Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Dannah Gresh: Does it feel like you can never show self-control when it comes to food? Author Asheritah Ciuciu has good news.

Asheritah Ciuciu: In my journey of overcoming food fixation, I realized there were lies I was believing about food that were keeping me in bondage. But Jesus says over seventy-eight times in Scripture: “I tell you the truth.” It is His truth that sets us free!

Leslie Basham: It’s November 19, 2019, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Woglemuth, along with Dannah Gresh.

Dannah: Nancy, I was recently shopping in vintage clothing stores because we have this really fun segment in the True Girl live event for tweens and their moms where we just take a look at the history of fashion. We just kind of say, “Hey, this is a little silly how we get obsessed with it.”

And, oh, my, some of the things we wore!

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I’ve got pictures to prove it!

Dannah: You have pictures to prove it. I think I’d like to see those! We could manage to maybe get a few of those on Dannah Gresh’s social media page today!

Nancy: Uh-uh.

Dannah: I was shocked at how small the sizes were! These women in the forties and fifties and sixties were teeny-teeny-tiny!

I asked the clerk, “Is it just that you don’t have larger sizes?” She said, “No, no. Women were smaller.”

Nancy: Obesity wasn’t the issue then that it is today.

Dannah: Yes. I was reading recently that 60 percent of women are overweight. That’s a majority of us! And 40 percent are obese. That means their health is at risk. So that experience in the vintage clothing store put a different spin on understanding just how epidemic this problem is in our country.

Nancy: Well, the plenteousness (I don’t know if that’s a word) of food, the variety, how many brands there are of everything . . . I mean, you walk in a supermarket today . . . I think people back in that era could not have fathomed a supermarket like we can walk into today,

It’s an experience for some of us with huge temptation to overindulge, when we walk into places where we can just see so much more than we could possibly need. Which, by the way, so much of the world doesn’t even know what that experience is like.

Dannah: Yes. Think about that. Our guest today is going to help us a little bit with that problem. You may feel you might be in that 60 percent of women. You might not be, because sometimes it’s not being overweight that is proof that we have a problem with food. Sometimes it’s being underweight or just obsessed with thinking constantly about our size.

Nancy: Which Asheritah Ciuciu calls “food fixation.” I think that’s a helpful term, because it doesn’t really have anything to do, necessarily, with what size you are or how much food you eat or the visible evidences of this. It’s something in the mind, something in the heart, that is overly fixated on food.

Dannah: Yes, exactly. If you want to learn more about food-fixation, make sure you listen to the program we broadcast yesterday. Today we have Asheritah back with us. She is the author of Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction. Welcome back, my friend!

Asheritah: It’s so great to be back. Thank you!

Nancy: I feel like if nobody else gets helped through this book and through this conversation we’re having, I’m really thankful that the Lord’s brought you for me to be able to listen to and learn from. This is an area that I’ve shared often (with our listeners and in my books) that is just a kind of recurring, chronic battle in my life.

There are fits and starts, points of greater victory, points of greater failure. So to hear you be so vulnerable and transparent but also so practical and helpful about how the Lord is walking you through this journey, that’s a real gift to me! I just want to say thank you.

Asheritah: Well, let me be clear: I haven’t in any way arrived; it’s not like I’ve figured this out. But I just feel so blessed that the Lord has opened His Word for me and shown me some truths from Scripture that really changed everything for me. So I’m right there alongside you. 

This is still something that I daily surrender to the Lord and say, “Okay, Lord, here we go again! Help me choose You.” 

Dannah: Some women might be listening and saying, “Uh! Already I feel like, yeah, I need some change to happen in my food life!” What was one moment that was really pivotal for you to realize: “I can change!”?

Asheritah: I was sitting in a coffee shop with an older friend of mine and just sharing the yo-yo-ing, up and down. I gain and lose the same ten pounds, and with having kids, it’s like with every pregnancy I put on that baby weight. And then I’m trying to get rid of it again. And just the hopelessness that sets in with that.

Typically when I share that women nod their heads, like, “Yeah, I understand that, I get that!”

Nancy and Dannah: Yes! We’re both nodding our heads!

Asheritah: This sweet woman sitting across the table from me took my hands in hers and looked me in the eye and said, “Asheritah, it doesn’t have to be this way. Jesus can set you free! He’s done that for me, and He can do that for you.”

Nancy: So there’s an infusion of hope in that moment, to deal with the hopelessness you’d been feeling.

Asheritah: Yes! I had never thought of this as something that Jesus has to set me free from.

Dannah: Ah.

Asheritah: I just thought, I have to be more self-controlled. I need more self-discipline. I need to pull myself up by the bootstraps. I had never thought of it in terms of slavery and chains and a battle where Jesus rides in and He is the Victor and He sets me free!

Dannah: So it sounds like there was a little bit of a lie present in your heart as it relates to food. What would that lie be? Would it be, “This isn’t a spiritual issue?” Would it be . . .

Asheritah: I think the lie for me at that point, one of the lies I was believing was, “I just need to try harder. I just need to do it!”

Nancy: It’s all about you. 

Asheritah: Yes.

Dannah: Bless your heart.

Nancy: Well, on this whole theme of lies women believe, as you all know, this is something we come back to a lot in this ministry. We’ve written about it. Dannah’s written about it. I’ve written about it, and now you’ve written about it in lies we believe about food.

This really goes back, again, to Genesis chapter 3 (Dannah and Asheritah agree). Our issues with sin and its consequences begin in the way we think and what we believe, and if we’re believing lies we’re going to be enslaved. The antidote to that is getting to truth, right? “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

Dannah: Think about that. Pause right there! The first lie of all lies had to do with food, right? What would you say about that, Asheritah? 

Asheritah: I don’t know that I would be tempted with a piece of fruit.

Nancy: There was something about it, though, that was tempting to Eve. 

Asheritah: It was the root issue, though. “Is God holding out on me? Is this piece of fruit symbolic of something more that I can have outside of God?”

Dannah: Wow.

Asheritah: I think that’s where Satan hit Eve, and that’s where he hits us, too. But these lies, they’re jumbled up with, you know, my list of chores and the grocery list and I need to sign this form for my preschooler and now I have this writing deadline. 

It’s all like a jumbled mess in my brain, so it’s not like I can identify, like a siren goes off: “Oh, there’s a lie!” It just all blends in until we pause and slow down and think about, “Okay, why am I eating this? What is driving me to this?”

Dannah: Identify. 

Asheritah: Identifying it, and then saying, “Is this true?”

Dannah: That’s why, I think, Nancy wrote Lies Women Believe like twenty years ago, because we all have experienced that jumble in our minds. 

Nancy: We are mindlessly going through life and acting and reacting without stopping to think, What is behind what I’m doing right now? What am I thinking that’s leading me to act this way?

Asheritah: I just want to pause and thank you for writing that, because I read that as a teenager—before Lies Young Women Believe came out. Then I took a group of young women from my church through your book, Dannah. I think it helps me to even know to think in terms of lies and truth.

That was kind of what the Lord used to help me realize, “Okay, I need to take my thoughts captive” (see 2 Cor. 10:5). Part of this battle is fought in the mind, and Scripture says that the battle we fight is not against flesh and blood. It is against principalities and authorities (see Eph. 6:12).

When we take every thought captive, we make it submissive to Christ. That is not a one big war that is fought once in our lifetime. Jesus can do that. As a missionary kid in Romania, I’ve seen Jesus set people free from addiction on the spot. 

They would take their cigarettes out of their pocket and tear them and stomp them and say, “From this day forward I’m not smoking!” But that’s not how He chose to work with me. 

Nancy: And you can’t do that with food, because you can’t just stop eating! That’s not the right answer, either.

Dannah: Asheritah, you just said, “take every thought captive.” My mind exploded a little bit because how many thoughts do I have a day about food?! 

Asheritah: You don’t even realize it until you pause to . . .

Dannah: Yes! And those thoughts are supposed to be taken captive . . .

Nancy: . . . to the obedience of Christ.

Dannah: Because it’s every thought—every thought I have should be in obedience to Christ. Okay, I’m feeling convicted again!

Asheritah: Let me just say again, food is not the enemy. Food is a good gift! God created us with taste buds. He placed Adam and Eve in the garden filled with fruit and nourishment for their bodies. He created us dependent on daily eating.

Dannah: He said, “Eat all the other trees; they’re all yours!” Plentiful!

Asheritah: But like any good gift, the enemy seeks to take it and distort it to keep our souls from running to the Lord.

Dannah: That’s when we begin to believe lies! So let’s take some time here at this table and just try to identify some of the lies that we’ve believed, that maybe some of the women listening are believing about food. Asheritah, as you’ve ministered on this topic, is there one lie that pops to your mind right away? A big one that’s common?

Asheritah: Yes, I would say that the number one lie that I hear from women, one that they say, “I identify with this” is, “I can’t let this food go to waste!” I’m cleaning up the dinner table and stacking the plates, and there’s just a little bite of mashed potatoes on one daughter’s plate and a little bite of chicken on the other.

Good stewardship means that I don’t throw food away. I grew up in a culture where food was scarce for some people, so that means I eat it, right?!

Dannah: That’s kind of a dressed up, good godly lie. It’s all fancy, like you put stewardship on top of that lie. 

Asheritah: It’s so hard to realize what the enemy is doing there. Because when I take that to Scripture, this idea of like, “Oh, I’m kind of full, but there are only a few bites. I’ll just clean up the plate.” I mean, there are so many memories of the “clean plate club,” right? Mothers saying, “Finish all the food on your plate so that it doesn’t go in the trash.”

But when we take that to Scripture and say, “Okay, is that true, first of all?” And when we look at Scripture, what we see is that our bodies are created by God to be His temple. He places His Holy Spirit inside these very physical bodies. 

Dannah: So they’re not supposed to be the trash can where we put the leftovers, necessarily. 

Asheritah: We’re a temple, not a trash can, and that truth just hit me so hard! When I am so stuffed and full from my meal because I’ve eaten too much, and I just want to go lay down on the couch . . . My daughters want me or need me, and I can’t serve them because I’m feeling uncomfortable. 

Dannah: Oooh! That’s a little bit stepping on my toes, Nancy! Have you ever had that—the food coma?

Nancy: Not exactly, because I don’t have children. But I do know the inability to serve the Lord and others in the ways He’s calling me to do because I’ve trashed my body. 

Asheritah: It can also be a trust issue, right? If there’s more dessert that I want to have, I don’t know if that’s going to be there tomorrow because someone else might eat it, so I want to get more of it in right now! I want to eat more. If a little bit is good then A LOT is better!

Dannah: Well, wait, what did you just say? That might be another lie, right? If a little bit is good, a lot is better?

Asheritah: Yes.

Dannah: I think that’s one I identify with, because you know, I literally have a problem. In Pennsylvania there are these potato chips called Middleswarth. Oh!

Nancy: I haven’t had those.

Dannah: Oh, Nancy! I’m going to send you a box of Middleswarth potato chips!

Nancy: Don’t! Please, please don’t! Keep them in Pennsylvania!

Dannah: I have to buy the little bags, the little personal-size bags, because it’s my way of controlling it. If I would open the big bag, one, two, three . . . ten . . . would not be enough. I would need to finish the bag!

Asheritah: Well, I mean, the whole food industry is betting on that, right? There are commercials saying, “They’re so good you can’t just eat one!” There’s research that goes into how to make us addicted to eating.

So we go into this mindless, just shoveling chips in my mouth, or chocolate, or whatever it is, without even pausing to enjoy it. It’s just this mindless eating, because “if a little is good, then a lot is better.” But what does Scripture say about that?

Dannah: What does Scripture say? Tell us.

Asheritah: Well, I think part of the trust issue is believing that God takes care of all my needs, and so I don’t overeat. I can trust Him to take care of me, right? Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “Look at the birds, look at the lilies; look how the Father provides! Don’t worry about what you’re going to eat because the Father will take care of you” (see Matt. 6).

But the other part of that, too, is that eating too much actually does hurt us. And right now we’re starting to learn more about how overeating affects our arteries, the function of our internal organs, our brains. It’s all affected by how much we eat if we overeat. But we can enjoy good food in moderation.

You know, Proverbs says if you find honey, eat just enough (see Prov. 25:16, 27). Don’t eat too much, because then you’re going to get sick. 

Dannah: Yes, even the sweet stuff is okay in moderation. You just said something that I think is important: our health. If our bodies are the temple of the living God, then it is a stewardship issue to take great care of them so that they can serve Him for as long as possible on this earth! 

So many of the health issues that we’re facing and even some of the smaller . . . I’m going to use that term at the risk of, I don’t want anyone to feel hurt if I list one of your issues, because these are some issues I have in my body: asthma, inflammation with lots of joint pain. These are things that I struggle with.

I would consider them small, because they’re not life-threatening, but they certainly are a little bit life-altering for me. I have found that when I’m a steward of my food, that my body isn’t impacted by those things. And yet it takes a lot of discipline to do that. I don’t really want to withhold the things that exacerbate those problems in my body.

As I’ve talked with other friends who have other what I would call chronic, smaller conditions, they found, too, that when their food is under control, those conditions are under control.

Nancy: What I love is that you’re thinking about what you’re eating and why, and the implications of it, and why it matters. I got stuck a minute ago or so Asheritah, when you said something. I want to go back to it because it triggered something in me. You talked about, “I might eat this thing because I think if I don’t now, then somebody else will eat it and it will be gone tomorrow.”

Asheritah: Well, I grew up with two brothers, so if you wanted something, you had to eat it right then! (laughter)

Nancy: So you know what I’m talking about! But you know, I think sometimes, for me, there is that element of greed of wanting to hold onto something for myself. I fear that if somebody else gets it, I won’t have it. So what is the opposite of greed?

Paul talks in Ephesians 4, “Don’t be greedy, but instead be generous.” I find that sometimes with my food I can be like (in my mind, if not literally) “I want this for me! I want the bigger part for me. I want to make sure there’s enough for me to have this, not only tomorrow, but the next day and the next day.”

Dannah: I feel very convicted by that. As you’re saying that, it’s really identifying in me how sometimes . . . I don’t think I’ve ever done it, but I’ve thought, “Should I put this in the back of the refrigerator so nobody else can find it?”

Nancy: Oh, I’ve done it! Sorry! But if I think in terms of what’s the affection there, what’s the underlying drive? What would set me free from that wrong way of thinking is the truth and the calling to be a giver, to be generous. That doesn’t mean I have to starve myself, but am I thinking about the other person? Am I esteeming the person as better than myself? 

Asheritah: Yes, I see this in my daughters. I have a five-year-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old. One of them will eat her treat quickly; she just wolfs it down. And the other one will take a few bites and pause and then take a few more bites, and then she’ll always leave a little bit for when Daddy comes home.

Nancy: Wow!

Dannah: How sweet!

Asheritah: I look at her and I’m like, “I didn’t think to put a piece aside for Daddy, but that’s very sweet!” And that stark difference: I identify more with the daughter who eats everything quickly. But what a gift to say, “I was thinking of you. I love you! I cherish you enough to share this piece of my favorite dessert with you.”

Dannah: And shouldn’t every part of our life be governed by that kindness, that putting others first? I mean, that’s one of the big commands, right? That we think of others, that we love God and then others . . . not ourselves.

I have a lie that I‘ve really believed a lot. Is this one that other women have believe, Asheritah? “I’ve messed up today, so I might as well mess up all day . . . or all weekend!”

Nancy: “I’ll start over again tomorrow.”

Dannah: No, no, no: “I’ll start over again Monday,” because usually I’ll get a whole couple of good days out of it, Nancy! (laughter)

Nancy: Yes, I get that. 

Dannah: Has anybody else believed that one?

Asheritah: Absolutely! I know I identify with that, and I’ve heard from other women who have written in to say, “I really struggle thinking, ‘It’s hopeless!’ I’ve gone on diet after diet and then I gain the weight back. I just can’t overcome this!” And that’s where the despair creeps in, the shame, the hopelessness.

Nancy: And the sense that, “I’ve already blown it, so I’m just going to . . .” If you’re going to sin, sin big. Just overindulge, and now’s not the time to start watching my weight. Let’s get through this binge, and then I’ll start again.”

Then it’s this cycle of self-indulgence, over-indulgence, and then extreme asceticism or self-denial, which isn’t driven by love for Christ or by prudence or wisdom. It’s driven by guilt and shame and fear. None of those are healthy.

Asheritah: It’s also worship of the will, right? “I can do this on my own!” And if I can’t do it by myself, then I’ll just give up . . . or “I’ll start on Monday!”

Dannah: “I’ll start on Monday.” I find myself on those days when I do that towards the end of the day as I’m going to bed I think, “Oh, I’d better eat. Because tomorrow I have to start the discipline thing again. So, what can I eat?” And I’m a little frantic about it . . . which is crazy!

Nancy: I think the things we’re describing here, I can just see so many women who are listening to this nodding their heads: “Yep!” This is so common. I think it’s helpful for us to even have this kind of conversation, to realize, “I’m not the only one who has those thoughts, those feelings.”

Dannah: You’re not alone.

Nancy: “I’m not alone.” If I can share in community with people who are aspiring after God, too . . . Yes, we do identify with this, but then I think we can also walk in community to freedom. To tell each other not only the lies we believe but also to encourage each other with the truth and the Word of God that is going to set us free. “We need each other,” I guess is what I’m saying.

Asheritah: Absolutely!

Dannah: Just to end our time together today, what is a truth, a Scripture verse, that you would plant on top of that lie: “I’ve already messed up, so why start now?” 

Asheritah: I think of Jesus, who looks at the woman who had been brought to Him for adultery. He reaches down and He says, “Neither do I condemn you. Now go and sin no more” (see John 8:11). 

When it’s the end of the day and I think, Well, I better get all this in, because I’m starting tomorrow or Monday,” it’s like I’m trying to hide myself from God’s sight, right? He doesn’t see me right now. I can sin all I want right here, right now, because I have a fresh start tomorrow.

But Paul talks to this. He says, “What? Shall we sin so that grace shall abound? By no means!” (see Rom. 6:1–2). 

Nancy: Yes, “God forbid!”

Asheritah: So the Holy Spirit is within us. In that moment we can stop short right there.

Dannah: That really just convicted me: “Shall we sin so that grace may abound?”

Nancy: I’ll tell you what I’m thinking of, that came to mind when we were talking about this “tomorrow.” It’s in the book of Exodus, when God sent the plague of frogs to overcome the land of Egypt. Pharaoh says, “Get rid of the frogs!” And Moses said, “When do you want me to get rid of them?” And Pharaoh goes, “Tomorrow” (see Ex. 8:10).

There’s a sense in which I’m convicted, I want to do something about it, but, “Just let me have this! Let me hold this pet [whatever] one more day!”

Asheritah: I want to get super-practical here, because the Holy Spirit is also given to convict us! We’ve all been convicted in the moment, right? Spoon to mouth, pause right there. That’s enough! So do we run right over that and say, “No, I start tomorrow.” Or do we obey in the moment?

And that can be, “Okay, I’ m going to take this carton of ice cream, because I know it’s a trigger food” (we’re going to talk about that) “and I’m going to take it to the sink and run hot water over it and let it go down the drain because I want this to stop now! I’m going to obey even though it hurts!” 

The writer of the book of Hebrews says, “You haven’t yet resisted to the point of shedding blood” (Heb. 12:4). Am I willing to do whatever it takes to experience the joy of obeying Christ?”

Nancy: Wow, I love that!

Dannah: Wow, I love it. Asheritah, you’ve written a wonderful book. It’s really a book almost every woman needs because almost every woman is struggling with this issue. It’s titled Full: Food, Jesus and the Battle for Satisfaction. Nancy, one of the things I loved about this book was, as I was feeling convicted, there were these practical tools for how I could start to overcome.

One of them, for me, was the concept of resetting my spirit’s strength through fasting. We’re going to talk a little bit about that tomorrow. What is something that stands out for you in this book?

Nancy: Well, I think the way in this conversation that we keep going back to the Word and, Asheritah, you’re washing our thinking with the Word. There’s a bonus section in the back of the book that’s twenty verses to overcome food fixation. So we don’t want to just focus on the lies; we want to say what the truth is that counters those lies as we identify them. 

This has been a rich read for me; I want to go back to it. In fact, when this book first came out, Asheritah, I knew I needed this, and I got two copies: I got one for me and one for my husband. I asked him if he would read it with me so that we could talk about this.

In our marriage, one of my ways of being vulnerable with Robert is to say, “This is a struggle for me.” It’s not for him, but he loves me well, and he wants to shepherd me in this. So he read this before I did, to try and understand better my battle, but also to try and help walk with me in it. So that’s something a woman might consider, as well.

Dannah: As I was reading it last night I thought, I need to share these thoughts and these ideas with my husband, Bob.

If you would like a copy, we would love to send you one as a way of saying “thank you” when you make a gift in any amount to Revive Our Hearts at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us and make a gift at 1–800–569–5959.

When you make that gift, be sure to ask for a copy of Full: Food, Jesus and the Battle for Satisfaction, by Asheritah Ciuciu.

Nancy: And be sure to join us again tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts as we continue this conversation. 

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you find fullness in Christ. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Speakers

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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Asheritah Ciuciu

Asheritah Ciuciu

Asheritah is an author, speaker, and blogger. She grew up in Romania as a missionary kid and studied English and Women's Ministry at Cedarville University in Ohio. Her passion is …

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