Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Is overeating a sin?

The Bible warns against gluttony and greed in a ton of different places, in both the New and Old Testaments. Idolatry, too, is a major theme throughout scripture, and overeating can even go so far as to put God below food. It’s pretty clear to me that God designed us to eat to live, not live to eat.

Then why, in 30 years of church attendance, have I never once heard a sermon about gluttony? I’ve had friends tell me stories of struggle with all sorts of sins, big and small, but yet never gluttony. But that’s not because no one’s struggling with it; for Heaven’s sake, I live in the fattest and most indulgent country in the world! A pastor or other church leader will humbly step down from their position if a major sin stronghold like adultery or alcoholism comes to light, but fat pastors are all over the place.

So what’s the deal? Maybe gluttony isn’t a sin anymore. Maybe God never really meant it in the first place, or only meant it for people who overeat a lot more than me. Or maybe Satan has pulled the wool over our eyes, and made overeating so commonplace that we can’t even recognize it now. After all, overeating isn’t as bad as some other sins, even if it does put food before God… right?

So here’s my challenge: Let's stop trying to make the food behave by cutting out the fat, calories, carbs, or sugar just so we can eat more. Let's stop overeating instead. It’s just obedience, and God will reward us with thinner bodies.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Promised Land

In The Weigh Down Diet, Gwen Shamblin uses the story of the Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt, their wandering in the desert, and their final arrival in the Promised Land as an analogy of our own journey.

Instead of Egyptian slavery, many of us are slaves to the bondage of overeating. I used to be here when I thought that I had to diet and exercise to lose weight, even thought it didn’t work. I thought certain foods were bad and felt guilty for eating them. I ate because I believed I deserved it and because I had already counted the points. I attained freedom from this slavery when I learned that it is indeed possible to eat any food and still lose weight as long as I listened to my body signals and stopped overeating.

Just like the Israelites, I’m not a slave anymore, but at the same time I’m not living in the Promised Land. See, the Israelites thought the desert was so tough that they wanted to go back to slavery in Egypt, since at least they knew what to expect. But God was using the desert to teach them to trust Him. I’m in a desert myself, learning to submit those last few bites to God, one meal at a time. It’s hard. Sometimes I even tell myself that I would just rather be a little overweight my whole life than have to develop this discipline. God didn’t leave the Israelites in the desert though, and in the same way He’s preparing me for something better.

That something better is the Promised Land. The Israelites didn’t miss Egypt once they landed here! This is where Gwen describes her freedom of having no desire to overeat. She frequently says that you couldn’t pay her to overeat; the desire is gone! I like to think about this compared with other sin struggles. Some people have issues with, say, stealing. Whatever the reason, they got into stealing and it’s difficult for them to stop. I really don’t struggle with stealing myself, and I’m not saying that I couldn’t ever be tempted, but it just isn’t something that I’m focused on. That’s exactly the freedom I want when it comes to overeating: for God to make overeating a thing of my past, and no longer a day-to-day struggle. Just like stealing, overeating will not be part of my daily thoughts. God can then take me on to the next battle!

Gwen says multiple times in her book that in her experience it takes a good six to twelve weeks of constantly submitting your eating to God in order to get through this desert. Part of me is skeptical because I have already wandered in this desert for a year. Another bigger part of me is hopeful because, as I blogged yesterday, I am now learning to turn to God in this struggle, and that’s the whole point of the desert! Plus, to me it’s just important that I do get to the Promised Land, and I’m not that worried about how fast the journey is. Quicker would be nicer, but getting there at all will be worth the trip through the desert.

I hope it doesn’t take me 40 years!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What's been missing

Oh no, naughty blogger. I forgot to blog after my weigh-in last week. Well, I lost 2 pounds! I'm down to 180 now. I really, really, really have to wait until I hear that stomach growl or I just don't lose anything.

Meanwhile, I've been too busy to blog because I've been reading The Weigh Down Diet
in all my spare time. It is such a huge help! She goes into such detail on how to read your body signals, and more importantly how to rely on God's help to overcome the temptation to overeat. I'm so excited because I really feel like this is what's been missing in my journey so far and now I can move beyond the change-your-thinking stage and into the change-your-behavior stage.

And it looks like I'll be getting a lot closer to God in the process!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Weigh Down Diet

I’m finally re-reading Weigh Down Dietby Gwen Shamblin. I have to admit, I’m loving it! But honestly, she makes me nervous. This book seems to be quite correct in its theology and biblical references, but apparently sometime after she wrote the book, she went all weird, denied the deity of Christ, and started a cult of skinny people who misinterpret the Bible. Or so I’ve heard. That definitely taints the book for me and I have a difficult time trusting what she says. In fact, the first time I read it I didn’t even finish it because I was so concerned about it. I’ll even confess that I brought the book with me to church the other day (knowing I would have to wait for my husband to finish a project) but I was too sheepish to bring it out of my purse! Lame, I know.

But, this book is very helpful. Gwen Shamblin has all of the same basic concepts in her book that Linda Moran has in hers (in fact, Linda plainly states that Gwen’s book is her inspiration!). It’s about freedom from dieting, listening to your body’s hunger signals, and changing yourself instead of changing the food. But there’s one main difference in Gwen’s book: turning to the Lord for help! It’s very detailed and encouraging, and walks you through exactly what hunger signals to look for, how to pray for help, what goes on inside the body, and has tons and tons of biblical references to point you in the right direction. I really recommend it. (Just don’t read it, decide to go to her workshop, then join her special church for skinny heretics!)

I’m nearly finished with the book, and my mom bought me the workbook and a set of DVDs and CDs that I will work through soon. I can’t wait to share more with you!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A helpful prayer

I’ve recently found a simple prayer that really helps me with my eating. “God, help me make good decisions about food today.” Or, “Lord, help me to make good decisions during this next meal.” Try it! He wants us to be free from overeating even more than we do.

(Today's post is my 100th entry on this blog. Thanks for reading!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Time to eat

Sometimes, it's just time to eat.

Yesterday I had a weird work schedule where my lunch break was earlier than I would have liked, and my afternoon was really busy. I wasn’t genuinely hungry yet, but I knew it was my last chance to sit and eat for a good six or seven hours. So, you know what? I just did it, and without guilt. I needed fuel to make it through those long hours of work without a break. While I prefer to go off my body’s signals entirely, sometimes circumstances are inflexible and I just have to make do. And it worked fine! I was definitely hungry by the time I got home for dinner, though.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back from vacation

Well, vacation went OK. I think the hardest part for me was that we spent 40+ hours of it driving and there’s just something about miles and miles of asphalt that make you want to cover your misery in trail mix. Another tricky spot for me could best be described as ‘food logistics.’ We had a complicated, two-part vacation with a lot of driving in the middle and at the end. My husband had spent a lot of time planning out our food and meals so that we could fit into our vacation budget. However, there was still the inevitable too-many-snacks problem, or unexpected leftovers that were just more convenient to eat than to re-pack. Sometimes it was a concern that it wouldn’t last in the cooler so we should just eat it now. I have definitely not learned to waste food yet, and as far as my eating goes, it’s a big downfall.

Ultimately, I think most of my problems on the vacation were actually from stress eating, when I expected to find myself struggling with greed eating (and perhaps was more on the lookout for greed eating). Here are the stresses I mean:

- The stress of boredom, especially in the car (but even on vacation, there are lots of times of boredom!)
- The stress of wanting not to waste food
- The stress of packing (vs. the convenience of having less food to re-pack)
- The stress of being with relatives I don’t know very well (Self talk: “If I make another s’more, I will look busy and won’t have to struggle to find something to talk about”)
- The stress of being entirely out of my routine of eating (especially during long hours in the car. It’s like we had 20 hours of no meals and no genuine sleep, but just grazing and napping the whole time)

So next time I travel, I hope to re-read this blog entry and prepare myself by remembering that stress is inevitable (even, and perhaps most especially, on vacation), and that I need to be on the lookout for the temptation to overeat because of it. I can also make an effort to reduce the stress by planning ahead a little differently, but for the most part I can’t eliminate stress and I just have to learn to manage it better.

On a quick ending note, did you know that in California restaurants legally have to post the calorie content right on their menu? I didn’t really like that. I had to consciously tell myself that I could eat anything I wanted as long as I stopped when I was full. (Maybe, then, it actually was good to have the calories listed as it was a good reminder!) But I found it interesting that the salads really weren’t much less caloric in some cases than the burgers. No food is guiltless!