CYCLES OF COUNTING: Why God cares about my relationship with food.

There has to be more to life than this.

Will I have to count my calories forever? 

Will I have to wake up with hunger pains at 2am and just ignore it while I nurse my newborn child?

Will I have to skip tasting the freshly baked cookies I make with my grandchild?

Welcome to my inner thoughts, in the thick of dieting over two years ago. I weighed myself every morning, tracked every calorie that went into my mouth, and hated every second of it. This was the first time I had found true success in losing weight – I was close to being 75 pounds less than I was at the start. I longed for the day that I could be done. I wanted so badly for life to be about something other than food.

Diet culture has been in my life for as long as I can remember. It was present in my mind at 5 years old when I couldn’t ignore the fact that I was the biggest girl in my ballet class. It was present in elementary school when I was terrified to eat my lunch in front of other kids because I wanted my classmates to think I was healthy. It was present when I asked my doctor to write me a note so that I could go to Weight Watchers before I was even in middle school. It was present in high school when I turned to self harm out of hatred for my size. It was not only present in my first relationship – it was the center of it.

Dieting, for me, would start off obsessive. It would be all I could think about for a period of time. Then the restriction would get to me and my thoughts would shift to every kind of food I wasn’t letting myself have. Inevitably I would cave, over indulge, and spiral into self loathing. Throw in a few weeks of putting off “getting back on track” and that cycle is how I spent a large portion of my life. My size, my hatred for myself, and food was my idol.

There has to be more to life than this.

Thank God there is! Here I am, at 24, and I have no idea what I weigh. No – really – not even a clue. I went to the doctor a few weeks ago and looked away from the scale. My only frame of reference for my size is the clothes I wear. I’m intentionally ending the diet cycle and fixing my relationship with food. It will no longer be my god. 

So why does God care about my relationship with food? Because God cares about anything that takes His rightful place as the focus of my time. He’s a jealous God (Exodus 34:14). He tells us to flee from idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14). I can’t be occupied with what I look like, what I want to eat, or even negative thoughts about how I dislike who I am without stealing the space in my mind that should be consumed with who God is, how He has delivered me, and who he says I am. 

If you struggle with your relationship with food, and you’re looking for a trick to find some balance, I can’t offer that to you. I wish I had an easy answer to help you silence the inner monologue. I can share with you some tools that are aiding me in my process, though. 

FEED YOUR THOUGHTS 

The constant struggle with how you view food is an addiction. Give yourself reminders that help you diminish its power in your life. Call it what it is – nutrition that helps keep us alive. Fill your time with dwelling on who God is and giving Him the praise He deserves. You can’t tear down an idol in your life without filling it’s place with truth.

FILTER YOUR SURROUNDINGS

Be aware of what triggers negative thinking for you. For me, I had to unfollow several “weight loss inspo” social media accounts. I evaluated what they posted and if it was steeped in diet culture, it went. If it was focused on sharing valuable information about listening to hunger cues, forming balanced meals, and ending the cycle of over restriction, it stayed. I knew I needed help to relearn how to take care of myself, but I was guarded about what I let in. I even had conversations with my friends about where I was at so they understood my process and knew how to engage with me. 

FREE YOURSELF

Give yourself some time to not have to get it “right”. You’re going to still have some ups and downs. Consider having a trusted advisor, counselor, or therapist by your side who can support you on your journey. Allow yourself a period of time for recovery and relearning with no expectations.

God desires to be the center of your attention. He has so much more for you than a cycle of unhealthy obsession. 

NEXT STEPS:
The article, An Open Letter to My Friends Struggling With Eating Disorders” from desiringGod
Biblical Fasting and Intuitive Eating, written by nutritionist Aubrey Golbek

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Madison Lloyd is our Executive Ministry Director here at KNOWN. She’s an Enneagram type 9, an introvert, and lover of deep, intentional conversation.

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