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

Monday, January 10, 2011

Not Even One Bite

(Note: This is a re-post of a blog from January 7, 2009.)

When I first started writing my Bible study, I checked out all the books I could find at the library that contained information on emotional eating. In the process, I discovered a whole new section of books that I hadn’t seen before.

Did you know that in addition to the “diet book” section, there’s also a section of books on eating disorders and compulsive eating? I read some of those books, and they were very enlightening.

One of the common threads that ran through the books was the admonition to stick religiously to an eating plan. To eat even one bite off the plan, the books said, was to put yourself in dangerous territory. It could lead to a binge.

I remember thinking at the time that this was the missing ingredient in my own struggles with food. I had my eating plan already in place at the time—a simple plan of allowing myself three meals and one snack each day.

The problem was that I sometimes had a bite here and a bite there that wasn’t on "the plan." While these bites didn’t add up to many calories, they still weren’t good for me. What they did was weaken my boundaries—the boundaries I had put in place myself to protect me from emotional eating.

Unfortunately, weak boundaries often lead to broken boundaries. What begins as a crack in the dam soon becomes an all-out flood—and I had my share of “floods.”

The books made me see the necessity of following the plan exactly. In other words, not one bite outside the boundaries. Not even a lick of the fingers. Nada. Nothing.

I determined to be more faithful about following the boundaries, and you know what? It made a difference. A big difference. Sticking rigidly to the plan made it easier to actually follow the plan.

Whether your boundaries are hunger or meals, I encourage you to follow them exactly. Don’t eat even one bite outside your boundaries—because even though it's hard to stick to your boundaries, it's a lot harder to stick to them after you break them than before you break them.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Starting Over

(Note: This is a re-post of a blog from April 27, 2009 with an update at the end. In honor of the first Monday of the New Year when I imagine a good percentage of us are planning to start eating healthy once again! )

Do you ever wonder if you’ll struggle with food for the rest of your life? I know I used to feel like that. Eating seemed to be that one thing in life I would never be able to get a handle on. I didn’t control food—it controlled me.

I know many of you who read this blog feel the same way I used to feel. You wonder if you’ll ever get over it, and you’re tired of the battle. It’s hard to keep pressing on when you fail time after time after time.

Of course, Monday mornings are always hopeful. That’s the traditional day to start the new program, right? We eat all weekend with the idea that we’ll be good “starting Monday.”

But Monday never lasts. By Thursday or Friday (if we last that long), it’s back to the same old story—breaking our boundaries, feeling discouraged, and wanting to give up.

Here’s the interesting thing. Since we have a tendency to handle life’s problems with food, our natural inclination is to handle the problem of trying to stick to our eating boundaries the same way. When it’s hard, we eat! Of course, that breaks the boundaries and leads to the feeling that we’ll never get over the problem.

So what’s the answer? Are we stuck in an endless circle of failure and discouragement? No, a thousand times no! The answer is God. He can set us free from anything. He’s the Creator of the universe. He can move mountains. Of course, He can set us free from emotional eating.

What we need to do is study His Word to find out how He sets people free. What does God use to change behavior? Let’s look at Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. When He prayed this prayer, He knew He wouldn’t be around much longer, and He was praying for the ones He was leaving behind.

In John 17:15 Jesus is telling the Father, “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.” This could also be translated “keep them out of evil.”

He goes on to say how this is accomplished in verse 17, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” The Greek word for “in” that’s used here has an essence of “by means of.” We are sanctified and kept from evil by means of the truth.

In other words, we don’t change our behavior by getting up Monday morning and saying, “This week is going to be different! This week I’m going to stick with my plan!” No, we’re changed by the truth.

Remember, it’s not about the boundaries. It’s not about the plan. It’s about truth—and truth comes from God and His Word.

Food no longer controls me, but it’s not because of any brilliant displays of self-control and determination on my part. It was an incredibly difficult battle to change the way I responded to life. It often felt like I was limping along barely able to make progress.

When I felt that old urge to pull myself up by the bootstraps and “wait ‘til Monday,” I had to tell myself, “No, that’s not the way it works. It’s the truth that will set me free. I need to spend more time with God today. I need to cling to His word. I need to carry my thoughts captive to Him.” And that’s what set me free.

It’s also what keeps me free. When I feel tempted to go back to my old ways, I pull out my trusty lie-truth charts and start filling them out again. As I write the truth, I see my desires change before my eyes.

The Bible is a life-changing, joy-giving book. I’m amazed by its brilliance and transformed by it’s wisdom. This Monday morning, I encourage you to look for the solution to emotional eating in its pages—and not in another program!

1/3/11 Update: Since I wrote this post almost two years ago, I thought you might like an update just to see if the truth really works. I have to tell you, yes, it does! My weight has stayed consistent since this post and actually probably dropped by a few pounds. Food has not regained its control over me.

When I think back to the early days of breaking free from emotional eating, what I remember is an endless battle. I got tired of truth journaling. I wasn't convinced that it would really work. In fact, even when I was writing Freedom from Emotional Eating, I worried about publishing it because I was afraid I would gain my weight back - which of course would be very embarrassing.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Sometimes you just have to trust God and believe what He says even if you haven't seen it with your own eyes yet. The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 that we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

But that doesn't mean we'll be transformed instantly and easily. Renewing the mind is kind of like training your mind to go down a new path of truth when it's used to going down a path of lies.

It takes a long time to clear out all those old lies. You have to keep going back every time you catch yourself believing them and apply the truth again. But eventually that new path will get just as well used as the old path, and it won't be as much work to walk it anymore.

That's where I'm at with my eating now. I rarely need truth journaling tune-ups anymore for emotional eating. I think I only truth journaled one day this past month - it was right in the middle of probably ten dozen Christmas cookies in the house if I remember right.

I do still slip up on my boundaries occasionally, but not enough to affect my weight or even to feel the need to truth journal about it. That doesn't mean I'm through renewing my mind, though. I have plenty of opportunities in other areas! I'll be writing about some of those things on the new blog.

I better get going because my computer is about to lose power. I hope you all have a good Monday tomorrow. And I hope you develop or continue the habit of renewing your mind this year!