For most of my life, I was focused on trying to lose weight especially when I gained tot the point that I weighed over 300 pounds. Focusing on losing weight made me think about all the things I shouldn’t be eating. That just made me want to eat them all the more. That’s why when I really wanted to lose weight, I continued to gain instead.

It’s like telling someone not to think about a pink elephant. Suddenly everywhere all they see are pink elephants. Once we put an idea in our minds, it is there. However, even though our minds hear us say do not think about pink elephants or oatmeal cookies, donuts, or our favorite meals, they don’t hear the do not.

How Diets Sabotage Us

We have sabotaged our own efforts by trying to stay away from our favorite foods because now that’s all we think about and all we want. It will take all the self-effort and will power we can muster to even stay on a diet for one day, much less the rest of our lives. This is because diets restrict us from eating what we really want. We will always rebel against restrictions placed on us from what we perceive is an outside source.

It’s crazy, I know. We want to lose weight so we go on a diet and then we rebel against what the diet tells us to do. There are many reasons for this but from my experience, the biggest one is that it is not our plan. It’s our doctor’s plan or a plan our best friend’s sister went on and lost weight or the latest, greatest fad diet everyone is on.

In order to lose weight, we must learn how to truly change our habits. We have been habitually eating one way for most of our lives. We cannot hope to remedy that by drastically eating a completely different way. This is what a diet recommends.

Stuck In Bad Habits

We must change but we don’t really know what works for us because we are still stuck believing that the unhealthy junk foods, processed foods and processed sugar-laden foods are what we need to survive.

For me, the processed sugar in baked goods was like a drug. I felt it anesthetized any pain or emotional turmoil I had. It gave me the strength to keep going when I had set my goals for achievement higher than I should have. When I wanted to show God that overweight women can do things too. On some level, I was trying to drive home a point to myself that just because I was super morbidly obese that didn’t mean  I couldn’t be productive.

So then I’d work longer hours, take on more than I should, stress about monetary issues and try to work some more. All of this only made me want to eat more to deal with the stress I was piling on top of me at every turn. I had tunnel vision. I couldn’t see what I was doing was wrong.

It took a long time for God to crack my stubborn exterior. On one level I was eating to mask my emotional pain so I could work harder for God. I look back now and think, “Was I insane?” Well, yes I think I was at least in this one area.

False Protections and False Mindsets

I was justifying my false protection, which became my addiction. False protections are what we use to push thoughts out of our minds about what we should be doing but don’t think we can. So we eat something (or do something else) to make us feel better because we don’t think we can do what God wants us to do.

We use false protections to buoy up false mindsets. A false mindset is something the enemy of our souls helps set up in us. These usually begin early in our lives, in childhood at a time we have a hard time making sense of what’s happening to us. This especially happens when we are bullied at school or feel put down.

If these mindsets stay with us as we go through life they become strongholds. This happens if we keep rehearsing them over and over and never question why they are there and begin to deal with the root.

Strongholds

A false mindset is really what Paul talks about in 2 Cor. 10:3-5 as a stronghold. This kind of strongholds imprisons a part of us. It begins as a lie such as I need to comfort myself with food. It gains a foothold as we begin to feel it is helping us in some way. It develops into a mental stronghold we think we need to survive such as I have to have certain comfort foods to survive. When we get to this point, we see it as protection, but it is becoming a prison that keeps us further from God.

All the time this little lie has been growing inside us to the point it governs everything we do, how we interact with people, where we go or don’t go, what we say or don’t say and what we believe or don’t believe about God.

When we doubt God in one area, it makes us begin to question Him in other areas. We are still Christians, but we have allowed the evil one to render us ineffective by setting up these strongholds.

Thoughts Result In Actions

How we think will affect what we do. This is where sugar addiction, overeating and binging come into play. We try to push thoughts out of our minds about things that happened in childhood and just eat to keep from thinking about them. We’ve done this for so long we don’t even recognize when we are doing.

We push the thoughts away by overeating, drinking alcohol, taking both legal and illegal drugs to excess, watching pornography, gambling, over-spending, smoking, controlling, the constant drive to achieve or any myriad of other addictions.

These are false protections. They don’t protect us. They just help us forget about why we are afraid to deal with what’s going on. We justify why we need them.

Our bad habits have become well-engrained in us because it’s what we have done to justify our existence on planet earth and keep putting one foot in front of the other until we can’t take another step.

Hopefully, that’s when we fall at Jesus’ feet and ask Him to show us why we’re doing what we’re doing or at least lead us to people who can help us. That was the only thing that helped me on my journey. Even when I got to the point that I surrendered sugar to God, I still didn’t know what to do. I had way too many years of being indoctrinated with the mindsets formed with I was 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12 and so forth. They had been rehearsed over years and years.

Lifestyle Change

I knew enough to know that diets had failed me. My problem was bigger than anything a simple diet could fix. I needed a total overhaul. I needed lifestyle change. I needed transformation. God led me to those who spoke into my life in ways I could have never figured out on my own.

Then after losing over 250 pounds, He called me to help others do the same. God is the leader. He is the only One who can help us. When I surrendered to Him completely, then He led me to those who could help me. These were people I could trust to not tell me what to do, but help me understand what God wants me to do to ready my life to receive His abundance.

Jesus said in John 10:10 TPT: “A thief has only one thing in mind—he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect—life in its fullness until you overflow!”

That’s exactly what God has in store of each of us. He wants to break the strongholds we have allowed to be erected in our lives and He will if we allow Him to do that in our lives. First, though, we must surrender to Him completely.

For more on this topic, listen to episode 45 of Sweet Grace for Your Journey podcast. Go here.

Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker is a Christian weight loss author, coach and speaker, who has lost more than 250 pounds. Her book, "Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor", is the number 1 Christian Weight Loss Memoir on Amazon. Her other books include: "Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy", "Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God's Help", "Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation" and "Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God".

She also offers Overcomers Christian Weight Loss Academy and VIP one-on-one coaching program, both available under the weight loss tab. To book Teresa for your next event, check the Speaking tab on her website. Also check out her blog and Sweet Grace for Your Journey podcast under the tabs by those names.