I lost a significant amount of weight only one other time in my life. In my first couple of years at Queen’s University I put on the “freshman 15”, only in my case it was the “freshman 40”. I knew things were out of control that summer and so I came home with the idea that I would get my life back on track.
To make a fairly long story short, I realized that my relationship with food (and indulgence, in general) was proportionally linked to the state of my soul. I knew that the only way to change was to admit that it was foremost a spiritual problem. And then I had to repent: totally turn from my wayward path and move in a new direction. I basically had to confess and agree with God that what I was doing was sinful and choose what was right by relying totally on Him. That was so hard.
I feel like this time may be harder because I cannot plead ignorance. I do know better and have lost touch with that dependence on God to deliver me from this bondage. And I am a slave to it. I know that this analogy sounds extreme, but overeating is an addiction and I know I am not the only one that struggles. The proof is in the pudding (or in my case, the muffin top)!
I think part of the reason so many are enslaved by their destructive habits is simply because they do not take God’s view and call it what it is: sin. We are so afraid of offending people or making them feel uncomfortable that we, in essence, enable them to continue down dangerous paths. To speak about gluttony from the pulpit is unheard of and certainly taboo at all the potluck events! Even though verses like 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 remind us that our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit and that we ought to honour God with them, we rarely hear a sermon about how overeating is not God-honouring.
James 5:16 exhorts believers to confess their sins to each other and to pray for each other to bring about healing. This is part of the reason I am blogging. I want to confess what I see to be a problem so that I can be accountable to do something about it. I want to be healed from this affliction but I actually find the church to be rather counter productive in supporting healthy living. I hope this will change because people need guidance to deal with the heart of their issues with food. I know, I do.
One Christian author makes me think that things are looking up for the church. Lysa TerKeurst wrote an excellent book called Made to Crave (www.madetocrave.org) and it addresses so many of these issues from a Christian perspective. I highly recommend the content to anyone who is open to being convicted about idolatry (in any form but especially food) and ready to be shaken out of his/her complacency (though, I must admit, the writing style was a little too…well, let’s just say it wasn’t for me). I commend her for actually speaking truth to a mostly unreceptive audience. This problem is an epidemic in North American culture and there are few people who stand up for the spiritual side of things because it is unpopular. You can sell as many diet and exercise programs that you want but don’t bring God into it. I mean, who wants to be told that they actually love potato chips or chocolate more than God? It’s embarrassing and judgemental and rather intrusive.
The main idea in TerKeurst’s book is that we are attempting to satisfy our craving for spiritual significance with things that will never satisfy. We are looking to food instead of God for our joy, our comfort, our fulfillment, our peace. That is the missing piece in all of our weight loss strategies: until we acknowledge that it is a spiritual problem, we cannot actually overcome our temptations. We will continue in this vicious cycle of weight gain and weight loss with no real freedom. (Yo-yo, anyone?)
So, with the idea that I want true freedom and not just the next quick fix, I have composed a manifesto: a series of statements that I want to shape my actions as it relates to a healthy body. And these are things that need to change permanently. It is a lifestyle overhaul not a “diet” that I am after.
I will share it with you in its current (somewhat seminal) form:
- I will rely on God each moment to deliver me and to satisfy my spiritual hunger.
- I will solicit support and accountability.
- I will examine the motivation behind my cravings and address them with truly satisfying solutions.
- I will eat only when I am hungry.
- I will eat slowly and savour each bite.
- I will eat less and I will stop when I am full.
- I will drink lots of water.
- I will not waste calories on things that I do not really want/need to eat or drink.
- I will listen to my body and feed it the healthy food that it craves.
- I will give in to helpful distractions when I am tempted, to displace the craving (like blogging, chewing gum, sipping tea, walking, calling a sponsor etc.).
- I will plan ahead and anticipate potential concerns for overindulgence (read: parties, buffets, etc.).
- I will keep it simple and not give in to the latest dieting trends.
- I will keep healthy options in my home at all times and minimize unhealthy snacking.
- I will make regular sleep at consistent times a priority.
- I will exercise at least three times a week in some form.
- I will look for ways to add activity to social interactions.
- I will try to choose activity over passivity whenever possible, even if it is simply taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
- I will help others on their journey by being transparent about my own.
- I will read the Scriptures and other edifying and encouraging books.
- I will pray.