Breaking my Addiction to Food

I wrote a blog over a year ago called Serial Quitter about how I lost over 30 lbs over the course of several years. More importantly than the weight I lost, is that the hold that food had over me and my life was broken. During those years, I felt trapped by the weight and what the weight represented. It affected every area of my life because my confidence in myself was low and I had quit on myself so many times before that I didn’t know how I could possibly pick myself back up.

I know how damaging that addiction was to my life and I know there must be others struggling with the same issue, and I can’t help but keep feeling that as a society we are approaching weight loss in the wrong way. I believe it is causing us more heartache and suffering because losing weight the wrong way, cannot be maintained. I think we manipulate the kinds of foods we eat without attacking the root cause of our weight gain which is an emotional attachment to food – or as I call it, an addiction. As a Christian, I would classify that addiction to food as an idol. I essentially replaced God and the dependence I should have had on Him with dependence on food. I used food for emotional support when I when I was stressed or anxious or feeling guilty. If you haven’t dealt with this and don’t abuse food, then you might not understand this kind of compulsion to eat. If this doesn’t ring true for your situation, going straight to changing the foods you eat or changing your work out routine might be the right answer for you. However, for those of us who do deal with this, you get it – it’s a vicious cycle. If you’re emotionally attached to food, you want to eat when you know you shouldn’t and you eat past the point of comfort way too often and then you feel terrible afterwards. That was the cycle I was trapped in for years. Feel stressed > overeat > feel guilty > overeat > feel guilty > binge on food, and over and over again. If this is the problem you face, then manipulating your food intake or working out a ton will help you lose pounds in the beginning, but you have not addressed the underlying issue of food addiction.

I want to be clear, I’m not an expert, this is just my personal story into freedom. I know without a doubt, that bringing this problem to God was the reason I was able to root out this issue for good. Food does not have any control over me now. I love eating a good meal and thoroughly enjoy food, but I have no problem putting down my fork and stopping when I’m full. Simply put, being released from this addiction changed my life.

Why do I keep bringing this food thing up? Because I want to spread the message to anyone else that might be dealing with this kind of addiction that bringing your problem to God while putting in your own effort will bring you freedom. I often think that I don’t have a huge story of God’s saving work in my life, but when I reflect on the fact that I have no issues with food over ten years later, only God can accomplish such a miracle and I think it’s my duty to share his saving power.

I have heard people tell me that my metabolism must be faster or that I’m just “naturally” skinny or because I’m a runner, I’m thin, but I have maintained my weight and actually lost more as I’ve gotten older! I have gone through so many different seasons in my life since this addiction was broken, and still maintained a healthy weight. In the last ten years, I have trained hard for a marathon, but I have also gone months/years without running when I was newly married and had our first daughter. I have gained about 50lbs – yes 50lbs!!! – with each of our two kids (I’m on track to do the same with the third, people!) and I lost most of the weight within about 6 months without any dieting. During all those seasons, my weight and size of clothing has fluctuated in small increments (I don’t weight myself very frequently). I simply eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. What I’m trying to say here is that I think we can get caught up in low carb and Whole 30 and Weight Watchers, and these are all great tools in your toolbox to get an even better body, but they are not the answer to an addiction to food which is to get an even better soul – one that is dependent on God instead of food.

If you want to start your own journey, here are the tools I would offer:

  1. Journalling: I committed to journaling my emotions before and/or after eating and each entry in my journal was addressed to God. I journaled/prayed over what I was dealing with and tried to give them to God before I would go down and give them to food. If I wasn’t successful and still overate, I journaled/prayed about it and why I had eaten too much afterwards and again, brought it to God.
  2. Forgiveness: Ask God for forgiveness each time you reach out to food instead of Him, but also learn to forgive yourself for those times; otherwise, you let that vicious cycle and the enemy win.
  3. Prayer: every day for years I prayed the same prayer listed below. I have even prayed this prayer after each child was born in an effort to focus on what was important – a healthy body and healthy relationship with food, not a ‘perfect’ body that society shows me.

    “Dear God, I surrender my body and my weight loss to your divine care and love. I ask that you remove all excess and unnecessary weight from my body. Return my body to its most healthy and balanced state. Give me eating habits that support my health and life energy. And finally teach me to love my body and care for it from this day forth. Amen.” 

Again, I’m not an expert in weight loss, I just want to share what Jesus has done for me.