Food Addiction – My Sabbath Day’s Journey to Deliverance

Rejected…Enslaved by food…Delivered
I would like to share my journey of rejection, enslavement and later deliverance with you, eventually getting to the happy ending of freedom in Christ. This was a journey laced with God’s Grace throughout. My life’s journey was predestined but my later reaction to what happened was my choice – right or wrong.
From the word ‘go’ I felt different, a loner, I enjoyed my own company more than being with the rest of my family. I was unable to share these feelings with anyone in my family. I never felt loved and wanted. I do remember loving food, especially sweet treats. Needless to say, this left me being a chubby little girl, always feeling angry and unhappy. How does it happen that a little girl end up always being unhappy, preferring her own company, not laughing very often and always craving food?
As a young child I did not have the needed life skills to deal with negative and hurting experiences. This could have changed a lot, if I knew how to handle these instances. The times of feeling broken and lost may not have lasted so long but I may have lost out on learning valuable life lessons in the process. In the end I may have not been able to help others deal with similar hurt and issues.
For the most part of my life I was overweight, enslaved by food and bad eating habits. Later in life I realized that the comfort found in food was a mere symptom of a much deeper problem – negative emotions suppressed for decades. Only at the age of 50 could I name this massive black hole that existed where my heart should have been – REJECTION!
Rejection is one of the deepest hurts one can feel, especially coming from those closest who were supposed to love one most. From a very young age I felt different to my siblings – the only one who was overweight and always unhappy. I did not know how to deal with these feelings of being different and unhappy all the time. My coping mechanism was to eat, a very unhealthy way to deal with my feelings but, at the time, I felt that it was working for me.
“You were not born by chance, you were planned by God, even before you were conceived.
Psalm 139: 15 “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body.
Conception is God’s ultimate handiwork and, as you developed in your mother’s womb, He created you perfectly, to His honour. God created a person with a unique personality, special talents, gifts and abilities, to be developed by special people – your parents. Although that little developing embryo cannot see the people around, he/she can hear them talking and become aware of their emotions and feelings, about the pregnancy and other issues. That little person already felt some emotions, but how to interpret it?…” (Sarita Nortje, Keerpunt Counseling Centre)
Even before birth I heard my mother say that she did not pray about this baby and that it was an unplanned pregnancy. Without knowing or understanding those words were already stored in my unconscious memory.
“There is a connection between the central nervous system and the memory of both unborn and young children. Memories are stored in the central nervous system and brain of an unborn child which will later influence the child’s behavior.” (Daniel Pieterse, Christian Repair and Training Centre)
My grandparents on my father’s side never loved me, apparently because I was meant to be a boy and to carry the family names. That explained why she only ever brought gifts for my sister… she never loved me.
At times it felt as if I had no control over my life! When God, in 1998, showed me my calling of helping others who were struggling with being overweight, I even thought that I must have misunderstood: How could I, weighing 137kg at the time, help others to lose weight and live healthy lives? For many years I ignored that calling.
I tried every diet, tablet, laxative or other method to lose weight and at one stage I even managed to lose a fantastic 43.8kg! It never lasted and all the feelings of hurt and hopelessness remained.
But God never failed me, He was there all along and gradually started to reveal certain truths to me. When I finally cracked and poured out all my hurt and frustration at His feet, His light started to break through. I became aware of all the negative emotions underlying to my problems, things that I was unable to name or understand earlier.
All these negative emotions were the direct results of the rejection I felt all along.
Anger. I was always angry at everyone and everything and reacted with more anger from my side, hardly ever feeling happy, never laughing.
Loneliness. Being a loner I did not have many friends, preferred my own company and often finding solace in reading.
Sadness. I knew my gran did not love me, my mom never said she loved me, my siblings always seemed so happy and I wanted what they had. This left me feeling sad most of the time.
Shame. I was ashamed to admit that my gran did not love me, that I was not a planned part of our family, that I was overweight and that I had no peace about how I looked or felt.
It was necessary for God to take me back more than 60 years on my life’s journey to show me who and how to forgive those who hurt me.
The people that I had to forgive included:
My Dad who do not attend my one and only ever school concert, he promised but never pitched.
My grandparents who always only ever gifted my sister but never gave me any gifts.
My mother for never telling me that she loved me.
The teachers who excluded only 2 other boys and me from taking part in a mass concert at our primary school.
My friend who committed suicide after telling me that he cared for me.
My uncle who cursed me, in his intoxicated state, for dropping and breaking his bottle of alcohol.
My father in law for not treating our children fairly and for how he broke my husband emotionally by not showing any love or affection to him.
My husband for never saying he loved me, for all the years of belittling and degrading remarks about my weight. At times he used to just disappear from home for weeks on end, never letting me know where he was and that he was ok.
Finally God showed me that I needed to forgive myself, which was the most difficult part of this process.
This process of forgiveness and absolution was not easy at all. Only when Holy Spirit showed me that all those who wronged me only acted from within their own hurt and lack of understanding, could I come to terms with it. The more I chose to forgive, with the help of Holy Spirit, and it was a process that took time and is not done yet, the more peace I felt within.
After being able to start forgiving with God’s help, the healing and recovery could also start taking place. He made me aware of all the unhealthy coping mechanisms that I have been using to enable myself to deal with all the negative emotions.
These methods were:
Overeating. The unfulfilled need for love and acceptance was met by overeating and later binge shopping as well. I felt rejected and did not know how to deal with it. Emotional and unhealthy habits of eating replaced all these unmet needs in my life. I did not realise that I felt rejected, just knew that when I felt hurt, unhappy or sad, that something sweet to eat made all the difference in the world.
Impulsive shopping. I spent hundreds of thousands of rand on shopping with nothing to show for it! I which I could turn back time and get a ‘do-over’.
Spirit of criticism. I often made negative remarks about other people’s weight, making me feel better about my own overweight. Manipulation also fit into this category and I was a master at manipulation.
False pride. When I was overweight I did not often participate in discussion and found it hard to befriend others. This often left the impression that I was proud and haughty. In fact, I was hiding my own lack of confidence and self-worth behind a false pretense of pride. I had many masks to hide behind in different situations.
After the process of forgiveness that Holy Spirit guided me through, I needed to start on the road to emotional healing too. I made a conscious decision to keep researching all the relevant information on the topic of rejection as to enable my continuous recovery and healing process. I wanted more of the deliverance that I tasted. I needed to be able to fully recover to the glory of God, who enabled it.
At this time God reminded me of His calling for me, to help others struggling with similar issues and I started feeling more positive about it. Because of an operation that I needed, I had to lose 25kg. In spite of the massive challenge, I disregarded all negative thoughts and focused on the hand of God in my life, who enabled me to be free from all negative emotions.
As I continued on my path to deliverance, I noticed massive changes in my ways of thinking, how I felt and in the way I looked. I took a 4.5km walk every day, followed my healthy eating habits diligently and started noticing the weight, along with all the negative self-talk and feelings, to drop away. It wasn’t easy and there were many times that I still felt disheartened and overwhelmed but God carried me through.
I started living my calling and to live in God’s Holy presence every day all day long still remains my miracle!
The most important lesson that my journey taught me was that no one can permanently shed extra weight as long as they still suffer from emotional hurt and negative feelings. Every one of us need to become physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy, witnessing to the presence of God in our lives, striving for healthy eating and drinking habits, all TO THE GLORY OF GOD!
A few good practices may include to consult someone to assist in budgeting correctly, to get rid of unnecessary debt and to start saving, if impulsive shopping became one of your coping mechanism to help you deal with hurt and other negative feelings.
We should all start the day, looking in the mirror, stating: “You are beautiful. Thank you, God, that you made me in Your image and that You had a plan and goal with my life all along. Thank you for unconditional love and acceptance, from before I was even born. Thank you that I am no mistake.”
Our self-worth and value does not depend on any one person’s opinion and none of us need to feel ashamed or shy.
Try to daily give someone an honest and true compliment, there is no place in your heart for a spirit of criticism. Reach out to others in love and compassion, as a counter act for loneliness. Start every day asking Holy Spirit to fill you with His peace, joy and friendliness. Anger and bitterness do not stand a chance against those blessings from Holy Spirit. Pride does not belong.
As you grow in God’s deliverance from all the negative emotions in your life, with a thankful heart, you will grow in His Grace.
God wants to afford every one of His children life in abundance, we just need to be open to His Spirit’s input in our lives. Keep growing closer to Jesus and find your life’s purpose at the feet of Jesus.
Blessings
Zelna Swart

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