“The Secret Shame” sounds like a tawdry romance novel, doesn’t it?
Yet, it was how I felt during my past history of overeating. I’ve been taking another look at that habit through a book by neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf called “Who Switched Off My Brain?”
If you are still dealing with this habit, then this new perspective can help set you free! The root word of shame means “to cover.”
Do you really want to spend the rest of your life hiding or covering up?
In the book, Dr. Leaf says that emotions fall into 2 categories: fear-based emotions or faith-based emotions.
Toxic thoughts (those that oppose God’s word) yield fear-based emotions. Some examples of fear-based emotions are shame, self-hatred, bitterness, and self-pity.
Healthy thoughts (those in line with God’s word) yield faith-based emotions. Most of us want to live in these emotions daily, such as love, joy, and peace.
Shame can occur when you see your behavior falling short of your standards.
My standard was that I only wanted to eat when my body was hungry and stop eating when my body was satisfied. But I found myself failing to meet my standard. I ate out of emotion, not hunger. Plus, I often ate until the point of physical discomfort (stuffed).
In Romans 7:24-25, the apostle Paul gives the solution: “…Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”
You can change negative behaviors through operating with the mind of Christ.
Dr. Leaf says that you can trace every toxic behavior (such as overeating or other addictions) all the way back to a toxic thought.
Your toxic thought may be different, but here is the one that drove my overeating:
“I can’t handle it if I don’t eat this.”
Eating was the crutch I leaned on to cope with any unpleasant emotion or internal conflict.
The next time you find yourself engaging in a toxic behavior, take out a piece of paper and start writing the thoughts that come into your head.
A good way to flush out a toxic thought is to imagine yourself NOT doing the behavior. What fearful thought arises?
The thought that defends the behavior is the one supporting it!
The only way to get yourself out of that cycle is to take that thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Leaf’s book gives a practical way to do this: Ask, Answer, Discuss.
- Ask: Ask yourself, “Is this thought true?”
- Answer: To evaluate if the thought is true, you must compare it with God’s word. God’s word is truth so if the thought disagrees with God’s word, it is a lie.
In my case, “I can’t handle it if I don’t eat this” was a lie.
- Discuss: After deciding whether the thought is true in your answer, then you must be able to tell yourself why. Here was my answer to that lie: “God is the source of my strength, not food. He empowers me to do everything He calls me to do so I can handle this. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
After discussing with yourself internally, then you need to decide on a new action to practice rather than overeating.
In my case, I decided to have a cup of non-sugared hot herbal tea instead. The smell of the tea and its warmth was pleasant, plus as I sipped I could focus on God and the resources He has already given me to handle the situation.
Going through this process gets you out of the fear-based cycle into the faith-based cycle. According to Dr. Leaf, it takes 4 days of consistent action to break down toxic thoughts.
However, you also need to build healthy thoughts in their place, along with new faith-based actions. The whole process takes a minimum of 21 days, however it can be longer depending on how long you’ve thought this way. Be patient with yourself during your change process.
This is what you can expect when you take your thoughts captive:
Faith Emotion: Peace. You may feel uncomfortable denying yourself of that behavior, but God has you in His hands. You have no reason to fear. He upholds you with His righteous right hand. You are safe.
Faith Action: Instead of overeating, you can drink a cup of non-sugared herbal tea as I did or practice another action to relieve stress and get yourself to focus on God.
Faith Emotion #2: When you act according to your standards, you can expect increased confidence.
Here is another benefit of getting free from toxic thoughts and toxic behaviors: Love, joy, and peace are fruits of God’s Spirit. When you demonstrate them, you glorify God (see Galatians 5:22-23 and John 15:8).
So I believe when you make this process a priority, you are doing Kingdom work and enabling yourself to fully glorify God in body and Spirit!
Be blessed with health, healing, and wholeness,
Creator of the Take Back Your Temple program
P.S. When it comes to weight loss, do you often know what you should do but have a hard time doing it?
I struggled with this issue on my own weight loss journey, but I discovered that “Nothing is different until you think differently.” – Pastor James MacDonald
The value of the Take Back Your Temple program is that you will learn how to think differently through using Biblical keys to overcome obstacles. You’ll discover how to win the Spiritual and mental battle that often causes us to become inconsistent and get off-track on our weight loss journey.
Join a community of like-minded Christians losing weight and keep it off.
Click here to learn more about the Take Back Your Temple program
I came across this website today. A friend of mine had mentioned to me a different “biblically” based weight loss program. I was very excited, and already thinking of getting ladies at church involved, I thought I better do some Internet investigating, before bringing it to the elders!!!! Upon some research, found some interesting, to say the least, things about that program and the more I found out, the more I knew it was not a program for my church, or myself!!!! That is when I found your website, and clicked on it. I am pleasantly pleased. I attend Cornerstone Community Church, Hobart, In. If you put a “name” on it, we are Evangelical. So I need and want a program that is Biblically based, that speaks from God’s word, which is the TRUTH. I would love to start a women’s small group at my church, where it is like “weight watcher’s”, we get together do a weigh in, share healthy recipes, eat a healthy snack, have a lesson, but a biblical one pertaining to weigh loss, and things you have mentioned, fears and etc. Is there an actual program, workbook, DVD’s, to purchase? Where I have the materials and outline to possibly start a small group? Please let me know thank you!!!!
Thank you for writing me! To answer your question, I do have materials for small groups. You can learn more here:
If you like, I will be happy to send you a free PDF copy of the Leader’s guide for you to evaluate. Just let me know.
Great article and so true. If your faith isn’t being fed, your spirit is starving. What a wonderful mental image this left me with. And… I am at 11 lbs negative. Praise G-d and thank you.
Amen, Lavonne! Congratulations on your weight loss too 🙂
This is exactly what one of my quiet times was about yesterday & the exact same type of application too. My dad used Caroline Leaf’s book a few years ago when he ran a Christ centerd weight-loss class at church. Thanks for the confirmation Lord!! <3 it! This is sooo needed & helpful Thank-you.
Thanks Cindy – our church theme this year is “The Year of Confirmation.” God is confirming His word in great measure to me this year!
This article is so true. I tell myself that I deserve a reward like a cookie when I have worked hard but there is also a higher reward in exercising self control and not being mastered by my flesh.
Absolutely, Mary Lou. Another scripture God gave me during those times when I am tempted to eat when I am not hungry is Romans 12:1. I make it my confession during those times: “I am presenting my body to You as a living sacrifice, Lord, holy, acceptable, and pleasing to You, which is my reasonable service.” That helps me to put my focus where it belongs.
This article hits home with me. I don’t think I realized how much shame was coming from this area until I read this. There is a ongoing family issue that I need to address with the truth. Food has become my drug of choice when dealing with it instead of turning to God and his word. I have become more and more isolated because of the shame. I need support but I’m not sure where to get it. I am wanting to deal with the
overeating God’s way. Fear is
such a part of this struggle. I have been overweight all my
life. I can’t imagine being free
from this food addiction. I need to take baby steps in this area. I know God will help me.