Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness AND rivers in the dessert.
Oh, how I dislike the beginning of the year. I even dislike it more now that I am on this journey with Thin Within/Hunger Within. I used to dread the beginning of the year because the pressure was on. It was time to start that new diet or eating miracle and everyone was doing it. The questions started and the testimonies abounded. Look at how great I am and the progress I’ve made. What are you giving up? Which food group are you doing without and which food groups are you eating? I’m cleansing from this and that and that and this. I’m sure I have this intolerance and am sure (without a medical diagnosis) I am diseased in this way and cannot eat that food any longer. (No disrespect intended to those who have celiac disease, Crohn’s disease or are diabetic! If you have these conditions and diseases, you need to watch certain food items and follow your doctor’s instructions.) I am surrounded this year with a plethora of friends who are following man made diet laws and food restrictions. It hurts me to see them following along with blind faith and great expectations. Why? Because, I was once one of them. I jumped on each new bandwagon that carried the newest fad or miracle food plan and always ended up in the same place. It didn’t work in the long term for me. I would lose, yes. And, oftentimes I would even feel better. But, in all honesty, I was never going to stay on that bandwagon for the rest of my life. And even though I might have had some weight loss, the loss wasn’t going to stay gone because nothing was changed in my head and in my heart. These plans were something for me to do to #1 to fit in, #2 to possibly get the body I have always wanted and #3 to finally get that stupid food to obey and work with me! Sadly, the food would once again gain dominion over me in my heart and mind and once again I would be back to eating in the ways I had always eaten.
Can I share something that I find amazing? We don’t have to go through these machinations! (According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, a machination is a scheming or crafty action or artful design intended to accomplish some usually evil end) I don’t know if you have noticed, but man has made many, almost limitless food rules and diets over the years. I have seen so many in my lifetime of just 57 years, and I am sad to say have tried most of them. I have “given up” food groups. I have fasted (not spiritual fasting, but greed fasting just for weight loss). I have cleansed and I have been righteous. I am a carnivore who even became a vegetarian for 2 years. Solomon, you are so right in all of your God given wisdom for in Ecclesiastes 1:9 you tell us, “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”
If there is really nothing new under the sun, then what is a person who really and truly wants their body to reflect that they are the temple and dwelling place of the Holy Spirit to do? We must go back to the beginning. God created. That is the truth that Thin Within/Hunger Within is founded on. That 2 word phrase is all we need. That is the phrase which is the truth and healing balm that we who are Jesus following, Holy Spirit led, God fearing Christians, need to find peace and comfort around all food, eating and body image issues. God created…God created in each of us a natural way to eat. He created us to eat when we are hungry and He gave us the ability to stop eating when satisfied. He gave us who are in Christ Jesus a road in the wilderness to safely travel on as we go forward (just as He kept the Israelites safe as they traveled in the wilderness) and He gave us rivers of Living Water to drink from when we are in the dessert (He gave the Israelites water from the Rock in the dessert). WE don’t have to wander aimlessly anymore. We don’t have to look back with longing for whatever Egypt tempts us. We have all we need in how He created us to be. We can surrender and find healing.
My question to you sweet reader is this, “If you don’t feel you are on that road in the wilderness (being kept safe from the world’s ways) or are drinking that Living Water in the dessert (John 4:14 – Jesus said, “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. The water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.), what is holding you back from doing so?” If you have found or find yourself even now on that Merry-go-round of trying to follow a man-made food plan or diet and you are sick and tired of trying to live up to something that deep in your soul you know is not what God has planned for you, then I invite you to join me and all the others who came before me that have found freedom and victory over all these food issues through Thin Within/Hunger Within. God’s healing and comfort awaits you. All you need to do is take the first step.
One of the biggest concerns I hear from those starting out on their Thin Within journey is about eating treats and sweets. It’s like there is this fear that to eat them, and that if they do eat them, they are going to indulge so much and gain weight. There is such a deep diet mentality that has taught them that eating sweets and treats is BAD. And isn’t that what diets teach us? That treats and sweets are evil temptations that have to be held at bay or they will ruin us? I really think this is a common fear when you are stepping out of the diet realm and into a journey toward freedom from the control of food.
I can understand this fear. When I first started my Thin Within journey, I was so fearful of eating carbs and sugar. I had believed a lie that they would literally kill me. It was the first thing I had to renew my mind about and seek God’s truth about. You can read about that in my testimony: CHANGED. And I praise God, because He has changed me in that area and I no longer fear eating tasty treats and sweets. I know I am free to enjoy those foods within hunger and satisfaction.
So I wanted to take some time to review some of what Thin Within talks about when it comes to our food choices. I believe our food choices are based on individual needs. No body is the same and it takes time to learn what is desirable and what isn’t beneficial individually.
In Thin Within, there are food categories called “pleasers”, “teasers”, “total rejects”, and “whole-body pleasers”. These categories help us determine our food choices. The description of these are found in the original Thin Within book for Day Eighteen. Here is a quick summary of them:
Pleasers: these foods bring physical satisfaction, they are very specific (you may even have to go to a restaurant to enjoy them), they can change from day to day.
Teasers: these foods are convenient, “tempting”, they look better than they taste, not very satisfying, wasn’t on your mind until your senses were “teased”.
Total Rejects: these foods are (for you) too sweet, too salty, too fatty, artificially flavored, don’t even taste good, don’t make you feel good.
Whole-Body Pleasers: these foods make you feel good overall, foods your body calls out for, they are enjoyable while you eat them, and they leave you feeling energized.
Everyone will have different foods that fit into these different categories. No one will have the same list for the same category. As you go about your Thin Within journey, you will learn about what foods fit in these categories, but you still have the freedom to eat them. If you have an intolerance or allergy to any type of food, you will learn to understand there is sweet freedom in choosing not to eat those foods. Your whole perspective on food changes as you go through this journey.
I used to be afraid that even though I have found freedom to enjoy all foods that at some point God was going to pull a switch and take away that freedom. But the Lord has shown me that He won’t take my freedom away; instead, He has helped me discern what foods fit into those categories. Praise God!
Personally, I enjoy a small serving of ice cream almost every afternoon. I have a favorite brand (or two). Personally, these brands of ice cream are delicious and very satisfying. One time we had a different brand of ice cream, which I ate one afternoon, and it gave me such a weird sugar high. I realized, then, that not all ice cream is equal (which sounds funny to say). I chose not to eat anymore of that particular ice cream and now I stick with my favorites. So can I enjoy eating ice cream? Yes. Has God given me freedom to eat it? Yes. And now I make sure I choose the kinds of ice cream that are delicious and satisfying.
Have I gone through periods of time where I didn’t feel “free” to have ice cream in our freezer? Yes, maybe a couple of times. And it was for a very short season and reason. It was something between me and the Lord. And you may have those seasons as well, and you may not. Everyone has their own, individual journey; that’s why it’s important not to compare or scrutinize someone else’s food choices. There are no BAD or GOOD foods listed here or in any of the Thin Within material. You are free to choose. Praise God!
During my 3rd pregnancy, I discovered that certain foods would give me horrible indigestion and just didn’t leave me feeling good. Normally, these foods are very satisfying. I realized that I had the freedom to choose to abstain from these foods for the remainder of my pregnancy. It was just for a season.
Last year, I touched on this subject in a post I entitled It’s Not About the Food. I encourage you to check it out.
So the question stands: can you enjoy sweets and treats? YES! And can you enjoy them without guilt? YES! God has given you the freedom to enjoy them along with ALL other foods. Consider your preferences. Ask Him for discernment. But do not attach food laws or rules. You are FREE to choose! (Romans 14)
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For EVERY creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 1 Timothy 4:1-5
I cannot conclude without mentioning this important point: the more you connect any food with being “bad”, the more deprived you will feel and the more that food will tempt you to indulge and overeat. So if you legalize the food in the beginning (Phase One: Freedom Phase), it won’t matter if you have a gazillion of those things in your fridge, freezer, or cupboard–because you will know you have the freedom to enjoy those foods within hunger and satisfaction. But as soon as you start to label foods “good” and “bad”, you are on a slippery slope. I know this from experience. And this is a very common occurrence for those who are seeking freedom from the control of food.
So you are free to enjoy ALL foods! Even sweets and treats! The Lord will guide you in this! Ask Him for help and discernment! He will show you His kind of freedom for you in your journey. God is SO faithful! Oh…and you can enjoy ALL foods within hunger and satisfaction AND release weight! Isn’t that wonderful news! Praise God!
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1
Today, I am going to share about something that has been weighing on my heart and is something difficult to admit. Because of recent reactions of mine to things going on in my life, I had to ask myself this painful question: “Why do I still get upset when things in my life don’t go my way, even though in my heart I know that I trust God to take care of me?” Where is the disconnect? God has proven Himself faithful, time and time again, yet I go into a tailspin when something goes wrong. I am afraid that even though I trust Him, there are still many areas in my life where I am trying to control things by my own power. I have proven time and time again that doing life by my own power never works.
I have always heard it said that the distance between the head and the heart is one of the longest. Sometimes the distance seems insurmountable when it comes from taking head knowledge and making it heart knowledge. When I think about my anxious feelings over the last few weeks, I realize in my heart, I totally trust God, but it is my head that is getting me into trouble. I am too strong minded. I think too long and too deeply about issues that I can’t control. Wow, I didn’t think it was possible, but my heart is good and it’s my head that needs help. This is why it is so important for me to find the time in my schedule for renewing my mind daily. Oh, how life gets in the way…or should I say I allow life to get in the way. I make excuses…I have a new job, I didn’t sleep well last night so I have to press the doze button, I have a family commitment…I need to…whatever. Whatever I allow to be in the way of my growth is an excuse, and those excuses cause my daily life to suffer.
I am a firm believer that we always have time for what is important to us. I have to ask myself if my boundaries are important to me or if I am going allow the “stuff” going on in my life to “give” me permission to break them. Are the changes that God has done in my heart and life worth the extra time it takes each day to renew my mind so that those changes stay and grow to even more miracles? It is very easy to fall back into previous reactions to life. It is easy to run back to food. It is easy to run back to losing myself in TV or books or quilting or anything else that takes me away. It’s easy, but praise God, it is no longer comfortable. I want to guard the growth I have experienced this past year. I don’t want to lose the gracious gifts I have received from my Loving Father. I want to praise Him for even the “stuff” that could drive me back to the way I was before. I want to praise Him for the good, the bad and the ugly. I am grateful that God wants to grow my faith by letting me struggle. He loves and cares for me that much.
I have a favorite section of Scripture that has helped me in the past during times of frustration and fear. It is Habakkuk 3:17-19. It says, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will triumph in the LORD; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. Yahweh my Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like those of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights!” What this says to me is that even when things look and seem impossible to get through, even then, He is with me. No matter what I feel, see, perceive or experience that makes me believe that there is no way to move forward, the way is there and it is the road the Lord has laid out for me. I don’t have to figure it out and I don’t need to know what will happen tomorrow. I just have to put one foot in front of the other and follow Him.
It’s too late to make a resolution, and those are only made to break. What I will commit to is making a daily effort to renewing my mind. I will not do this perfectly, but no more excuses. Will you join me? I believe God has great spiritual growth in store for those in Thin Within/Hunger Within this year. Let’s commit together to use the tools we have at hand to grow closer to our Lord who is the Author and Perfecter of our faith. No matter what happens, let’s draw close to our Source of all that we need.
I’ve been reading a book called Parenting the Wholehearted Child by Jeannie Cunnion (excellent book by the way) and she talked about how we know we are loved and accepted when we know who we are in Christ. So that got me thinking about how I have spent so many years not feeling accepted because of my body or thinking that I needed to conform to a certain pattern or image of this world. I have learned that there are more issues if I don’t accept my body where it’s at; like I’m accepting defeat. So I started thinking, what would happen if I knew (really knew) and declared who I am in Christ? Because in Christ I AM accepted!
“Those of us who struggle with food, eating, body image, and weight may spend excessive energy performing for acceptance because we equate our self-concept with our outward appearance. When our reflection in the mirror is less than perfect, we may continue to try to improve ourselves and an abusive pattern of starving or stuffing ourselves may persist” (Hunger Within, Chapter 5: Worth Not Shame).
Heidi Bylsma shared an amazing file with me with many truths about who we are in Christ. Today I sat down, with the printed list, and picked out the ones I felt that were most applicable to me in the moment (of course all of them are). And then I wrote down (with some fun colored pencils) on a sheet of paper. I will keep this paper on my bathroom vanity to read each day and confess. These are truths I can renew my mind with. And I know as I renew my mind, God will transform me (Hebrews 12:1-2). As I declare these truths, I will believe them more and more.
You see, it’s not what I do that makes me who I am. It’s not my outside appearance that makes me special. It’s not how well I perform or go about my work. I am who I am because of who I am in Christ–because of what He has done for me. I am accepted because Christ accepts me.
You and I are accepted by Christ no matter what. This list tells us who you are in Christ. So when you look in the mirror, you can lift that chin up and be confident in the Lord despite what you see or wish you could see. You are His beloved! You are accepted!
“This undeniable, unavoidable longing for a sense of value is a sanctified hunger placed in us by God’s design, but we will never experience inner peace until we face the truth that nothing of this world–our appearance, our past or present performance, possessions, or the opinions of other–can fulfill our longing for security and significance…Our hunger within will persist unsatisfied until we can see ourselves not through the eyes of the world but through the eyes of our loving Lord” (Hunger Within, Chapter 5: Worth Not Shame).
When you know who you are in Christ and you know you can accept your body as is, you will start to relax and be thankful for your body. It’s not quitting or giving up. It’s not saying you will never release another pound. It’s being confident that the Lord loves you and accepts you right where you are at and that He will complete the work He has started in you. I really think this is a vital part of the journey toward freedom in this area of our lives, especially if you have been worshiping the skinny idol.
“When we accept ourselves for what we are, we decrease our hunger for power or the acceptance of others because our self-intimacy reinforces our inner sense of security” (Hunger Within, Chapter 5: Worth Not Shame).
When you know who you are in Christ and this journey becomes about what’s within, you focus on your heart relationship with Christ and not the number on a scale. If you are first starting your journey this may feel hard to imagine or accept because you just want the added weight gone. And I can encourage you that you will release weight in conjunction with the Lord working on your inner man as well. It’s pretty amazing!
Would you like to renew your mind with some truths about who you are in Christ? Here are some truths to get you started:
Who I Am In Christ
I am God’s child for I am born again of the incorruptible seed of the Word of God which lives and abides forever 1 Pet. 1:23
I am forgiven all my sins and washed in the blood Eph. 1:7
I am a new creature II Cor. 5:17
I am the temple of the Holy Spirit I Cor. 6:19
I am delivered from the power of darkness and transformed into God’s kingdom Col. 1:13
I am redeemed from the curse of the law Gal. 3:13
I am strong in the Lord Eph.6:10
I am holy and without blame before Him Eph. 1:4
I am accepted in Christ Eph. 1:6
I am blessed Deut. 28:1-14
I am a saint Rom. 1:7
I am qualified to share in His inheritance Col. 1:12
I am the head and not the tail.
I am above only and not beneath Deut. 28:13
I am victorious Rev. 21:7
I am dead to sin Rom.6: 2, 11
I am elect Col. 3:12
I am loved with an everlasting love Jer. 31:3
I am established to the end I Cor. 1:8
I am set free Jn. 8:31-33
I am circumcised with the circumcision made without hands Col. 2:11
I am crucified with Christ Gal. 2:20
I am alive with Christ Eph. 2:5
I am raised up with Christ and seated in heavenly places Col. 2:12
I am His faithful follower Eph. 5:1
I am the light of the world Matt. 5:14
I am the salt of the earth Matt. 5:13
I am called of God II Tim. 1:9
I am brought near by the blood of Christ Eph. 2:13
I am more than a conqueror Rom. 8:37
I am in Christ Jesus by His doing I Cor. 1:30
I am an ambassador for Christ II Cor. 5:20
I am beloved of God I Thess. 1:4
I am the first fruits among His creation James 1:18
I am born of God and the evil one does not touch me I Jn. 5:18
I am a king and a priest unto God Rev. 1:6
I am a joint heir with Christ Rom. 8:17
I am reconciled to God II Cor. 5:18
I am overtaken with blessings Deut. 28:2
I am healed by the wounds of Jesus I Pet. 2:24
I am in the world as He is in heaven I Jn. 4:17
I am a fellow citizen with the saints of the household of God Eph. 2:19
I am sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit Eph. 1:13
I am complete in Christ Col. 2:10
I am the apple of my Father’s eye Ps. 17:8
I am free from condemnation Rom. 8:1
I am the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ II Cor. 5:21
I am chosen I Thess. 1:4
I am firmly rooted, built up, strengthened in the faith and overflowing with thankfulness Col. 2:7
I am a disciple of Christ because
I have love for others Jn. 13:34-35
I am built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone Eph. 2:20
I am a partaker of His divine nature II Pet. 1:4
I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works Eph. 2:10
I am being changed into His image Phil. 1:6
I am one in Christ! Hallelujah! Jn. 17:21-23
I have all my needs met by God according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus Phil. 4:19
I have the mind of Christ I Cor. 2:16
I have everlasting life Jn. 6:47
I have a guaranteed inheritance Eph. 1:14
I have abundant life Jn. 10:10
I have overcome the world 1 Jn. 5:4
I have the peace of God which passes understanding Phil. 4:7
I have access to the Father by one Spirit Eph. 2:18
I can do all things through Jesus Christ Phil. 4:13
I walk in Christ Jesus Col. 2:6
I press toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God Phil. 3:14
I live by the law of the Holy Spirit Rom. 8:2
I know God’s voice Jn. 10:14
I show forth His praise I Pet. 2:9
I always triumph in Christ II Cor. 2:14
P.S. I created a Sound Cloud recording reading these truths. Enjoy!
I became acquainted with Thin Within in 2009. I had just stopped participating in the Weigh Down Workshop and had experienced weight loss. The Thin Within principles did not disappoint because I continued releasing weight once I began participating in the Workbook 1 study.
As it turns out, I returned to college in the Fall of 2010 and gradually began slipping back into old habits, and I regained much of the weight. How disheartening! I would return to Thin Within classes and begin seeing weight fall off only to get off track and re-gain it. I continued this pendulum swing until November 2014.
During the Summer of 2014, I led a Thin Within class through the book, Taste for Truth. Although I saw five pounds disappear, the Lord spoke to me that He was working on my spiritual person, the inside person, before working on the outside. I realized that I had still not dealt with some emotional issues that led to eating outside of the boundaries of 0-5. I began praying about asking Heidi to coach me. The Lord answered this prayer because Heidi began coaching me in November of 2014.
Issues from my past began surfacing. Are we not supposed to forget the past? Was this a trick of the enemy? Little did I know that God had a plan to help me deal with issues I had buried before they were truly dead. Painful as it was, I allowed the Holy Spirit to guide me through the process.
Heidi suggested that I use “Accountability Points.” Of course, one of those points was 0-5 eating. I chose other points that might work for me. One of the points I chose was to agree to renew my mind on a daily basis, and this, my friends, is when I began to see a breakthrough. When faced with thoughts contrary to God and His Word, I had to choose to rid myself of the lies and deception being presented to me and replace the lies with the truth.
When faced with thoughts contrary to God and His Word, I had to choose to rid myself of the lies and deception being presented to me and replace the lies with the truth.
I have released around 28 pounds which is about the amount of weight I re-gained while in college. Although I have not arrived at some super-spiritual place, I am thankful for Jesus. If not for Him, I would not be giving you my testimony. I would still be in bondage to my past and my overeating to cover up the past. If not for the healing balm of the Lord, I would still be miserable. God knew what was best for me, and returning to Thin Within was what was best. Eating according to true physical hunger signals works! God’s ways work!
Allison lives in Hanover, WV with her husband and two children. She teaches Kindergarten at the local school and is the co-pastor with her husband of Haven of Rest Church of the Living God. In her spare time, Allison loves spending time with her family and reading.