It’s been a month since I first blogged about my struggle with food addiction. Talking about it has been freeing. Confessing it and being reminded that my sins are covered in Christ has helped take away a lot of the shame that I experienced when I was struggling alone. In the words of Brenda Leigh Johnson, “Confession is good for the soul.”
Besides the weight of shame being lessened, I have been experiencing more victory as well: less obsessing over whether I eat food or not, and less overeating in general. Not that it isn’t still a struggle- it is- but no longer feeling alone in my struggle helps. I’ve gotten an accountability partner lined up, and I officially joined a TOPS group last Tuesday.
Knowing that I would be sitting down and blogging through Elyse Fitzpatrick’s acrostic DISCIPLINED Eating (which has a question to help you process your food choices for each letter) in “Love to Eat. Hate to Eat.” has also been something that has encouraged me to not be controlled by food. I started to process through these questions in my journal, but quickly allowed myself to get sidetracked. Thankfully, this blog gives me a good reason to go through them again! Without any further preamble, here is the first letter. D.
is for Doubt.
Do I doubt (for whatever reason) that I can eat this food without sinning? Romans 14:23 He who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
I was familiar with this concept before reading her book. I struggled a lot in my deciding whether to eat or not, wondering if doubt was conviction from the Holy Spirit or from a spirit of legalism. I’d struggle for fifteen minutes or more over something as simple as a piece of bread. The mind games would go something like this:
“I’m hungry. I’d really like a piece of toast and butter.”
“Maybe I shouldn’t have a piece of toast and butter. I don’t feel as well when I eat lots of wheat.”
“But one piece of toast isn’t going to hurt me.”
“But if I eat this piece of toast, I will be more likely to gain weight, because I always gain weight when I eat starches.”
“But I shouldn’t be so darn obsessed about gaining weight. So I should just eat it.”
“Maybe I shouldn’t eat it and view the abstinence from it as a kind of fast.”
“Or I should just eat it as an experience of Christian liberty and not being so obsessed over my food!”
I would almost always decide to practice Christian liberty rather than abstinence, with the result of guilt and usually followed by an excessive amount of eating or a straight out binge to suppress the feeling of guilt. It was not at all a healthy way of relating to food. But I honestly didn’t know what to do. I knew that I was controlled by food in both ways: the control of not being able to say no and the control of fearing the effects of food. I wanted to fight for liberty, but almost every time I stepped out to embrace “freedom!” I felt more enslaved.
Reading Elyse’s fleshing out of question “D” helped me find some relief from the mind games. Her principle basically was – if you have any doubt that you shouldn’t eat something, don’t eat it. Her corresponding verse talks about how anything eaten in faith is sin, and I can see in my own cycles of eating when I doubted followed by a binge how eating without faith, gratitude, and confidence in Christ can suck you into a whirlpool of sin. The context of Romans 14:23 is about food offered to idols and the question of whether Christians should eat such food or not, but I think it can apply to me.
What I loved about her reasoning was the freedom it gave me to embrace both sides of my doubt: the valid and the invalid. She writes:
Now, you can seek to grow in your understanding of scripture and strengthen your conscience, but until you can sincerely say, ‘this isn’t sinful for me any longer’ you had better abstain.
It killed the mind game, because any time I doubt that I should eat a particular thing, or at all, I don’t have to obsess over it. I can tell myself, “You’re doubting, don’t eat it.”. Sometimes, I end up eating what I had said ‘not right now’ to later in the day when I’m sure I’m hungry. Sometimes I pray that God will give me freedom from striving after an idolized beauty, because I sense that my doubt is from fear of gaining weight. Either way, it gives me the ability to walk away and continue on with my life instead of standing in front of the fridge with the door wide open for ten to twenty minutes! (Saves on electricity too.)
I don’t always follow this. Sometimes I refuse to acknowledge that I am experiencing doubt, and I dig in anyway. Sometimes I struggle because I don’t like that so many people are free to eat whatever I want, and here I am stuck doubting whether I should eat that baklava or not. (That struggle corresponds to another of her points, which has been huge for me, letter C). Regardless of the fact that I don’t perfectly follow all of these principles “D – Doubt” has helped me recognize two things:
- When I’m evaluating my food choices, I am only evaluating MY food choices. I don’t have to follow anyone else standards for restraint or enjoyment, and I don’t need to wish everyone else followed my standards for restraint and enjoyment.
- That even though some of my reasons for abstaining from certain foods are motivated by my idols of beauty and acceptance, I must accept that I am weak in this area and pray for God to give me faith before I can enjoy His gift of food in freedom.
So there is letter D. It’ll probably be a while before we get to any other letters because NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is about to begin. I’m hoping to get one more blog post in about what my NaNoWriMo project is, but after that there will be no blog posts the month of November.
Thanks for reading and letting me share with you.