Breaking Up the Fear and Food Addictive Relationship: Part 5

self-loathingSTEP FIVE – Admit the Self-Loathing
As fear drives people from guilt to shame, it also affects the way they see themselves. In contrast to self-respect, overeaters develop self-hate. Although they may not be aware of the fact, they have started functioning in a highly self-destructive manner. Bulimic purging is one way to get rid of the fearful aspects of their lives. One bulimic patient kept vomiting throughout her marriage; she was symbolically trying to rid herself of her emotional feelings about her controlling, abusive husband. Once she finally divorced her unfaithful, physically and sexually abusive husband, the vomiting stopped.

Binges and purging are also ways that bulimics are destroying themselves. As bizarre as this repressed logic may be, millions of people do not face the self-hate that is causing their problems.

Of course, despising themselves enlarges the emotional emptiness they have been feeling for so long. Love hunger deepens, forcing the addictive cycle forward. These sufferers are helplessly entangled in a terrible process that can destroy their lives. Even though they make promises to adjust their eating behavior, nothing changes because they have failed to see the whole cycle for what it is: a process!

– Steve Arterburn

What is the first step toward healing? Please join us at our next Lose It For Life Workshop.

Breaking Up the Fear and Food Addictive Relationship: Part 4

costSTEP FOUR – Face the Pay-off
Fear forces people with eating disorders into an emotional bind. Sufferers may be forced into isolation and lose meaningful relationship with other people. They feel unworthy to be full participants in a normal life. The cost is high and humiliating.

People feel guilty about their purging and gorging behavior. They also feel guilty because they cannot control their eating. Even worse is the shame lurking underneath the fear. The shame that originated in their childhood is now a dark sense of worthlessness. And nothing is more difficult to bear than shame. This degrading emotion eats away all remaining self-respect and leaves the person feeling naked before the watching world. And as overweight people grow larger, they must carry the double shame of their extreme weight and its degrading appearance. Addiction specialists feel that nearly all addictions arise from experiences of shame or lack of connectedness, or both.

Facing and accepting our worst fears and then moving into the future is one of the ways our heavenly Father sets us free from the past.

– Steve Arterburn

What is the first step toward healing? Please join us at our next Lose It For Life Workshop.

Breaking Up the Fear and Food Addictive Relationship: Part 3

foodSTEP THREE – Recognize That Food Fuels the Wheel
The addictive process is an endlessly turning wheel until something breaks the cycle. For the alcoholic, the chemical content of alcohol keeps the wheel moving. Food addicts have to accept the fact that food can have a similar effect on them. Let’s enumerate a number of the effects food can have.

First,  food can kill pain. Often people overeat because feeling full gives them a sense of well-being, which pushes away the gnawing anxiety they felt before the meal. Unfortunately, the effects of consistently overeating pile up around the waistline and the overeaters don’t like the way they look. They are actually punishing themselves by becoming unattractive and endangering their health.

Second,  food also has a tranquilizing effect. When we eat, blood sugar levels rise and neurochemicals called endorphins are released to give us a sense of well-being. After a few minutes of trotting, runners often experience a similar pleasant sensation. Food has actually turned into a tranquilizer. The quest for this feeling of well-being turns people into food addicts.

***** The addictive process is an endlessly turning wheel until something breaks the cycle! *****

Third,  food can distance us from others. People who were sexually abused or felt the intense pain of a broken love relationship find that eating excessively can put enough fat around them to keep members of the opposite sex away from them. Consequently, they protect themselves from any further abuse or unexpected rejection.

An oral addiction can also take on many other forms. Smoking, excessive talking, using profanity, grinding teeth, all can be expressions of the same pain. In each of these activities an addictive agent is fueling the Ferris wheel of our addiction. If you are caught in this swirl of confusion, you must put food back in its proper place. You cannot allow the pleasantness of eating to distort what you actually require for your life.

– Steve Arterburn

What is the first step toward healing? Please join us at our next Lose It For Life Workshop.

Breaking Up the Fear and Food Addictive Relationship: Part 2

emotional-painSTEP TWO – Face the Emotional Pain
Being honest about the depth of our emotional pain is extremely difficult. No one wants to get in touch with the root of the pain system, since this renews the loss and deprivation that we’re trying desperately to avoid.

Generally our apprehension twists our opinion of ourselves, leaving us with low self-esteem. Even though our personal accomplishments may be of considerable scope, we tend to see ourselves in a diminished and insignificant position. The result is emotionally devastating.

***** Self-esteem is a gift only we can give ourselves! *****

We must learn that self-esteem is a gift only we can give ourselves. Rather than a product of accomplishment, enduring self-esteem rests on a sense of self-worth intrinsically ours because we are children of God. I John 3:1 says: ‘See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children, and we really are!’ We have value because the heavenly Father has placed us in this world as His special envoys. We must recognize and accept this fact as true.

***** In God’s eyes we have supreme value! *****

Whether the president of the United States or a dishwasher, we are of supreme value in God’s sight. Recognizing that fact is one of the most important steps we can take to break out of emotional pain. Experiencing unconditional love from good friends over a long period of time also reinforces our feelings of self-worth.

– Steve Arterburn

What is the first step toward healing? Please join us at our next Lose It For Life Workshop.

Breaking Up the Fear and Food Addictive Relationship: Part 1


STEP ONE – Stopping the Denial
In this article, I will focus on Step One and stopping the denial. While we may have a bundle of good excuses tucked away in our memories to justify every aspect of our problems, we can’t get well until we stop kidding ourselves. Renewal begins when we allow the facts to be the facts. While you may not want to say the words out loud, you may actually be struggling with a love hunger. Take a look at the following story for insight into your own.

Marybelle lived through four years of an abusive marriage relationship. She anticipated a husband like her living father. Because of her great respect and admiration for her father, she never anticipated her husband deceiving and running around on her. When she discovered his adultery, the truth nearly destroyed her. The man had been critical, demanding, unemployed much of the time, and a real cad on top of it all! Obviously, Marybelle’s need for love and appreciation became enormous.

Then, a year after the divorce, Marybelle’s mother discovered she was dying of cancer. Marybelle’s childhood family had been the center of her life. Nothing was more fun than sitting at Sunday dinner around a table piled high with food. Through the years her mother remained the center of the family constellation with all the brothers and sisters circulating around her. During the two years of her mother’s illness, the center of the circle disintegrated. When her mother finally died, Marybelle’s life dropped into a black hole. She described her constant eating as an attempt ‘to fill up a bottomless pit at the center of her life.’ The demise of Marybelle’s marriage and death of her mother filled her with a fear of emptiness. This void, which was really a lack of love, drove her to eat compulsively.

*****Renewal begins when we allow the facts to be the facts.*****

What about you and your story? While admitting a need for love can be extremely difficult, it is the first step out of our addiction. We may have to probe and push to get in touch with the truth, but honesty is the way to start climbing out of the pit.

– Steve Arterburn

What is the first step toward healing? Please join us at our next Lose It For Life Workshop.

Mary Lou Caskey

On today’s radio show, Mary Lou Caskey shared a little about her weight loss journey. She mentioned that her journey started by attending our Lose it for Life Workshop. She also talked about her new book, Show Your Food Who’s Boss.


Dieting Means Missing Something!

Stephen Arterburn and Linda Mintle

Diets promote us to miss something based on the premise that we may never be able to eat it again. Sound familiar? Let’s say it’s Christmas and you pass the buffet table at the office Christmas party. It’s loaded with your favorite chocolate eclairs. Usually the thinking goes like this: It’s Christmas. I only get these once a year. I’ll need to eat one, no two or three! After all, it’ll be an entire year before I see these again. I can’t let this chance pass.

Two weeks later you are at a baby shower. The cake has your favorite frosting, rich cream cheese. Oh, can you believe this? I’m on a diet and I can’t eat that cake. It’s right in front of me and I can’t have it. Everyone will enjoy the taste but me. I will miss out—I better grab it while I can.

One month later, you are in Chicago for business. You pass Giordano’s pizza, home of the best stuffed pizza you’ve ever tasted. I can’t be in Chicago and not eat Giordano’s pizza. That would be a crime! But I’m dieting. Even though I could order a small single pizza, I would miss eating all I wanted this one time. I’ll get the big stuffed pizza and take the rest back to my hotel for later. Of course, none of the pizza makes it back to the hotel!

Lose this mentality and lose it for life! When you diet, you keep restricting yourself in ways that set you up to fail. Dieting means you’ll be missing the good stuff, when in fact you could have just a taste, or just one piece, or just one slice of the good stuff. You wouldn’t gain ten pounds. But thinking you are going to miss out on something sets you up to overeat. What you can’t have, you want. This idea goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were given the freedom to eat from any tree in Paradise, except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That was the one tree Adam was told to avoid. When the serpent came to tempt Eve, he began by questioning what God had instructed. He sowed doubt in Eve’s mind. The very tree Adam and Eve were to avoid, they ultimately ate from! Think about it. They could have eaten from any tree but one! Eve was deceived and thought she was missing out on something, and Adam disobeyed with her. From the beginning, dealing with restriction has been a problem.

There is always a choice; to eat food, eat less of it, or skip eating it entirely. A little of something may satisfy our want. The problem is we eat without thinking and focus on what we might be missing. Again like sin, a little of something forbidden usually ends up being highly desirable. Rather than being self governed, we give in to the temptation.

Please remember there are no ‘bad foods’ (well, perhaps there are no bad foods other than the deep fried Twinkies at your local fair), but there are wise choices. Actually this is a grown-up idea. Most people over twenty-one can have anything they want, but this doesn’t mean they should indulge in everything just because they can. There are activities we should choose to do in moderate amounts, like watching TV or sports, and others we should do more often, like playing with our children. Finally, there are other things we shouldn’t do at all, like viewing pornography. In every case, we have a choice. Though we don’t have to miss a thing if we don’t want to, it is very important to note that though everything may be available to us, it is definitely not all good for us. This is especially true of food.

Join us for a weekend of encouragement and healing: Lose it For Life.

Think Responsibly!

There once was a TV commercial for a liqueur where the guy is trying to put ice in a glass. He picks one out of the bucket only to have it fall on the floor, a second, a third and finally he just pours the drink into the ice bucket and sticks a straw in it! The best part is the announcer’s voice saying ‘Drink Responsibly.’ Is it just me that sees the irony in that statement? I mean the whole idea of a commercial is to sell the product, right? It’s kind of like the nutritional guidelines being posted at the local fast food joint. Do I really want to know what’s in my cheeseburger? Well yes, as a matter of fact I do, that is if I want to think responsibly.

What am I putting into my body? (A scarier thought: who has prepared it? Eek!) What am I bringing into my house that will be a temptation for me? (Chocolate, soda, etc.) You get the idea.

Exercise is a big area in which we like to be irresponsible. I mean who hasn’t come up with the excuse ‘I don’t have any time to exercise’? There are so many excuses for not being intentional about exercise. Exercise is taking responsibility for your physical health, as far as it depends on you. We can’t always prevent certain diseases and disorders because we live in ‘jars of clay.’ However, we can do the best with what we have and experience the rewards!

Once a man got his truck stuck in the sand. Not on purpose of course, but it happened and he needed help getting unstuck. The tow truck arrived and the man warned the driver of the sand. The driver said with great pride ‘this truck won’t get stuck, it’s got (fill in the largest engine, wheel base, etc.) and there’s no way it’s gonna get stuck!’ So the driver got into the tow truck, drove about 5 yards and yes you guessed it, he got stuck! Well they took the winch 100 or so yards, hooked it to the man’s truck and pulled him out of the sand. Then the man hooked the tow truck up to his truck and pulled the tow truck out of the sand. The tow truck driver said a sheepish thanks and drove off.

Many times we put ourselves into ‘sand’ and pride ourselves on being able to not get stuck. We may even be warned by those who have been stuck.

Thinking responsibly requires wisdom and discernment. Watching where others have been, what led them into the sand trap, and how to avoid getting stuck in the first place. What have you learned about yourself? What are your sand traps? Who do you need to call if you get stuck?

Back to the commercial, nowadays the alcohol commercials also encourage having a designated driver. Again, thinking responsibly requires some planning. If we haven’t planned for exercise, it probably isn’t going to happen. If we haven’t planned to eat healthy, the junk food just jumps into the grocery cart (not really, but it seems that way!).

Begin to think responsibly about your life today! No matter what time of day it is when you are reading this! What is the next right thing for you to do? Maybe you are at work, plan to walk for your lunch hour. If it is late at night, go to bed and get a good nights rest. There are so many areas where we do not want to take responsibility for our lives! This is your life. Are you who you want to be? Think responsibly. your life depends on it!

What Are You Afraid Of?

Things that go bump in the night, an overbearing boss, or anxiety filled days–all of these and more affect the way we think and act. Sometimes we are frozen in our fears and don’t realize it. Fear is something we live with unknowingly, yet it can be a motivator in our relationships, work, and our life with Christ.

Fear and anxiety can lock us into beliefs that support our fears and anxiety. Codependent relationships, dead end jobs, and destructive habits all participate in the cycle of fear and anxiety. Are you recognizing fear and anxiety that is present in your life? What can you do?

Here are 7 ways to begin addressing the fear and anxiety in your life:

1. Eat well balanced, nutritious meals. Eliminate harmful substances.

2. Learn mind body techniques to help relax and reduce stress response.

3. Get enough sleep, rest, and relaxation.

4. Develop a relationship with God. Practice prayer and Christian meditation.

5. Exercise regularly. At least 30-45 minutes of exercise a day.

6. Counteract negative self talk and mistaken beliefs with positive reality and God’s Word.

7. Connect with other people in meaningful relationships, sharing life, love, laughter and serving one another.

Begin addressing your fear today by asking God to help you! Surrender your fear and anxiety to him, begin one of the steps above, and do not let fear or anxiety take one more day of your life!

Need some help? Join us at our next Healing is a Choice Workshop.

Move It and Lose It!

You’ve heard the saying, ‘Move it or Lose it!’ We’d like to alter it a bit to, ‘Move it and lose it.’ That’s right. The more you move it, the more you’ll lose it- or at least keep from going in the opposite direction! Even though exercise will not turn you into Twiggy (for those of you too young remember, she was a very skinny model from the 1960’s), it is responsible for keeping most of us from gaining weight.

Members of the National Weight Control Registry report that exercise plays a role in keeping their weight off as well. Most reported exercising about an hour a day.

Okay, so an hour a day sounds like torture to some of you. Not to worry! We are convinced that there is at least one activity you can really enjoy. There isn’t a requirement to exercise for sixty minutes straight either. So take a deep breath and relax! Exercise can work for you!

To begin, let’s look at the RISE formula and apply it to exercise.

Reduce: your negativity and lackadaisical attitude toward exercise.

Increase: your physical activity, water consumption, commitment to exercise, and accountability.

Substitute: the right attitude ‘ a cheerful one ‘ if need be, and also the right workout apparel for the wrong workout clothes.
Eliminate: all excuses for not exercising!

Exercising isn’t optional in weight loss! There are so many benefits when it comes to exercise.

Here are six of the best reasons:

1. Exercise helps reduce hidden belly fat, lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and some types of cancer.

2. Exercise prevents muscle form wasting and helps to lose fat.

3. Exercise helps the brain deal with stress more effectively.

4. Moderate cardiovascular exercise such as thirty minutes of brisk walking a few times a week can improve your memory.

5. Exercise helps to manage hunger. Research shows that exercising increases control over hunger and food intake. In fact, the physically fit person is often not hungry until several hours after exercise.

6. Exercise improves your immune system.

We can’t stress this point enough: When it comes to making exercise a habit, attitude is more than half the battle! Whatever reasons you have used for avoiding exercise in the past- it’s unpleasant, too painful, inconvenient, frustrating, or too time consuming ‘ the reality is that exercise is necessary if you are serious about being healthy. Regardless of your past experiences, regular physical activity is essential for weight control and developing a healthy lifestyle.