When Food Sings

In public school during the early eighties, my class performed a stage production of “Oliver!” As a member of the chorus, I stood for hours on the second row of rickety splintered wood bleachers cornered by cootie covered boys as the choir director alarmed us by shouting “Don’t lock your knees!” while shaking a stick at us every five minutes. Perish the thought we should faint, crack our head open and eternally stain our street cred., uh I mean the handmade costumes. Bloody bleachers or no, the show would go on. So with wobbly legs, feathered hair and between braced teeth we belted out:

“Food, glorious food! What wouldn’t we give for

That extra bit more —That’s all that we live for

Why should we be fated to – Do nothing but brood on food

Magical food, Wonderful food,  Marvellous food,  Fabulous food…”  – Lionel Bart, Oliver!

Aside from Amazing Grace, there are few songs in the world that have spoken to my soul as deeply as this diddy. Even at a young age how I did brood over food.

(If you’re someone who can eat whatever you want it it never affects your health, you may not relate to this post. If so I urge you please don’t hit delete, but instead tuck this away in case your body changes or you have a friend who could benefit in the future.)

If you do love “food, glorious food!” as much as I do and struggle to eat in a healthy way every hour of every day, I want to you to know that I understand. What began for me a childhood pastry passion turned into a lifetime of food frustrations including compulsive overeating, food addiction, binge eating, body dysmorphia, obesity, diet culture dysfunction, health issues and hopelessness. It wasn’t easy to talk about at first, but I have finally been able to share my life-long struggle in Dear Food, I Love You. I Hate You. Don’t Leave Me! A Bible Study Designed to Help You Shatter Food Strongholds for Lasting Health and Joy.

The Fix that Doesn’t

Eating healthy food in a healthy way can be near impossible in the world we live in. Our society, advertising and food culture encourages us to hurl ourselves headlong into hurtful food and eating cycles to “feel better fast.” Recently, I found an ad on my feed that had a decadent bowl of chocolate ice cream with copy that read “Broke up over text? This calls for all the sundae fix-ins…” With a complete list of every possible ice cream sundae ingredient one could possibly use to invent a binge worthy butter pecan brownie break up bandaid to “fix” a broken heart.

It’s just that food can’t fix a broken heart.  Believe me, I’ve tried to fix my problems with food and learned all the food in the world is not enough to fix a broken heart, and in fact: food can’t “fix” much of anything beyond nutritional requirements. Why? Because that’s not what food does, more specifically food does not have the kind of magical power we believe it does, (no matter what the Oliver! song claims.)

The secret to fixing a broken heart is… fixing our broken heart. The secret to solving our problem is…solving our problem.  If we smother the pain or the problem with marshmallow fluff and chocolate sauce, not only are we numbing out and avoiding the honesty and grit it takes to fight the real hurt with effective tools, but we are inhibiting (and can ultimately damage) what we thought we were fixing. How? Because unhealthy food overused can diminish our physical and mental health bite by bite as we continue to seek solution in food. As our discomfort increases because food isn’t fixing it we eat more food thinking discomfort will subside with just a little more… and a little more… okay, a lot more. More. Still not working…more salty. More sweet…repeat. Over time this becomes a deadly cycle.

Food does give a boost or make us feel happy for a moment, but it can’t “fix” the problems and heartbreaks life brings. We have to heal another way.

But how?

How do we help ourselves truly heal if food is not the answer? First we need to free ourselves from the spell of food so that we can address the stuff of life with a clear head and tools that actually help resolve the real problem(s). 

3 Steps toward Food Freedom

If you’re at a place in your life where you recognize that food solutions aren’t working and you want food freedom, here are 3 steps to get you started:

1) The first step to food freedom is: Stop going to food FIRST as a solution.

We have to accept that the food solutions isn’t working and break the habit of going to food first when we feel something good, bad or bingeworthy. Simple right? It sounds that way, but if we’ve used food for years to make us “feel better” it’s very difficult to alter course in the moment when we are so accustomed to use food as a pick me up, momentary escape, or emergency defibrillator. For those of us who have been on hundreds of diets, we can confirm that it’s simple to say we won’t go to food first, but tossing the hidden stash of chocolate behind the ramekins on the third shelf above the coffeemaker? Not so easy. I might need those later.

Why is this? 

The answer is different for each of us which is why I wrote Dear Food, I Love You. I Hate You. Don’t Leave Me!: To help you discover why it’s difficult for you to say goodbye to the deceptively magical, unhealthy foods that you think are helping you, but are really, in truth, pushing you farther and father away from an authentic victory. When you have a life challenge, there is a healthy option to resolve it first – an option you can’t find in the freezer.

For reflection: What healthy solution can you try first (instead of food) to help you survive and resolve uncomfortable emotions or problems?

2) The second step to food freedom is: Carve out valuable time discover why you are eating what you’re eating. 

Before we commit to the next diet or meal plan, we need to prepare ourselves mentally in a way that allows us to direct ourselves to an individualized path to success. How do we do that? By carving out time to first identify what exactly we are doing in terms of eating and why exactly we are doing it. Often we don’t immediately connect with why we eat what we eat so we latch on to someone else’s success path thinking we can achieve what they did if we just do what they did.  This rarely works. Some succeed on any given diet fad at any given time, yet statistically about  90% of those who lose weight on these programs gain it back.* Why? Because we don’t prepare ourselves to succeed in advance of starting a program by determining our specific personal challenges and the following a plan that helps us with our unique needs, likes, challenges and stronghold foods.

In Dear Food, I Love You. I Hate You. Don’t Leave Me! you’ll be given an opportunity to identify which foods are specifically a problem for you and why. The good news is, it’s usually not ALL foods. When we isolate the trouble foods and address them individually and with intention major victories become accessible that we never thought possible. One of my biggest trouble foods was frosting. Once I got victory over that one food, a major breakthrough happened for me- but I had to “break up” with frosting and we had to go our separate ways.  It was hard for awhile, just like losing anything important can be, but so worth it in the end. You can read my break up letter on page 31.

For reflection: What unique needs do you have that don’t work within the structure of latest cookie cutter diet fad? 

3) The third step to food freedom is: Asking God to help us before expecting food to fix it.

For those of us who have been using food as a legal, safe and socially acceptable mood altering substance for years, getting to the bottom of why we use food like a drug and how to stop can be a necessary but daunting task. Once the drug-like food has been removed from our life, and we allow ourselves to feel the pain of life and seek solutions that aren’t sugar coated, we may notice a void of ideas, will, wisdom and strength, not knowing where to draw such powers from if not food.  This is where Dear Food, I Love You. I Hate You. Don’t Leave Me! really gets exciting.

Throughout this first workbook, you will:

—> learn how food, emotions and your spiritual life intersect

—> include prayer in your food and eating situations

—> listen to the Lord’s guidance when it comes to eating

—> break free from unhealthy food & unhealthy food behaviors

—> improve your mental, spiritual and physical health 

—> finally have the tools to break free (and stay free) from food strongholds for good

All rooted in relevant scripture, clinically proven tools for success and relatable humor.

I truly hope that if you struggle with food related challenges and you’re ready to try a new solution to fighting life’s battles and getting true victory you’ll pick up a copy of Dear Food, I Love You. I Hate You. Don’t Leave Me!” and start seeing breakthroughs you never thought possible. 

For reflection: If not food, where can you go to get the strength and wisdom you need to survive the rough patches of life?

How to Use the Program

I understand if you want to use Dear Food, I Love You. I Hate You. Don’t Leave Me! on your own. I didn’t want to share my food challenges with anyone for a really long time, either. However, if you’re open to sharing your journey with another person or group, this book can be even more fulfilling and effective. Why, because the shared wisdom and experience in a group is powerful, as is praying for each other along the way.

I wrote the series in such a way that it can be done in groups for three 10-12 week sessions. For example, typically churches have small groups sessions through out the year that last 10 weeks in the Fall, Winter and Spring with a break for summer. So, the three Dear Food workbooks will fit into this model nicely. As a group you can start workbook one together, and progress through all three in less than a year, helping each other heal, grow and experience how much Jesus cares about your journey and wants to help you conquer this difficult challenge. You can start them together any time.

Grab your copy of “Dear Food, I Love You. I Hate You. Don’t Leave Me!”  here  and let’s get victory over food together for good. Also available at www.Barnesandnoble.com and wholesale at Ingram Spark.

Not sure how your moods are affecting your eating? Subscribe and get you free Food/Mood Tracker.

Want to know when Workbook 2 and 3 will be released? Sign up for my newsletter and watch for announcements. Workbook 2 is scheduled for release in April and book 3 soon after. Don’t miss out on your victory! I’ve been using these books in groups with marvelous results. I can’t wait for you to use them and see start seeing results as well. 

Written by Julia Fikse, NBC-HWC, FMCHC

Nationally Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach

Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach

Mental Health and Emotional Eating Certified Health Coach

Weight Loss Certified Health Coach

For more information go to onesteptowellness.com

How did you like this blog? Are there other topics you’d like to hear about? Need more support or or want to say hello? Drop a line in the comments or Contact Julia

Julia Fikse is a Nationally Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, specializing in Functional Medicine, Emotional Eating and Mental Health and Weight Loss. Julia has personally experienced the frustration of weigh gain, weight loss, weight related health issues and emotional eating challenges.

Julia is not a therapist or a doctor and this blog cannot and should not in any way replace doctors advice. 

*University of Michigan