From the Christian frame of reference, food addictions, which lead to obesity, are probably one of the most common addictions among churchgoers. With Â“Dinners on the GroundÂ” and Â“Fellowship SuppersÂ” we wonder how we are supposed to stay in control. Well first, we are not.
Food addictions are a significant problem in our overindulgent and mostly prosperous American society. Obesity in every age group can be caused by poor eating habits, including overeating or binging, a lack of exercise (i.e., couch potatoes), a family history of obesity, medical illnesses (endocrine, neurological problems), medications (steroids, some psychiatric medications), stressful life events or changes (separations, divorce, moves, deaths, abuse), family and peer problems, a low self-esteem, and depression or other emotional problems. There are many risks and complications associated with obesity. Some major physical consequences include an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, breathing problems, and insomnia. General overeating related to tension, poor nutritional habits and food fads are relatively common eating problems in both adults and children. Unhealthy weight gain due to poor diet and lack of exercise is responsible for over 300,000 deaths each year. Between 16 and 33% of children and adolescents are obese. Child and adolescent obesity is associated with increased risk of emotional problems. Adults and teens with weight problems tend to have much lower self-esteem and be less popular with their peers. Depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder can also occur in all ages.
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are on the rise in teenage girls and young women and often run in families. In the United States, as many as 10 in 100 young women suffer from an eating disorder. These eating disorders can also occur in some boys, but much less often. These psychiatric disorders are characterized by a need for control, a preoccupation with food and a distortion of body image. The societal obsession with thinness and sexuality in most major media sources intensifies the need for some women and young girls to be thin. Many adult women and teenage girls successfully hide these serious and sometimes fatal disorders from their families for several months or even years. A lack of food intake is a serious health risk to anyone, but it should be noted that a lack of food intake associated with low income is not an addictive behavior, but rather an economic problem.
Women and teens with anorexia nervosa suffer from low self-esteem, irrationally believing she is fat regardless of how thin she becomes. Desperately needing a feeling of mastery over her life, the woman or teenager with anorexia nervosa experiences a sense of control only when she says "no" to the normal food demands of her body. In the compulsive and relentless pursuit to be thin, she starves herself, often to the point of no return. This often causes serious damage to the body, and in a small number of cases may even lead to death. The bulimia patient binges on huge quantities of high-caloric food and/or purges her body of dreaded calories, either by self-induced vomiting or often by using laxatives. These binges may alternate with severe diets, resulting in dramatic weight fluctuations. The purging of bulimia presents a serious threat to the patient's physical health, including dehydration, hormonal imbalance, the depletion of important minerals, and damage to the throat and vital organs.
Food addictions of every kind are a significant problem in our society. Obesity or other weight problems can be caused by poor eating habits, general overeating, binging, purging, a lack of exercise, family history, medical illnesses, medications, stressful life events, relationship problems, and emotional problems. There are many health risks associated with weight problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, breathing problems, and insomnia. Overeating related to poor nutritional habits are common eating problems in all age groups of our society, which can be controlled with education, good nutrition and exercise.
From the Christian frame of reference, food addictions, which lead to obesity, are probably one of the most common addictions among churchgoers. With “Dinners on the Ground” and “Fellowship Suppers” we wonder how we are supposed to stay in control. Well first, we are not. We are to be God-controlled, if we are to make a serious effort to get control of our over indulgences. We need to seek God in humble prayer and ask God to help us overcome our food addictions.
Just as Eve, in the Garden of Eden, saw that the fruit was pleasant to look at and good for food, often our greatest temptation is a “See Food” diet. We see food, we eat it, whether we are hungry or not. We need to learn to recognize true hunger again, and only eat when we are truly hungry. We need to recognize when we are full, and back away from the table. I have been called by God to go on fasts on occasion from specific things that I knew to be detrimental to my health, but highly addictive. I have gone on soft drink fasts, coffee fasts, and sugar fasts. That last one is the hardest, and I haven’t been as successful with it as I would have liked. But you get the idea. A 40 day fast from anything that is consuming our time, energy, and money, might be in order for us from time to time as God calls. After all, Christ fasted 40 days and nights for us, so why not give it to God and let Him have all those cravings and addictions?
Reference: Addiction and Grace, Gerald G. May
©2003 Kimberly Hartfield