My study of the HEAL book, by Smith and Halliday, led me to prayerfully consider the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, 
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, 
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 
Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23
We are challenged by the authors to consider how the fruit of the Spirit, evident in our lives as we surrender ourselves to His indwelling presence and power, might be made manifest relative to our struggle with food, eating, and body image. This was an interesting exercise for me.

Love: Focusing on allowing God to love others through me, my fixation on food diminishes. I can choose–especially this time of year when people are even more open than any other, perhaps–to love others. As I do this, my perspective shifts. Grabbing greedily for more food just isn’t as predominant a tendency!

Joy: When I love others and focus on myself less, there is joy that bubbles up in me.  I think this is what Jesus meant when he said that his joy would be in me and my joy would be complete (John 15:11).  This isn’t joy like the kind I have when I am “finally hungry and get to eat.” It is larger, deeper, better.

Peace: When I fix my eyes on Jesus, he gives me peace.  I don’t have that agitated, churning feeling I so often try to settle with food.

Patience: To wait on the Lord for the time to eat–when I am hungry. I am drawn to food at other times, then it is a call to allow Him to satisfy my soul and heart and head hunger.

Kindness:  I need to express kindness toward myself when I “fail,” make mistakes, or, even, blatantly rebel (repentance is a result of God’s kindness – Romans 2:4). When I beat myself up about things I wish I did differently, I am not being Christlike toward myself. I am out of His will every bit as much as when I sin willfully by eating outside of godly parameters.

Goodness: I am not sure how to fit this with my eating or view of myself. (Anyone have any ideas? Please post them here for me! I want to get it!) I know that if I extend goodness to others, again, it is deeply satisfying.

Faithfulness: In this moment, I can choose to surrender to the Lord. Faithfulness can seem like a big, huge, unattainable goal, but it happens when moments are captured for the Lord, one at a time. I move past the moment that came before as I take this moment captive for him and offer it to HIM. Even if I “blew it” yesterday, at lunch, or 5 minutes ago, this moment is new. I choose to return to Him, surrender my tendency to beat myself up or to indulge in self-pity (which is usually accompanied by yet more over-indulgence of food). Faithfulness isn’t perfection. It is returning as often as is necessary to the surrender of this moment now to Him and His will.

Gentleness: Instead of an irritable, hard-edged attitude of what I deserve, I am softened, calmed, less likely to grab at food or to speak/think harshly about myself.

Self-control: I am free to say no to impulses of my flesh and yes to God-controlled decisions. Like 1 Thessalonians 4 says: It is God’s will that you should be sanctified…that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like [those] who do not know God.

It isn’t constraints such as diet rules or laws that will enable me to express these characteristics. It is the fruit which Strongs Concordance describes as “that which originates or comes from something, an effect, result”…it comes from the Spirit of God having control of me. This comes when I choose to release my desires, impulses, longings to God and, instead, allow His will to be expressed in and through me. His life lived in me. His Spirit resides in me. I relinquish my will and give myself over to His will. Then the fruit expressed in my life will be what is spoke of in Galatians 5.