Escape Secrets and Strongholds: Night-Time Overeating Edition Coaching Group 2024

Escape Secrets and Strongholds: Night-Time Overeating Edition Coaching Group 2024

Welcome to a five-month journey to overcoming the challenge that many of us face with compulsive night-time overeating. This is a coaching group opportunity for 8 special women to join Heidi Bylsma-Epperson and Christina Motley.

We meet weekly on Zoom for coaching and strategy sessions each Wednesday at 3:30pm PT, starting January 17th, 2024. This course includes an online curriculum and homework each week, also texting support with our group members for accountability and prayer. Zoom calls are 60-90 minutes each week. While we DO record all of them, we ask that each participant plans to make the class live as much as is possible.

Our curriculum takes us through reasons we might struggle with this particular stronghold. God wants to heal us. We look at patterns that we have that result in overeating and what we can do to have new, positive, “triggers.” This is a safe space for women to heal in the company of other supportive women who love the Lord.

Miniature Eating

Miniature Eating

At age 70, twenty years post-menopause, it takes a lot less to get me to a “5” than it did in my younger days! That has been very difficult for me, and at times very angering. So the idea of “miniature eating” has a softer, gentler, more fun and enjoyable feel to it, especially since I love miniatures! I even have a miniatures collection! So this has a sweet connection for me.

I enjoy using my miniature bowl, cup, and plate. Here are the two I got at a thrift shop – the best place to find them!

And here they are with food on them, and my hand in the picture so you can see how tiny the portions are…




When I first shared this concept and a few photos in a TW group I was in, someone expressed concern that this was “restrictive eating.” This is where we can get into some semantics, so I’ll just explain my heart and my thinking… 

As far as the amount of food I’m eating, I’m still eating 0-to-5. 😁  In one way, eating 0 to 5 is “restricting” for me, but since I do not have any “bruises“ from my dieting days, which ended decades ago, using the word “restrictive” is not a bad thing for me. I never liked or did well with dieting back then, and once I heard about this intuitive, kind of eating, I knew it was right, and never looked back or felt connected to my dieting days.

However, actually DOING it was another thing! My sin habit has been eating what I want, when I want, and how much I want – regardless of whether or not I’m physically hungry. I call this “food greed” or “lust.”

So eating 0-5 – eating miniature – is a much-needed “restriction” of my gone-rogue appetite. 


But it is kind and wise restriction, in the same family as self-control, self-discipline, cutting portions in half…  So it’s not a restrictive “dieting mentality” thing; it’s just following my exact same Thin Within boundaries.


I don’t measure or count calories. If I put what little I eat – the miniature amount it takes to get me to a 5 – onto a regular dinner plate, it has just a few little – and I do mean little – dollops of food on it. It looks pretty sparse. Thus the idea of using miniature, or just “small” plates and cups. This first picture is actually a doll plate that I got out of the grandkids’ toys. People know I love miniatures, so someone got me the miniature Coke glass. 

Here’s a meal on a dessert-size plate. And I had made myself a mini biscuit along with the regular size ones.

Here’s another dinner on another dessert plate…  (I realize there’s nothing special or amazing about what I’m showing you; just sharing out of my life.)

A friend had made a carrot cake for my birthday, and, knowing my “miniature eating” boundaries, served me this mini amount…

A miniature serving of popcorn…

A donut cut into fourths, three of which I put in the freezer…

And here’s a miniature pumpkin pie I made…


This is not at all legalistic! It’s just a “boundary inspirer” to help me think in terms of “less” and thus put my unbridled flesh to death.

What if the amount of applesauce I have in one little bowl is not enough? I have another little bowl! But just enough to get me to my comfortable 5.

You can be certain that my flesh is not fooled one bit into thinking that this tiny amount of food, just because it’s served on something proportionately cute and tiny, is actually the same [larger] amount of food. It’s just a way of helping the “boundaries fall for me in a pleasant place.”

I’ll close with a couple of truth cards that I made…




Truth-Telling about Peppermint Mochas

Truth-Telling about Peppermint Mochas

I have become quite a fan of specialty coffee! Peppermint mochas, in particular. Iced or hot, both are at the very top of my list of “Ways to Pamper Myself.” Massages, manicures, facials, and pedicures are also on that list, too! I’m not sure which would be #1 – they are all favorites!

The Dutch Bros. barista had written “Happy Birthday” backwards with caramel syrup on the under side of the clear dome top!

(As you can see, I’m feeling pretty pampered!)


But as I look in the mirror – yes, lovingly and gently, yet honestly – and see my excess weight, my guess is that 20% of it has come from peppermint mochas.

(As an aside, I’d say another 20% has come from “just one more bite”!  …  Another 5% from Thanksgiving dinners. …  Another 3% from cookie dough.  …  Another 10% from “seconds”… and on and on…)

Not every peppermint mocha has been problematic – only ones I imbibed outside of my 0-5 boundaries. But that’s most of them because, for a long time, I somehow (foolishly) thought that, just because they were liquid, they didn’t count!

So the Lord has been speaking to me recently about my relationship with peppermint mochas. OK, He’s been trying to speak to me about this for a long time, but I have not wanted to listen.

Our youngest daughter, Carlianne, and I at Starbucks! (As you can see, I am an equal opportunity peppermint mocha lover!)

When Christina Motley shared in one of her porch chats what the Lord spoke to her about her mother’s Chocolate Chip Bundt cake and all things chocolate chip, I knew it was time to listen to Him on this matter.

In Fresh Wind Fresh Desire, author Heidi Bylsma-Epperson talks about “lies,”  “little-T truths,” and “big-T truths.” We all believe many lies and little-T truths that have completely messed up our thinking. Lies like “I’m doomed to be overweight forever because I simply cannot get control of my eating.”

This lie is actually interlaced with a “little-t truth” because this may very well be your experience thus far. However it’s a LIE that you are doomed to stay this way forever because God’s Big-T Truth is that “In Christ Jesus, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.”  

Because our wrong thinking messes up our minds and keeps us bound to frustration, failure, and hopelessness, these lies and little-t truths must be exposed and recognized as being exactly what they are.


They cannot be allowed to stay locked into our belief system; no longer our “bottom line.” They must be replaced with God’s big-T truths! And this is what we call “renewing our mind.” We truly will be transformed by the renewing of our mind!

Heidi and Christina talk about making Truth Lists. In this article called Truth Lists for the Real-Life Journey I compiled several of the Truth Lists they have shared. And Christina’s truth list about chocolate chips is included in that article!

So I thought maybe I should do some serious truth journaling regarding my problematic peppermint mochas. Thinking there probably wasn’t really all that much to say about it, I decided to give it a try anyway. It’d just be a short but sweet exercise at best. But I was surprised at what poured out. (Pardon the pun!)

So let’s get going!



🤨 Little-t Truth:  Peppermint mochas make me feel special and valuable.

🤩 Big-T Truth:  I am just as special and valuable without one.



🤨 Little-t Truth:  Peppermint mochas are a tasty way of pampering myself, and I looooove being pampered.

🤩 Big-T Truth:  Yes, but frequent  pampering of myself does not need to be such a main goal of my life! As a follower of Christ, I am called to a life of self-denial. Not a life of continual pampering. I need to allow the Holy Spirit to comfort my spirit and nourish my soul so that I do not have such a great need to be pampered. I need to imbibe more in the Living Water: “The Lord lets me drink from His rivers of delight.”



🤨 Little-t Truth:  Peppermint mochas make a plain, regular occasion – like driving somewhere – feel fun and special. They “spice it up.”

🤩 Big-T Truth:  They do do this, but not without me paying a high price:  like taking me outside of my 0-5 boundaries, which I believe the Lord has set for me, and which I need to follow whether I feel like it at the moment or not. I also believe that God has “made my boundaries to fall in pleasant places.” So I need to find fun and specialness INside my boundaries and OUTside of a peppermint mocha.



🤨 Little-t Truth:  Peppermint mochas taste delicious, feel good going down, and are a fluid form of entertainment that lasts a while.

🤩 Big-T Truth:  True, but I pay a high price for this “entertainment”; it is not a form of entertainment that blesses my body if I have one when I am not at a zero, and/or drink too much of it. (beyond 5) Just because they are delicious and feel good going down doesn’t mean I need to indulge myself in that way every time I want to do so. They are part of what has gotten me too close to becoming pre-diabetic. (Which I have actually crossed over into a couple of times, but come back out.)



🤨 Little-t Truth:  If I am at a coffee shop getting gift cards for people, I feel like I deserve to get one of these to as a reward for myself for buying them for others!

🤩 Big-T Truth:  Unless I have planned to be – and am – at a zero and it’s a good time to have one, I need to just focus on getting a gift for others – not for myself.



🤨 Little-t Truth:  When it’s hot outside, an iced peppermint mocha is a cool and refreshing way to cool off.

🤩 Big-T Truth:  Other beverages or treats are also cool and refreshing and without such a high caloric content – unless I am truly at a zero and only drink up to a 5 (max).



🤨 Little-t Truth:  When it’s cold outside, a hot peppermint mocha is warm, soothing, and cozy.   

🤩 Big-T Truth:  There are other drinks and activities that are warm, soothing, and cozy as well. Like spending time with the Lord! HE is the ultimate in warm (Jesus’ warm love), soothing (the Holy Spirit’s soothing presence), and cozy (“giving a feeling of comfort, warmth, relaxation and intimacy” – which is exactly what our Daddy-God longs to give us!




So does all this mean I don’t get to enjoy my favorite beverage anymore? Nope! It just means I need to be going to the Lord more regularly to get what I really need, what I’ve tried too often to get from my froo-froo drinks.

And then when I do have one, it needs to be within the parameters of my 0-5 eating boundaries. I have actually done this a few times now, and I have to tell you I enjoy my beverage sooooooo muuuuuch mooooore! Because it’s not only giving me enjoyment tastebud-wise, but, because I’m actually hungry, it tastes even better than normal.

Plus I’m staying true to myself and to my Lord ~ and nothing tastes better than that!!! As Heidi says:


“No food tastes as good as obedience feels!” 

Not even a peppermint mocha!





Grain, New Wine, and Oil That Satisfy!

Grain, New Wine, and Oil That Satisfy!

I opened up to Joel 2:19 and saw something that I had never noticed before:

“I am sending you grain, new wine, and oil – enough to satisfy you fully.”

If these three things – grain, new (as opposed to old) wine, and oil – were important enough to mention in the Word, I figure I should probably pay attention.

So I started giving these fourteen words some thought (and attention), and want to share my discoveries with you here…




This is what bread is made of. Jesus is the Bread of Life. I need Him to live. To be transformed. To get victory over sin in my life. To grow as He intends for me to grow.

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

How much I eat of the Bread of Life is up to me. The greater my challenges, the greater my need for even more bread.

He is there for the taking. I need to take Him more. “More of Jesus, less of me.” Literally and figuratively.





This is spoken of in the parable of the new wineskins. God wants to give us His new wine, but we need a new wineskin in which to hold the new wine. Why? Because our old wineskin will burst as the new wine He pours into us expands. Here’s a story that still feels like yesterday even though it happened to me back in 1985 ~ 34 years ago as I write…

My fear of public speaking was huge when I first started speaking – like at a microphone, in front of an audience. I was set to speak at a homeschool convention, and it was going to be held at a big fancy-schmancy hotel in Seattle where just one of the room’s chandeliers was larger than three rooms of my house! The very thought of entering that room freaked me out! 

It got progressively worse as the convention approached. Every thought of standing in front of that huge room (which really did end up being as big as I’d imagined), sent a horrible churning pang jolting through my guts like lightning. I had no idea how I was physically and emotionally going to survive this!

After getting out of the shower one day and seeing my “eau de natural” face and hair in the foggy mirror, I told the Lord I did not know why He was having me do this; that I was NOT a speaker!!!

The very sight of a microphone sent intimidating chills through my stomach!

“Well…  Yes, Lord, HOWEVER! I can’t DO this!!! I’m dying every time I think of standing in front of that microphone ~ so that people can actually hear me ~ and speaking, I just shrivel up and feel SICK!!! I simply can NOT live like this!!!”

I felt Him say: “The problem is that I am filling you with new wine (which I knew was sharing the message He had put on my heart via public speaking), but you still have your old wineskin, so the new wine is bursting your old wineskin.”

Me:  “Wow. Well that sure makes sense. So what are we going to do about this?!?!?” ~ by which I actually meant “What are YOU going to do about this, because I knew there was nothing *I* could do, other than turn and run the other direction!

Him:  “You need to let Me take your old wineskin (which I just see as being the heart and soul of me that “holds” who I am, including my will and my thinking), and give you a new wineskin!!!”

And that happened that very day! I handed over to Him my old wineskin, which He then redeemed by giving me back a new wineskin that would hold this new wine He was pouring into ~ and through ~ me. I never had another horrible jolt regarding speaking ever again!!! And that was 35 years and hundreds of speaking engagements ago! Butterflies and excitement, but NO jolts!!! In fact, I actually love speaking now!




The Holy Spirit is referred to as oil in the Word, and I desperately need more of Him – the Holy Spirit – flowing in me.

Psalm 23:5 says: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

I have enemies around me all the time, mostly in the form of temptations trying to lure me away from what God has for me. What is it that God has for me? – especially in this area of eating, and my relationship to food? Here are a few things that Christina has shared regarding what it is like to be…

Walking in Freedom:

• It feels right and good to be listening and submitting to the Lord.

• There is a peace between the Lord and me, and I feel more intimate with Him.

• It feels good to know that I am bringing my needs to God instead of to food.

• When I am eating within my boundaries, I have a feeling – which is actually a fact – of HOPE because my hope is in Him.

• I feel lighthearted and buoyant because there isn’t such a weight on my shoulders of guilt, frustration, and hopelessness.

• When I am flying high because I’m eating God’s way, it makes me want to praise Him because it feels so good!

• It feels good to separate my emotions from my eating; to get my feelings untangled up from my eating.

• I enjoy my food within my God-given boundaries, using it to fuel my body; not using it for comfort.

• I love the way I feel physically when I’m eating smaller portions. My body feels good; my stomach feels normal and settled.

Our Birthright:

“All the above” are my birthright! But how often do I sell my birthright for a mere “bowl of soup”? ~ or whatever other food is in front of my face at the moment that I somehow think is going to satisfy me more than obedience will?


As my birthright, those are ALL things that God intends for me to have! And I can have them right now! This very moment! Just by walking in simple and sweet surrender and obedience to Him and, by and with His mighty power at work within me.



What Diets CAN’T Do, God CAN!

What Diets CAN’T Do, God CAN!

We usually search out and go on diets as a knee-jerk response to that moment when we step on the scale, look too long into the mirror, or fail to fit a clothing item that we used to wear with ease. We freak out at the number on the scale or the pants that would not button, and off we go on a diet hunt. Maybe we go back to a diet that worked “once upon a time.” Or we decide to try what so-and-so did to lose “X” number of pounds.

The problem with this is that it’s only temporary, and eventually we go “off” of the diet only to land right back where we started. Or worse, we end up even heavier than we were before we went off of the rails.

The word “diet” has its roots in the temporary. We “diet” for a one-time event like a wedding or reunion, for surgery, or for a “cleanse,” and then we stop and return to our previous way of eating. Deep down we know that it is not sustainable to restrict ourselves from our favorite foods for very long in this way.

Let’s be honest, we also know that if it was sustainable to stay on that particular diet, we would still be on it today!

So why do we go back to those “weak and miserable principles” referred to in Galatians 4:9? And what is the solution? We need some solid answers. Praise be to God our Father who can provide answers for all things, including our weight and food woes!


First and foremost, we need to ask God what HE thinks! What does He want for us as individuals? No diet or boundary is “one size fits all.” If there was such a thing, we would ALL be doing it!

However, here at Thin Within we subscribe to our natural hunger mechanism that we believe God gave us at birth. We define that hunger mechanism as eating between zero and five (0-5), which is our primary boundary. Zero is fully hungry, and 5 is “just satisfied”; not full or stuffed.

We believe that God never expected us to be preoccupied with food and diets, or our bodies (Matthew 6:25). He certainly talks about food a lot in scripture and had food rules for the Israelites. However, now that we are in Christ, or rather Christ is in US, we are given so much freedom!

Notice that I said freedom, not license! He tells us that we now have the fruits of the Spirit. One of those fruits, listed in Galatians 5:23, is self-control. He tells us that everything is permissible (1 Corinthians 10:23), but that nothing is to have mastery over us (1 Corinthians 6:12).

Then let’s roll up our sleeves and take a look at what we need to do!


5 Steps to Connecting Our Eating with God


1) We need to view 0-5 as being our life-long chosen boundary with God’s blessing. This is hunger and fullness on a definable scale. I realize that this may not be the boundary God leads everyone to. Barb Raveling says to look for a boundary or boundaries that you can keep for the rest of your days here on earth. For some, that might just be calorie counting, three meals a day, or low-carb eating. But chances are you are reading this article because, to you, those were diets and they just didn’t “work” for you. So consider that God may be prompting you to do zero-to-five eating!


2) We need to utilize whatever means we can to keep 0-5 as our primary boundary. Just as alcoholics need to avoid situations that would cause them to imbibe, like Joseph, we need to flee tempting situations when possible. I like to tell myself Romans 13:14 often and “make no provision for the flesh.” I do this by not purchasing certain foods that I know I have little self-control with at the moment. I do this by avoiding situations where I might lose control, like in front of the TV at night. It may be a temporary restriction or limited in scope (think of a single serving bag of m&m’s and not a five-pound bag). I know my weaknesses and that certain foods could derail my efforts if I have them easily accessible. This is different from saying “I can eat this but not that! And it might just be for a season.


3) We need to realize that we need God’s power! This should always be number one on our list. His Word says that “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). NOTHING! I have to shout this to myself! Another verse reminds us that we need Him, the Holy Spirit, to bear the fruit of self-control in us (Galatians 5:23). Diets just do not provide God. IF they do, they might still tell you what you can and cannot eat just like a person in authority over us used to do. We want to mature beyond that. Think about it: Diets have the potential to keep us immature! How humiliating. We want to be grown-ups in Christ. It is shocking to think that a diet could potentially keep us from growing spiritually.


4) We need to find support. AA to an alcoholic is Thin Within Ministries to us. We need loving accountability. We need to be in groups where others can lead us through valleys and trials. We need cheer leaders, people to help us not give up! And let’s face it, we all need others who “get us.” We also need as many ideas as we can employ to do this 0-5 thing! Just as you would not visit a foreign country for the first time without a guide and a translator, you do not want to try to do this alone. It could be disastrous in a foreign country and it could be disastrous here.


5) And last, we need to actually believe and trust God! It’s one thing to realize that we need God’s power, but quite another to actually trust His direction each day and not get focused on the end result, whether that’s a number on the scale or an outfit we are dying to get back into. If we keep looking for the end result, we will not be focused on Him. We need to focus daily on keeping our boundaries with God’s help. Then the results become God’s responsibility. We do this by utilizing tools such as “The keys to conscious eating” found in the Thin Within workbook series in conjunction with renewing our minds (Romans 12:2), joining classes and groups for support, and maybe getting individual coaching.


It is the daily focus and disciplines that get us where we need to go (Matthew 6:34) one meal at a time, one bite at a time. We want to learn to be content with food and our bodies, don’t we? “For godliness and contentment are great gain!” as it says in 1 Timothy 6:6. Thankfully, that is not weight gain!