Friday, May 3, 2013

how quitting sugar helped hannah

hey guys, i'm in haiti. but while i'm away, enjoy this guest post from my dear friend. when hannah told me she had lost so much weight and was experiencing lasting heart change, i was need to say what's up on my blog. i think people get really excited about bandwagons and and changing themselves and don't look at their inability to "quit" certain things as actual sin issues.
if we don't go to the very root of our issues and see them as disobedience and idol worship, we will never experience one of God's greatest gifts, real lasting change on this side of heaven. redemption. taking weak humans, broken habits and slavery in addictions and saying, God, i have downplayed this to keep feeding my sini can not stop. please work a miracle in my heart and save me. 

so here's hannah. how she waved the white flag and let Jesus help her with her sin and her diet. praise Jesus that we serve a God who cares for such detailed aspects of our lives.

like many of you, i'm inspired by jami's faith in christ and how she works it out in real life. she spurs me onto a deeper communion with jesus and shines light on my sin without even realizing it. i love her for sharing her convictions and heart struggles so boldly. and today i'm sharing one area i'm particularly grateful she got all up in my business about. i've been a believer for over ten years. when will i stop being so surprised at how the lord knows exactly what my soul needs and timely delivers it? 

i'm over sugar.
i'm finished with eating mindlessly and for stress/sadness/celebration. i am learning about eating to live, rather than living to eat.
jesus is making me free.
and i say is making because i'm a work in progress. i'm still a fallen-natured human, living on this earth, fully aware that temptation lies in wait. but jesus is working new strength in my heart. he's given me an appetite for him above food.

one year ago i "came clean" about something that i didn't even realize i was trying to hide. my squalid addiction to food. reading that post you'll see it's not just an over-eating problem or being overweight. this is a heart issue. i wish i could tell you i overcame it then. i was close. even with devoted prayer, bible study and accountability with dear friends, i merely scratched the surface of this particular sin issue. i was doing wonderfully well. feeling victorious, and enjoying the bonus of a decent weight loss. but when circumstances at home changed and stresses elevated, so did my hunger. only it wasn't really hunger for food. it was hunger for control. but really, i was so not in control. i gained all my lost weight back plus more. and i was pretty depressed about it.
when things are crazy, i usually eat. at home or on the go, it just feels good to be eating. especially sweets. well, a butterfinger blizzard on one side of town, and a frappe with a side of cake pops on the other plus a dozen chocolate chip cookies at home add up mighty quickly. they add up to big poundage, and a tremendous amount of soul sludge.

food was my idol.
it's humiliating and ridiculous. that i would put such a silly thing above christ and his word. but i did.
and i could list a host of 'reasons' why i've always allowed myself to stay in that place. but they're all lies. no matter what successes, tragedies, or anxious circumstance arises? it's never ok to put anything in the place of christ. he is our triumph. he is our rescue. he is our comforter.

when i mentioned that my hunger elevated from stress, i believe it was a hunger for more of jesus. only, i wasn't really interested in more of him. i was interested in more of me trying to be the boss of my life. and something i'm amazing at doing? eating all the things. especially sweets.

i'm always encouraged by jami's sharing her heart here so freely to the glory of god. when i read her post about giving up sweets for lent, mostly this last little bit:

"my go to comfort when everything feels crazy. i can sit at the mixer and be satisfied by the calming whir of the mixer and the sugar in the cookies. starting a project and completing it. but for these numbered days, i will sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to the whir of wisdom and eat the sweetness of abundant hope and comfort. and rest in his finished work of REDEMPTION he did on the cross."

i was like, "wow! that's so great for her." and i'm ashamed to say that i related to every word and even felt a nudge to join in and ignored it like a boss. then the lord spoke to me just a couple days later. after some health issues and bloodwork results, i was told by my doctor that it's likely i have a gluten intolerance. she put me on a sixty day gluten-free trial. fabulous. i was more than willing to give this a try though because i was feeling miserable to the max. so, i was avoiding gluten, but you better believe i was inhaling any gluten-free candy i could find! until i wasn't.

(what's happening here is, comforts are being removed. and when that happens, i see my needs. i see my emptiness, and where jesus should be filling. and this seems to be the theme of life, doesn't it? constantly realizing our state of helplessness and need for the gospel and total dependence on christ.)

 the monday before easter i felt compelled to join jami, and ditch sugar. i was turning from my dependence and craving for sweets and indulgence and looking to the only true satisfaction. jesus christ. as you can imagine, especially before easter(crispy shelled chocolate cadbury eggs!!) this was a terrible fight. but this fight was necessary. for my body's health, but even more for the health of my soul. often during those first weeks i felt like quitting, and that i just could not do it. that was true, i can't. but it doesn't depend on what i can do. i count on jesus and his strength. still, satan and his discouragement kept creeping up.

sometimes you just need to tell the devil to go to hell
and that's what i've been doing. through much prayer, and lots of reading. in place of eating of bunch of junk, or eating just to eat. i fill up on real food.

from isaiah 55 "why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food."

"he who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it." 1 thessalonians 5:24

"send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling." psalm 43:3

"create in me a clean heart, o god. and renew a right spirit within me." psalm 51:10

digging into the word, confessing and pleading for the lord's forgiveness for this affair with food. asking him to transform my heart and body, to bend my will to him and away from myself. asking him for new appetites and desires. because even this seemingly "small" and often "acceptable" sin, it's a big deal.

anything that draws you away from christ needs to be dealt with seriously. 
because sin breeds sin.

this issue of food? i'm certain that harboring this idol in my heart has loads to do with my stress, anger, idleness, and lack of deeper faith in god this past year(for many years?). since visiting this addiction once more, calling it what it is and seeking the lord daily-even hourly sometimes!-to help me fight this brand of self worship...i've seen the light. other sins are coming to my attention. my patience has increased, my yelling has decreased. my time in the word has been richer and my prayers more intentional. because physically, i don't have sugar haze and spiritually i am free from the hold food had on me. i believe that when we are spiritually ill, our physical body suffers. and when we get cleaned up and healthy in our hearts, bless god, the outside follows! amen?

it's now been determined that i am gluten intolerant. this automatically removed a lot from my diet. i'm enjoying exploring gluten-free options and eating extra fruits and vegetables. one little gift that's come out of this journey away from food worship? i'm losing weight. down from my highest/scariest ever 233 to 211. now, i am not a fan of mathematics, but i sure know that's t w e n t y t w o pounds lighter. holla!

practically speaking, what does resisting a food addiction primarily sugar look like?

sometimes i don't even know what to pray. i feel so defeated and so exhausted, the words just are not there. good news! scripture is full of words, use it as a guide when you pray. 
my soul is satisfied with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips psalm 63:5
"god, i really want to bake cookies." which, if you know me, means make and eat cookie dough.
"lord come to me, satisfy my soul! help me long for you alone. help me to worship you!" 

tell somebody.
don't believe that you can do this alone. food matters are some of the trickiest tricksters. so subtle and so easily ensnaring. when we have support of family and friends, we will be champions. be honest and bold. be willing to ask for prayer and help. sometimes we miss out on wells of encouragement and compassion simply because we keep quiet about our struggles. end that today. connect with somebody. you can talk to me!

identify and remove stumbling blocks.
get real with yourself about what tempts you the most. then get rid of it. toss it or give it away to someone who can handle it :) trust me, you won't behave if there's a box of chocolates/bag of peanut butter cups/cookie jar full of goodies handy. get. rid. of. temptation. if you like to grab a frappe every ding dang time you pass a starbucks? find a new route. after awhile, you may find it easier to resist, but in the beginning, run like hell away, girlfriend.

think ahead and be prepared.
portion your snacks ahead of time. i seriously count out 24 almonds or 11 tortilla chips. whatever the case may be, measure your servings out to avoid over eating. when we don't intend to eat the right amount, we probably won't.
carry a snack with you. you can count on temptation to be lurking sometime during the day. if you're like me, i'm especially tempted when i'm out to eat, running errands or at an event. really, as you would for any other sin issue: decide now what your choice will be when temptation arises. baby shower? oh, it's celebrating my newborn niece, of course i can have cake, sample every cookie and those pretty pillow mints! wrong. i have decided that sunday is my sweet day. if the party is on sunday, i am free for cake. if not? too bad for me. and no need to be all "oh, i'm not having any fun because i'm on a diet" to everyone at the gathering. don't make a big deal. be kind to your guests/hostess and enjoy yourself. which is entirely possible without cake. crazy, but true.

i cannot "cheat" every time there's a special event. because my heart is a sly thing and soon i'll be finding excuses to barely follow my plan at all. so, i carry appropriate snacks with me and talk a lot. when you are chatty, it's difficult to be stuffing your face. also,

drink as much water as you can stand.
now, i have always been a big water drinker. it's this irrational fear i have of becoming dehydrated. basically, i'm admitting to you that i'm a bit weird. like i just got up to drink after typing that, thinking 'i better go drink some water, quick!' i literally drink water all day long. 
i think it's wise to drink a big gulp worth as soon as you hop out of bed in the morning. before food. before coffee. before anything else, drink water. if you struggle with wanting to drink water, explore flavoring options. not fakey, sugary ones, of course. lacroix is a great inexpensive option if you like carbonated water. your best bet is to infuse! berries, cucumber and citrus are wonderfully delicious ways to make plain old water a bit more enjoyable. and pretty!
speaking of pretty,

make your healthy choices beautiful.
honestly, i think that fruits and veggies are lovely on their own. but it helps boost my mood to make my snacks and meals cute. when i'm feeling crazy for a chocolate but settling for almonds and an apple, if i serve it to myself in a cute little bowl with a fun napkin, or drink my fruit infused water with a stripey straw...i almost feel like i'm at a party instead of not eating candy. 
my favorite snacks are
cherry tomatoes, celery, carrot sticks, strawberries, raw almonds, vanilla yogurt and of course, tortilla chips and salsa :)

find something to do.
outside of your extra time in prayer and scripture saturation, find something to do. take a walk every day, write notes of encouragement to others, painting, organizing, sewing, you get the idea. i make jewelry. it's not easy to eat while doing that. understand? creating something with my hands, being active doing something i enjoy, and others enjoy receiving is good for every one. so i highly recommend a creative activity. get outside yourself a little, bless someone and have fun!

own your failings, repent and press on.
i haven't had a cave on my no sugar yet. i'm certainly capable though. and if/when i do slip up? i aim to deal with it. not with a pity party, or a second batch of cupcakes. but with turning away from it and being grateful for new days and new mercies. we serve a kind, gracious lord. 

lean into the grace of jesus. i'm so grateful that his grace is sufficient. even for food battles. ask him for help. his help is more than help. he bears our burdens and supplies all our needs. he knows our hearts. he's available every time we cry out to him. so do that freely, friends. call on him.

"lord, help me, for i am often lukewarm and chill; unbelief mars my confidence, sin makes me forget thee. let the weeds that grow in my soul be cut at their roots; grant me to know that i truly live only when i live to thee, that all else is trifling. thy presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong and happy. abide in me, gracious god." {charles spurgeon}


  1. Wonderful post Hannah. Way to go on quitting sugar! Fabulous job on the weight loss as well! Love all of this.

    I can particularly relate to this right here: when i mentioned that my hunger elevated from stress, i believe it was a hunger for more of jesus. only, i wasn't really interested in more of him. i was interested in more of me trying to be the boss of my life. Ouch. Powerfull stuff right there. Im gonna have to simmer on that one a bit. Your speaking loud and clear to me sister.

    Thank you for this. All of this.


    1. annie! thanks for the encouragement.
      and, girlfriend, god is mighty good! xo

  2. So many can relate and need this encouragement. Yes, including me. : ) Love your heart, Hannah.

    1. thanks, katie. so glad we are not alone.
      love you.

  3. Thank you, sweet Hannah, for sharing your heart here! Your journey with this has been a huge encouragement to me!

  4. oh hannah. i am so proud of you. i fell off the bandwagon. i didn't take it seriously enough i guess. but i'm starting afresh next week! thanks for sharing your heart.

    1. yay! for new weeks and fresh starts!
      press on, pretty kimberly. you're the jam. xo

  5. hannah, that's what i love about you. you don't see just the sympton (the weight & your health) you see the problem (the heart).

    that is what i love about you. (for reals)

    that and you are a rockstar. :)

    me and sugar breakup on the weekdays (not hardcore, but nothing i'd consider a sweet/dessert). you inspire me. :)

    1. cuppasweetness.
      thanks for supporting me so well, you dear friend.
      praise jesus for his strength! xo

  6. I appreciate you so much Hannah. Your honesty is raw, just as it should be. I praise God for what he's doing in your heart(& body!). Im on this journey too, although I havent gone 100% no sugar at this point. But my motto is exactly what you stated above-eating to live instead of living to eat.
    God strengthen us! :)

    1. hi, sweet sarah. thank you! the lord is good and not near finished with us. press on, girl. love ya.

  7. hannah, you shine. you really do. i'm proud of you. i'm thankful He's doing such a big thing in your life. you inspire me.

    1. carissa, so grateful for your encouragement. you bless me every ding dang day! love you.

  8. It's amazing to me that after all these years, I never thought about my addiction to sugar as a "soul" issue that God needs to deal with. But, after reading this, my eyes have been opened. Not in a "I'm giving up sugar tomorrow!" kind of way but in a "wow, I really need God to start working with me about giving up sugar!" kind of way. Because instead of seeking comfort in him, I am seeking comfort in chocolate chip cookies. Thank you for this post!

  9. ouch! this line- 'because even this seemingly "small" and often "acceptable" sin, it's a big deal.' i wanted to scroll down extra fast because i don't want to admit that i struggle with this too! i love the idea of living to eat, of enjoying deliciousness, and i definitely let myself enjoy whatever i want from time to time... no, pretty much all the time. i feel gross when i do, but i forget or don't care enough to change. Lord, help me! i don't want to be stuck in my own body anymore!

    1. he will help you! ask him every day, for help and strength.
      you are a champion, grace. HE is your power. xo

  10. Hannah,
    Well done. You've gone and highlighted some heart issues with me and food. Mine run more towards CONTROL. As in, when things get stressful I always "feel" like I've gained a few extra el-bees and so I buckle down and start parsing out my portions like the food nazi. Oh, my sin nature is sneaky isn't it? I'm sitting over here with my carrot sticks and "self control" and my Pharisee heart is saying "I don't have a food issue. I'm over sugar. Good for me!" But portion control to me is just that: c-o-n-t-r-o-l.
    Oh, Lord, help my Pharisee heart to surrender to you, to allow you to be the only one in control!

    1. amen to that. the control issue is so sneaky.
      press on, girl! you are not alone.

  11. love this! i think telling others how you are overcoming is so important. sometimes we are tempted to think, "that hannah can do it, but i can't." letting people know that it is through prayer and hard work that you are winning the battle is so great! it lets others realize they too can make it!

    1. thanks, tracy!
      yes. ANYone can, by the spirit.
      sometimes i'm so afraid to say "search my heart, lord. SHOW ME my sin. help me"
      because he does show me, and i hate that part :)
      praise him, that he doesn't leave us in our depressed and helpless state of seeing our sin but raises us up to victory. that's what we depend on.

  12. you ROCK, girl. seriously, ROCK!!!
    so proud of you!! so encouraging :)
    god is GREAT!!!!!

  13. you are completely inspiring, hannah.
    i love you.
    and your love for HIM!
    and i'm also beaming and clapping and waving and praising for what God is doing for you!
    !!!!!!! so happy, friend.

    1. glory to god!
      thanks for the prayers and cheers, mary.
      so blessed to have encouragers like you! xo

  14. Hannah you know how I love you. This post is a testimony to what a surrendered heart looks like and the victory we have available in Christ.
    Thanks. You're beauteous girl. I'm cheering you on! xoxoxo

    1. word! surrender, my least favorite word. but i'm learning, that's where the freedom is. that's where LIFE begins.
      love you, kaHoney!

  15. Thank you. This applies to so much more than food addictions. It reminds me of our sermon yesterday when Jesus asked the man who had been paralyzed for 38 years if he wanted to get well. The man's reply? An excuse. He was used to dysfunction, and I think most of us are used to our dysfunctions, too.
    I will contemplate your words as I seek to find my own dysfunctions I haven't even acknowledged yet!

    1. listen, that's real talk.
      why our dysfunction and sordid sin is so dang comfortable, i just can't grasp. but they are!
      we need heaven's eyes to see them for what they are. new appetites, new desires.
      lord, help us!

      praying for you, friend. thank you!

  16. yes, yes, and yes. i am so proud of you friend. love you and love that you shared this here. :)

  17. This was just what I needed to hear. I am throwing out all my sugary junk, searching pinterest for some healthy recipes (I love to bake!) and digging deeper into the word. Thank you for writing so openly and from the heart. The Lord is using you in beautiful ways.

    1. way to go, girl!! you can do it!
      getting into the's a domino effect after that :)

      praying for you! xo


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