Healing From Food Addiction
by Janet Eriksson
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All my life, Iíve suffered with an eating disorder and food addiction. I didnít notice it when I was young, because I was so energetic and skinny and seemingly healthy. I ignored the signs when I was in college Ė likewise healthy, athletic, slim and trim Ė even though fellow students told me my eating habits were atrocious. As I got into my late-20s, living in an oppressed environment in a dysfunctional marriage Ė my eating disorder caught up with me. I got really sick and my weight shot way up.
The situation continued until I was 40. That was seven years ago. Then two amazing things happened. One: God healed me of my illnesses and removed me from an oppressive environment into a brand new life. Two: A year later, I began a process of inner healing through prayer ministry. On this journey, the Lord began to bring to light and heal my issues with eating disorder and food addiction.
Today I am on the road to genuine healing. Iíve lost the impulse to overeat, and Iím learning to eat the right way, with Godís help. I want to share some of this healing journey, as an encouragement to you, that if youíre struggling with an eating disorder, turn to the only one who can give you lasting help. God made you. He designed your body carefully, perfectly, with the greatest love imaginable. If your body has gotten out of balance, He is the one who can bring back the balance and peace. He is the one who can heal you.
Where did my struggle with food originate? I am the first to admit: I like food. I always have. But I know lots of people who like food that arenít overweight. Why has it been a problem for me?
Through prayer ministry Ė inner healing Ė God has shown me why food became such a source of grief in my life. He didnít show me just to show me. He showed me all this to heal me.
Prayer ministry is getting at the roots and receiving genuine healing from Christ, deep in my heart, at the places where Iíve carried wounds, believed in lies, and locked myself in chains. One by one, He shines a huge flashlight on each place, shows me what caused my heart to believe a lie, how that lie affects me today, and leads me in repentance and forgiveness. Then He does what I have no words to explain. He moves into that place, not hindered by time or space, and touches my heart with His healing power. Just like that, the lies and the wounds are gone, and my behavior today changes dramatically, right in that instant.
Prayer ministry doesnít have me digging around in the past, looking for roots to pull up. I come to prayer ministry with the things that are dysfunctional in my life today. And I ask God to heal those things. By the leading of the Holy Spirit, He targets one root at a time with that big flashlight. And the healing begins.
Iíve been on a journey of inner healing for six years now. My desire is to get closer to God and to become the person He created me to be. He has led this healing journey by bringing things to light in my daily life, which I then seek for deeper healing in prayer ministry. So itís not that this whole journey has been about my eating disorder. But God has addressed it along the way. In some areas of my healing, the journey has seemed fast and marked with incredible victories. With regard to the eating disorder, the healing journey has often felt like a long process, and sometimes discouraging. Just when I think the end is in sight, another avalanche falls in the way. Thatís simply His process of healing, letting things come to light as my heart is ready. He knows what Iím ready for, and when, and how.
My encouragement to you, if you are seeking Godís help for an eating disorder, is to persist in prayer and healing. Donít give up. He has the plan for your healing and He will get you there. He hasnít given up on you, nor will He ever. Donít give up on Him.
Whatís that old saying, ďItís darkest before the dawnĒ? Thatís how I felt until very recently Ė the dark part, that is. As far as I could tell, God had taken me down every conceivable road of healing, but still that food problem sprang back up. I was starting to wonder if I would ever find freedom and healing in that part of my life.
I took heart in a prophetic word given to me that God would finish what He had started with regard to my healing. Sometimes I felt like that promise was all I had, and it was enough. I kept pressing in for healing, even when it seemed like I was out of options. Even when I reverted continually to unhealthy eating behavior. I kept pressing in. I kept believing that somehow, He was still working, even when I couldnít feel it.
And He was.
I feel led to share parts of this healing journey as encouragement to you: Your prayers are being heard and answered. What I will share are stepping stones on my journey, and each personís journey is unique. The roots in my heart that caused my eating disorder are not the same roots that are causing yours or anyone elseís. We are all different. But Jesus knows where to heal each of our hearts. I share my particular journey with you, to say that He is real, and He is powerful, and He loves you too much to leave you the way you are. He desires your healing much more than even you do, so trust Him and open your heart to Him. He has the path laid out for you. He will shine His flashlight and help you walk that path to freedom.
First stepping stone
When I first began to pray for healing Ė not for eating, but in general Ė God showed me the first clue to why I struggled with an eating disorder. I hadnít asked, but He showed me. Thatís when I knew He already had the plan for my healing from eating disorder, before I even knew to ask.
What He showed me was that when I was a child, I had a really good friend who was younger than me, but looked older. I have always been very short and looked young for my age. Today I love this, but when I was little, I wanted to be bigger and older.
My friend was already starting to look more like a woman than a teen, and I was a scrawny little thing. I became envious and even prayed to look more like her. She wore large sweaters and I wanted to wear those too. I thought they would make me seem older. I made a vow that I would wear those sweaters too Ė not in a way that they would swallow me like a potato sack, but as the young woman I longed to be.
What Iíve learned in inner healing is that when we vow to do something, we take matters out of Godís hands and put them into our own hands. With my vow at that young age, I set in motion a process that would command my body to get bigger like my friendís, even though I was much shorter and my bone structure much smaller. Thus began the process of my body becoming overweight. As I look back through childhood photos, I can see that the very year I made that vow, I began for the first time in my life to put on weight. I didnít keep the weight on for more than a year Ė I was too active and my metabolism was too strong back then. But it was the beginning.
Second stepping stone
It would take something more than one vow to fuel my insatiable hunger that would finally, in my mid-20s, take its toll on my weight. In the next eating-related prayer ministry session, the Lord brought to mind that I had not been fed properly as an infant. This truth resonated in my spirit and also in my memory bank. My mom had confessed to me that for the first six months of my life, I was not fed the way a baby should be fed. My doctor had put me on a sparse feeding program.
With my adult mind, I canít blame my mom or the doctor. They werenít trying to starve me, they were just confused. But the Lord showed me that as a little baby, in my little heart and spirit, I had made a judgment against both of them. And from my hurt, I had vowed that I would not need their food.
These judgments and vow affected me in two ways. From that moment on, I took eating into my own hands, which meant setting my brain up for chaos when it comes to food. Once I was old enough to make my own food choices (starting in high school), I began to make irrational decisions, because somewhere deep in my brain is a six-month-old baby drawing up the meal plan. The other effect is that through my judgments, and my desperate need for the nourishment being withheld from me, I became hungry and was constantly on the lookout for the next source of food. I could never get enough, no matter how much I ate.
Third stepping stone
During the first year of receiving prayer ministry and inner healing, the Lord showed me a problem that had affected many parts of my life. In the womb, for many reasons which would be revealed one at a time over the next six years, I came into agreement with a death wish. A death wish means my spirit chose not to embrace life. I believed the lies that I wasnít supposed to be born and that I shouldnít really be here, that Iím a mistake and that I donít belong. A near ectopic pregnancy; a doctorís advisement of abortion; a high-risk pregnancy with a 40-year-old mom; a 51-year-old dad who wasnít ready for another baby; and a generational door open to the spirit of fear that attacked me in the womb Ė all these things led to my believing those lies.
The enemy set me up to make a choice in the womb: Be born into pain; or choose not to embrace life. I was born, but I was born as someone always on the outside looking in, not really present, and wanting more than anything to get the whole show over with so I could move on to heaven and be happy with God.
You can imagine what chains the death wish sets in motion that would cause me to subconsciously eat myself to death.
Fourth stepping stone
As part of not choosing life, and not wanting to be here, I came into spiritual rebellion. Basically my little spirit in the womb was thumbing my nose at God and saying, ďYou messed up, God, and I ainít gonna take it!Ē
This is (obviously) a sin.
Believing that God had put me in the wrong family at the wrong time in history, and that I was a mistake, that I shouldnít exist, led to a deep seed of self-hatred in my heart. This seed grew out of control for 40 years until I began to find some deep heart healing through Christ in prayer ministry. This was a tough root to take down, but He wrangled me with His love in the ways He knew how. Finally I was able to let go of my self-hatred (which had been my protection Ė if you hate yourself first, no one elseís rejection of you hurts quite as badly) and give it to Him, and start loving myself and choosing life.
Just like the death wish, that self-hatred had taken a toll on my eating habits.
Fifth stepping stone
Two years into my healing journey, I learned about false refuges. God is supposed to be our one and only refuge for anything we struggle with. Because I had a deep anger in my heart toward God (outwardly I never would have suspected this, because I loved God, but my heart told a different story), I didnít trust Him as my refuge. Where was He in the womb, when all those forces acted against me, and I fell into those lies? Through prayer ministry, He showed me where He was in the womb, with me, and healed my heart. But until that time when I invited Him in and said, ďJesus, where were you?Ē my little heart had always felt abandoned by God.
Until I received that deep healing in my heart, of knowing He was there (not with my head, but with the wounded heart of a little one), I didnít trust Him with my heart or with my protection. So I turned to a false refuge. These false refuges come in many shapes and sizes, but for me it was food. Think about my history of malnourishment, which led to an obsession with food from age six months. It was an easy pick to turn to food as my false refuge.
Sixth stepping stone
In another revelation, the Lord showed that through all the fear that had dogged me for 40 years, I often felt like hiding. I didnít want to be vulnerable or exposed. I dealt with abuse in my life, and hiding always seemed the safest option. Hiding requires more than seeking a false refuge for comfort. To my little body, the safest way to hide was to pack on the pounds. I grew my own body suit, and thought for sure no one would find the real, frightened me deep inside.
Seventh stepping stone
At this point, the Lord took me into His world of science. While many folks believe science is incompatible with spirituality and faith, the fact is that God is the author of all truth. Science is one way of trying to understand, in a human framework, the truths God has set in motion to govern the universe.
He brought to mind the stressors Iíd been exposed to, right before I gained weight in my mid-20s. I became sick too, at that time. Chronically ill with lots of acronyms: CFIDS, EI, FM. These stressors had huge chemical effects on my body, and that impacted my already messed-up eating plan Ė remember that eating plan was set in motion by an unhappy six-month-old.
In my early 20s, I spent time overseas in some environmentally dangerous areas. I drank the water; I breathed the air. I chased down environmental injustice with my bare hands and feet. God alone knows what I was exposed to. I took all that back with me to New York City, where I let the stress of life in the big city pound me senseless. Add to the mix a dysfunctional marriage and a barrage of abuse Ö itís a recipe for physiological disaster, and it took a toll on my eating habits and my bodyís ability to absorb food. Remember, this body is already absorbing food under the self-imposed laws of several vows, and with the reaping of several judgments and unforgiveness. And now we have real chemical issues as well.
No wonder my weight shot up, overnight, from 108 to 196, and refused to go down, no matter how much healthy green food I ate, and no matter how much I exercised. No wonder I got really sick, for 13 years, until God sovereignly healed me of those illnesses, removed all the stress, and airlifted me from New York to Georgia. Aside from all the chemical imbalance and stress, during those 13 years I had also built up quite a storehouse of fresh unforgiveness and judgments, on top of the old, and those things weigh a ton. Do not be deceived Ė we manifest those things in our physical body.
A lot of repentance and forgiveness went into the healing session, when I was finally ready for Him to connect the dots of that revelation.
Eighth stepping stone
About five years into prayer ministry and inner healing, I was now in my late 40s. This means I was getting to the same age as the mom I grew up with. She was 40 when I was born. So in my late 40s, I was now the same age where I had the most vivid childhood memories of her Ė and the strongest judgments against her. I look exactly like my mom. I talk like her, sing like her, laugh like her. Our mannerisms and gestures are the same. Every part of me looks like her Ė we could be twins, 40 years apart.
At this point in my healing, I had dealt with a lot of my unforgiveness toward my mom. But I still hadnít cleared the hurdle of seeing her the way God sees her, the way He created her to be. While I loved my mom, I still hadnít been able to open my heart to love her with His love, and to truly embrace and celebrate who she is.
What did this mean for my physical person? I didnít want to look like her. I didnít want to look like someone who had caused fear and trauma in my heart as a child.
So in the depths of my heart, without my mind being aware of it, I was eating as much as I could, and putting on weight, so I wouldnít look like her anymore.
The Lord showed me this at a time when, through the depths of His healing, I was approaching a place where I could finally, truly forgive in my heart. On the other side of the Cross, I was finally able to embrace my mom for who she is, for the wonderful person God created her to be, and to recognize all the ways she loved me. I was able to appreciate and honor her as a blessing in my life and in the world, and to celebrate all her talents, her quirky behavior and humor, and yes, her compassion. She had a sensitive heart too, which explains why the two of us collided more often than not.
Ninth stepping stone
After all of this repentance and breaking of ungodly vows, and bringing the Lord into so many unhealed parts of my heart, youíd think my eating disorder would have crumbled. But I still struggled.
At this point, my prayer minister began to learn some of the latest studies in prayer-healing of early brain trauma. This doesnít mean trauma as in a blow to the head. It means trauma like what I experienced in the womb, or at six months old. Trauma of abuse or neglect. Trauma of angry words. Trauma of a death sentence spoken over a child by a doctor Ė twice.
My prayer minister learned that, in short, a brain that grew in trauma will often start spinning when a similar circumstance presents itself in adult life. Spinning is a way to describe how the brain tries to search for an experiential way to deal with the current trauma, and canít find it. It locks into aimless spinning Ė this is why itís impossible to rationalize with someone who is triggered by a situation that reminds their brain of an earlier trauma.
For me, the floodlights came on with this teaching. Spinning is the best way to describe how I always acted when shopping for food. Every time I entered the grocery store, ready to select my meals, I became confused. I felt like my brain couldnít focus. I couldnít make rational decisions. I would literally stand there in the store, staring at the food, and not know what to do. I couldnít think my way through a meal plan Ė and this was the case even after the little six-month-oldís meal plans were canceled and vows broken.
If a store clerk came up to me and asked if I needed help, I got very irritable. I needed them to go away and leave me alone, so I could think. But even when they left I couldnít think. My brain was spinning.
My prayer minister invited the Lord to heal the trauma in my brain. Finally I was able to entertain the idea of choosing the right food and creating the right meals. But I had no practical experience in this, either. I remember one night I prayed, tearfully, asking God to send help. The next morning, a woman from our church came up to me and said sheíd cooked me a roast beef dinner, complete with vegetables. She said she didnít know why she did it, only that she felt the nudge from God. I cried. This was such an encouragement to me, that Jesus was going to heal me.
Tenth stepping stone
Often in prayer ministry, Iíve revisited areas where Iíd already received healing. This isnít because the healing didnít work the first time around. Rather, itís because the healing did work. And now weíd arrived at a deeper place of healing. As God weeds the garden of our heart, He gets to deeper roots.
So here I was, six years into the journey of prayer ministry and inner healing, when I revisited a familiar scene. The Lord once again was dealing with the issue that I wasnít fed Ė or nurtured Ė as an infant. He hit this from three sides, in two prayer ministry sessions and with a random conversation with a stranger.
First He took me into a session where He showed me as a three-year-old girl. We were past the ďlack of feedingĒ stage, but still very much mired in the anger and fear of a little one who hadnít been fed or nurtured the way God had intended for me to be fed and nurtured.
In this session, God showed me that I had made an additional conclusion as a little one: That I would never be able to feed myself. (Listen and you can hear the death wish chimes ringing in the background: ďGive up, give up, give up.Ē) What a mess, when you consider my first vow was that I would have to take care of my own feeding, since no one else would. And now the conclusion: I donít know how to feed myself. What to do with that one?
Jesus had the answer. In the vision He gave me during prayer ministry, He sat with me on the floor of our kitchen; I was on the floor already, because my little three-year-old self had gotten so angry and frustrated that she had knocked herself out of her chair. After graciously joining me on the floor (at my disgruntled invitation), Jesus peeled and fed me a banana. He told me He knew how to feed me, and that He would always take care of me, that He would always feed and nurture me. And that He would teach me how to eat the right way, and how to take care of myself.
Why did He wait so long in the process to show me this, and to bring healing by His presence with me as a little one? Because I couldnít have received this any sooner. My self-hatred and my spinning brain would have prevented it. His timing is perfect, and He knows how to heal us. He was working the whole time to bring my heart to this place of deeper healing.
Then came the random conversation in a restaurant. I was visiting with family, and they had a friend join us for dinner. When I mentioned that by now I realized I had a huge addiction to dairy, and had this addiction all my life, she asked (without knowing about my healing journey through prayer ministry), ďDid you have a lack of nurture as a baby? Often infants who donít feel nurtured will latch onto nurture from the milk bottle. This leads to an addiction to dairy.Ē
I donít know the science behind where she was coming from, but it resonated with my spirit as truth. Definitely truth for me, anyway.
The week after that trip, I was in a prayer ministry session when God took me into a vision, deep into generational healing. In other parts of my healing journey, not related to food issues, He had taken me through the process of closing generational doors that had been open to the enemy through generational sin. This sin affects an entire family line and continues until Jesus is invited in to close the doors. This requires repentance on behalf of the generations, and personal repentance for where we, as individuals, have come into agreement with those sins.
In this session, Jesus gave me a vision of my Scandinavian ancestors, back to somewhere around the year 1000 AD. He showed me how fear was rampant in their hearts, because of the danger of invaders around every bend. My ancestors lived on an island in a fjord, and they could be attacked by ship invaders at any time. Because of this, the birth of a child wasnít celebrated or seen as a blessing. Instead, babies were ďset aside for death.Ē
In the vision, He showed babies set on a shelf immediately after birth. That doesnít mean this was a literal practice, but this was spiritually what the babies felt. Thus the only nurture those babies ever received was from a bottle of milk. And this is one of two places He showed me where the death wish entered my generational line. The other place was much earlier, based on an act of spiritual rebellion and refusing to choose life, also from the fear and pain of a violent world.
Closing all those generational doors to sin was a big boost in helping me heal with regard to dairy addiction, death wish, and rebellion against God and self-care. But there was another door to close.
Eleventh stepping stone
When addiction passes through a family line, itís governed by the spirit of bondage. Addiction can take any form. Itís taken various forms in my family line, but for me, it came in the form of food addiction. By now, the reasons are obvious. And I thought closing that door to generational bondage would finally bring freedom.
But it didnít.
With all of these stepping stones of healing, I had experienced so much freedom in so many aspects of my life. I could see and feel such an enormous difference, and folks around me remarked on the changes. But why was food still such an issue?
Right up until this point, I really thought God had covered all bases with me, and from this point it would be a matter of walking it out. Why, oh why, did it keep coming back, no matter what? I was used to heart-healing that stuck. This wasnít sticking.
God stuck, though. Every time my hope began to run out, God would renew hope in my spirit, and Iíd continue knocking on those doors, asking, ďLord, please heal me.Ē But Heíd answered so many of those doors for me already that I couldnít see what was left untried.
This is why I tell you: Donít give up. Persist in prayer. Believe in your healing. Keep asking Him, ďLord, show me what I need to change in my heart for healing.Ē And invite His healing presence into your heart.
Twelfth stepping stone
I was home sick recently. It was a sickness that just wouldnít let go. Weak in my body and confined to bed rest, I had no choice but to empty my life of everything but God. Which is exactly what He wanted: my undivided attention Ö and my acknowledgment that it was time to give up trying to do things my way. Yes, despite all my healing, I still had pinky fingers on the steering wheel and was apparently holding on for dear life.
God didnít cause my recent illness. But He used the circumstance for a much deeper healing than I could have imagined.
First He gave me a dream. He showed me three areas of generational sin that I hadnít dealt with in regard to food. Interestingly Iíd dealt with these in other capacities, but I was still walking in sin in these areas, and hadnít made the connection. So the enemy still pressured me from that generational sin.
The three areas were jealousy (spirit of jealousy), pride (defined biblically as a haughty spirit), and gluttony (also known as greed or lust, and governed by the spirit of harlotry and whoredom). I knew these were in my ancestral lines, on both sides of my family, and I also knew many of the ways I had participated in the sins presented by these spirits.
But I had missed one connection, and that was food. So this was another stepping stone down the generational line of healing with regard to eating disorder and food addiction. Just when I had about given up, this proved to be the big one. And I couldnít have seen or received this healing without all the healings Jesus had already done in my heart.
He showed me that very deep in my heart, at conception, I felt like this whole life was a rip off. The pain beneath that was that here I was, about to be born into the family where God had placed me, and everything was stacked against me. How badly I wanted to be in that family, and how horrible my chances appeared to be. So I turned, instead, against God and rejected His whole idea. It simply hurt too much to want this life, and to be denied it. Remember: God wasnít denying me this life. He had given me this life! But the enemy Ė fueled by generational sin Ė tossed some pretty compelling lies in my face, right there in the womb. And I made a bad choice.
So there we have deep rebellion, coupled with the idea that God didnít know what He was doing. Both are governed by a haughty spirit, in the form of pride. Add to that an intense and painful jealousy for the life I thought I was offered and thought was ripped away from me, also fueled by a spirit of jealousy that had traveled through long generational lines and knew what it was doing. Finally, the spirit of harlotry and whoredom, which likewise had long held a cozy home in my family lines, decided to jump into the mix. This resulted in an insatiable appetite for the life I had so badly wanted and yet felt I could never have.
That insatiability Ė which started right there in the womb Ė was the biggest key to my healing. The Lord showed me I have been insatiably ravenous ever since then. Itís taken effect in many areas of my life, not just with food. But where my food issues are concerned, it has been the biggest obstacle. This insatiability compels me to gobble up everything in sight. The minute I take a bite of food, Iím racing to the next bite, and lamenting the one that is gone, and nothing Ė short of the power of Christ Ė can stop me. That insatiability was a match tossed on the powder keg of that little six-month-old who was so very hungry for what she couldnít have Ė a repeat, notice, of the lie in the womb, about the life I was hungry for but ďcouldnít have.Ē
All of this, to the present day, from generational sin attacking a little one in the womb.
And hereís Jesus to the rescue. He went immediately into my heart, as soon as I cried out to Him from the pain of this revelation. He was there with me, in the womb, speaking truth to my little heart and hearing my tears of repentance, and loving me to life. In all my years of forgiveness and repentance with womb issues, I never knew at the bottom of it all was a desire for life Ė not just any life, but the one I was given, with the family I was given into. I had long assumed that my basest lie had to do with rejecting my life and my family. I was floored when He showed me that it was the opposite: the rejection came after the heartache of longing.
I was amazed at the depth of the lies He showed me, and how much they had woven into my life. When He led me through repentance, and forgiveness, He cut the cord of those lies, and the whole web unraveled. He closed those generational doors.
All of a sudden, everything got quiet. The noise of the compulsion that had been rattling my whole life, even though I had never heard it before Ö it was gone. I only recognized the sound by its absence in the quiet.
Then God was here Ė with me, in the present moment. He began to invite me to eat with Him. He showed me how to eat, with my brain no longer spinning. I was able to understand. It seemed so simple at that point. Thatís because the strongmen were defeated, the spinning had stopped, and the lies were gone Ė even the deepest lie of insatiable longing for a life I thought I was denied, which is the very life He has given me.
Thatís the only way I can describe eating now.
Iím still enjoying good food. But in moderate amounts, with no unhealthy snacking in between. And no driving hunger, no insatiable appetite. I eat, and itís good. Itís all I need. The next meal comes along almost before I know it, and I eat again. I eat simply and I simply eat. And I pull up chairs for Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to join in the conversation at meal time.
Thatís Jesusí gift to us. A peace that surpasses understanding. Itís available to us in every part of our lives, including our eating habits.
His peace is available to you. Donít give up. Open your heart and let Him show you where things got off track for you. Let Him heal your heart. When He heals, itís as if the healing was always there. The change is real. He is real. And He loves you too much to leave you the way you are.
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