Television commercials can be tantalizing… and at the same time, reflect what we wish wasn’t true. One long-running ad featured a bag of potato chips with the tag line, “Bet you can’t eat just one!” 

This fascinating commercial featured different people who, after tasting one chip, were preve nted from having another. Oh, oh, oh, the agony! First they would fidget and sweat… then leap over obstacles, tackling grocers to get to the chips. Finally, when they got their hands on those tasty tidbits … oh, the ecstasy of finishing off the whole bag!  

The potato chip commercials were memorable for the clever way they showed people losing self-contr ol—specifically, losing all sense of portion size. They always ate the whole bag! For those caught in the cycle of compulsive eating, the craving is for quantity, not quality. Consider ice cream: If o ne scoop is good, two would be better … if two are better, three are best! (Or why not the whole carton?) 

This same compulsive mind-set applies to cake and candy … doughnuts and drumsticks … bacon, bi scuits, and brownies—in spite of this common sense caution …  

We all share one common characteristic: When we find something we especially like, we simply want more!  If our common desire becomes a comp ulsive demand—if our natural drive to eat becomes a notorious slave driver—then we are out of control. The fact that our God-given appetite can turn into an all-consuming fixation is an example of this principle…

“It is not good to eat too much honey.…”

Proverbs 25:27



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What Is Overeating?

It all began in the 1980s.… 

The collective waistline of pe ople throughout the world began to spread at an unprecedented pace. Literally millions of people packed on millions of extra pounds because of food saturated in fat, sugar, and salt … driving folks to eat more fat, sugar, and salt . Increasingly, country after country became inundated with compulsive overeaters. 

Apart from poor food choices, other factors contributed to this worldwide weight gain,  including the exploding availability of fast food, larger menu portions, and eating on the go rather than eating slowly around the dining table.

No wonder weight gain is out of control. We are contro lled by the fruit of overeating instead of the “fruit of the Spirit.” The Bible explains it this way … 

“The fruit of the Spirit is … self-control.”

Galatians 5:22–23  


  • Overeating means excessive eating. 
    • Overeating often results in obesity, a condition characterized by body fat 20% or more above recommended body weight. 
    • Overeating in Scripture is described by the word gluttony, which means consuming excess food to the point of losing control.
  • Compulsive eating is a seemingly irresistible impulse to eat.
    • Compulsive eating is uncontrolled overeating based on satisfying emotional hunger, not physical hunger. 
  • “Bingeing” is a period of unrestrained indulgence and most often refers to binge eating and drinking, but can also refer to binge shopping and gambling. 
    • Binge eating can easily become an addictive behavior. 
  • Night Eating Disorder (Night Eating Syndrome) is a condition characterized by huge caloric intake during the after-dinner hours. 
    • Night Eating Syndrome often involves insomnia because feelings of guilt, anxiety, and disgust can also hinder sleep. 
  • Bulimia comes from a Greek word meaning “great hunger.”
    • Bulimia is a psychological eating disorder characterized by repeated or sporadic “binge and purge” episodes. 

“A discerning son heeds instruction, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.”

 (Proverbs 28:7)


Compulsive Overeater Checklist 

  • Do you spend a lot of time thinking about food? 
  • Do you look forward to an event because of the food that will be available there? 
  • Do you eat when you are sad, angry, or depressed? 
  • Do you eat when you are bored or under stress? 
  • Do you eat certain foods as a personal reward? 
  • Do you eat even when you are not hungry? 
  • Do you ever feel ashamed of how much you eat? 
  • Do you fear not being able to stop eating once you start? 
  • Do you ever feel embarrassed about your personal appearance? 
  • Do you ever eat secretly to prevent others from knowing what or how much you eat? 
  • Do you lose weight on diets, then gain the weight (and more) back again? 
  • Do you feel that you have to eat everything on your plate or you’re being wasteful? 
  • Do you think that you could control your weight if you really wanted to? 
  • Do you resent it when family or friends express concern over your weight? 
  • Do you find that food consumes your thoughts, your actions, your very life? 


If you answered yes to three or more of these questions, you could be a compulsive eater! 

If at times you feel frustrated over your eating extremes, let this Scripture motivate you... 

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. ... Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

(Romans 7:15, 24–25)

How to Think “Healthy” 

  • Think of yourself as the person God created you to be.  (2 Peter 1:4) 
  • Have the correct motive for losing weight. (2 Corinthians 5:9) 
  • Identify the real reasons you overeat. (Psalm 139:23) 
  • Make a personal commitment to obey God. (1 John 3:24) 
  • Know how to listen to the Lord. (Psalm 32:8) 
  • Develop an exercise plan that will increase your metabolism. Vary the plan. (Proverbs 15:32) 
  • Eat only when you are hungry and only foods you should eat. (Romans 14:20) 
  • Allow for flexibility and include some pleasure foods in your diet. (Psalm 37:4) 
  • Let the Holy Spirit direct your plans and provide needed self-control. (John 14:26) 
  • Turn your focus to the healthy foods you need to eat. (Proverbs 21:29) 
  • Have a thankful heart. (Philippians 1:6) 

“We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” 

(Ephesians 2:10) 


Plans for the Road 

  • Avoid ordering “junk food,” which is high in fat and low in nutrition. 
  • Don’t eat at restaurants without planning ahead. 
  • Eat at restaurants that offer a variety of healthy foods. 
  • Keep a small cooler in your car with healthy snacks. 
  • Predetermine the best foods to order when eating out (fish, turkey, chicken, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, etc.). 
  • Take healthy foods with you when you are away from home (fruit, nuts, white cheese). 

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” 

(Proverbs 16:3) 


My Daily Choices for Change

  • I choose to give control of my life to the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • I choose to change my eating through the power of Christ within me.
  • I choose to live to please God, not to please my appetite.
  • I choose to make wise choices when tempted to eat unwisely
  • I choose to make right choices when tempted to eat excessively. 
  • I choose to glorify God with how I treat my body. 
  • I choose to focus not on food but on faithfulness to the Lord in my life. 
  • I choose to let God be my God—not to let food be my god. 

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” 

(Psalm 73:26) 

Dos and Don’ts of Wise Weight Loss 

Don’t say, “I am dieting.” 

Do say... “I’m eating healthy foods.” 


Don’t start... a new eating plan during a crisis, illness, holiday, or high-stress situation. 

Do... Consult a doctor before beginning any new eating plan. 


Don’t... adopt a plan just because it worked for someone else. 

Do... Adopt a personalized plan that will work for your individual lifestyle.


Don’t... fail to set goals. 

Do... Set realistic, short-term, incremental goals. 


Don’t... weigh yourself every day. 

Do... Record your weight once a week. 


Don’t... keep unhealthy food around you. 

Do... Keep healthy food prepared for snacks. 


Don’t... shop for groceries on impulse or when you are hungry. 

Do... Shop with a prepared list. 


Don’t... buy packaged food without reading the labels. 

Do... Notice the first ingredients listed; these have the highest percentage in the food. 


Don’t... eat fast! 

Do... Chew slowly. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are full. 


Don’t... keep your new plan a secret. 

Do... Share with your friends and ask for their support. 


Don’t... get caught off guard by temptation. 

Do... Have an alternate plan (call a friend, memorize Scripture, take a walk, enjoy a hobby). 


Don’t... reward yourself with food. 

Do... Focus on the rewards of self-control and a new, healthy lifestyle.




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