And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. John 8:32

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Things that Make us Eat

Although it’s the lies we believe about food (and eating) that make us give in and eat when we shouldn’t be eating, it’s the other things going on in our lives that make us start thinking about food in the first place.

If you were to look at your life and assign percentages to all the emotions and situations that make you eat, what would it look like? This is how mine would have looked eight years ago:

Boredom 10%
Discontentment 25%
Annoyance 25%
Good food available (that I was eating because it was there and really good, not because I went out searching for it on a bad day.) 5%
Procrastination 10%
Unhappiness 25%

I was an unhappy, discontent person in those days, and I ate to try to make myself happier. The solution wasn’t to get a great life, to eat within boundaries, or even to learn the truth about food, although all of that would have helped me lose some weight, I’m sure.

The real solution was to die to myself and the idea that I had to have a certain kind of life to be happy, and then to live for God—to learn to love Him so deeply that I wouldn’t need a relationship, a lifestyle, an adventure, or a delicious treat to make me satisfied.

Thank God, He started me down the path that led towards Him. I was actually a Christian at the time—I had been one for about 25 years already—but my life wasn’t all about God. I was thinking I needed other things to make me happy.

Anyway, He started changing me. One of the main things He used to do that was truth journaling, and through renewing my mind on a regular basis, I began to see my life through His eyes. I lost my discontentment and unhappiness, because He gave me joy. I was no longer easily annoyed, because God helped me see others through His eyes.

So if you look back at my chart—I lost 75% of my reasons for overeating. Naturally, I lost some weight, and it stayed off because God had changed the way I thought and viewed life. I wasn’t just using self-control to keep from eating.

Now if I were to analyze my life now, I would still have reasons for eating too much. In fact, I now have a couple of new ones: stress and fear of gaining the weight back. Stress, because I’ve added writing to my life, and fear of gaining the weight back, because I’ve lost it.

These are two new areas to truth journal for me. I have to put in the effort to see these new things through God’s eyes, because when I’m in the habit of viewing them through His eyes, they’ll no longer bother me and cause me to eat. Does that make sense?

What you could do if you wanted, is to analyze your own life. What would your percentage chart look like? What’s making you feel like eating the most in general (realizing that this could change on a daily basis)?

Emotional eating is such a huge problem to overcome, because there are so many other problems feeding into the behavior. When I look at my percentage chart, I think, “No wonder I always gained the weight back every time I lost it. My life hadn’t really changed, only my eating behavior for a short time.”

There’s no way I could have tackled all those problems at once. When I started working on those areas of my life, weight wasn’t even a motivating factor. I just wanted to get rid of the sin in my life. Losing weight was just a an unanticipated and pleasant side effect of bringing my life into submission under God.

Why don’t you try to make your own percentage chart and see what you learn? It might give you an idea of what to work on. I hope it will also help you understand yourself better and not be so quick to condemn yourself when you fail at your boundaries once again. Because when we look at our percentage charts - it's no wonder we have problems!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Journaling the food vs. Journaling the emotions

Have you ever had one of those days when you feel like eating absolutely everything in the house? It doesn’t matter how good it is—you just want to eat. On those days, truth journaling about the food probably won’t be enough to keep you from breaking your boundaries.

Why? Because there’s something more powerful going on—some emotion, some situation, some person—something that has you so upset that you just want to eat and eat and eat.

On days like that it's usually much more effective to journal your beliefs about the situation itself rather than about the food you feel like eating. Let me tell you what I do on those days in case it will help you with your own struggles.

1. Find out what’s bugging you.

This may seem obvious, but in reality, you may not know what’s bugging you. Think back over the last day or two. Have you had any relationship problems, any looming deadlines, any big worries? Has anyone said anything to you that made you feel bad? Are you experiencing any negative emotions?

2. Truth journal the emotion.

Once you’ve figured out what the problem is—or at least what you think the problem is—you’ll need to carry your thoughts captive to God in that area. Write your thoughts down and number them, then replace the lies with the truth. If you don’t have peace after truth journaling, you’ve probably either missed a lie or you haven’t fully submitted to God.

Sometimes what you’ll find in truth journaling is that the truth isn’t pretty, and there’s nothing you can do about it. In those situations you’re going to have an “opportunity” to die to yourself and live to God—no, it’s not fun, but it’s necessary if you want to experience peace, and there really is joy in submitting to God.

3. Study the emotion.

This will sound crazy, but what I sometimes do when I’m experiencing a real onslaught of negative emotions is to go back to the chapter of Freedom from Emotional Eating on that emotion and rework it.

Even though I wrote the Bible study, it’s an entirely different experience to do the study, because then I’m forced to answer my own questions, and God uses those questions to convict me all over again.

If you have the study, it might be helpful to jump to the chapter on the emotion you’re struggling with. You may want to check out other books on the topic, too, if it’s an emotion or situation you struggle with on a regular basis.

I probably have ten books on my shelf on organization and time management, and I was telling myself today as I truth journaled procrastination for about the millionth time that I really need to get some of those books out again so I can get my life organized!

4. Spend time with God

If you’re going through a hard time, you need to spend even more time with the Lord than usual. Sometimes you really have to wrestle through a negative emotion to find peace, but it’s worth it. Seek God in prayer—pour through His Word—spend the time you need with Him to finally see your situation from His point of view.

When you’re finally able to see a situation or person through God’s eyes, the negative emotions will drain away from you, and His peace will fill your soul. And when His peace fills your soul, you won’t need to truth journal about the food - because you’ll no longer be interested in it. Honest.