Food For Thought – Part Two

As promised, Reason Number Two for fasting: wanting the Holy Spirit to control my body, not my stomach.

Until we actually give food up, we have absolutely no idea how much it controls us. That is what I’ve been learning the last four years.

Four years ago, some health problems I’d been having for 12 years were finally diagnosed, and I was told that I needed to give up dairy, gluten, and sugar.

Dairy was no problem, but gluten and sugar? Oh, my word. For the first two weeks, I thought I would go completely crazy. I would lie awake in bed at night, wanting bread or sugar. Or both. It was awful. I couldn’t think about anything else, all day long. I actually cried about it.

But I also prayed about it. It really bothered me that my will and self-control was so weak. It was food, for crying out loud. Could I not give it up? Every time I wanted sweets, I was reminded again and again that self-control is a Fruit of the Spirit, and I obviously needed more of it in my life.

I’ve read that it takes two months of never eating sugar for the cravings to go away completely. Cheat even a little bit, and you’re back at square one.

But the really amazing part is that they actually DO go away completely. The girl who used to inhale Fudgee-O’s and chocolate ice cream does not crave sugar anymore – ever! There are moments when delicious desserts are passed around at the lodge here at camp, and I feel a slight longing sometimes, but it goes away immediately, and I don’t find it hard to turn that stuff down anymore.

Now, I have a lot more motivation than the average person – I know that all sorts of heartburn, stomachaches, and discomfort await me if I ever cheat. But I’ve learned a few things:

  • I am stronger than I think I am (in the Holy Spirit, because of self-control being a Fruit of the Spirit)
  • It is MUCH easier for me to never cheat than to just cheat a little bit here and there. Example: A few years ago, I was doing some Christmas baking, and baked a large cookie sheet of squares. I was cutting the edges off, and decided to pop a piece in my mouth. And then I decided to do that again. And again. And suddenly I looked down at my pan, and realized that I had eaten all the edges around the entire pan. I can’t do just a little bit. It’s all or nothing.
  • The moment of temptation lasts for as long as the item is in reach. I did not keep baked sweets in our house for a long time. Now it doesn’t bother me.
  • It gets easier with time.
  • When your husband also stops eating sugar (and loses 10 pounds, just like that!), it makes it even easier!
  • My body started craving other things. Now, a bowl of fruit is a treat for me. Fresh berries are all the dessert I need.

It is not easy. But it is definitely possible.

And it’s not “just food”. To me, it had to become spiritual. I had to go to God with my physical needs, I had to admit that food was controlling my body in ways that it should not be allowed to do.

While I was eating whatever I felt like, I would crave things all the time, and thought it was normal. Now I don’t really crave things at all, and it is an incredibly wonderful, freeing feeling. I enjoy eating entirely different things than before, and I love it. If I were miraculously healed, and were able to eat absolutely anything I wanted to, I wouldn’t go back. I would never have believed that was possible, but that’s how different my body feels now.

But I do have to clarify that I struggle with self-control in other areas, if not sugar. Corn chips get me every time, and then there are all the non-food things, like gossip, critical comments, etc. I’m kinda hoping that self-control “flows” into other areas with time….

So, maybe I don’t know a ton about fasting, as in “going without any food for an extended period of time”, but I do know about giving up some kinds of food. I’ve also tried fasting from other things, like the internet, reading fiction, anything that has gotten out of balance, and started to control too much of my life.

Ben got me to read about fasting in one of his textbooks, and I came across the following quote:

Fasting is an opportunity to lay down an appetite – an appetite for food, for media, for shopping. This act of self-denial may not seem huge – it’s just a meal or a trip to the mall – but it brings us face to face with the hunger at the core of our being….Through self-denial we begin to recognize that controls us. Our small denials of the self show us how little taste we actually have for sacrifice or time with God. (“Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us”, by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun)

So those are my thoughts. You can gladly leave your thoughts in the comment section! I’m curious how other people feel about fasting.

Bonus Tidbit: If you want extra reading about what sugar is actually doing to your body, check out this article. Interesting, disturbing reading!


Next week, our family is going away. We’re not going on vacation, exactly….We’re going to visit the Mayo Clinic in the States, and I’m going to spend the week seeing a bunch of specialists and going through tests, which I don’t anticipate as being very pleasant, but am still really looking forward to, in a weird kind of a way.

So I had this dilemma – do I get a bunch of blog posts ready that have nothing to do with what we’re actually doing, or do I just be honest, and write a post about health stuff? Obviously, I opted for the health post. For a few reasons: I’m don’t like to keep secrets, it would be kind of hard to disguise the fact that we’re gone for over a week, and I want my blog to be an honest reflection of my life, rather than a place where I can try to fool everybody into thinking that I have the perfect life.

Reasons why I didn’t want to write about it? I absolutely hate it when people think I’m “sickly”. I love it when people care and show interest and concern in my life, but I think that everyone in the town I grew up in thinks of me as the “sickly” one, and if I ever go to see my parents or attend church with them, EVERYONE asks me about my health.

Also, I’ve noticed that people don’t actually want to hear about other people’s health problems. It can be boring, or gross, or both, and sometimes I think that people ask about my health because they’re not sure what else to say. It’s like commenting on the weather. But like I said, I know that there are people who truly care, and I am very grateful for that.

So here’s the deal: If you care about what we’re doing this next week, gladly read on, but if not, skip this post and go read something else. I won’t be offended. (But please don’t think of me as a sickly person!! I don’t like that.)

To sum it all up, my body does not like digesting food. I’ve been tested for a few different things, including Celiac Disease, but doctors have never been able to figure it out exactly. I’ve dealt with it for 12 years, and sometimes things were worse, and sometimes they were better. When we decided to move here to camp, I was going through an incredibly stressful time in my life. I’d just had a miscarriage and was not dealing with it well, and the stress of selling our house, packing everything up, and leaving our friends took it’s toll on me. I noticed that it affected my health significantly, and it was a very difficult time.

Because we really wanted to have a baby, I avoided having any of the very invasive tests done that my doctor suggested at that time, because that would mean putting off getting pregnant. My sister-in-law kept suggesting that I go see her Naturopath doctor, which I thought was kind of ridiculous at first, but after about a year, I figured I might as well, because what did I have to lose?

My first appointment was three hours long. After hearing my whole story, the doctor told me that she was quite sure I had Candida Albicans, but she would have testing done. Turns out that the tests showed she was right, which basically means that I have a yeast infection in my intestines.

Anytime I eat sugar, it feeds the yeast infection. But “sugar” means dairy, flour, very sweet fruits, or anything full of carbs – the body digests all of those things really quickly. That’s bad for a yeast infection, but also bad because they go straight to the blood stream and make my blood sugar levels shoot up, which is why I would feel dizzy and generally yucky sometimes. (I don’t know a lot about medical stuff, by the way, this is just my understanding of what has been told to me.)

So, my naturopath doctor helped me learn what to eat, and how to combine foods so that my body could easier handle the things getting put into it. I feel SO MUCH better than I have in the last 12 years, but I feel that it’s time to take things one step farther. Although I feel a lot better, the Candida is not going away, as it normally would when someone does all of the things I’ve been doing for the last 3 years.

Since we now have our baby, and she isn’t so much of a baby anymore, I’ve been feeling like it’s time to get checked out from top to bottom to find out what the deal is. My naturopath feels that there is still some issue that is undiagnosed, which is keeping my body from healing completely.

All of those tests could be done here, but it would take months and months. Living two hours from the city makes it really hard to get to appointments, and so going away for a week and getting everything done in one shot seems like a good fit for our family right now.

Another difficulty has always been that the doctors I’ve seen try to diagnose me one symptom at a time, and I’ve been sent to this specialist or that, and ended up nowhere. At Mayo, all of the specialists work together to diagnose the body as a whole. Apparently the place is really amazing, so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.

It’s time for a change in my life. I’m not expecting the doctors at Mayo to give me every answer I’ll ever need, but I feel like it’s a step that I need to take.

Along with that, I’m starting to see that my mental, emotional, and spiritual approach to my health needs to change.

For so long, I saw myself as an unhealthy person, but lately, I’ve been realizing that it needs to stop. I am not sickly, I’m not prevented from living a full, wonderful life. I am able to enjoy my family, to be active, to do everything that I would like to do. While I’m underweight and not as strong as I would like to be, I deal with some physical discomfort on a daily basis, and I’m on a very restricted diet, I do not live the life of a “sick” person. And yet I wouldn’t call myself a fully “healthy” person, either. But “unhealthy” sounds so negative, that I’ve decided to consider myself “unsick”. I’m not sick anymore, and I’m on my way to healthy! Here’s hoping that this next week will help me on that journey.

So chances are, this blog will most likely take on a health theme for the next week! Writing helps me to heal in mental and emotional ways, and I want to share that here. I read once that when we share our stories, healing happens for the person telling, and for the person hearing. As I’ve found many times before, when I’m experiencing something, so often someone else is experiencing it, too.

I’ve also found that any issue usually comes back to my relationship with God and my faith in Him, so chances are good that the “health” issues I work through will have a lot to do with “heart” issues.

I’m looking forward to seeing what will all be unearthed this week! Feel free to “join” our family on our little road trip adventure!