Have you ever heard of “brain hijack’? If you want to stop overeating, you need to know what it means and why it’s the real reason you overeat.
In this article, we will cover the following topics:
- Why Overeating is Detrimental to Christians
- What is Brain Hijacking?
- 4 Steps to Overcome Brain Hijacking
Why Overeating is Detrimental to Christians
Why is overeating such a detrimental issue, especially for Christians?
1 Peter 5:8 warns us: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
Certain types of foods interfere with your ability to be sober, vigilant, and focused on the purpose to which God has called you.
What is Brain Hijacking?
Scientists once did an experiment on rats to determine the nature of drug addiction.
They trained the rats to press a little bar and they would receive a small dose of cocaine.
At first, the rats would press the bar just a few times a day. Eventually though, the rats became so addicted that they would press the bar dozens of times a day, even forgoing food and water just so they could get their fix.
The scientists discovered that when the rats anticipated the drug, it lit up the brain’s pleasure/reward center, the nucleus accumbens. When this area of the brain is stimulated, it naturally makes you feel good.
However in this case, the brain was lit up for a dark purpose – drug addiction. The term “brain hijack” describes this process.
If you are currently binging on food, then you too are suffering from “brain hijack”. It is most likely that your brain is sensitive to sugar.
When you overeat, you are lighting up your brain’s reward center – but it’s ultimately for a dark purpose.
It didn’t start out that way. Just like the rats, all you wanted was to feel good. You made the connection that high sugar foods make you feel good.
But soon, your brain’s pleasure center was hijacked and, in spite of logic and the Holy Spirit’s warning, you found yourself unable to stop.
John 10:10 says,
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…”
You know logically that overeating consistently causes you to gain excess weight, which can destroy your health.
However, overeating is not logical; it is emotional.
That is why it is critical that you learn to secure your emotions with God’s truth. The Bible says:
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any (1 Corinthians 6:12).”
In other words, you can eat anything but you shouldn’t eat everything – especially if you know a particular food is not helpful to you.
So how can you take your brain back?
You have to re-train your brain to seek other sources of pleasure in life besides food.
God built the nucleus accumbens for a good purpose – it enables you to enjoy life but in ways that are good, not bad for you.
4 Steps to Overcome Brain Hijacking
Here are 4 ways you can start to take your brain back:
1. Prayer. Your first line of defense is to ask the Lord in prayer for help. In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus said that you should pray not to be led into temptation. So before you start your day, pray “Do not lead me into temptation, but deliver me from the evil one (see Luke 11:4).”
2. Remove temptation. Say this statement out loud: “The best way to win a fight is to avoid getting into one in the first place.” It is a principle from the martial arts.
The martial artist only fights when she has to; she doesn’t go around picking fights to prove how big and bad she is.
In a similar way, you know which foods trigger your binges. Stop picking fights with them.
Get them out of your house, your desk, or wherever you keep them.
Stop leading yourself into temptation.
This is different from forbidding yourself to have certain foods.
When you tell yourself you will never have a food again, all that does is activate the rebellious (sin) nature within all of us.
Instead, you tell yourself that you are making a wise, empowered choice to remove yourself from harm.
It is no different from a person deciding not to eat a food to which they are allergic!
Does a person really have to fight with themselves not to eat a food that they know will make them itch, swell up, or cause sickness?
I don’t think so.
Is it a food that you think you can’t live without? Are you thinking you will die if you don’t have it? That is a serious warning sign that this food has power over you.
The enemy has likely set up a stronghold in your mind.
You need the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and power to get free from it. And you need to be diligent to take such thoughts captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Here’s another tip. When you prepare your plate, look at the side of your fist. The human stomach is naturally that size. So fix your plate to be an appropriate size to satisfy your body’s hunger only.
If you overfill your plate, you will be tempted to eat it all – whether your body needs it or not.
Control your portions to avoid the overeating fight.
3. Build pleasure into your daily life. Here are some activities that also light up your nucleus accumbens, but in healthy ways. These are a NECESSARY part of your healing, so take time for them daily.
Take them as seriously as you would a prescription from your doctor:
- Good music (especially praise music)
- Laughter (funny movie or clean joke book)
- Massages or using a foot roller
- Warm baths or showers
- Body stretching
- Learning new and interesting things
- Sex (marrieds)
I suggest making a list of other things that have brought you healthy pleasure in the past. Then get creative as to how you can introduce them back into your life.
4. Praise. Play praise music that you love. When I do it, my brain starts feeling good worshiping the Lord. I’m lighting up my nucleus accumbens. By the time the song is over, the urge to eat is no longer there. I just took back my brain!
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why is it so hard to stop overeating?” then you now have an answer.
Depending on how long your brain has been hijacked, it may take time for you to take it back.
But, this work is not optional.
You want to obey the Biblical directive not to be brought under the power of those things that harm you.
God desires only good for you.
Remember the wise words of Jesus:
My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work (John 4:34).”
May God bless you as you seek to do His will in every area!
Be Blessed with Health, Healing, and Wholeness,
Author of the Take Back Your Temple program
P.S. Do you struggle with overeating sugar? If so, you are not alone!
Overcoming sugar addiction was a key factor on my journey to losing 85 pounds and dropping from a size 22 to a size 8.
In our 14-day Sugar Detox Challenge online course (inside the Take Back Your Temple program), you’ll get the same success strategies and support to gain peace in your eating habits and achieve lasting weight loss.
Click here to learn more about the Take Back Your Temple program.
“Prayer for Weight Loss”
i dont eat sugar food but i do eat alot of foods that are healthy, no dairy, low bread carbs, alot of fruit and veggies and chicken and fish and eggs, low caffine…but alls I think about is food and when i can eat i never feel full. i know it is spiritual. i can be doing so good for months then i fall deep. i cant hardly taste the food either so i really dont even enjoy it. it has gotten worse for me this past 3 months. fast eat fast eat a cycle…i pray for help. im in ministry school and have felt so far from God and not sure why im in this bondage. any ideas??? im not to over weight but going from 145 to 120 to 145 2 to 3 times a year isnt healthy either.
Hi Jen – thank you for writing! Regarding the Spiritual issue, the first thing I’d recommend is checking your view of God. Many people have barriers in that area. The other thing I recommend is to ensure the scale has not become an idol to you (scale worship). I believe these articles will give you insight:
If you need community support on your healing journey, check out our Take Back Your Temple program: https://takebackyourtemple.com/program
I’m so thankful I found you online. I’m struggling with gluttony. I ask for prayer as I want to change and believe I can change. I need to lose 75 pounds and the rate I’m going, itll be more. Will be checking out your resources. Thank you for this.
Excellent, Kristin -I agree with you in prayer!
Thank you so much for sharing this article. I am a sugar addict for sure. I need a thorough detox. Help please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You are definitely in the right place, Deb!
Such a terrific article. I just always want to hug you Kim for using your many gifts. To God be the glory and again Thank you for answering HIS call on your life !!!!
I appreciate that confirmation, Chris! This truly is a Spiritual battle and we all benefit when we use the gifts God has given us to strengthen others. May He be glorified!
Thank you so much Sister Kimberly. The Lord led me here through you. I have a question. By building pleasure into our everyday life by making something else (other than God) the source of our pleasure, doesn’t it start to place itself above God? Shouldn’t God be the pleasure of our life. That sense of comfort and home comes from God
Hi Giselle – We put God first. God gave us our 5 senses as a blessing. For example, He did not have to give us taste buds to enjoy food. But He did. So no, it is not idolatry to enjoy good music, good food, or anything else good as long as we seek God’s kingdom first.
God bless you ma’am, this was really useful
Glad to hear that, Lydia!
I like to please receive information from you via my email-thank you.
Hi Marilyn – I will add you to our email list. God bless you!
YES!!!! Sugar is the beast that controls me!!! Very hard to do without
Hi Judy – thanks for writing. Sugar doesn’t have to control you – as a child of God, you have His spirit within you to give you the wisdom, strength, and power to get free. But the question to start overcoming is – do you want and believe that you can live differently? Until the answer to both questions is ‘Yes,’ then change will escape you. The second question would be – just because it is hard, does that mean you won’t try? Each of us gets to choose how we go through life. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want any ”beast” controlling me. Abundant life is your inheritance – submit to God and resist the enemy…he must flee!
Wow that is awesome!
Wise and beautiful comments and insights. Thanks for sharing. Fascinating about the rats and also great encouragement about healthy things to enjoy!! Blessings and love!!
This is amazing! Thank you!
You are welcome, Dee – glad you found it helpful!
Thank you so much. This was so helpful to read. Lately I’ve been eating a lot and I don’t really understand why. I know we all battle with spiritual warfare so if anyone’s reading this out there I really appreciate prayer in this area. Thank you.
You’ve got it Monique! I pray the Lord open your Spiritual eyes in this matter and show you 1 small step to take to start writing a different story for your life 🙂
Praying! God has helped me recently by supplying other believers on a similar journey who have experienced freedom. Blessings to you and yours. You can experience freedom and be healed as well, I believe. One step at a time, one day at a time, may God provide you the resources and support and willingness to change that you desire!
Hi Kimberly, I thank God for you. You have become a source of wisdom and focused biblical teaching that #1 I have been called to and #2 I am currently failing in my battle. Please pray for me to stop struggling and to start releasing myself to God’s leading. Sugar and sugar producing foods are my biggest foes right now, then portion control. Thank you in advance for your prayers and your encouragement and all these resources! Bless you Girl!
Thank you Kimberly. I have recently been under conviction for gluttonous behavior. It’s so true that it carries over into every part of your life. Ive been delivered from other addictions and know the Lord will complete the work He begin in me through teaching and guidence from others and submission and repentance as I learn.
Amen, Cindy – that is the way to freedom!
Its very true! We sometimes counsel people with spiritual solutions and not address the person holistically! We are spirit, soul, and body! This message can be used for other strongholds as well in Jesus name !! Lujah!!
Thank you for your comment, Mario – God bless you!
That is an empowering article! I find much truth in the scriptures and what you went through Kim. I never thought about addictions/brain hijack in that way. Thank you so much!
Thanks for this article! I see myself in this article. Every word describes how I feel concerning sweets and late night snacking. This article is a keeper. I thank God for your wisdom and love for desiring to HELP others!
You are welcome, Kimberly – we can overcome through Jesus Christ!
Reading this article, brought about conviction and relief. Food is not a requirement for my emotional well being, yet needed as fuel (like a car needs gas). For the first time in my 53 years of
life I see food as it should be viewed. A need for the continual well being of my body.
Kimberly, thank you so much.
I read this article a few days ago and am glad you redirected me to it from another blog post. The picture of the stomach being the size of my fist was an eye opener and I’m trying to use that as I put my food portions on my plate.
I generally keep tempting foods out of the house, but the holidays were difficult since our daughters sent us treats which I didn’t get rid of soon enough. The old lie surfaced, “Hurry up and eat this stuff so it won’t be there to tempt you.”
I can’t do some of your suggestions because of physical limitations – walking used to be a way out for me — but I can put on praise music and am going to do so right now.
Thank you, Kim for this article. My take away is that I need to stop picking fights with food. That is quite a visual. I could think about the food that I have picked fights with and lost. This is so timely with the holiday just around the corner. Thank you! Blessings!
You are welcome, Robyn. I’ve found life is a lot less stressful with the food fights out of your life 🙂
I don’t often comment on your articles although I read them often. I have had a rough few weeks. My first inclination is to overeat. What you wrote (both today’s blog and the reference to this one) have been really helpful for me to see the trap the enemy has kept me in for so long.
I really hope to get a chance to meet you one day. I believe I read that you live in Chicago? My son lives there also but we are in Roscoe (just north of Rockford).
Thank you for always being willing to be transparent to point others to the glory of God. I believe when we are transparent with our struggles, it touches people’s hearts so much more than empty platitudes. Although the Scriptures we speak as a correct answer are true, they don’t carry the weight (no pun intended lol) that our overcoming testimonies in Jesus do. It’s like the seeds (Word of God) planted in our hearts germinate during the trials and then burst forth like fruit on the tree as we truly become one with Jesus (who is the Word). Again, thanks. I needed to read this today.
It is such a relief and answer to prayer to read this, I feel like God has handed me an olive branch, there is hope!
Praise God, Hannah! The best way to change is to take small steps in the right direction. In time, you will get there!
Thank you Kimberly for the continued encouragement.
I always believe in the quote ” music soothe the salvage beast” Our minds can be a beast at times when it get all jumble up with so many things; so when you soothe it with spirtual music; it make good sense to me. Thanks.
Words of wisdom I keep posted is “The Body Achieves what the mind Believes” and “God Got Me/US”!
God continued Blessing on you and yours!
I have not put this article into a file yet, cause I need to read it often. I have just put on my praise of worship music and my mind is back where it needs to be. Thank you for being right on target with your posts.
God bless you.
I am not a victim either, I Am Victorious through Jesus Christ who strengthens me. No more woe is me. I am a soldier for Christ. In order to fight this tough fight, this life and death fight for me, I have to put on my entire Armor of God. I know the fight is won but now I am ready! I am ready! I am ready to walk in the manifestation of victory. The Lord keeps showing me that I will go through a metamorphosis, a complete spiritual/physical transformation. I am ready!
I am agreeing with you in prayer that you are ready, Danel! Just remember…renewing your mind is not something to do once in a while, but daily. Remember Romans 12:2 – “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The world speaks to you every day so God’s people must be intentional about listening for His voice and feeding His word into our minds every day. As you listen for His voice and His word – and obey it – that is when the transformation takes place over time. So please be sure that you are giving the process time to work. It is through faith and patience that you will inherit God’s promises. Stay blessed!
Great article!! This is an “aha” moment for me!!!
Thanks Maria – it was for me too!
And it is for me as well.
This is one of the best weight loss articles I have ever read. Thank you so much for writing this. I read it on Facebook on the Charismamag page. It truly spoke to me. I could identify myself in everything you said. Now, I want to begin to implement the steps you have suggested to take back my brain!! Thank you again for this article.
You are welcome Teresa. It may not be easy to un-hijack your brain but you will feel better once you get clear. God bless you on this journey!
Thanks for the the wonderful encouragement Kimberly. The lord has TRUELY anointed you for this purpose.
I’ve spent many years in a weight loss group and decided I needed a TRUELY Christian group. Amen…
I’ve been asking God to show me his ways and the renewal of my mind. I’ve had a 30 pound weight gain in the last 2 years. I feel very uncomfortable in my body but again asking the lord to show me his ways out of the bondage of yoyo dieting.
I saw a post on Facebook that said. “Own your choices…NO REGRETS!!!
I realized I was thinking with a victim mentality. I am not a victim.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I will own my choices and not live in regret.
Thanks for the love and support. Cathy
You are welcome Cathy! I give the glory to God. You are right – you are not a victim, but victorious in Christ Jesus. Since you mentioned the victim mentality, you might also want to check out this article on getting rid of thinking patterns that sabotage you: The Belief Systems that Keep you Overweight.
Your post was encouraging tome. I am also not a victim and have been thinking that way. Even with my cancer, God will get me the help I will need from somewhere if not from my husband . God bless you.
I have found the download of the “Feel Good” book and will start devouring it very shortly. I am dealing with melanoma cancer and cannot exercise at all and that is hurting working your program but I can still stretch when I have the energy, but no more dancing for now 🙁
Praying for your healing Sue. You know my philosophy – do what you can, with what you have, where you are. I praise God that you are not giving up!
I failed to mention that my Neurologist is increasing a medication to try and stop the head tic so that I can have major eye surgeries. I have had three so far. The med causes weight gain. I have a tremendous appetite right now and just remembered what it did to me the last time I was put on it at even a higher dosage. I put on a lot of weight till they finally took me off of it. I am sitting here eating one healthy food after the other and can’t seem to stop. I’m on this med for a reason cause the last time I had the other major eye surgery done they put me on something that worked very well but it put me into a six month deep depression. I am bi-polar so they do not want to give that to me again. At least it didn’t increase my appetite. The one I am on even when I was eating less, I could only maintain. Now at a higher dose I am discouraged cause it is much more difficult to take off the weight again. Praise God I am not morbidly obese and I sometimes cry for those who are when I sponsor them in OA, but I don’t want to head in that direction either. I pray God will soften my husband’s heart that he may be more sensitive to what he brings in and also that he will change his mind about not helping me after the cancer surgery cause he thinks I will not need it and will just act like it to make him do something he does not want to do. Divorce is not the answer, but I sure wonder at times. Thank you for being there for all of us. May the Hold Spirit continue to fill you to overflowing as you help us through our issues.
Wow, that hit me right to the core. I am part of your program, but don’t remember receiving that book as part of the program. Ever since you sent the article about doing something good for yourself every day (I believe it was from you) I have been increasing my time of listening to praise and worship music. When I am able I dance to it. What a blessing. I have been in this disease for a long time and it will not go away overnight. Any advice for those of us who who have family members that bring into the house, into the freezer especially that we have no control over it and see it quite often??? God bless your work you put into this, Kim.
I love using praise music in my day because scripture says God inhabits the praise of His people so when I play that, I enter into His presence more readily. Now about your question about family members bringing foods that are problems for you. I have to deal with that sometimes with my husband. Early on in our marriage, I found myself gaining some weight because he was bringing in cookies and candies that were problems for me. I had to humble myself, sit him down and explain my situation. I asked him if he brings that stuff in, to put it somewhere I can’t see it. That goes for the fridge and freezer too. If I see it, I just push it into the back. Same with the pantry so I don’t have to see it. Here is an article I wrote about this as well: Get out of my sight temptation. Just be sure that you have delicious, nutritious alternatives in your house because if those are the only foods in your house, you can forget it. That is what you will eat and no amount of resolve will help. So you need to set up your home environment to win. Finally, to help myself lose the weight again, I used the LoseIt app to track my intake. That helps give you a reality check to help you see what you are REALLY eating and makes it hard to deceive yourself.
I am not in a good relationship and he just says “divorce me” when I speak up no matter how nicely I speak. Most of the time I am not even heard. Funny, I am using the Lose It sight. Love it, but have a hard time tracking some of the foods I eat if they are not very simple foods. Fellowship dinner after church functions are not simple. I have to try and figure out how many kidney beans, etc are in the salad I eat. Any suggestions on that. I am going through melanoma cancer right now and am weaker than usual and he still doesn’t listen or ease up on the things that cannot be kept out of my sight is in the house. Thank you.
Hi Sue, I am praying for the Holy Spirit to give you comfort and wisdom to deal with the challenges in this season of your life. Regarding the Lose it! app and combination foods, you don’t have to figure out how many kidney beans are in a salad. That would drive me crazy! Under Search Foods, search for ‘Salad bean’ and examples of bean salads will come up. Or try ‘Salad pasta.’ If you don’t see the exact match, then you select the closest one that matches. The other alternative for combination foods that aren’t in the database is to look up the calories in Google, then use the Create Food option within LoseIt to add it.
Praise the Lord for his mercy and perfect timing as always! This article is wonderfully written at such a time much needed! Thank you Lord for conveying your wisdom through Kimberly in such an understanding and down to earth form!
22 It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
Thank you for the confirmation, Shawny! All glory to God!
I am like those rats hooked on cocaine. Many years ago I realized that I connected with alcohol and drug addicts because of this satisfying feeling that I get from my “drug”, food. It mostly is junk food such as chips, sodas, and anything with or claiming to have chocolate on or in it. It is as if my mind goes blank or black when I eat it and as soon as it is gone, all of my thoughts and problems come back and I am hunting a way to calm my thoughts all over again. This article expresses it well. I can surely relate!
Amen, Patty. I am glad that you are walking in light of the truth. God also gave me some insight into that blank or black feeling you get with overeating and it gave me chills. Check this article out as well: The Supernatural Danger of Binge Eating.
Thank you Father. This is a much needed word because I truly could not understand why i would overeat and then ask God what was wrong with me… Well here’s my answer. Im following these steps starting today. God bless you.
I thank God that you are not only being a hearer of the Word, but a doer Lenora. You will be abundantly blessed!
I’m beginning to learn the difference between eating to live and living to eat. Though I know the difference between condemnation and conviction, I have felt a lot of condemnation about failing at this. The Scriptures are showing me that I just need to lean on Jesus during my transformation because there is no condemnation in Christ.
Danel, it sounds like you’ve had a breakthrough in renewing your mind. Keep filling your mind with God’s truth and walking it out in your daily choices. Pretty soon, your outside will start matching the person you are inside. The seeds have been planted. Just keep watering them every day and you will eventually reap a great harvest!
Awesome word , had no idea this was my problem i have been struggling with . Will try to clear a way to be able to join this program. Awesome!!! thank you for the information and God bless!
I have been starting to walk again, and I listen to worship/praise music and or teachings while i walk, and it makes me feel better. Before i know it, the walk is done and i feel so much better!!!
Amen, Sheila! This is a day-by-day process and each one of us get to choose how we want to live our days. Do we want to live in freedom or bondage to food? It sounds like you have chosen the path to freedom and I celebrate with you 🙂
True revelation! I have never seen this explained in such a clear and understandable way. God bless you!
You are welcome, Kathy. To God be the glory!
Thank you and thank The Lord for this timely information!
You are welcome, Julie – to God be the glory!
Great article!! Just what I needed!!
Wonderful Alane. God is faithful!
Wow. Im so challenged. Now i understand why i eat like i do. Its not about the food. Its about what im going through and past issues that i havent dealt with so i turn to food. iv decided to take a hold of my life. Remove all fear and anxiety and trust in God for help. Thanks
Yesterday I prayed for help. I just couldn’t stop eating. This morning before I got out of bed I gave it all to God. I knew if I didn’t I’d just fail again. I got up and checked my messages and there it was. Tools from God in answer to my prayer. Thank you.
Praise Him along with you, Kirsty!
Day 2 had some really tricky moments! I couldn’t believe it would get hard so quickly but praise God I asked for help and did something else. Also realised I hadn’t made provision for healthy pleasures. Which I need to…
Praise God for the journey Kirsty. All the efforts you are make it will be worth it. Hold on tight to your confidence in the Lord and don’t let go!
Inyeresting. Thank you for steoping up and helping others “Take back our temple”