Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Are You Preoccupied with Food

Leslie Basham: We eat because we need nourishment, and we eat for a lot of other reasons, too. Here's Elyse Fitzpatrick.

Elyse Fitzpatrick:
 
A lot of times it doesn't have to do with real hunger, it has more to do with, "I want this taste in my mouth, or I want to feel the creaminess of ice cream, or something like that." So it doesn't have to do with real hunger. There is another desire or craving going on here that is something more than, "I'm hungry; let's go have something to eat."

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, February 3. Food is a huge struggle for so many people. There are plenty of people offering you diets and supplements, but what you truly need is the power of God. A few years ago, Revive Our Hearts aired a series on bringing our appetites under God’s control. It had a huge effect on listeners. Here’s Nancy with an example.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I had a really touching experience not too long ago. I was speaking in Pennsylvania. I was sitting on the front row, being introduced, getting ready to go up and speak. A lady sitting a couple rows behind me caught my eye and motioned to me and passed up a note that she wanted me to see that she had handed it to me.   And I opened the note. Here it is; I’ve got it in my hand. In her own handwriting she said,

Nancy, thank you so much for your ministry. The Love to Eat, Hate to Eat series with Elyse Fitzpatrick helped to change my life. Today I weigh over 100 pounds less than I used to be. [And she wrote in parenthesis,] Less of me, more of Him. Blessings to you and Revive Our Hearts. [And she signed her name.]

I never got to talk with the woman; I just read the note. I looked back and I smiled at her. I was so encouraged by how God has used this one particular program to do a work of grace in this woman’s life. As you know, if this is an issue you’ve struggled with, it’s really not about the weight; it’s not about food; it’s about the lordship of Christ in our lives and letting Him have His way with us body, soul, and spirit. I was so thrilled for the way God used that series. To get this note years later was such an encouragement.

That’s why I’m glad that we’re able now to re-air this series with my dear friend Elyse Fitzpatrick, Love to Eat, Hate to Eat. These truths have also had an impact in my own life and are continuing to impact me. I know it’s going to be an encouragement to our listeners.

Just as a reminder, as you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, you’re making it possible for women like that woman who heard this program years ago to have a really hugely life-changing experience. So thank you for your support, your prayers, your encouragement. I believe that again in a significant way, God is going to use this conversation with Elyse Fitzpatrick to be a means of grace and of setting captives free. Maybe years down the road we will be hearing other stories from those who have been impacted as a result.

Leslie: I hope you’ll make a point to stay with us today and all next week and learn to bring your eating habits under God’s control. Here’s Nancy to get us started.

Nancy: Elyse Fitzpatrick is a conference speaker, she's an author, she's a biblical counselor, she's been a personal friend for the last couple of years. And she has written a book that I think is enormously helpful on this subject called, Love to Eat, Hate to Eat. And the subtitle is Breaking the Bondage of Destructive Eating Habits.

This book is filled with wise, biblical, and practical counsel. In fact, just yesterday I heard a story about someone whom I know who said that she has recently read this book, Love to Eat, Hate to Eat, and that her thinking about food has been transformed as a result of reading this book. So, Elyse, thank you so much for joining us at Revive Our Hearts and for writing this book and for being here to talk about it with us this week.

Elyse: Thank you, Nancy, for the opportunity to be with you. I look forward to our time.

Nancy: We are going to talk about different types of  "disorderly eating," which is one of the phrases I’ve heard you use. So first of all, compulsive overeating, what is it? What does it mean? What are we talking about when we talk about compulsive overeating?

Elyse: There is a cartoon that I've seen. I think it is a "Far Side©" cartoon that for me really exemplifies what compulsive overeating is. There is a picture of a woman walking by a bakery. She is hanging on to a lightpost or something out in front of the bakery. Her body is just being drawn into the bakery, and she is just hanging on for dear life. That is, I think, a picture of what it is like to be entrapped in compulsive overeating.

I have had episodes in my life, (praise God, not so much recently) but I can remember times when I would, for instance, sit down with a box of cereal and, not really even taste it, just be eating. Maybe I had a little bit of an edge of hunger. Then I just start eating and just keep eating over and over again. And so it would be that.

It would also be this sort of thinking about food: "When is my next meal? What am I going to have?" Thinking in church, "Well, should we go to a restaurant after church and what would we have and what could I order there?" It's that kind of preoccupation with what am I going to eat, when can I get it, how much can I have.

A lot of times, the thing that to me that is most scary is a lot of times it doesn't have to do with real hunger. It has more to do with, "I want this taste in my mouth, or I want to feel the creaminess of ice cream, or something like that." So it doesn't have to do with real hunger. There is another desire or craving going on here that is something more than, "I'm hungry. Let's go and have something to eat."

It's a feeling very much of being enslaved, the feeling of being trapped. "I'd like to not eat this but how can I stop?" It's that kind of thing.

Nancy: Okay, compulsive overeating. Now, you touch in your book (and we are going to touch a little bit this week also) on what are commonly called other eating disorders. If you could help us define these two terms, first, anorexia nervosa. That’s become a lot better understood in the last couple of decades, but essentially, what is anorexia?

Elyse: Anorexia would be, I think, commonly defined as voluntary self-starvation to so control the amount of food that you would intake that you would be 20 percent or more under appropriate weights. I have counseled with a number of girls who struggle with this that also would exercise to a very high level, too much exercise. So, perhaps they would be eating 300 to 400 calories per day and then running three or four miles per day.

The point being, generally in anorexia would be to become so thin really that you endanger your life. But I think for them it's more of an issue of control. "I'm going to control this area of my life; I am going to stop eating."

Nancy: And most common with teenage girls?

Elyse: I think it is most common with teenage girls. A lot of times teenage girls will have a little bit of a growth spurt when they first become a teenager. Then you get to be about fifteen or sixteen and a lot of times those girls find themselves plumping up a little bit because they have eaten like they did when they were children. When you go through the growth spurt and you stop growing, a lot of times those girls will find that they are gaining weight.

It's then that they will frequently start these behaviors because we live in a culture that is so focused on being thin, not just being healthy but being very, very thin. They see the cover of some teenage magazine and feel like they are way too heavy.

So then they will start dieting. I was talking to a girl a couple of weeks ago who had just thought, "I'm going to just lose ten pounds." Then it sort-of got away from her. And she thought, "If I can lose ten and look like this, why don't I lose another ten?" So I think that’s what we would call it, just this voluntary self-starvation that becomes compulsive in the same way that overeating would be compulsive. It’s just this driven-ness to do this. 

Nancy: We are going to talk in a later program about how mothers can contribute to this, but also how they can be helpful to daughters that they think may have an issue here. One other term, bulimia, that's actually the in-thing in some ways today. Just define it for us for those that may not be familiar with it.

Elyse: Generally speaking, we would say that a bulimic is a person who would compulsively overeat and then to overcome the results of that overeating, which of course would be weight gain and discomfort, they would force themselves to vomit.
Some of them take laxatives because they know that vomiting is bad for your esophagus and your teeth. So instead of vomiting after eating a lot, they will just take a lot of laxatives to purge out their body. A lot of times there is also immense amounts of exercise involved in that, too.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with exercising. It's exercising to the point of damaging your body, that is the problem.

Nancy: For those who relate to what Elyse has been saying about this sense of being enslaved by food, whether you are overweight or thin, whether it is compulsive overeating or one of these disorders that we have talked about, is there hope for lasting change?

And one of the things I have so appreciated about Elyse's writing and her ministry is you will come away believing, "Yes, there is hope for lasting change. There is power through the Holy Spirit and the grace of God to think differently and to live differently."

We will keep coming back again and again to the bottom line, it's a verse that you are familiar with, 1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God."

Food may not be your struggle. And if it's not food, it's something else. But how do we deal with temptation, how do we deal with these besetting sins and issues, how do we live everyday life in a way that we can say, "I'm living for the supreme purpose of bringing pleasure and glory and honor to God."

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back, and we want to help you to bring glory to God in this area. One great way is to get a copy of Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book, Love to Eat, Hate to Eat. After reading the book, you’ll walk up to the refrigerator with a new mindset. We’ll send you a copy when you support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com and there you can donate to Revive Our Heartsand get a copy of Love to Eat, Hate to Eat.

You can also read today’s transcript and interact over today’s topic with other women on our listener blog. And you can find out how to hear Elyse speak at True Woman ’12 this September. Now let’s get back to the series Love to Eat, Hate to Eat. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy: I am going to make ten statements just really quickly, one after the other, and ask you to make a little note of how many of these statements would be true of you.
And I can tell you right off the bat that I do need this series because I think I counted last night seven of these statements are or have been true of my own thinking. So that is why I am so burdened that we get into this and find out what the Word of God has to say. But, let's evaluate together who needs to hear this series.

Number one: I have a family member or close friend who struggles or has struggled with compulsive overeating, anorexia, or bulimia. Maybe a daughter, a close friend, a sister, whatever, is that true of you? Just put a little checkmark.

Number two: I have an excessive focus on or love for food. Is that true of you or has it been in a major way in your life?

Number three: I often eat for comfort or out of emotions of anger, fear, frustration, or depression rather than because I'm hungry.

Number four: I habitually, compulsively overeat even when I am not hungry. Put a little check there if you would say that is true or has been true of you.

Number five: I often feel out of control in my eating. I experience food cravings that seem irresistible. You would say, "This has been a pattern in my life" feeling out of control in my eating.

Number six: My emotions and my sense of well-being are significantly affected by how much I weigh or how my clothes fit.

Number seven, is this true of you or has it been: Deep down I feel that I will be happier, I will have more worth, and I will be more loved or liked by others if I am thin. And, by the way, our culture sends that message, big time.

Number eight: I often experience feelings of shame or guilt, hopelessness or helplessness in relation to my eating.

Number nine: I have secret eating patterns that I wouldn't want others to know about, and I'm often dishonest with others about my eating habits.

Number ten: I have practiced anorexic or bulimic behavior. 

Okay, how many of you would say out of ten statements, one of more of those are true of you? Okay, just about every hand in the room. I see a couple maybe that aren't raised, and you can be dismissed, right away.

How many of you would say that three or more of those you found were true of yourself. Okay, five or more? Seven or more? I'm going to stop there. Seven or more, let me see.

Okay, probably a third maybe of us in this room and some of us aren't even sure yet if we can be honest so we might have to increase that number.

But I think that says, and if we were to take this survey in the general Christian audience, we would find that this is a huge issue. It is something that we do need to deal with. And if you don't, you have friends who do. As you look around this room, you can see that.

Elyse Fitzpatrick, I'm so thankful that you are here to talk with us about this subject this week. Your book has been immensely helpful to me and to a lot of other women. And one of the things that I really appreciated in your book was your own openness and transparency about your personal pilgrimage.

You didn't write this book just as a counselor or a clinician, you wrote it out of your own journey and your walk with God. You shared that some of your own wrong views of food and eating began in your childhood.

Elyse: Very much so. I was one of those little girls that you would see that would shop in the chubby department, which was always humiliating to me. I really did struggle with my weight as a young person. I was not a believer. I thought that having a good figure or looking good would be the point of life, which I think is where a lot of young women are.

Then I had a season when I was in my late childhood where I did lose weight. Then I got saved and the most interesting thing happened. When I became a believer, the one thing that believers can do without anybody saying, "Oh, you shouldn't do that," is eat. So, I did. I ate at all of the church functions and really comforted myself with food in a lot of ways.

Then I was married and had my children. After the birth of my third child, I weighed over 200 pounds. I was really out of control; my weight was out of control. I was teaching in a Christian school. I felt like that was a bad witness that I was so overweight. And yet, I just really couldn't seem to get a handle on this.

Every Monday morning, which is the way it usually goes, every Monday morning I would get up and I would say, "This week I'm not going to eat whatever. This week I'm going to eat properly. This week it's going to be different." And then, usually by Tuesday afternoon, on a good week, I was back eating the way I wanted to eat.

Someplace along in there, I would say probably fifteen years ago or so, I began to look at my weight biblically. I began to try to ask myself questions like, What does the Bible have to say about this? As I began to get training to do biblical counseling, that came more in focus for me. And I began to realize that the Bible did speak to this topic.

So it's not even that at that moment my life was just instantly changed. This is an area of my life where I have to really work. A few years ago, I had a hysterectomy. I'm on hormone replacement therapy, which has changed again my body for me. I am struggling still to look at what the Bible has to say about what I should think about the way that I look and not get sucked into, again, what we have been talking about which is the emphasis of the culture on being a certain size.

I think that if you would poll women in the culture, I think that they have done this, that the optimum size that all of the women want to be is a four. The reality is most of us are twelves. I have a little daughter-in-law, she’s a zero. But I keep telling her that when she grows up and gets a woman’s body, she’ll be okay.

Generally there is a discontent among women particularly in our culture about the way we look. The culture hammers us continually with this idea that you need to be about a size two or a size four. And if you’re not, there’s really something wrong with you. So I am still in that journey like you are.

I think that the Lord has given me a measure of victory. I don't think that I am as enslaved to food as I have been. I don't find myself having episodes with cereal boxes anymore, thank God. Part of that is because I don't have them around. So I know what I can have and not have. I don't think that I have that compulsive drive. I think that God has really delivered me from that for which I am so grateful.

Nancy: And one of the things that I appreciate in your book and the way you teach on this, Elyse. You show that it is a process, that there is not a quick fix. But the other thing I love about what you say is that there really is hope for change. And there was a verse that God used in your life when you were back in those school teaching days from 2 Peter, chapter 1. I was touched by how that verse really began a process of change in your life.

Elyse: Verse 3 says "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who has called us to his own glory and excellence by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire."

Nancy: Elyse, I want you to share with us in our next session how God used that passage of Scripture, which is so powerful, to give you hope and to really begin a process of what has been lasting change in your life.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with our guest, Elyse Fitzpatrick, about bringing our appetites under God’s control. At Revive Our Hearts we believe that you don’t have to live in bondage to food. You can truly find lasting change through God’s help.

Elyse Fitzpatrick leads you through this process of true change in the book, Love to Eat, Hate to Eat. Can we send you a copy? It’s our way of saying "thanks" when you support Revive Our Hearts. We’re able to bring you helpful programs like this one because listeners believe in this ministry. They want it to continue and support the ministry financially.

When you help us in the mission of leading women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ, we’ll send Love to Eat, Hate to Eat, to show our gratitude. Ask for the book when you donate by phone. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Imagine hearing our guest Elyse Fitzpatrick in person. Imagine that she is joined by Nancy, Janet Parshall, Joni Eareckson Tada, Mary Kassian, Priscilla Shirer, and many other speakers with a heart for the Lord. Imagine that you’re surrounded by thousands of other women seeking the Lord for personal and national revival.

You can experience all this in September of 2012. True Woman ’12 is coming to Indianapolis. To find out how to be a part of this important gathering, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, food is a good gift from God, but you need strategies to use that gift wisely and not be controlled by it. Elyse Fitzpatrick will be back Monday to talk about it. Please join us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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