Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Helping One Another Find Satisfaction in Christ

Episode Resources

Get more helpful resources from Asheritah Ciuciu.

Dannah Gresh: When Asheritah Ciuciu was trying to make practical life changes, she knew how important it was to walk with a sister in Christ.

Asheritah Ciuciu: I went into the library and there were Rice Krispies treats on the librarian’s desk! I wanted one so badly! I took my phone out and I took a picture of it; I texted it to my friend and said, “Would you pray for me?!”

Leslie Basham: Today is November 21, 2019 and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, along with Dannah Gresh.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Dannah, the conversation we’ve been having with Asheritah this week has been so helpful for me! It’s been challenging; it’s been convicting, but it’s also been encouraging. I’m just so thankful that she’s written this book called Full, talking about food and Jesus and the battle for satisfaction. I know it’s been speaking to you as well.

Dannah: Oh, I think what has been such a blessing is that we’re sitting here—the three of us at this table—and we’re in the battle together. So many times in my life when it comes to food, for whatever reason, I have felt all alone. As Asheritah writes in this book, “You cannot do it alone.” So Asheritah, thank you for that reminder, and welcome back to Revive Our Hearts.

Asheritah: I am so excited to jump in today! Thank you for having me.

Nancy: Do you ever find that having written this book and teaching on this subject, as I know you’ve done many times, that it intensifies the temptations for you? I was a little nervous about this interview because I find that sometimes when I talk about this topic, it just makes me more drawn to unhealthy patterns. Have you experienced that?

Asheritah: Yes. Even driving here I had to have an inner struggle with the Lord, saying, “I’m not qualified to do this! Why am I coming here?” This continues to be a battleground for me, and especially when I do interviews like this or when I get up to teach or speak on this topic.

Nancy: Do you find afterwards all you want to do is eat? 

Asheritah: It’s usually before.

Nancy: For me it’s afterwards. 

Dannah: For me it’s after, too. Big old hamburger, cheeseburger, pizza!

Nancy: Stop! Stop now!

Asheritah: We’re all getting hungry!

Dannah: After I snack.

Asheritah: No, for me it’s before, because if I do slip, if I do return to patterns of unhealthy eating, the enemy uses it to say, “See? Who are you to point women to Jesus?”

Nancy: Then you feel you can’t talk about it. But what I love about the Rice Krispies treats in the library story is that you weren’t doing this alone. You were doing it in community with somebody else; you recognized your need and you said, “Two are stronger than one” (see Eccl. 4:9–10).

Dannah: Why is that important?

Asheritah: Well, that is something I’ve learned recently, actually. I mean, it’s been a journey for me. I tried doing it alone in the beginning. But with accountability there are reminders of truth. Because at the end of the day if I blew it, if I hit that ice cream carton, or if I got six cookies instead of just one, I feel hopeless again. 

Even though I’ve experienced God’s goodness, His forgiveness and redemption, my soul forgets. It’s like I have soul amnesia. I forget who God is and what He has done from one day to the next. Having that friend, I can text her and say, “I blew it again!” And she texts me back and says, “God’s grace is made new every morning! It starts again.”

Nancy: I think sometimes, even in the middle of the temptation, to bring it into the light robs the temptation of its power. I have sometimes been sitting in a meeting where . . . (My husband knows this is a battle for me. He prays for me; he encourages me. It’s not a battle for him;he has his own battles.)

Asheritah: My husband is the same way!

Nancy: We have this in common. But sometimes I’m sitting in a meeting, and they’ve got this spread of snack stuff that I just want to eat like there will never be any food tomorrow. In my wiser moments I’ve taken a picture of the spread, and I text it to Robert and I say, “Here’s what’s in this room. Just pray for me.”

Because I know I’ve got to have some limitations and some guardrails here or I’m going to eat everything that’s on this table! It’s just a moment—just a text—but at that moment the temptation is often really diminished in its power, because I’ve humbled myself (God gives grace to the humble) and I’ve said, “I can’t do this by myself!” 

Dannah: I’ve found that as I work with women and I’m talking about my friends, as we work together in holding one another accountable, somehow it seems the right thing to confess when you’re being short-tempered with your children or disrespectful to your husband.

I’ve worked with women who are struggling with reading erotica or pornography, and they’re like, “I need accountability!” But it’s almost like when it comes to the food issue I think is that silly or mundane. Should I apply the “confess your sins one to another” to this? (see James 5:16) Should I apply the “drag it into the light” from the apostle Paul to food? (see Eph. 5:13)

Nancy: Well, it’s not the food that’s sinful, but if it’s overpowering my life, if it’s become an idol in my life, then yes!

Asheritah: Right, absolutely! Sin thrives in the darkness, in secrecy, in shame and guilt. But when we link arms with our sisters in Christ, together we experience the victory.

Nancy: Asheritah, one of the things I really appreciate about your book Full is that you give some real practical handles for those of us who face this as a recurring battle. One of those was about discovering your triggers. You talked about walking into your mom’s kitchen, and I think a lot of us would relate to having that kind of trigger. Tell us about that.

Asheritah: My mom is a fantastic cook! There is nothing she’s made that I do not just absolutely enjoy eating! And growing up, the kitchen was a place of comfort. So as an adult now, I walk into the kitchen and there’s a part of me that just wants to fling all discipline to the wind and just dig in to whatever’s there without being mindful of, “Am I hungry? Have I just finished a meal? Do I really need this? Should I leave this for others as well?” It’s just all gone. 

So for me, walking into my mom’s house—specifically into the kitchen—is a trigger that I need to be mindful of.

Nancy: Do you know what a trigger for me is? It’s not so much my mom’s or anybody else’s kitchen, but it’s a Mexican restaurant. 

Dannah: Any old Mexican restaurant?

Nancy: Any old Mexican restaurant. I’m going to say this—and it’s not going to be exactly theologically accurate, but to make the point—I almost can’t go to a Mexican restaurant without sinning. I mean, I know that for me to go to a Mexican restaurant is to set myself up for greater temptation.

I’m embarrassed to say that, and I don’t think it should always have to be that way or necessarily always will be that way, but I just know . . . put a basket of chips in front of me . . . In fact, I’m thinking about this: we had Mexican salad at our house last night for dinner and bowls of chips. I don’t know if you ladies noticed, but my husband knows this is a struggle for me.

Somebody else brought the food. I didn’t plan the menu, so I wasn’t quite prepared for this. And at one point, Robert just real gently moved the chips so they weren’t as quickly in my reach. 

Dannah: Aww, what a sweet thing!

Nancy: It was very subtle; it was very sweet. I was really thankful, and I’ve often thanked him for that. But we have triggers, right? Things that for whatever reason, it’s a moment where we’re more likely to be weakened by temptation.

Dannah: Well, the trigger for me is the smell. When I’m on the tour with the True Girl team, we often don’t get to eat dinner because we’re preparing to do an event. And so we have what we call “bus food” at ten-thirty at night, which is not a great time to eat . . . especially at my age. But they’re all younger, so their bodies can handle it a little better.

And I have that mentality of, “I’m just going to eat my tuna and crackers, or my apple and my banana and my peanut butter, whatever.” Then I smell the pizza they’ve ordered, or I smell the ribs!

Nancy: At ten-thirty at night? You’re not going to sleep well, is one thing for sure!

Dannah: I feel like for the first two or three nights on tour I do fine, and then the third or fourth night I cave.

Asheritah: Well, here’s a lie that I believe that comes in these situations: “It’s just one bite.” Have you ever thought that to yourself? “It’s just one bite. I’m not going to eat a whole plate of pizza.”

Dannah: Ah, yes, not just thought that, I’ve done that!

Asheritah: That’s where the enemy gets us. These triggers, if we’re not mindful of them, can derail us in our intentions to honor God with our eating.

Dannah: So how does a woman figure out what her triggers are?

Asheritah: I think part of it is reflection, honestly. There’s no easy way to go about this, but maybe spend some time at the end of the day when you feel like, “Oh man! I just blew it today!” Probably you woke up with every intention of eating well and honoring God in your eating. You probably didn’t start out saying, “I’m going to binge on all this food. I’m going to lose control.”

Dannah: Yes, nobody wakes up in the morning and says, “I am going to binge today so that I feel absolutely horrid when I go to bed tonight!” Right?

Asheritah: Right, but somehow it happens. So I encourage women to take some time at the end of the day and prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and your mind to look back on the day and say, “Where did things start going wrong for me?” Is it driving by a certain fast food restaurant? Is it a certain food that you keep in the house? 

A woman shared with me that she buys a certain type of chips for her small group just so she can have enough to bring home so that she can have those later, but she inevitably eats the whole bag in one sitting. And so, for her, that type of snack is a trigger.

Dannah: Can emotions be a trigger?

Asheritah: Absolutely, yes! Feeling sad, mad, even happy . . . all these things . . . a long day of work . . . can be a trigger.

Nancy: It’s self-rewarding.

Dannah: I remember being on the phone with a friend who has struggled with alcoholism in her past, so she’s always reaching out for accountability and so forth. She had called me several times in one week. She was doing great but struggling. And the third time she called me I had been—for the third time—in a doughnut store!

Nancy: Sounds like a pattern!

Dannah: Yes, exactly! She said to me, “You’re in the doughnut store again?” 

And I said [whispers], “Ye-e-, ye-e-s.” 

And she said, “Have you ever considered that you might need to call me?!” 

And I said, “Well, no, I really haven’t, but now that I think of it, maybe . . .”

And she asked, “Well, what’s your trigger?” That’s what she asked me right away. 

I said, “I feel sad this week. I’m having a really sad week.” And so, I think sometimes emotions are what push me over the edge.

And when I recognize that trigger . . . So I recognize that I’m in Mom’s kitchen or I’m feeling sad or whatever it is, what do you do when you recognize the trigger? What is the step to take?

Nancy: The answer isn’t, “Never go back to your mom’s kitchen!”

Dannah and Asheritah: Right.

Dannah: Or, “Never eat a donut!” (Praise the Lord that’s not the answer!) 

Nancy: Or, “Never go into a Mexican restaurant.” 

Asheritah: No, I think it’s identifying, if you can beforehand, the trigger. Like, “This is going to happen. I am scheduled to go to a Mexican restaurant with my friends this week.”

Nancy: “And there are going to be chips.”

Asheritah: Right. “I am going to be at my mom’s house,” or “There will be doughnuts on the bus.” Thinking about it ahead of time. 

Secondly, praying and asking the Lord for self-control going into it. He is our partner in this. The Lord wants us to grow and experience victory in our battles. We’re told that there is no temptation that has seized us that is not common to man and that with every temptation scenario He will give us a way out. (see 1 Cor. 10:13)

Nancy: That reminds me of a verse that I’ve often gone back to in 1 Timothy chapter 4. We talked about prayer going into the situation, but also our pre-meal prayers. I mean, are those sometimes just like really pro forma and . . .

Dannah: . . . rote.

Nancy: Or even something we forget sometimes? Paul talks about some people who think they’re more spiritual because they abstain from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving. He says, “Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:4–5).

Help me think how that might apply to us in our pre-meal prayers or in our trigger moments.

Asheritah: Practically for me, I sit down at a meal and we thank the Lord for the food. I mean, we do that . . .

Nancy: Well, that’s not just a throw-away either, just realizing that everything we have is because . . .

Asheritah: “Lord, this is a good gift. You have given it to me!”

Nancy: And we wouldn’t have it if He hadn’t given to us.

Asheritah: Right. But also praying in that moment, “Lord, I want to honor You with this meal!” Paul says, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do [it for] the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). And my prayer is, “I want to eat this meal in a way that glorifies You, not satisfies my cravings!”

Peter says that a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him, and oftentimes I have been mastered by my cravings, by my appetites, by my stomach. (see 2 Peter 2:19) In another place, “Their gods are their stomachs,” Paul says. (see Phil. 3:19) Those are people who are lost, but we serve the one, true God who satisfies us.

So as I sit down at this meal, I want to say, “Lord, I want to glorify You in eating this delicious meal. Holy Spirit, would you prick me when I’ve had enough, and may I push away from this table—not guilty, not hopeless—but praising You for giving me this food.” 

I mean, imagine if at every meal we would leave the table feeling thankful for the food that the Lord has given us.

Nancy: And what you’re doing in that prayer is you’re being intentional and you’re thinking about what you’re doing. You’re not just walking into that situation and being mindless, to start grazing, to start shoveling the food in—which is a selfish thing, ultimately, that so many people in the world are never able to do.

So just to be thinking and mindful. And this whole thing of not being overcome, of not being mastered by food—good gift though it is. 

What about food rules? Do you ever set those up? Can those be bondage, or can they be helpful?

Dannah: Yes, how can you approach them with grace so that they aren’t legalism?

Nancy: Yes, exactly. And what are some that be helpful?

Asheritah: One of the rules that I have is, I try not to eat while staring at a screen.

Dannah: Ohhh!

Nancy: When I was single, I never would have been able to eat because that’s the only way, pretty much, I ate, which is terrible. But now that I’m married that helps some, because we sit down to eat.

Dannah: What would you say to a single woman? Should she eat in front of a screen, is that okay?

Nancy: You’re not saying it’s right or wrong; you’re just saying, for you that’s a helpful thing, right?

Asheritah: For me, yes. I would say this about food rules: they’re personal, they’re individual. What I need to do to eat in a way to glorify God is different from how the two of you might set boundaries.

Dannah: That’s true.

I think of the psalmist saying, “The [boundaries] have fallen for me in pleasant places” (Ps. 16:6). There is safety within those parameters. So for me as a busy mom, if I’m shoveling food in my mouth as I’m staring at Pinterest, and the girls are screaming in the background, that’s a very stressful situation and I often eat more than I’m conscious of.

Dannah: So there is emotion again, driving you to the food.

Asheritah: Right, but it’s also that I’m not mindful of the food, I’m not enjoying the gift of good food. So for me, that is a boundary: I try not to eat with a screen in front of me.

Dannah: Mindfulness . . . that’s probably a really good tip. What does it mean to eat mindfully? What does that look like?

Asheritah: For me, I tried writing in a food diary. I still come back to that in certain seasons just to kind of spot-check. But consistently writing down what I’m eating for me is too much. It would take me to that pendulum swing of food fixation and obsession. 

Dannah: Yes, exactly.

Asheritah: So I might use it to spot-check. But “mindfulness” is pausing and slowing down enough to enjoy the bite—to feel the textures of the food, to taste the flavors as they combine, to look at a colorful rainbow on my plate.

I use this with the girls to get them to eat their veggies. I say, “This is a superfood! It helps you see better; it will help you jump more!”

Dannah: Ahh, the colorful ones.

Asheritah: Right, thinking in terms of that with my food. And then, pausing to assess my stomach. “When have I had enough?”

Nancy: There’s a verse in the book of Ruth that has often reminded me of this, where Ruth is in Boaz’s field and he lets her come and eat with the other harvesters]. He said, “You can come and glean in my field,” and then he provides lunch for her. And it says she ate until she had had enough. And then she stopped eating. That’s actually in the book of Ruth. (see Ruth 2:14)

And then there is another occasion where he gives her food to take back to her mother-in-law, so what she doesn’t need for herself she takes to share with somebody else. I don’t think that’s the point of the book of Ruth, but I think it’s interesting.

Dannah: It’s a great observation, and I think it’s a good time for us to remember that food is good. It’s a good gift from God. The Bible talks about feasting as well as self-control. There is a time and a place for us to step up to the table and really just enjoy the bounty of God’s goodness.

Nancy: I think the challenge of that is that, if we’re overindulging all the time, then you can’t enjoy the feast. You’re going to feel sick, heavy. 

Dannah: The feast isn’t meaningful then. The feasts of the Old Testament had meaning. 

Nancy: My husband will often skip lunch; he just doesn’t care about food! And I just don’t get that, but I admire the self-control. Sometimes he doesn’t want to eat lunch because he loves getting to dinner feeling hungry. 

We both work out of our home, so I have access to food all day long. A lot of it’s just grazing, it’s mindless eating, and then I get to dinner, and I’m not really hungry. Well, he will sometimes say at dinner, “Isn’t it good to feel hungry?” And I think there’s something to be said for that when you can enjoy what you haven’t been stuffing yourself with all the time.

Dannah: I think that’s an important tip in being successful. We’re not just withdrawing. God doesn’t just take things from us. He also blesses us to be able to say, “Wow! I’m looking forward to this delicious meal. Thank you, Lord!”

Nancy: Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:17 that He “give[s] us richly all things to enjoy” (KJV). So the question is, “Am I enjoying this? Am I eating in such a way, eating and refraining from eating, in such a way that when I do eat I can enjoy it!”

Dannah: Okay, can I tell you a really crazy tip that the Lord has given me . . . and it doesn’t even make sense. I think theologically you’re probably all going to think I’m nuts.

Asheritah: I can’t wait to hear this!

Dannah: So Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you . . . [plans for] a future and a hope.” God does look ahead for us. I realize that when I really go off the tracks with food is when I eat out. Because “I want it all!” I want the appetizer; I want the big meal; I want the dessert.

I don’t really have a lot of trouble at home, partly because the way that I shop now is, I don’t give myself the opportunity to fall off the rails at home. Unless we’ve just had a special event or something, there’s healthy food in our house. If I have the munchies, I’m going to go to the freezer and get a frozen banana covered in semi sweet chocolate, because it has no sugar in it. That little, tiny banana bite will fix it for me. I don’t have an option to go off the rails . . . but I do at a restaurant. 

So I was talking to the Lord about this one day, and He brought Jeremiah 29:11 up. He’s like, “I am a future planner. I’m a strategic planner.” 

And I was like, “What does that have to do with eating out, Lord?”

Nancy: A lot. 

Dannah: Well, and this is what I felt Him speak to my heart: “You don’t even need to look at the menu, sweet girl. You need to decide before you get there what you will order.” And that has solved a world of problems for me! Restaurants that I love and I’m accustomed to, I know exactly what my favorite thing is, and I just order that.

If I’m going to a restaurant I’ve never been to before I think, I probably need to eat some fish and chicken and a vegetable. I’ll preplan the category of what I’m going to eat. That has helped me so much!

Nancy: I partly agree, Dannah. It’s an application, let’s say, of that verse. I love looking at menus. I love looking at pictures of food. I love looking at descriptions of food—except now they make them put all the calories and the carbs and everything . . .

Dannah: That’s actually good for me; that makes me think twice.

Nancy: It has been helpful to me. But if I’m fueling discontent or greed by lingering over this menu, that’s not helpful for me. So to think about it ahead and say, “I don’t even need to look at the menu.” I know, when I do it that way, it’s really helpful.

Dannah: Do you know, when I’m not looking at the menu, I’m talking to the friends I’m sitting down to feast with.

Nancy: Yes. You’re saying, “People are more important than food.”

Asheritah: That is so good. One more tip that I found helpful is the three-bite rule, because researchers have found something called “sensory-specific satiety.” 

Nancy: Wow.

Dannah: Say it fast! (No, never mind, I’m just kidding!)

Asheritah: Basically, our taste buds get overloaded when they have the same taste profile over and over again. So that means your fifth brownie doesn’t taste as good as your first one.

Dannah: That’s so true!

Asheritah: What I found helpful is to pause and say, “I want this. I’m going to relish and enjoy three bites of it!” With the first bite I’m really going to pause and worship the Lord and say, “Thank You for creating this food!” With the second bite I’m going to experience the flavor profile. And with the third bite I’m going to say, “This is it, and it was good. Thank You, Lord. It’s enough!”

Dannah: That’s good. I just learned about “flavor profiling,” so that’s really good! What a fun program this has been. So practical.

Nancy: Encouraging. 

Dannah: And there are more practical ideas, more practical encouragement in Asheritah’s book Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction. Nancy, I have enjoyed this book and this conversation, and I just can’t wait to see women having a conversation of their own with their friends after they read this book.

Nancy: Yes. We’d love to make it available to you as our way of saying “thank you” when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount this week. Just give us a call at 1–800–569–5959, or go online and visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com. When you make your gift, be sure and let us know you’d like a copy of the book called Full.

I think it’s going to be something that will challenge you in relation to food, as it has all of us through this conversation, but also that’s going to result in your heart finding greater fullness and satisfaction in Christ. And that’s what this ministry is for: calling women to experience freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

So thank you Dannah and Asheritah for being with us this week for this conversation.

Asheritah: Well, thank you for having me. This has been a blessing.

Dannah: It certainly has been a blessing! Now, before we let you go, I have to mention that Thanksgiving is almost here! So let me ask you: “What are you doing to make sure this Thanksgiving holiday is a meaningful time?” Tomorrow you’ll get ideas for using the holiday to draw closer to God and others. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts!

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is helping you discover the true source of satisfaction. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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