I first became aware of I Deserve a Donut (And Other Lies That Make You Eat) by Barb Raveling through my friend Kim. It originally started out as a list of questions and Bible verses Barb put together for her own use. When she shared some of it with a group of teenagers she was teaching, one suggested it should be an iPhone app. Since she had a son who created iPhone apps for a living, he helped her to do that. Then, realizing that not everyone has an iPhone, she put these truths into book form, both paperback and digital.
The study is based on Romans 12:2: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” The book is divided up into reasons – or lies – that cause us to eat and different emotions that can lead us to eat. For example, under the first section are categories like Entitlement eating (“I deserve this”), Garbage Disposal Eating (“I don’t want this to go to waste”), Good Food Eating (“That looks good. I should eat it.”), and Social Eating (“She’s eating. I should eat.”) The next section lists just about every emotion that could lead you to eating, with the understanding that the problem there is not just eating for the wrong reasons, but dealing with the underlying emotions as well.
Then, after you look up whatever situation or emotion is causing you to want to eat, you’ll find a series of questions concerning that situation or emotion, a list of Bible verses, and some tips. For example, a couple of questions under Entitlement Eating are “What do you feel like eating? Why do you feel like you have a right to eat in this particular situation? Do you think God would agree with your outlook?” plus six more. There are about six Bible verses listed, among them Philippians 4:11: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” There are about five short paragraphs of tips, including:
The best way to break free from entitlement eating is to adopt a biblical perspective of life. God never said, “You deserve the good life, and of course you have a right to eat.” Instead, He said, “If you want to follow me, you have to be willing to give up everything.”
Taste For Truth: A 30 Day Weight Loss Bible Study by Barb Raveling was one I saw recently again at my friend Kim‘s blog, and it works hand-in-glove with I Deserve a Donut (which is why I wanted to review them together.) They overlap a bit, but that is not a problem because renewing one’s mind takes place daily, reminding ourselves over and over of God’s truth, especially in response to the wrong thinking we’re prone to.
The first chapter talks about our part in making changes. I have the tendency to just ask God to change my thinking, which is necessary, but that’s just the starting place, not the stopping place. He has given us specific instructions, such as in II Corinthians 10:3-5 about casting down imaginations and bringing our thoughts into obedience to Christ, in John 8:31-32 about continuing in His Word, and of course Romans 12:2. One of my favorite quotes from the book comes from this section:
“The Greek word for abide used in John 8: 31-32 and John 15: 4-5 is the same word that’s used for living in a house. The idea is that we don’t just visit the Word for 10 minutes a day. We live in the Word. Meditate on it. Chew on it as we walk through the day. Let it fill us and change the way we think about life. Let it fill us and change the way we think about our habits. And even let it fill us and change the way we think about ourselves” (pg. 11).
The rest of the chapters are Bible studies with a place to answer questions about various topics related to breaking control of the hold eating has on us, such as “I Hate Boundaries,” “The Anatomy of a Habit,” Is Overeating a Sin?,” “When You’re Not Losing Weight,” and “I. Need. Chocolate.”
Here are a few more quotes that stood out to me:
God is not all about “do what you want when you want.” On the contrary, God is all about “love me with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” One of the ways we love Him well is to hold His gifts with open hands, willing to give them up if they get in the way of loving Him (pp. 12-13).
(After discussing how a fence keeps children safe in a yard even though it limits them) That doesn’t mean the fence is bad. On the contrary, the fence makes their lives better because it protects them from harm. The same is true for us. Lifelong boundaries in the area of food make our lives better because they keep us safe. Yes, they cramp our style, but you know what? Our style needs to be cramped because there are consequences to eating what we want when we want (p. 13).
In many ways it’s like a home improvement project: You don’t know what you’re getting into. You uncover problems you didn’t know you had. You have to make multiple calls to your friend, the Carpenter, for help. And it usually takes longer than you think it will take (p. 61).
The renewing of the mind, like a home improvement project, is a taking off and putting on. You take off the old self. You put on the new self. You takes off the lies. You put on the truth. You take off a cultural perspective. You put on a Biblical perspective. You take off what you learned growing up. You put on what you learned in the Bible (p. 61).
Unfortunately, it will take more than one conversation to unlearn the lies we learned growing up. We learned those lies situation by situation, and I am afraid we’ll have to unlearn them the same way (p. 62).
I found both of these books very helpful and very convicting. I appreciate Barb’s matter-of-fact style. She assures that our thinking can and will change over time as we renew our minds, though the same temptations can come up again any time and we need to keep bringing our thoughts captive to God’s truth.
My friend Kim is taking the study very slowly, taking more than one day for each lesson so as to savor and steep in the truths there. That is probably the better way to go. I tended to get to the end of one lesson, see the title of the next one, and think, “Oh! I need that, too,” and I’d sometimes do two in a day – maybe even three on a few days. But I knew that no matter how slowly or quickly I went through the lessons, I was still going to have to go over and over them once I finished. Sometimes I tend to get to the end of a book, or even a word study like some I have done on anger and fear, and think, “There! Done!” But going through those truths once doesn’t renew our minds: we need to bring them to bear on our thinking often.
Barb has applied this same process of questions and Bible verses to other areas of her life, particularly procrastination. I am thinking of doing the same – just this morning I was struggling with a particular area of thinking and reminding myself of God’s truth pertaining to the matter, and thought I should probably write these out both for my own instruction and to have them as a ready reference next time it comes up.
(This review will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)