Advice Column

Are You in Love with Food? Break Free from Overeating with The Hungry Games

4 Comments 07 January 2013

THG--front coverPMHere’s another excerpt from The Hungry Games: Lose Weight God’s Way & Never Diet Again, my new ebook. From Chapter 8, Last Word.

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One of the major issues facing Christians who struggle with weight loss continues to be an emotional dependence on food. God created us as interactive, loving people. He placed inside of us the longing for acceptance, for unconditional love. Who among us doesn’t hope and pray to find a mate or a best friend who loves us without limits? Who doesn’t yearn for healthy, satisfying relationships in which we connect—heart to heart, mind to mind—with those we love most?

            Then why wouldn’t it follow that we would experience that same longing in our hearts and minds for a spiritual connection? We’re not satisfied with a one-and-done approach to relationships, so why would our ultimate relationship with our Savior and Lord be any different? It’s not. We need him every single day. No matter how we reach God, no matter how we come into our relationship with him, we all sense that satisfaction at being fully known, yet fully loved. We marvel at the extent of this unconditional love. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NIV 1984). Especially when we consider our own depravity and the depth of our sinfulness, we fall at the feet of Jesus and thank him for his sacrifice, his grace, his unconditional love. No one loves us like he can. No one ever has. No one ever will.

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction

            Still, people try to fill that Jesus-shaped void in their lives with myriad unsatisfying things. Drugs, alcohol, porn, TV, money, fame, relationships, food. Yes, especially food. By running to these other loves, other idols, we attempt to satisfy that deep longing for the security and peace that only Jesus can provide.

            Consider this love letter:

             When I’m not able to be with you, my heart yearns for you. I arrange for secret meetings so no one knows we’re getting together. I dream about you every night, every day. I long to spend time alone with you—and shut out an intrusive, judgmental world. I orchestrate ways to meet with you in secret. No one needs to know but the two of us. I never tell anyone about our special time together. When we meet, you fulfill me. You satisfy my deepest longings. You touch those places in my heart that feel lonely and scared and sad. I’ve become dependent on your focused attention, your complete devotion.

Sometimes I ask myself why I hide you from the rest of my world. I’m not sure why I don’t want anyone to know about us. Perhaps I’m ashamed. Maybe it’s embarrassing. I do realize my relationship with you is wrong. I understand my dependence on you is sinful. I just can’t help myself. I keep running back to you, desperate to have you fill me. You are my secret affair, my undisclosed lover.

You are food.

 I’m in Love!

It’s rather gross to think about a love affair with food, isn’t it? But when we scheme ways to eat in secret, when we hide or hoard food, we reveal the depths of our dependence, our devotion. We think we’re so smart, so clever, so crafty. We think we have everyone fooled. No one knows about our clandestine affair, our dependence. We think we’re simply satisfying a temporal craving. The sad reality is, after we do this enough times, the sin has us in its grip. Our cravings lead us toward slavery. We find ourselves in bondage to eating.

            But taking pleasure in preparing food and enjoying eating it doesn’t necessarily constitute gluttony. The sin of gluttony must include an all-consuming (no pun intended) physical appetite—one that trumps and/or replaces our spiritual appetite.

            Gluttony has become the sin we Christians want to sweep under the rug. We figure if we ignore it, maybe it won’t expose our dependency. We can talk circles around the health debate, as we denigrate alcohol, tobacco and drugs. What hypocrisy! Many followers of Christ would never consider drinking a six-pack while watching a football game or smoking as a means of relieving tension, but they’ll chow down at the all-you-can-eat buffet twice during the week and on Sunday. But Scripture doesn’t distinguish between the vices. Proverbs 23:20-21 holds this warning, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags” (NIV 2984). Similarly, “[h]e who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father” (Proverbs 28:7, NIV 1984).

            Any overly zealous physical appetite—whether it be for alcohol, cigarettes, Hydrocodone or banana pudding—makes us susceptible to sin. When we step into the place where we can no longer control ourselves, we dishonor God and our bodies.

            We must absolutely break free from this dependency. We must return to the only real, satisfying source: Jesus Christ. Without him, any attempts to control diet externally will surely fail. Or yield only temporary results.

            Have you ever known people who lose 10, 20, even 30 pounds only to put it back on months later? I have. In fact, I’ve been that person. I’ve looked at myself in the mirror, disgusted with the opposite “after” picture, the one that reveals my lack of self-control to the world. The one after I put back on the weight I struggled and worked so hard to lose.

            Disgust, shame, fear, self-loathing—all these feelings swirl around in our brains. We know it’s wrong. We know we should stop. But we feel powerless to do so.

            And, truthfully, we are powerless to stop . . . on our own.

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Thankfully, we’re not left to our own devices. We have all the power of the God of the universe on our side–if we will only tap into his strength. Need help learning (or relearning) how to do that. I encourage you to check out The Hungry Games on Amazon.com. I pray it offers you hope and healing.

Now, do you have your own food struggles to share? I hope you’ll find this a safe place to do just that.

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I belong. To God, to Bret (my husband of 23 years), and to my precious children—Charlie, Molly & Reese.

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