Food surrounds us like the atmosphere surrounds the earth. Food is everywhere around us.
For most of us Americans, food is more, much more than eating to live. If you are like me, we live to eat!
Celebration? Bring out the food. The cake. The Ice cream and all the goodies. A church I really like and attend sometimes promoted an upcoming Bible study on Thursday nights. Following the soul food, guess what? Enjoy a dessert. Home made by the ladies! After all, who would enjoy carrots and celery after Bible study?
Whew! It’s a battle for obese people like me.
We celebrate everything with food! And most of us indulge mindlessly especially with friends in a fellowship following a Bible study or church followed by the monthly covered dish, potluck dinner and a dessert table. Yummy!
In other words, we meet to eat! And, I overeat because I enjoy it!
That’s one thing among many that lead to mindless eating and eating when “whatever” is presented before us.
Celebrate a birthday? Go out to eat. Tell the waitress it’s your friend’s birthday, and she brings a dessert on the house!
What would a wedding be without food? I’ve officiated many and the delicious food after a wedding is awesome like in this picture of a wedding I officiated. It’s a fun and special occasion and the food buffet adds to the celebration.
How about an anniversary, a job promotion, retirement, or anything else. What would these celebrations be without food and lots of it? Food and celebrations go together like peanut butter and strawberry jam!
Self-control to say “enough is enough” flies out the window when the good times roll.
Another cause of mindless eating is directly related to our emotion of despondency.
Feel like a failure? Feel worthless? Feel like no one cares about you? Guess what? Many of us eat to fill the emptiness of our heart. And eat and eat and eat only to suffer guilt afterwards. It’s awful. I’ve been there. Perhaps you have too.
Some people drown their sorrows with too much alcohol. And many like me, self-medicate with food. There’s nothing like that good stuffed feeling that makes you lethargic and sleepy to forget your troubles.
But like any pain killer, the pain killer (in this case food) becomes the pain producer. It becomes addictive. Need a fix? Stop at the convenience store and buy a sweet treat.
I remember stopping and buying a twelve pack box of six Little Debbie Swiss Cake rolls when I was in sales. I was stressed. Hadn’t been a successful day. I only intended to eat one pack of two rolls and take the rest home. But, you guessed it, I ate the whole dadgum box. And being a Type-1 diabetic, I poured in the insulin to compensate for the carbs and sugar. Still, my blood sugar shot up. Plus, I felt so guilty and ashamed of what I’d done. I even tried to hide it from my wife so I wouldn’t have to confess why I had lost my appetite. I came home and ate the delicious supper she had lovingly prepared. I felt horrible afterwards fighting high blood sugar through the night.
I was craving Little Debbie’s and nothing else would satisfy me until I mindlessly indulged my craving. That’s what our downside emotions can do to us.
When self-medicating food becomes a habit by eating whatever is in front of us, we have a full blown addiction to food. This results in decreased self-esteem and worsened depressive symptoms.
When you are depressed, you just don’t care about much if anything. I weighed every morning. I saw the scale go up, up, up over time, but it didn’t register with me. I was in denial. “Oh, another pound. I can take they off. No problem.” But, I couldn’t because I didn’t really care. That’s how bad a depressed state I was in.
Then one day around January 1, 2017, it clicked. 240 pounds! Wow. That’s the most I’ve ever weighed! 240 pounds. So, I went to my mentor and pastoral counselor and asked if he had anything to read that could help me. He gave me several books which I devoured like those Little Debbies. That’s what began my turn around.
It’s only been about three weeks now that I made that life change to eat healthily and downsize my portions. I feel energized and victorious just in this short span. It’s been a pound or two lost per week, and one week, I lost only a tenth of a pound. But, that was better than gaining a tenth of a pound. Right? Right!
I have also had verses in the Bible hit me hard. Verses that before didn’t affect me. One in particular is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Now, I thought this verse applied only to sexual sins since Paul discussed that in the preceding verses. But, that’s not the whole interpretation. Honoring God with our bodies applies to food too. Now, I understand that a person can not only dishonor God with our bodies through sexual sin, but we also can dishonor Him with obese bodies like mine too.
Wow! The light clicked on! I know we honor God in many ways. Through a life of sexual purity, through praise and worship, through good works. But through a healthy, non-fat body? Yes! That too!
And I also came across another Biblical truth about food – one of many truths I have recently discovered even though I’ve read them many times. God practiced portion control with the Israelites. How much manna did He command them to take? It wasn’t to make them full to the point of satiety. It was enough only for the day. That’s portion control! If they took more than was needed for the day, the surplus rotted. Well, the surplus of food we eat doesn’t rot in our bodies. It gets stored as fat!
I think that’s why Jesus taught us to pray asking the good Lord to give us our daily bread – just enough portion for today. Not less. Not more.
So at least for the past three weeks, I’ve stopped eating ‘whatever’ I wanted and began eating just enough for each meal. I have eaten healthy. Lots of non-carb vegetables like lettuce, carrots, and celery in a salad with a tablespoon of low fat dressing, a small serving of protein like 6-8 ounces of meat, fish, or pork, and a few carbs like a slice of Ezekiel bread or other low glycemic starches. I can do this and have done it even when we go out to eat.
When we go out to eat or attend a celebration like a wedding reception, I now divide out the correct portions, and that’s all that I eat. Period. No cheating! That’s better than storing it as fat in my body!
I feel energized. I’ve lost a few pounds, and feel better about myself. This little bit of success has made me feel empowered over food. I am in control of what I eat instead of food controlling me. I feel motivated. A little success breeds the motivation to have more success.
And, my depressive fog has lifted.
For me, it’s been an amazing transformation and an amazing revelation of how the body, mind, and emotions are intertwined. Control the food, the body feels better which makes the emotions feel better which makes the mind feel better. No wonder it’s called healthy eating!