Proverbs 1:29-33 

“For they hated knowledge, and chose not to fear the Lord. They rejected my advice and paid no attention when I corrected them.  Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their own schemes. For the foolish will be killed by their turning away. The trust that fools put in themselves will destroy them. But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.” (NLT)

I remember so well the days when I was “eating the bitter fruit of living my own way.” I was 218 pounds. I didn’t fit into my size 18 pants and needed to go shopping for size 20’s. I couldn’t stop eating. I hated photos. I hid my body. I asked my doctor for stomach surgery and she refused. There was no pill, no diet program and no surgery to save me. I was trapped and there was no way out and I knew my comfort was my problem. Why did I keep going to The Food*? Why couldn’t I stop? Because The Food was, for all intents and purposes, my best friend.

It sounds silly to say that now, but it’s true. When I was lonely, I went to The Food for comfort. When I was angry, I went to The Food to calm down. When I was celebrating, I celebrated with The Food. For every emotion and situation The Food had a solution.

Conventional wisdom tells us things like, “You’ll feel better when you’ve eaten,” “finish your plate” (because somehow this makes you a better person) and “Chocolate is the answer.” 

Turns out I didn’t feel better after I ate, not in the emotional sense or physical sense or a spiritual sense. I wasn’t a better person after I ate an entire plate of food. And sadly, chocolate wasn’t the answer, it was a problem. 

I didn’t want to write this blog. It makes me uncomfortable and embarrassed. But I need, we need, to be honest about what we are doing to ourselves when go to The Food for friendship instead of God. Why? Because we have to see the problem to fix the problem. When we realize The Food has become an idol (a powerless object we trust and love first, before our powerful God) we can finally learn that The Food isn’t magical. It doesn’t have any power. It is simply an inanimate object we can use for wellbeing or harm. If we’re using it in a harmful way it can kill us. Maybe not as swiftly as a gun, heroin or cigarettes, but it ends in death just the same. The Food may give us a high for a few minutes (hours if we’re lucky) but leaves us destroyed after. It’s a false solution. It’s a harmful solution. It’s a deadly solution.

God, on the other hand, is a loving Father who actually has the power to save us from death and give us peace. How much do you want to be saved from the devastating and deadly consequences of misguided eating? How much do you want peace from this endless fight? God alone has the ability to solve the problem we face. Not only the over arching problem of harmful eating behaviors… but also, He alone has the strength and power to give us real solutions and aid through all the difficulties we face, massive or tiny through out each minute of each day. Imagine the radical change for good that can happen in your life when you give God the power to help instead of The Food? Imagine the possibilities for peace and success! God doesn’t flatter us with false promises, He’s the real deal and He comes through. Every. Single. Time.

So how do we change?

  1. We have to decide what/who we actually believe is going to save us: The Food or God.

Take a few minutes to consider what it means for you to “eat the bitter fruit of living your own way” when it comes to The Food. Have you lived your life as though The Food will save you? Has it? 

Write down how you feel right now about yourself and your situation with The Food as savior. Consider your 

  1. physical health
  2. mental health
  3. emotional health
  4. spiritual health
  5. what does it feel like to get out of bed in the morning and face your closet?
  6. how does food affect how you interact with your family, husband, friends, children? 
  7. how does food affect how you speak and treat yourself? 
  8. how does food affect your relationship with God?
  9. note other ways your eating habits are affecting your life negatively

The Food has done this to you, The Food has brought you to the prison you feel you are in now. The Food, that once tasted so good, is now shockingly bitter. 

I remember the day I realized The Food was not my friend and was more like an abusive boyfriend. I would go to it for comfort and help, but after I was hurt emotionally and physically. Then, like clockwork it always called me back with the promise of love and care. After our time together, however, it always ended the same: me hurt. The Food was destroying me bitter bite, by bitter bite. Damage. Pain. Hopelessness. Shame. Self-loathing. 

Are your ready for peace? Are you ready to taste the sweet fruit of life, peace and freedom? The Food can’t provide it. You know this now. What will you do now that you know? Ask God for willingness to trust Him instead of The Food in each moment, first, before The Food, before anything.

For reflection during your prayer time:

If you are just coming to the realization that you may have made a terrible mistake trusting The Food, you might need comfort. This uncomfortable feeling may make you want to eat even more. Instead of eating… 

There’s a wonderful song that comes to mind as I write this blog that may comfort you in this moment and remind you how much God loves you. I recommend taking moment to listen as a start to your prayer time today. It’s called “Just be held” by Casting Crowns and I hope it comforts you as it has comforted me. 

  1. Confess to God you have trusted The Food over Him and apologize.
  2. Ask God if He will help you change. Ask Him to provide what you need during all the times you go to The Food each moment of each day. 
  3. Ask the Holy Spirit to:
  • remind you when you are going to The Food before God. Ask for a “heart tap”, a whisper of clarity and wisdom, when you are acting compulsively or are in “habit mode” with The Food
  • help you in the moment you would normally go to The Food to pause and pray instead (I used to think The Food was the fastest comfort solution. Then one day I realized. It isn’t. Prayer is.)
  • give you a healthy, alternative action that relies on God for help and not The Food. 
  • Pray this verse and commit it to memory: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13   Let God know you are counting on Him to help you, because He has promised He will.
  • Spend some time imagining your life when you have conquered The Food problem. What has changed? List out the wonderful things you are experiencing because you followed God and not food in your life. Put this list in a place you can find it if you have a particularly rough moment, and pray again asking God to help you get to this beautiful vision for your life with Him as your best friend.

Defining *The Food: 

In this blog I refer to “The Food” as an object being used like a heroine addict uses heroine. A drug consumed for a different purpose than nourishment, health and well-being. I do not mean to imply in any way that we should not eat. We all need to eat and should eat in a healthy, life-giving and balanced way. I am saying that we should not use food in the same way we would use a drug. We should not go to food for power it cannot provide. Food is food and food only. It is is not God.  Anything we substitute for God in our life will harm us when used to that level of dependence.  

If you are a restricter, bulimic, or anorexic and you are reading this blog you may want to replace the words “The Food” with the words “Harmful Eating Behaviors.” I am not a therapist or a doctor and this blog cannot and should not in any way replace doctors advice. Please see a doctor or medical care provider for help and treatment. If you don’t have medical care or can’t afford it, Overeaters Anonymous is a safe, free place to start your road to recovery. There is help at OA for over eaters, food addicts, restricters, bulimics and anorexics, those who are addicted to exercise and more.  You can go to a meeting or call in. They also have a 24-hour help line. There is no shame in telling a safe person or doctor you are suffering with an eating disorder.  In fact, to do so is admirable and brave. Many people suffer, but there are solutions and you don’t have to suffer any more. I have seen amazing recovery happen and this can be you!! Please get help. Your life depends on it. 

This is Day 5 in “Eating Through the Proverbs,” a Bible study about food, by Julia Fikse, Functional Medicine Health Coach ©2019

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash