Issues with food are kind of like issues with sex. They are both necessary for human life, but they can get you in a lot of trouble. My client who struggled with pornography and sexual acting out told me his shame was greater than mine because everyone knows that sexual sin is sin. I countered that I also carry shame and everyone can SEE my shame because of the size and shape of my body. That’s why I’m breaking up with food.
Before the Healthy At Every Size crowd starts yelling at me, let me tell you–I love my body. In my 30s, my body is performing exercise that I never thought possible in my teens. My body birthed three big-headed babies naturally. My body is on a mission to love and serve God and people. The problem is not with my body.
The problem is with my relationship with food. You know how you can be in church and hear a message about how we have modern day idols? Money? Power? Status? Partners? Children? Yeah, everytime I hear one of those messages, I get those “shoulder angels.” You know, like in the cartoons where the devil and the angel sit on the character’s shoulders and argue? One is telling me that food is an area that I need to submit to God so it doesn’t remain an idol. The other one is saying, “You’re fat and ugly, you should try a crash diet so you can stand to look at yourself in the mirror.”
Taking My Food Issue to Therapy
I brought up my difficulty with food several weeks in a row in my own therapy. Finally, my therapist said, “Ann, have you ever considered writing a letter to food? To tell it that you’re not ok with the relationship and it needs to change?” I’m sure I looked very uncomfortable following that question. I hemmed and hawed and admitted that I’d never done something like that. But since I want to change and I believe in therapy, I committed to give it a try. I thought you might like to read what I wrote.
It’s not you, it’s me. We have different goals, and I feel like we’re not on the same page. Let me give you some examples. I want to eat to fuel my body so that I can be on the mission that God gave me. I need to have protein to support the muscles I’m growing in my workouts. Carbs give me energy and fiber keeps things running smoothly. I need to be able to see you, Food, as fuel for my body.
I’ll admit, sometimes I want to use you for celebrations. There are special recipes in my family that we use on holidays and special events. Sometimes, Food, I want you to show up when I’m on a date with my husband, because we love going out to eat and finding the best dish at a restaurant. I actually love hanging out with you in my kitchen when I’m preparing meals for my family. Those are some of the things I like about you, Food.
But I’m sick of you trying to control me. I hate the hot and cold relationship we’ve had in the past. I don’t ever want to be seduced by you again. Every time that happens, I feel terrible about myself afterward. Here are some of the boundaries that I’m going to need you to respect if you’re going to be in my life. I need you to respect my “no” when I tell you I’ve had enough. (I’m talking to you French fries.) I need you to stop gaslighting me. You can no longer convince me that you’re the only way that I’ll have fun.
I’m going to choose to hang out with my other friends when I’m sad or angry or embarrassed. (My other friends’ names are Movement, Creativity, Conversations, Relaxation…oh, and Jesus.) When we hang out in the future, Food, I’m going to set limits on our interactions. I won’t be coming back for seconds. I will no longer teach my children that it’s ok to eat dessert every day. I’m going to start teaching my body that it’s ok to be hungry now and then. And I’m going to rely on the Word of God as my Bread of Life.
So here’s the deal, Food. I know you’re going to try to get me back. Because the truth is, I can’t kick you out of my life completely. But just know, if you come for me again, my Bridegroom is going to be watching. He is super jealous of my love. He gave you to me as a provision for my health and happiness, so you can no longer be my idol. And if you try to mess with my husband or my children, I’m going to be pissed. I think we can mutually agree to behave ourselves. If you stay in your lane, I’ll stay in mine.
No Longer Yours,
P.S. You left some things in my pantry. I’m not going to be dramatic and leave them out on the lawn. But I’ll give some away and toss the rest.
P.P.S. Tell your friend Caffeine that she needs to back off, too.
Jesus, My First Love
I could write a whole blog on Jesus being my first love. I recently heard a sermon about Jesus’ love being an “expulsive affection.” That means the affection we feel with Jesus is so big, it expels everything else out of its way. I’m praying for that to be true with food. I don’t want to carry around shame about my choices any longer. I know that there is no condemnation for my food sin. But I also know that Jesus is waiting for me to seek Him first.
What about you? Do you have a crazy, mixed up relationship with food? Or maybe it’s something else. Like social media or Netflix. Maybe it’s approval from other people. All these things are good in their place, but they don’t hold a candle to our God. Join me in putting them in their rightful places.
Personal pieces like my post about my experience with meds seem to be popular with some people. Tell me, what would YOU like to see more of on the blog?