing that God has a plan for my life which does not include eating all the cookies I can stuff down me was so important. He created food as fuel for our bodies.1
God never intended food be for pleasure or recreation but for food to sustain life. I had turned food into my go-to source for comfort, pleasure, recreation, enjoyment, protection, companionship, pain anesthetizer and a way to hide any and all emotions.
I knew I could not change my mindset about food without God’s help. What God said to Paul became my motivation. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in (your) weakness.”2
To Jim, you and anyone else still struggling with food addiction, let me just tell you this. God wants this for you more than you do. He will help you, but first and foremost you must want to do things God’s way more than you want a cookie.
Are you still struggling? How badly do you want to stop struggling? You can do that today. For more information, go HERE.
1 Genesis 1:29-30 NLT
2 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
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