Losing Weight Part 2: The Idol of Food

I’m blogging this week about my journey of losing weight and keeping it off. It is by far one of the most common questions I get. You can read part 1 here where I chronicle my journey.

Today I want to talk about the spiritual side of food, health and weight loss. It might seem an odd place to start, shouldn’t I tell you what I did first? There are millions of books on how to eat better, what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, how often to eat, etc. I don’t think this is the place to start.

The reality is that for many people, food and eating is an idol. It is what they do when they are tired, bored, frustrated, stressed, in need of comfort. Food is addicting. Most Americans see food as an idol, instead of fuel for their body, something to enjoy. Instead, they worship it, find solace in it.

Most people will eat mindlessly. Do you know how many calories a day you eat? At my heaviest I ate close to 7,000 calories. This was not hard to attain. When you are watching TV late at night and start to feel hungry, do you think twice about grabbing a snack? What do you do when you are stressed, bored, frustrated? Many people eat. Not only that, they eat too much in that moment. Food becomes a god, something that comforts them.

For me, food was about control. Mentally I believed that people didn’t like me or doors were closed to me because I was overweight. At least that is what I told myself. Food became a comfort of, if they don’t like me who cares. By eating, I was (in my mind anyway) controlling what people thought of me.

Usually, we only talk about exercise or being skinny as being an idol (which it can easily be). We need to have more conversations about food and eating being an idol. Many of you, if you are reading this in hopes of learning how to lose weight are probably in the same boat I am, food is an idol. You can’t find freedom from something until you call it what it is: an idol and a sin. For many people, that is what food and eating the way they do has become.

It might also be something that you are covering up. Maybe there is hurt, pain in your life, another idol of your heart that you appease by eating. Many will carry around wounds for years and try to cover them up with food. Most people who are heavy have some kind of wound they have not totally dealt with (the same can be said of a lot of people who workout 7 days a week). Do you have some kind of wound you haven’t dealt with that you eat to cover up? We are miserable, we eat, get heavier, and then get even more miserable, so we eat some more in hopes that we will feel better but all we do is get more miserable. That was the cycle I would get into.

I remember my brother-in-law asking me once at my heaviest how I could tell people in a sermon to have self control when I clearly did not have any when it came to food. That was hard to hear but he was right.

If you are where I was, heavier than you want to be. Food is something that you turn to for comfort, when you are bored, something that drives your day. Confess it. Confess it for the idol it is. For the worship you give it.

One thing I always tell people to do who struggle with food as an idol is fast. Don’t eat for a day. The times that you would normally eat, spend that time praying and reading your bible asking God to kill the idol of food that drives your life. If in reading that sentence you think I am nuts or that you could never do that, food is probably an idol for you. Which means you should do what I just wrote.

If you don’t deal with the spiritual side of food, freedom will be hard to come by.