If you struggle with overeating, eating in secret, or cravings that just won’t quit, read on.
It’s never an intentional thing when we are worshipping food above God, but somethings making food an idol in our lives still happens. But there is freedom out there and it is so worth finding!
It’s Just Food. What’s The Big Deal?
I get it. I felt the same way for a long time.
It’s just food. I’m not hurting anyone else by eating. It’s only affecting me.
But that’s not really true.
And, the thing is, as Christians, we have to see beyond.
See beyond these tangible things in our lives and look for the bigger picture that Christ sees.
If you weren’t struggling with your weight, if you were taking care of your body well, and it was never a struggle to say no to food cravings, then maybe it would be “just food.”
But, chances are, if you are reading this, you do struggle with some of those things. Chances are, there are times when you know better, but you choose to eat it anyways.
That temptation takes “just food” from an outward behavior to a heart level.
Any time our sinful desires become compulsions that we can’t stop, that’s a chain enslaving us to whatever that thing may be. We decide we want that one thing so much that we can’t resist, even when we know better, and in the process we unintentionally, and often unknowingly, let that voice speak louder than God’s voice in our decisions.
What Does Worshipping Food Look Like?
I don’t think the way we make food an idol in our lives always looks the same, but here are some examples of what that looked like in my own life, before I lost 100 pounds.
- I ate in secret regularly. This was usually in the privacy of my bedroom after everyone else was asleep, but I would also sneak bites from the kitchen when nobody was looking and even slip candy from friends’ candy bowls in my pocket or purse when nobody was looking to eat later when nobody was around.
- I didn’t resist food cravings. It was like I didn’t know that I could say no to myself back then. When I craved something, I felt like there was no choice but to somehow find that food and eat it. If I wanted it, I would find a way to have it sometime soon.
- I didn’t have a “full” point. When it came to eating regular dinners? Sure, I would feel full and stop at some point. When it came to late night binges and cravings? I could eat and eat and eat and, even when I might have felt full, I could (and would) still eat some more. Usually my stopping point was an empty bag or box, not my own feeling that I’d had enough. There was no such thing as “enough” when it came to Nutty Bars, candy, fruit snacks, chips, and french fries.
- I didn’t consider others. At this stage of my life, there were times that it would occur to me that if I ate that next brownie there might not be enough for everyone else in the family to get another one, but there were so many times when I decided I just didn’t care. I was a caring, loving, generous person, but when it came to food, I was stingy and protective to make sure I got enough of what I wanted (and remember, there was never enough!).
You’ll notice that none of those things show me overtly choosing food above God. I wasn’t going to church to worship my tacos or bowing down before my chocolate bars.
It’s much sneakier than that, which is why we can go so long without realizing that it’s a problem on a deeper level than just changing a habit.
So, How Do I Find Freedom?
1. Recognize the problem.
You can’t do a darn thing to fix it until you know what it is that needs fixing. Did my examples above resonate with you? Are there other ways that you think food is calling the shots in your life? Take a good look at those areas and recognize your need for a Savior.
The goal isn’t to get temptation to disappear altogether. You don’t stop wanting food. You just want something else MORE.
Want to honor God with your food choices.
Recognize that when you’re making poor decisions with food, it negatively affects your relationships, your energy, your confidence, and so much more.
2. Take it to God.
I have a 3-step process that I often use when I’m taking a problem to God, based off of Philippians 4:6.
- First, I ask God for help, both practically and emotionally. Here, I might ask Him for help in recognizing temptation when it comes up with food, discernment in figuring out what foods I should and shouldn’t be eating and in deciding on portion sizes, and help in uncovering other things I can turn to instead of food in those moments of temptation.
- Second, I thank Him for things regarding that situation. With food, I might thank Him for providing enough for me and for giving me foods like fruits and vegetables that will nourish my body. Thank Him for his Word that assures you that you are an overcomer and that you can tackle these hard areas with His strength.
- Third, I surrender the things I don’t have control over to Him. We’ve already talked about how this goes deeper than food alone. Willpower is a start, but it’s not enough to tackle a problem that runs heart-deep. This is the powerful work of accepting grace. So, take your fears, your doubts, and your worries and leave them at the foot of the cross, intentionally trusting that He is able to do this, even if you don’t feel strong enough.
3. Do the hard work.
If there are things you can do to make a difference, do them! It’s not enough to ask God to help, but then do nothing on our parts. Use the tools He has given you! Grow in self-discipline. Start where you are but do something to take those healthy choices from good intentions to action.
- Practice turning to Scripture when you’re in tempting situations.
- Listen for his voice in the middle of emotional eating.
- Fill your kitchen with healthy choices.
- Say “no” to your food cravings more often.
- Keep choosing to make one small change in the right direction consistently.
How Will I Know When I’m Free?
There’s a difference between following the rules and freedom.
You can be successfully following a diet without being free.
You can lose all the weight and be eating the right foods and still not experience all of the joy in the freedom that God offers.
Dieting is about sheer willpower, but freedom is about the heart change of wanting God more than anything else that may tempt us.
I know how appealing it is to imagine this grand moment when you pray and God instantly reaches down and changes your life. That certainly happens for some people and God can absolutely make that happen!
For me, and for most people I know, it’s a longer process than that. You are going to have to go through that process above again and again.
You learn, you move forward, and then you might backslide a few steps.
It’s a battle to keep consistently choosing God over that thing that enslaves us.
100 pounds later, I can tell you that I still have food cravings. Sometimes I still want to eat an entire pizza in one sitting, slam down an entire box of fruit snacks at once, and want to go out at 10pm in search of cupcakes.
The difference is, I don’t let my cravings make my decisions for me anymore.
I know that even when they feel urgent, that I really won’t die without eating that chocolate bar (and, in fact, I’ll probably feel a whole lot better if I don’t).
All of those examples above of ways I was worshipping food? My life isn’t like that anymore.
- I don’t hide my eating anymore.
- I say no to food cravings regularly.
- I feel full and I can stop myself at a reasonable portion, even with super tempting foods.
- I always consider others when it comes to food now, making sure everyone gets to share in the good stuff.
Freedom is being confident that you know God’s Word is true, even when your feelings tell you differently.
Freedom is being able to experience the joy in eating (because I do still eat and savor the heck out of chocolate!) without temptation deciding what and how much I will eat.