Before Condemning the Alcoholic or the Drug Addict…

We strongly condemn alcoholism and addiction to drugs like cocaine, marijuana and painkillers.  And no doubt, such addictions are terrible.  They wreak havoc on the addicted individuals, as well as on their families.  The destruction often can last for generations.

You know what, though?  I contend that most of us know a whole lot more about addiction than we put off.

If you are reading this, I believe that it is very likely that you are actually addicted to food.

The “Better” Addiction

Don’t worry; before I say anything else, I include myself in this.  I struggle with food addiction, too.

I want to suggest something.  Place your favorite food in the blank in the following sentence:

I love _________________________.

Now, if I were to say that you could never, ever eat that again, what would your reaction be?  Would you be cool with it?  Do you imagine arguing with me (lol)?  Are you rationalizing why you don’t have to give it up?

And yet, when we advise alcoholics, we encourage them to give the bottle up totally.  We encourage drug users to go to into rehabilitation where they are isolated from their addiction for enough time to be weaned off.

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. – Matthew 7:3-5 (NLT)

You can relax…I am not going to ask you to give your favorite food up.  I just want to point to the fact that we treat food addiction very differently than we do other addictions.  Many, many more of us in our society are addicted to bread, sugary foods, and so on than to alcohol and drugs.  Why?  Because we see food addiction as a better addiction.

Alcohol and drugs are more harmful though, right?  They can mess up your liver, lungs and brain.  They cause cancer and various other diseases.

But how about excess sugar, white flour and processed food?  These contribute to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, various cancers and many other diseases.  Don’t these cause at least as much harm as drugs and alcohol?

Food Must Not Be Our Master

After finishing the Whole 30 this past week, I really had to fight hard to not think about eating all of the foods that I enjoyed before I started the challenge.  I am still fighting.

Why is it that desire for junk food is so strong in me?  In us?  How is it that unhealthy food keeps us overweight and suffering so easily and for so long?  Why are lifestyle diseases (cancer, diabetes, hypertension, etc) so prevalent in American society today?

I believe it is because food has become our master.  Our lives tend to revolve around food.  The desire for good taste and comfort becomes so strong over time that we feel as if we literally cannot do without bread, without soda, without sugar, or whatever your thing is.  And because of this, we suffer terribly.  We carry health-damaging excess weight for years, and our bodies toil with toxic junk for so long, until they can no longer bear with it and disease manifests itself.

This must not be so!  We must have control over food rather than it having control over us!

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.” – 1 Cor. 6:12 (NLT)

Are you a slave to junk food, or to eating too much food?  If you are at the point where you feel you cannot do without eating some sort of favorite food (especially if it is unhealthy), or you feel you cannot stop eating, you are likely a slave to food.  Something must change.

How to Break Food Addiction

Now, I am no expert on weaning us from food addiction.  I am just a regular guy.  As I stated earlier, although with God’s help I have come very far, I still struggle to keep from returning to the days when I would eat junk food at every meal.  However, based on life experiences, I feel like I know a couple of things that work.

  • Fasting works.  Whether you fast from a particular food for a while, or you do the true fasting (ingesting only water), fasting for a long enough period of time will have the effect of weakening the hold that food has on you.  I believe that is one of the main reasons fasting was such an important spiritual exercise in the body.  It had an effect on weakening those strong physical desires so folks could actually hear from God.
  • Distance yourself from what binds you.  If someone is addicted to alcohol, we already know that that person needs to stay away from the package store, away from the liquor aisles in the grocery store, and away from alcoholic friends.  With food addiction, stay away from the tempting situations.  Stay away from the junk food aisles.  Take a detour from the roads with all the fast food joints.  You even have to avoid advertisements on TV and on the internet.  Why?  Because none of us is God.  No matter how strong you think you are, you are susceptible to temptation.  The smart thing to do is to stay away from it (like Joseph) rather than trying to rationalize or act strong.

Food addiction is real, and is no better than any other addiction.  If you never deal with it, you will never lose weight permanently, and you will almost guarantee that you suffer from some sort of disease in the future.  Deal with it today.  Deal with it now.  I am praying for you.

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