By now, if you have been following this blog for long, you understand that issues with food, weight, and body image are much more about your heart and your story than food and weight. Let me say it again: It is NOT about food! It is about your heart and your story. Until you work on these underlying issues, you will not fight the Body Image Bandit and win. Geneen Roth, writer and body image specialist, recently addressed this on Oprah. One of the women interviewed had been 100 pounds overweight. But in working through her story, she realized the weight gain coincided with the divorce of her parents. She had been dieting on and off for years, but until she addressed that pain in her heart and her story, she could not keep the weight off. This did not surprise me at all because issues with food and body image are much more of a symptom than people realize. If you treat the symptom only, it is like covering up an infected wound with a bandage.
What would it look like for you to finally work on the roots of your issues instead of treating your symptoms only? And how can you re-learn a healthy relationship with food? Since we have seen over 250,000 ads by the age of seventeen, and we are constantly bombarded with ads about delectable foods as well, our relationships with food are entangled in a web of confusion. On the one hand, the images re-program our brains to think, “To be thin is beautiful, and beauty is almost everything.” Of course we know deep down that our worth is in our hearts, but the media drowns us in toxic messages so we get confused. At the same time, the media floods us with juicy, delectable images and messages about foods that are dripping with taste. And of course most of these foods are high in fat and sugar. So our relationship with food plummets to a deeper level of confusion.
We want to have it all, which is why so many fall into the arms of eating disorders. Eating disorders – particularly bulimia – make us believe that we can have it all and get away with it. But of course we know now from research that people actually die of bulimia. It is another example of the enemy disguising himself as an angel of light. Or perhaps we choose anorexia and it eats away at our hearts and our lives. Whenever we deny ourselves, we develop an insatiable hunger which results in the sick cycle of dieting and bingeing (and for some, purging or over-exercising). (For more information, check out my blog postings on The Sick Cycle of Dieting, Bingeing, Purging, and Over-exercising.) So dieting and denial is a landmine that will completely distort our relationships with food until we feel completely hopeless and powerless.
About two months ago, I started to pray wholeheartedly for God to give me a healthy relationship with food. I know dieting is a monster because it only leads to feeling deprived, which creates a binge mentality. This is why research shows that almost everyone who diets loses weight, but later gains it all back- plus more! But I also know that purging is not the answer and is in fact extremely dangerous. Thankfully, by the grace of God I have never been chained to the beast of bulimia (see my blog posting, Confessions of a Purging Flunky). I have also received a lot of counseling and the Lord has helped me to work through my own issues – yet at the same time I know that this side of Heaven, I will always have issues.
And so I finally put my relationship with food on my prayer list. Several times a week, I prayed for God to give me a healthy relationship with food. I think he has. Please understand that I am not talking about cutting out everything, because that is what leads to a feeling of depravation. Then all heck breaks loose and you eat everything that is not nailed down. (You’ve been there, done, that, and got the tee shirt, haven’t you?) So I have been eating better as far as more fiber and less fat, etc. BUT I do not deprive myself! I still have mochas, ice cream, etc. about once a day. I have not concentrated on eating or not eating any certain way – I have simply prayed for God to give me a healthy relationship with food. I have lost about ten pounds, which is significant since I’m under 5’3”. More importantly, I feel released from the world’s messages about food and body image, for the most part. I will keep praying and keep you posted.
And so I would like to ask you to take the 40-Day Challenge: Pray every day, asking God to give you a healthy relationship with food. He is faithful and he will answer you and take off the chains of despair about food and body image. That is the only way to fight the body image bandit and win. Ask God to set you free…And please keep us posted!