The Spiritual Battle with Weight Loss

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Read this Blog this morning at desiringgod.org

This week we are talking about awe, and how it really does relate to everything in life, specifically to our spiritual growth, our Bible intake, our ministry aims, and even our news consumption, our anxieties, our weight loss attempts, our parenting methods, and our expectations of marriage and romantic love.

Today we talk about weight loss. Paul, the physical side of weight loss will happen in a lot of different ways for various people. But there’s a spiritual dimension to weight loss that we all need to be aware of. You mention your own weight loss journey briefly in the book. Share with us what you learned.

One of the things that I encountered in my own walk with God is how there are always areas of inconsistency that need to be addressed. And one of those for me was my relationship to food. I love how much of the glory of God in creation is edible. It is a sweet thing that God created a pleasurable world of food — but that pleasure of food is meant to be a finger that points me to God. It is not meant to be the thing that satisfies my heart.

And so what was happening to me is, if you gain a half a pound a month you don’t notice it, but that is six pounds a year and in five years you could put on 30 pounds. And that is all the result of the pleasure of food having too much control over the way you think about a good evening or a good day or a good week. And so I have had to confess that — confess patterns of gluttony — and completely change my relationship to food in order to eat what I should eat for the maintenance of my physical body. The result of that is a loss of about 40 pounds. For me it was not about weight — though that was an issue — as much as living in a more appropriate way.

So for a Christian who has tried diet fads, where do they start with the spiritual questions?

Well, we all need to face when it comes to weight and diet that diets don’t work. One of the things that just makes me angry — I hope it is righteous anger — is this industry, this billion dollar industry, that is making promises to people that are not true. Fad diets never address the true cause of weight gain. And because they don’t address the cause, they don’t actually work. I mean you can’t starve yourself forever. It is not healthy to eat packaged frankenfood forever. It is only when your heart is properly satisfied with God that you now have the power to say no to other things that would tempt you to go there for satisfaction.

Thus, we return to awe in God, which is what we talked about last time. So gluttony emerged for you. When did this root cause of weight gain confront you?

It was initiated by the wedding of my son. I thought, “I have gained a lot of weight.” And I began to think about that. And what really hit me was, as I began to eat in a different way, how hungry I felt, how sort of impoverished I felt. But I wasn’t really hungry. It was just that I was so used to loading my body with so many more calories than I actually needed. And it was going through that hunger that really alerted me to the fact that food had been too much present in my life. And I am not hungry anymore. If you would watch me throughout a day, you would probably think, “This man eats like a bird.” But I eat what I need to eat and I have kept my weight off for four years. And there is just no going back, because it is not just that I eat different things, but the lifestyle of my heart towards food has changed.

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