I shared about my struggles with food and eating previously on my blog (see Confessions from a Bathroom Stall, Three Ways I Lost My Battle With Sin, When the Burden Feels Too Heavy to Bear). I know for many, present company definitely included, Thanksgiving feasting tends to exacerbate many of our food and eating struggles.
In a week filled with posts about Thanksgiving and eating, these thoughts from my friend Becca Nail stand out. Becca helps lead our coed, staff workout group at Watermark, and she calls these mentalities her “Holiday Hang-ups.”
We need to be mindful of our heart and mentality this Holiday season when it comes to eating. Specifically, we need to avoid four ditches, or Holiday Hang-ups as she calls them, when it comes to holiday eating.
1. The Entitlement/Justification Mentality
“I need (lots of) food, and I deserve (lots of) food. I have been working out so hard and for so many months. I deserve a break and I get to eat whatever I want and as much of whatever I want.”
“It’s the holidays… I deserve to pig out, just like everyone else. It’s like I’m on vacation.”
This type of thinking tends to be very self-centered and typically focuses on earthly things, rather than eternal things.
Proverbs 23:20-21 “Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.”
Philippians 3:19 “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”
Colossians 3:1-2 “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
While it can be acceptable to eat, drink, be merry and feast (Ecclesiastes 3:4, 5:18-19), we must be extremely cautious with any entitlement or justification mentality when it comes to eating.
2. The Penance Mentality
“I ate like garbage this weekend… I am going to do a super intense workout and eat only celery to make up for the last few days.”
“Forget eating a big Thanksgiving meal. I deserve nothing good for dinner since I have slacked the past few days.”
Romans 6:14-18 “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
We do not need to enslave ourselves to eating and/or working out. Rather, we should be diligent in our walk with Christ and honor Him through obedience as a lifestyle. Choose to honor God with your body in exercise and eating (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
3. The Guilt & Shame Mentality
“I am so embarrassed by my choices and I will never break free from this battle! I might as well just do whatever I want!”
Ephesians 2:13 “ But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Somehow you have allowed your eating and exercise choices to define you. Your identity is wrapped up in your performance instead of in Jesus. Break the cycle by focusing on the ground you have taken and how the Lord has done mighty things in your life already! Do not grow weary in doing good.
4. The “If No One Sees Me Eat, It Doesn’t Count” Mentality
This one is so ridiculous that I can’t even make up a fake dialogue or quotes. If no one sees me, then it doesn’t count?
But… this is the mentality I most struggle with in my own life. I am often so concerned with others think of me that I will try to impress them by what I eat in front of them, but as soon as they turn away I will binge eat. And then I try to make it seem like I am eating so healthy, when in reality I deceive and hide the truth. I remember bingeing on Snickers bars in a bathroom stall, yet in front of others I would never even dream of eating anything as unhealthy as a Snickers because I really wanted to impress others.
Proverbs 30:8a “Remove far from me falsehood and lying”
Proverbs 28:13 “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
Somehow I think I can deceive others by hiding or concealing what I eat. We can’t hide from or deceive the Lord, so either choose to not eat the Snickers at all or just be free and eat in the light! Whatever you do, don’t eat a Snickers bar in a bathroom stall – gross on so many levels…
So now what?
Thanksgiving and the holidays are here, and you want to enjoy these day but also not sin your way into a food coma. Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to enjoy food, football, friends and family. Today, and every day, is an opportunity to give thanks in all circumstances.
I am sure there are other harmful mentalities, but as you head into Thanksgiving feasting, keep in mind these four “Holiday Hang-up” eating mentalities. Don’t get caught up in the trap of being entitled, paying penance, spiraling into guilt and shame or hiding reality from others.