[Editor’s Note: Barb Raveling has taught me so much about how to renew my mind in accordance with Romans 12: 2 in a practical way. Although she is not—and never has been—a participant in Thin Within, her website is, nevertheless, a wonderful resource of practical strategies and bible studies that can help us think differently—to think God’s thoughts after him. Investing the time in learning to think differently about food, eating, ourselves, and God, we end up believing truth instead of lies. It is there that transformation takes place–from the inside out. Lasting transformation! Our study through the Thin Within workbook starting today will be saturated with a “Renewing of the Mind” Approach. This time, when you release weight, it will be permanent!]
I’ve always loved to eat, but I didn’t start really struggling with food until I became an emotional eater. That was the year I joined the dance team. My sophomore year of high school.
Back in those days, you had to weigh in to perform. The weigh-in weights were ridiculously low. At 5’ 1 ½” I had to weigh 107. If I was over—even by a pound—I couldn’t perform. I was a slim girl, but I still had to diet like crazy to make the weight.
I wasn’t the only one. Before every weigh-in, a bunch of us girls could be found running the steps of our 18-story capitol building, subsisting on 500 calorie a day diets, and even popping ex-lax pills, if necessary.
Weigh-in day came, then the performance, and then an all-out eating binge. We were so happy to finally be able to eat that we ate everything in sight and then some.
For me, it was an end of an era. The end of a normal life with food. From then on I was an emotional eater.
I went to college and that’s where I started eating to procrastinate. I can still remember the look and the feel of the huge cream-filled sandwich cookies in the vending machines at my college dorm. My drug of choice when I had a dreaded homework project.
I got married my senior year in college and was slim for quite a few years. Life was good and relatively easy so there wasn’t a lot of reason to emotional eat. But then the third and fourth child came, and I started homeschooling.
Most people assume homeschoolers homeschool because they love the lifestyle. I homeschooled because I thought it would be good for my kids. But in those early years—at least in the winter—it was a sacrifice.
I was a fun-loving people person who craved excitement. I loved relationships and I loved to visit with friends. I wasn’t crazy about noise and I didn’t like to cook or clean. As you may guess, I wasn’t a very good match for homeschooling! At least not in those early years when the kids were little.
So I started to emotional eat again. And this time, there was no getting out of it. I was so unhappy, and I ate to compensate. I also revived my college habit of bingeing, only this time, with a fully equipped kitchen, there was a lot more to binge on than there was back in my college days.
I still remember those post-binge mornings. Waking up groggily. Remembering what I’d eaten the night before. And then that hopeless feeling, thinking, I will never ever get over this.
I was like an alcoholic when it came to food: I was out of control. Thankfully, God was about to intervene. And being the creative God that He is, He intervened in a creative way—through a marriage Bible study.
My husband and I were in this study with a couple of our friends. We each decided to work on a fault that would improve our marriages and I decided to work on my critical spirit.
My plan was to think positive! I would write down my negative thoughts about my husband and then write positive thoughts next to it. I couldn’t wait to get started. I bought my journal the next day and started recording thoughts.
Before long, I noticed a pattern. Those thoughts? They weren’t just negative. Many of them were lies. I started replacing lies with truth and I called it truth journaling. God used truth journaling to completely transform my life.
It worked so well for resentment that I thought, Maybe this is the answer to my eating woes! So I started truth journaling about food. Breaking free from resentment had only taken two months so I was thinking that that was all it would take to break free from the control of food.
I was wrong. Overeating was a much bigger stronghold in my life than anger, and it took a long time to get over it. I knew nothing about lifelong boundaries and I didn’t really want to give up my go-to comfort drug of choice.
If I hadn’t seen God work in my life in the area of anger, I never would have believed He could do the same thing with eating. But He did. After one or two journals full of eating related truth journal entries and I don’t know how many lie-truth charts, I finally broke free from the control of food.
If you’re still in that “I don’t know if I’ll ever break free” stage, let me encourage you to press on! You have so much more going for you than I did. A great community here at Thin Within. The encouragement of Heidi and many others of you who are writing posts and testimonies on her blog. You already know about the concept of lifelong boundaries and the renewing of the mind.
And most importantly, you have a God who loves you and wants to help you break free from the control of food. That was all I had, and He was enough. The more I walk with Him, the more I see the truth of Scripture. The truth really does set us free. We just have to walk in it!
How About You?
Are you an emotional eater? Do you lose weight when life is going well and gain weight when it’s not? If so, you may want to take on a small renewing of the mind project in the area of one of your emotions. For example, “I will renew my mind whenever I catch myself worrying about ______________.” Or “I will renew my mind whenever I get annoyed with _____________.” The more we go to God for help with life, the less we’ll go to the refrigerator!
~ Barb Raveling lives in Montana with her husband and the youngest of their four children. After homeschooling for 21 years, she and her husband are about to experience the empty nest. In her spare time, she likes to camp, hike, eat (within her boundaries!), read, and hang out with family and friends.
[Editor’s Note #2 :-): I heartily endorse Barb’s iOS app, I Deserve a Donut, her I Deserve a Donut and Other Lies that Make You Eat book, and Taste For Truth: A 30 Day Weight Loss Bible Study. These are GREAT resources!]