Pastor Roger Bennett shared some insights about losing weight and gaining it back at this week’s weekly support group meeting at Overcomers Outreach Center.
Roger helped us understand that we focus on the problem at hand which is yo-yo weight gains and losses rather than the real cause of our food problem. To be successful in losing weight and permanently maintaining a healthy weight, we need to dig down and find the root cause of our food addiction.
Take those with a perfectionistic personality like me. I try to engineer all of my circumstances to work out the way I plan.
After all, the Bible says, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). I was convinced and rightly so that God’s plan for me was and is to lose weight and get healthy because I want to glorify God in my body (1 Corinthians 6:20). I don’t think my obese condition glorifies Him.
However, I experienced frustration, guilt, shame, and failure when my plans didn’t work out the way that I had designed and the way that I was sure God had designed. That’s the curse of perfectionism.
So, when I became frustrated due to my plans not working out, I turned to food and ate and ate to give me comfort in my anguish and stress. As a result, my weight ballooned up to 240 pounds.
This caused me to question my faith and question God. “Don’t you love me, Lord? Why aren’t you helping me?” As I prayed more and more, I still turned to food for help and comfort instead of really seeking the Lord’s help. My prayers were questions and not prayers of surrender.
Roger pointed out that when we turn to food instead of God for help, we unknowingly make food our idol.
I couldn’t stay away from fattening, processed food like cookies, chips, or my favorite junk food, Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls. I always had a supply in the pantry and replenished my favorite unhealthy foods when they were depleted. You could say Little Debbie’s and junk food were my idols.
I remember one episode in particular. I’m a little embarrassed to share it, but I put this forth knowing that many can relate to it. You too may have done this or have an issue with binge eating like I did.
I had had a stressful day. My emotions were raw. I was also depressed. At that time, I was in sales, and like the disciples who had fished all night and caught nothing, I had sold nothing. I hadn’t even sold a hundred dollars of product. No sales; no commission. I felt like a failure.
On the route home, I knew a grocery store was on the left. I was somewhat hungry and still and hour and a half drive away from home. “I’ll just pull in here and buy a box of Little Debbie’s. I intended to eat just one package which contained two delicious, yummy Swiss cakes to tide me over til supper because I knew my wife had prepared it for us.
Ha! After I ate both rolls, I opened another package and ate two more. And then another and another until I had eaten the whole dadgum box which contained twelve cakes. That’s 1600 calories consumed in about thirty minutes!
I knew it was wrong to keep eating them not only because of the caloric value but also because I am a Type 1, insulin dependent diabetic. I rationalized by telling myself, “I can just inject more insulin!”
Of course, my blood sugar went through the roof. It wasn’t until the next day, that I was able to get it back below 150. (Normal is 72-108, and for Type 1 diabetics, it is 80-130.)
Emotional eating was killing me and made me feel lethargic and terrible.
But thanks to Roger’s counsel and his Tuesday night support group on addictions that I have been attending for many years and the Thursday night group on Christian weight loss which started a few weeks ago, I am a changed man.
I have gained self-understanding and self-awareness as to what led to my addictions. I have several but my unhealthy food addiction was the most damaging.
I remember several years ago when I had my first victory over Little Debbie. It was another one of those distressing days. My emotions were raw and I needed some comfort from Debbie.
I was having an affair with Debbie, and what I have read, affairs are hard to break. I so wanted her to caress my messed-up emotions and relieve my anguish.
I had stopped at a convenience store to fill-up my SUV. Like the adulterous woman in Proverbs, Debbie called out to me. “Today I fulfilled my vows, and I have food from my fellowship offering at home. So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and have found you!”
But this time, I heard another voice calling me. It was the voice of Wisdom. I stopped in my tracks and listened to her voice. “Out in the open Wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech. Whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm” (Proverbs 1:20-21; 33).
I listened and heeded God’s voice of wisdom.
God’s wisdom, strength, and peace flooded over me helping me conquer my food craving. Good-by emotional eating. Hello Jesus, the “bread of life” (John 6:35). I had not given in to Debbie’s seductive voice. “Do you know how happy I can make you right now?” No, this time the voice of Wisdom was louder and clearer than hers!
These type victories enabled me to achieve more victories. Success breeds success. With each success over self-medicating my emotions with food when life upsets me, I gained confidence and am empowered to say “no” to unhealthy food and binge eating and “yes” to healthy food and small portions. I realized, “I can do this!”
Food is the drug of choice for foodaholics. Some turn to drugs or alcohol and some turn to food like I did. When food is our drug of choice, eating is out of control, and the pounds pile up.
Because I had become aware of how my perfectionist personality drove me to food when things didn’t work out as I planned, I was able to quickly self-analyze my primary issue at the convenience store which could have led me to act out my secondary issue of overeating. Wisdom’s voice roared in my ears like a siren.
As a result, I was able to pause a moment and pray for God’s wisdom and strength to fill my emotions with His wisdom and power rather than being filled with the lifeless and powerless fat cakes that called me.
Feeding our stress with sugar and carbs leads to a quick sugar high that doesn’t last long. Such a sugar high requires more and more sugar and carbs to try and fix our stress points. They never satisfy. Like any fix, it is only temporary.
Those in my weight loss group applauded and affirmed my success Thursday night after sharing with them my little victory at the convenience store that happened years ago.
That’s why finding a weight loss support group is so very helpful. We need insight, encouragement, and support from others. We need safe and nurturing people that understand and empathize with us when we fall off the wagon. We need encouragement not to quit on weight loss, to keep trying, and to persevere.
My group is excited and anticipate next Tuesday’s group meeting to hear other success stories or to minister to anyone who might have had a slip-up.
There is always a primary, root issue that triggers our food addiction like my perfectionism and sometimes depressive episodes that triggered my food addiction.
I put on my weight due to depression. In my depressive states, I didn’t care much about anything. I ate with no regard of what or how much food I consumed. But, I am now aware of my issues, and have overcome them through the power of the Lord, reading and applying Christian principles about food, and the support of our group. I haven’t been depressed since I committed to and started my weight loss journey on January 1, 2017. Today is February 25.
I find that I no longer am I attracted to food – especially unhealthy and addictive processed food. Now, I eat to live instead of living to eat. Debbie doesn’t look so good anymore. But, Wisdom looks gorgeous.
I had to address the past and say to it, “I’m NOT going to let you dominate me anymore. I’m going to be honest with you and quit living in denial. I’m going to face up to you and reclaim my life and health!”
I had to stop creating my problem and do things that restore my health. For me, this meant getting therapy for my depression, becoming self-aware of my perfectionism and food triggers, acquiring knowledge about nutrition and healthy eating, and implementing what I’ve learned through prayer and mediation.
Every one’s issue is unique. Every path to recovery is different. What works for me may not work for you. But at the same time, there are basic commonalities we all have when it comes to losing weight.
We can certainly learn from others like those in our group and a pastor-counselor like Roger. We can learn from professional authors in medicine and nutrition, and we can learn from authors like Lysa Terkheurst and Chantel Hobbs who wrote and published their victories over how food controlled them and their emotions and how they overcame them to control food rather than food controlling them. (See Made to Crave by Lysa Terkherst and Never Say Diet by Chantel Hobbs).
“Thank God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57 NLT).