An article on Crosswalk.com grabbed my attention this week. I had to re-read it in order to make sure that what I thought it said was what it said. I am concerned about the responses this approach may cause due to the vast readership of Crosswalk.com. The article is at http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/paul-tautges/exposing-the-sin-of-overeating.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=fbpage&utm_campaign=cwupdate
'Exposing the Sin of Overeating" claims overeating is not an addiction, it is a sin instead. Then the article continued to state the signs of the sin of overeating, all of which are indicators of addiction. Folks, in all my years of personal training and exercise instruction, I can tell you this approach would get the news bearer punched in the nose! Also, my education consists of a Bachelor's in Management with an emphasis in Exercise Science and Christian Ministry. I have taken courses for addiction, eating disorders and pastoral care and counseling. For what it's worth, I offer my spin on this subject.
Overeating goes hand in hand with lack of exercise because of our culture. American society presses adults and children to focus on work and school. Anything else gets in the way. Pressures to perform are exhausting, with stresses insurmountable in the eyes of those caught in the cogs of the workaholic machinery. Cortisol levels rise drawing people to overindulge in certain foods to either give comfort or the perceived ability to "fight back " through salty, crunchy means. With resignation and despair, people in these situations feel there is nothing they can do about their situations. "It is what it is, " as one woman put it whom I overheard once.
Others have deeply rooted issues who feel a need to control something in their lives so they either overeat-binge eating disorder- or they starve and purge-anorexia and bulimia. Both issues are destructive addictions. The way to gain control of the addiction is to work at the root cause. People caught up here usually are victims of abuse or neglect, pressure to be perfect, or feel a need for recognition. None of these reasons are resolved with food. Food is simply the vehicle for "comfort". Not all overeaters are fat. I have dealt with clients who were "skinny" fat, their body fat at 40-50% with a low body weight. The signs were their health problems and testimony of overeating. I published an article earlier on Totally Fit 4 Life, the republished it as A Story Behind Everybody.
Some people simply don't know anything different. I was told once that the culture of one's heritage teaches food as a means of social interaction, comfort, and value. Such cultures as Slavic, Italian, and German commonly center activities around food, for example. Some people are raised to overeat seeing no problem with their behavior. I grew up in a family who never considered overeating an issue. You can read My Story here.
Why overeating is an addiction and how destructive addictions are sin. Addictions from behavior begin innocently. It might seem acceptable within a group of people as a means of gaining favor. Others form as a result of outside stimuli in an effort to cope where normal means i.e. fighting it out with a bully would be considered unacceptable or dangerous. The person becomes hooked when he or she is unable to go without the object of addiction. Satan gains a foothold in a person's life causing bondage. The individual's life centers around the substance or behavior. If pressed to hard, the person would kill or die for "it". God is set aside for this object or behavior that controls the person. More is never enough. They are caught in a trap and are either unaware or unable to stop the addiction alone. Unlike common current thought, people overcome addictions everyday, some even miraculously delivered. Addiction is not a disease. It is an act of choice that spirals out of control. Addictions can be overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit and help from other Christians who understand how to help with this problem.
Why hammering at someone with an addiction is futile and dangerous. Just telling someone to stop or they are sinning will not change the behavior. Most people need a compelling reason to change. Difficulties form pressing the addict into a corner. Just as there are functional alcoholics, there are functional overeaters. These are the ones who are hardest to reach. Hitting bottom is the major cause for behavior change. But these individuals need professional help in some form, not being beaten up with a big black leather Bible and a legalistic attitude. If someone with a food addiction, or any other addiction for that matter, is cornered by someone who is judgmental and harsh, they will justify the behavior, run, or fight back. It could cause the person stress that pushes them to emotional eating behaviors.
Where mercy and grace mixed makes the truth go further. Scripture tells us there is truth regarding the sins gluttony and slothfulness, for sure. However, we are told that without love, we are an annoying noise. The Bible also tells us to help someone out of a sinful practice with truth and love. It's important we do this with humility and caution, otherwise we might be pulled into sin as well.Galatians 6:1-3 Love can be tough like when Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all his possessions then follow Him. Jesus was only really hard on those who should know better, like the Pharisees. Sharing our concern with someone caught in overeating should be done with truth, compassion, and love, not condemnation.
What can we do to help someone caught in this and other food related addictions. Sharing the results of the issue the individual already faces is the best place to start. High blood pressure, type 2 Diabetes, and high cholesterol, combined as "Metabolic Syndrome" are common health issues related to overeating. Offering them encouragement, direction, and even pointing to the pending consequences are most helpful. We have to make sure our own house is clean before we can help someone else clean up their house. The earlier "Biggest Loser" is the worst example of how to help overeaters out of addiction and weight problems. First Place 4 Health is the longest running Christian weight management curriculum for church and group use proven to produce results. This system has made a lasting difference in the lives of Christians out of control because it addresses all of the areas behind the problem. That is why I offer First Place 4 Health groups with Totally Fit 4 Life. This ministry ministry is an outreach to those who want to regain their health by focusing on the four areas of a person's life. That is also why I am working to produce an updated curriculum.
Many churches now have ministry programs for exercise and pastors are setting the example. Not all churches support overeating. A large number have exercise classes, weight loss groups, other support groups, biking and running groups, basketball, and soccer. Fitness and health are getting the proper place in a lot of congregations now. Finding one in your area is relatively easy by running a search online.
Medically based treatment centers who blend detoxification from addictive foods, supervised weight loss methods, exercise, and counseling. These systems are run by hospital groups. I personally know a woman who was successful using this program. She did revert to old behavior once, then returned to the program and has kept it off. These are very expensive, but if one's life is at risk, then the money is well spent.
Truth must be blended with love and compassion. After all, there are other acceptable sins in the church besides this one. This is where we need to show our brothers and sisters in Christ the looming problem of overeating. We also need to be willing to help them overcome this addiction, a sin issue. Only then can we help someone with overeating.