A moment of surrender

January 3, 2009 | 43 comments

This post is part of a series about re-thinking my relationship to food, which I call “The Saint Diet” to remind myself that the ultimate goal is deeper union with God. You can read all the posts on the subject here (scroll down to see them all).

A while back I began researching Christian perspectives on dieting, and over and over again I came across the concept of turning any food issues you have over to God. I knew that many addicts recovering from substance addictions cite that as a key step in their recovery, it sounded like a good thing to do, and I even had begun to understand what “turning it over to God” meant in a general sense…but I wasn’t sure how to do it with food issues.

I took my best guess, and when I embarked on a new eating plan this past summer I decided to incorporate this advice and turn it over to God. My prayer of surrender went something like:

“Lord, I can’t do this without your help. I need your assistance to reach my ideal weight of 155 in 12.5 weeks with the three-phased, 17-step diet plan that incorporates the No-S principles with the South Beach Phase II eating plan with a twist of the French Women Don’t Get Fat philosophy that I came up with. Please give me the strength to make my Excel weight loss chart look the way I want it to. Amen.”

Basically, I thought of God’s role in the process as being my diet cheerleader. I had it all figured out, I knew what the perfect plan was based on my own intellect, and I just needed God to sprinkle some magic dust on it to make it all work out. (In other words: I didn’t get it.)

Then, a couple weeks ago, Yaya was here to watch the kids and I found myself with a large block of time to get some writing done for the book about my conversion. I’ve been stuck on a particular part for a while, so I decided to take a pen and paper and work through it at Adoration. I was so excited: hours of free time to sit in the beautiful Adoration chapel, to be in the Lord’s presence, and even to write — what a great day!

On the way out I stopped by my mom’s house to drop something off, and she offered me a small bag of gourmet Chex Mix-style snacks that she’d received in a fancy Christmas gift basket. I knew that this was exactly the type of processed food that I should be avoiding. But I was awfully hungry, and I didn’t have anything else handy to eat, and it did say “whole grain” somewhere on the bag, and it was a special Christmas basket treat…the rationalizations continued from there. I took the bag and decided to just have a couple bites until I could find something better to eat. As always happens with simple carbs like this, in a blur “a couple bites” somehow turned into “shoveling one handful of food into my mouth after another.” My body was sending me ridiculous signals as if I would instantly die if I stopped eating, desperate for the “rush” these crunchy little pretzels and chips gave me. I arrived at the Adoration chapel with an empty bag.

At first everything was wonderful. I closed my eyes and cleared my mind for a while and cultivated a still, receptive, prayerful state of mind, simply basking in the palpable peace of the Lord’s presence.

And then the crash started.

That familiar old angry fog descended upon me. I couldn’t think clearly. Things I hadn’t even noticed before like the lady behind me breathing heavily or the sound of cars driving by outside began to seem absolutely intolerable. I felt angry. Writing seemed like a stupid waste of time; actually, everything seemed like a stupid waste of time. My head hurt. I would have traded my car for a Coke or another bag of chips. Mainly, I just wanted to go to sleep. Even though I was well rested and had felt great all day, my energy level dropped off a cliff and instead of praying or writing I found myself staring at the row of chairs next to me, wondering if anyone would care if I just curled up and passed out.

I was in such a bad mental and physical state that 90% of my resources now had to be used to just not go to sleep on the floor or turn around and yell at the lady behind me for breathing. The still, small voice of God that I had been so connected to when I was in a calm state was still there somewhere, but I had to strain to hear it through the crackling static of the fatigue and irritability that now consumed me.

Though I go through this every single time I ingest simple carbs, the effects were far more noticeable in Adoration. There in the silent chapel, stripped of the distractions of day-to-day life that vie for my attention, the full weight of what I was doing to myself hit me. Not only was I obviously throwing my system way out of balance and undoubtedly doing slow but steady harm to my health, but I was doing something else that might even be worse:

Throwing away hours out of my life.

The opportunity for hours of prayer and reflection was now gone. I did muster up some prayers and manage to scratch out some writing, but it was all while functioning with the limited resources of my body’s survival mode, where growth is impossible. This was God-given time out of my life that I could never get back, and I’d thrown it away over a bag of snacks. What was worse was the knowledge that I did this almost every single day.

It was at that moment that I think I finally understood the concept of surrender.

All sorts of hidden reservations that I hadn’t even realized I’d been clinging to (“I would never do a diet plan where you can’t weigh yourself, ” “I would never cut out all sweets, ” “I would never give up wine or chocolate, ” etc.) were washed away by the tidal wave of my sudden awareness of the damage my actions were doing. I still had the usual exasperation with myself for getting into this state, but I was also now filled with a profound humility; thinking back on the almost two decades of yo-yoing through this same cycle almost every day, knowing that these foods are bad for me yet never managing to get them under control despite repeated earnest efforts, I fully understood what it meant to say “I cannot do this on my own.” A herd of sacred cows was ushered out — the insistence upon seeing results on my timetable, the desire for total control, the vain fixation on fitting into those cute size 10 jeans, the refusal to consider giving up favorite foods for the long term — and what was left was just a clear, open space; a space that finally had room for God.

I have no illusions that it’s all fixed now and my struggles with this issue are over; in fact, I know that the real work is just beginning. I also understand (and am surprisingly at peace with) the fact that it could take weeks or months or even years to see any real improvements. The change that has taken place is not one of the problem going away, but of my mentality toward the problem undergoing a cataclysmic shift.

I asked myself recently, “What makes me think this time is different? What makes that I’ve really ‘surrendered’ anything unlike my previous failed attempts?” And I think the answer is: because I finally want God more than I want control.


  1. Candace Jean July 16

    Jennifer, I’ve eaten the way it appears you want to eat for 50 years. I can’t imagine eating any other way, particularly after seeing through my work 1) the damage poor nutrition can do, and more importantly, 2) the effects of “functional foods” on health and disease, healing and aging. Eating well is honoring your body in the way God intended. That was an apple in the garden, not a bag o’ chips. You are on exactly the right track, and please don’t beat yourself up for a small “slippage.” I think the Holy Spirit spoke loud and clear in the way your body responded in the chapel.That wasn’t just the carbs talking!

    I find myself in those moments of intense hunger, praying and fasting, if only until I get some healthy food. Some of my patients tell me “I’m SO HUNGRY at dinner time” to which I usually say – “you’re supposed to be hungry, it’s dinner time!” We are so accustomed to instant gratification, aren’t we?

    Snack healthfully, my friend, whole foods such as high fiber fruit and raw veggies, small portions of bean or whole grain salads (wheat berry, quinoa, etc). Your body will love you for it. And it’s such a sense of accomplishment.

    WWJE?? My mantra.

  2. BettySue

    Sounds like you are hypoglycemic; a pre-diabetic condition. it is actually the opposite (too high blood sugar instead of too low) but is a sign your pancreas is wearing out. if you do not take care of it now, you will eventually be diabetic (sadly, I am almost there now.) I am in the same boat and desperately in need of God’s help to eat right, too. I will be helping you pray.

  3. Barbara

    Hi Jennifer

    I stumbled onto your blog and I was really moved by your story, as I have been struggling with the same problem for most of my life and I could totally relate to the chaos that one bag of “something” can cause.

    I’m 30 years old, and like you, a recent convert to Catholicism. I have been struggling with food addiction and weight since I was 12 years old. When I was 22 I started going to Overeaters Anonymous (a 12 step program for food addicts with much of the same philosophy as you described regarding surrender) and following that program I managed to lose 100 pounds, but a few years ago after I went back to University to start grad school I started putting the weight back on. Within two years I earned a Master’s degree and every single pound back, plus some extra.

    I could relate to everything you described, it usually starts with a “something” either that someone offers me or I happen to catch a glimpse of in a coffee shop, and from there it feels like I will die if I don’t stop. In fact a lot of times when I start eating one thing, I’m already thinking about the next thing. Then comes the euphoria, then the irritability, then the exhaustion, then the need for more.

    This has made me feel like there is no hope, I have watched my life degenerate from the happiness and energy that I had when I was 100 pounds lighter and full of verve and passion to consisting of little more than TV and food, with teaching the occasional Spanish class in between to break up the monotony (and replenish the bank account). I have prayed to Jesus for help over and over again but sometimes I wonder if he hears me. Maybe I don’t have the words right. My conversion was such an amazing experience, I felt his presence come into my life the first time I ever attended Eucharistic adoration. (I blogged about it a year ago, if you’re interested its http://spikenardoil.wordpress.com/2008/01/14/coming-close/) So why can’t he help me with this? I have had healing prayer and deliverance prayer over and over, I have done the Catherine of Siena novena three times. I have gone to meeting after meeting, and I have just baldy begged for help and nothing helps. Its like this thing, this awful, soul destroying addiction just laughs it off and reaches for the cookies.

    Like you, I’m not sure what surrender entails, I think it means doing whatever God asks of me, not just in food choices, but in every aspect of life. This is the AA concept explained in step 11: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out”. I just have no idea how to do that.


  4. graceunbound

    “Because I finally want God more than I want control.” Powerful. Wow.

  5. Jen

    The hardest part with food addiction, I feel, is two things: trust and patience. To trust that God is biggeer than this problem, because the problem seems so big, so unsolvable, because we’ve tried so many times to solve it ourselves and failed. If we’re having such a hard time, I’ve rationalized, God will too. Then, there’s patience. Patience to trust that we will be the healthy weight God wants us to be (because He does want us to be healthy), but this might take longer than we want. Like you said, we want to get back into those jeans, and it’s hard when we see other moms who seem to snap back very quickly (at least for me). I’ve been studying in Carmel for the past few months, and I cannot tell you the immense peace that I am getting in regards to my food addiction. Granted, it’s nothing major, and I still have a long way to go, but I am excited to see what the Lord will do, and how wonderful it will be to be free of this slavery to food. To realize that I am at the mercy of something so finite is humbling, and embarrassing to say the least! I had four babies in five years, and my youngest just turned two. I’ve finally lost all the baby weight and been the smallest I’ve been in almost seven years, but the addictions are still there. Normally Weight Watchers or extreme exercising was the answer, but it never gave me peace, and never solved the real underlining issues. I will keep you in my prayers, Jen (that’s my name too…easy to remember). I love reading this blog and this personal journey you’re on.

  6. Margaret in Minnesota

    You know, I had been following this series with considerable interest but not much more. Why? I am really fond of simple carbs and I didn’t want to change my ways!

    And then I hit a sort of bottom yesterday–one that involves overeating and prayer and cutting back on the cr*p while being pregnant…and Lissa sent me a link to this post (God bless her).

    This is no easy row we’re trying to hoe, Jen, but I am now completely on board.

  7. Eliz

    I’m awestruck by this post, by its honesty and its truth. And your writing, too! I have a lot to think about now.

  8. Anonymous

    My dear Jen,

    Since stumbling onto your blog, I always gasp because almost every line
    reflects a thought/habit/attitude of my own. I have spent years of yo yoing myself.but God is truly merciful and provided 3-4 aha moments
    within one week. Although I don’t binge/purge or do the anorexia thing, I do have carb/sugar fixation/addiction combined with eating for every reason in the book combined with a beautifully worked out list of rationalizations for my
    ” needs”.. or as Barbara at Mommylife states: I felt entitled
    to all this food.
    So.. two weeks ago when I was ” preparing” for Christmas under the guise of making baked good gifts, in reality my brain was lying in wait for the carb fest. I will save the rest of the saga for the google group you and Barb are starting
    and only if it seems appropriate and helpful. But after that shocking sugar haze( choc.chip cookie dough, pumpkin roll batter and then pumpkin rolls etc., the frosting for the pumpkin rolls), and the horror and nausea of it all.. I was in a perfect state to
    listen to my pastor’s Christmas homily. Normally quite gentle and uplifting… this time he was anomalously blunt/brutal: ” pray for release from grudges, unforgiveness, addictions, and obsessions.” THEN the next day a client of mine informs me a family member is in the hospital for 2 weeks to get her sugar stabilized after her own sugar frenzy despite her diabetes.!!! Then I read later in the day in Dorothy Day’s recently published diary the information that St. Francis walked around with a dead chicken around his neck saying, ” I am a glutton”.
    GOOD GRIEF! If St. Francis, the aesthetic, characterized himself in such a manner, what in the world am I? The ground was really plowed up by now. In prayer I said something I had never asked God for before..
    except in the St. Augustine way” God release me from but NOT NOW.”
    This time the control freak actually said, ” Dear God, I have absolutely no control over this addiction. I place it gladly in Your Hands and am joyfully confident that You will truly release me from this captivity and give me my freedom back so that I will have even more time to be present to YOU and not to food.”
    As a final prayer I am offering my
    healthful and liberated ” relationship” with food for a very important ongoing family intention.
    finally, in a moment of spontaneity, I said, ” Padre Pio,
    you were one brutally frank confessor. Would you please pray for me to be released from this?”
    I then asked BVM to guide me away from food and teach me how to ” feast on Jesus and not on food”
    and wouldn’t you know it? As I left daily Mass the very next day,
    I glanced at the book shelf and the ONLY book that popped out at me was
    a biography of PADRE PIO.
    so I am all set for the next step in my conversion. Thank you for reading this. It felt real good to own it.

  9. Tami Boesiger

    I hope you continue to blog about this journey, Jennifer. I could use the insight for myself. You inspire me to eat better and feed my family better. Keep filling us in, girl! Thanks.

  10. Anonymous

    P.S. Jen, I might add that I have the perfect DVD to watch 15 minutes to half hour at a time to
    reinforce and support us in this
    process of becoming more prayerful..which is actually what we are trying to do.
    I started watching it a year ago. I now know why.
    Into Great Silence: documentary
    on Carthusian monastery.. the camera simply rolls documenting the days and nights. It is awesome.

  11. Anonymous

    Stupid comment/obsesrvation of the day: You’ve blogged repeatedly about how bad you feel after you eat foods that are high in carbohydrates. Are you aware that this is abnormal? Have you consulted your doctor for a fasting blood glucose level? You may have diabetes.

  12. Jodi

    This is one of the best descriptions of “surrendering to God” that I’ve seen. It’s a phrase I inherently don’t trust, but this gives me some hope of understanding it.

  13. Anonymous

    Have you read “Free to be thin”?
    It is an Overaters Victorious Program. It has lots of praying and turning things over to God. I gave my book to friends.

  14. Lerin

    Wow… I have someone to share this reflection with.

  15. runningatlarge

    Wow. Amazing moment of clarity. This speaks to me and my struggle with being overweight and terribly fatigued–which I know is a result of my love for SUGAR! Thanks for your eloquent thoughts.

  16. Anonymous

    That was beautiful.

    My mom, the most positive person in the world, used to find herself bawling in the shower when she was about my age (late 30’s). She didn’t know the connection between carbs and mood swings then. She said it was a very scary time in her life.

    How wonderful that God has brought this realization into your life. The connection between body and spirit has so many ties, doesn’t it.

  17. Kathy Grubb


    I love this! I’m addressing some long needed issues in this area too (and God sent me a personal trainer!) I applaud your humility, transparency and surrender. A walk with Jesus is all about more and more dependence in every area of our lives.

    I am going to pray for you, as our journeys in this area are similar.

    Two years ago, you wrote that you didn’t have a “personal relationship with Jesus”. I’m just curious, do you still think so? I say you do. Because it doesn’t get more personal than this . . .

  18. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    Wow! I’m so excited about all these great comments!

    Just wanted to let everyone know that I’ll be gone most of the day today so I probably won’t get to publish new comments until later tonight. I didn’t want anyone to think their comment was deleted. 🙂

  19. beckygiggles

    I recently had one of those moments about my attitude towards being a homemaker. I love being a mom and caring for my children, but the housework has been absolute drudgery. I went from your link page to the blog where she (I don’t remember her name) talked about why it’s so hard to be home and how being a homemaker is so undervalued in our society. It helped me so much. I had been praying for God to give me more energy, to give me more self-discipline, to help me with my time-management, etc. After I read her post and her follow-up on what to do, I prayed for Him to change my heart. And it still is unending with a two kids under 4, but I can tell I don’t dread it like I did. I still have a long way to go, but I know that as God changes me, those changes will reflect in my home. Keep up the good work, I love your blog.

  20. SuburbanCorrespondent

    Apparently, you haven’t yet heard the good news.

  21. pastprologue

    My problem was an addiction to soda, specifically Mountain Dew. I tell people that and they laugh like it wasn’t important, but it was doing as much damage to my body as alcohol or food. I understand totally what you mean by “moment of surrender”, because no matter how many times I prayed to stop, or said I’d cut back, I didn’t. Until I totally surrendered and broke down in prayer. God answered, and lifted the desire. My health is better for it, and now I rarely drink any soda, especially Mt. Dew! So, just know that all things are possible – only with God, of course!

  22. Elaine T

    Your experience reminds me of our daughter (now 12). She’s got lots of problems. Among them, simple carbs send her to sleep/unconsciousness. Cheese makes her irritable, defiant careless and prone to risky behavior, as well as unpleasant to be around. Eggs depress her. Pasta (may) give her eczema. And of course, she loves all these foods. It’s a constant struggle to get her to eat healthily for her, because she can’t grasp what the food is doing to her. And she was born a picky eater, anyway.

    Is it just carbs for you? I agree with some other posters you might want to be checked for diabetes. But I also wonder if you might be like our daughter with more sensititivies than to carbs.

  23. Catherine Shaffer

    Hi, Jen. I posted before about getting your fasting blood sugar tested by a doctor. I wanted to provide a bit more info. There are tons of fad diets out there, and one thing that’s popular right now is the idea that carbs are bad for you, so a lot of people believe in this. Actually, the concept of a “sugar high” is a myth. There’s no such thing as a sugar high. Most diabetics I know feel totally normal when they have high blood sugar, and can be taken by surprise by a very high reading that comes out of the blue. (Studies on hyperactive kids have repeatedly found no effect on behavior after children eat sugar, in spite of the firm belief of parents. There is some evidence, however, that the food dyes commonly found in candy and junk food can cause hyperactive behavior.) I found a web site with some good, scientifically grounded information about carbs and diet in general: http://www.dietitian.com/carbos.html

    Here’s a quote from it:

    “Some popular diets are built around the principle that carbohydrates with a high glycemic index should be avoided. While this may sound like common sense, it doesn’t make sense for the person with adequate insulin who wants to lose weight and is already eating fewer calories than they need. Avoidance of foods with a high glycemic index not only cuts out foods with valuable vitamins and minerals, it does not increase weight loss.”

    In other words, if you do not have diabetes or prediabetes, then you should not be experiencing “highs” or “crashes” from what you eat because your body will automatically metabolize the carbs and bring your blood sugar into balance. So I would say your observations are either a strong indication for going to the doctor, or you may be unfairly blaming your diet for your own behavior. 🙂

    Personally, from my own experience I’ve found it helpful for the purposes of weight loss to keep my consumption of *sugar* to a minimum, because it seems to stimulate hunger, and when I am eating less pure sugar, I can taste the natural sweetness and other flavors of the foods better. However, as a person with very normal blood glucose, I’ve never experienced any sickness or other symptoms after eating a sugary dessert.


  24. Anonymous

    How very thankful I am to have found you! I read through the comments already posted and want to suggest Setting Captives Free. It is a 60 program that takes about 30 minutes a day on the computer, but it is wonderful because God is the source.

  25. eulogos

    This was very timely for me because my husband and I just started on South Beach yesterday. I lost significant weight with it before but gained it all back and then some. I know the restriction from good things like yoghurt and fruit in the first two weeks of South Beach is artificial, but after the first few days hunger goes away. If I tried an eat less of everything no sweets diet, I couldn’t deal with the hunger and general urge to eat eat eat. I am very much at risk for Type II diabetes (had many babies over ten pounds, one 11 pounder, one almost 13.) They didn’t test for gestational diabetes in every pregnancy as they do today. I had that test a couple of times, the first hour’s numbers were two high but the second and third hours were normal and that met the criteria for a normal test. I didn’t happen to have the test in the two pregnancies which produced the really huge babies. I am convinced I did have some degree of gestational diabetes and that I am absolutely asking for Type II diabetes by weighing 205 pounds. (At about 5’4″. I used to be 5’5 1/2″ but I have shrunk a lot. I am
    58.) Anyway, thanks for bringing the perspective of faith to the food issue.

    I have been reading your archives. I wish I had known about your blog so I could have followed your growth. Your thoughtfulness, openness and growth are quite amazing.

    I became a Christian in 1971, was baptized in an Episcopal church June 11 1971. I was received into the Catholic church nine months later, Holy Thursday 1972. This was before RCIA; you asked a priest to give you instruction and met with him maybe twice a week until he thought you were ready. You should hear the profession of faith I had to make! ” I believe the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church (what about the eastern churches, my mind says now) to be the One True Church which Jesus Christ established on earth, to which I adhere with all my heart. I believe that the Pope, the Bishop of Rome is the supreme visible head of the whole church, who teaches infallibly what we must believe and do to be saved.” then the apostles creed, that there are seven sacraments established by Christ, and then “and whatever else She defines and declares I do believe, and I renounce every heresy and schism which She condemns. ”

    How about that!
    Susan Peterson

  26. Umm Yasmin

    Gosh I really related to you in this post. I’m currently on a pre-operation diet for lapband surgery I am having in less than two weeks. This for me is surrendering to God in accepting that I need help and cannot do it through diet alone. But I also broke my pre-op (very low carb) diet and boy did I feel crap. I realised how much I have been hurting my poor body all these years, ya latif.

  27. Anonymous

    Have you considered that a lot of the symptoms you’ve experienced could also simply be caused by sleep deprivation? Not getting enough sleep (or one’s sleep being frequently interrupted) is a pretty big risk factor for diabetes, and can really create havoc with your energy levels and mood. I know that food plays into all of this as well, but sleep is a factor you may want to consider. I often felt like you describe about a year or so ago when both my toddlers were waking me up multiple times nearly every night. Now that they both sleep better (and therefore so do I!) I have noticed a huge improvement in my mood and energy levels. I’m much less angry than I was last year, but I have not changed my diet (which does include a moderate amount of processed carbs) at all.

    –Elizabeth B.

  28. Anonymous

    I know this is stating the obvious, but please discuss this with your dr.! If you have a good relationship with a physician that you trust, and if you have the resources to pay for medical care, then remember that these are gifts from God too! Use them!

    OK, perhaps I sound a bit urgent – I lost a dear friend because she did not seek medical care – so I tend to freak out when I hear people self-diagnosing their health problems rather than seeking medical care. It sounds more like a “medical” issue than a “diet” issue. Well, none of us should be eating junk food, but normal people CAN eat it and it does not completely wipe them out for several hours. So, please get yourself checked out by your dr. to rule out any condition which needs treatment from a dr., THEN self-diagnose and self-treat.

    And, of course, keep bloggin’!


  29. martha

    Wow. That is one serious reaction to one bag of chex mix. I know you have mentioned reacting badly to simple carbs before — I think most people do, they just don’t realize it — but wow, that is a lot more than just having an energy slump. Good luck with this. Maybe you can get your insurance to cover a visit to a dietitian since you are pregnant? Worth a try.

  30. Anonymous

    Have you seen the book “Free to be Thin” it is an Overaters Anomoyous diet plan and it has lots of prayers and talks with God. It is as much about faith as diet.

    Don’t forget till baby gets here you have to have your doctor in on this diet.

  31. Anonymous

    Thank you to Catherine Shaffer for what she said!!!! I see that a lot of people will be inspired to join you in this journey – a journey that I really applaud you for!!!!!

    HOWEVER, it really is NOT a healthy journey for some people to take. Carbs are absolutely necessary to some people and their particular weight, blood sugar, etc;

    I don’t think you’re implying that other people should take this journey at all, but I just want to second what Catherine said for people who are considering joining you.

    Your blog is a tremendous blessing to me!!! Your moment of surrender applies to me in so many ways, just not necessarily in this way.

  32. Luke

    Now that I’m 26 I’m finding I have to consider my weight. Having a wheat sensitivity keeps me away from that “evil Chex Mix” [smile]. But your post didn’t say much to me about my dietary needs.

    Rather, you have further opened a door in another sin area of my life, and now I find myself longing to get to where you have just arrived: I want to stop wasting those hours for nothing more than “a bag of chips” and to want to want God more than control. I love what you’ve written, and I hope to get there soon.

    Thank you for the encouragement to seek God instead of His “magic dust” which I know I have asked for again and again. I have not yet made it to that moment of surrender, but your post has certainly encouraged me down that path.

    Thank you.

    I don’t feel like this comment is expressing my thoughts very well. But I’m not sure how to say it better. Thank you, and know this has blessed me. I’ll stop rambling now and making this even more incoherent [smile].


  33. 'Becca

    I cannot resist noting that you expected your day to be “all that and a bag of chips.” 😀

    More seriously, I’m surprised that you set out for an hours-long activity without a full stomach AND a snack packed/planned, particularly since you are pregnant. Is that typical??? And after getting into this bad state, which might be endangering your unborn child and your own health as well as your writing project, you just sat there in church and didn’t go for better food to resolve the situation–perhaps to punish yourself for your mistake, but you don’t deserve that punishment, and it’s not just you in your body!

    Please be more careful! I had a cousin who became diabetic after a pancreatic virus and refused to accept his dietary limitations, and he KILLED HIMSELF with a binge of Twinkies and soda followed by not calling for help. 🙁

  34. Anonymous


    I call fully relate to your consumption of Chex mix and then feeling horrible after. I have the same problem and I was diagnosed 10 years ago with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). If I restrain myself from the intake of empty calories (processed foods and anything that’s made with white flour and/or sugar)I feel fine. If I splurge as you did, I continue to crave those empty calorie foods and stuff my face with everything in sight. And when the crash occurs following my sugar high, I feel horrible. Grumpy, foggy and achy. For at least 24 hours after the consumption stops.

    I assume you are tested for gestational diabetes while pregnant so that’ll help you rule diabetes in or out. If that comes back ok, you may have low blood sugar. I have managed mine through avoiding processed foods and (trying to!) stick with protein, veggies and fruits.

    Good luck in this new phase of your life and thank you so much for your blog.


  35. Joy of Frugal Living

    Dear Jen,

    I just wanted to mention that your body’s way of dealing with this food is probably directly related to your diagnosis with PCOS (which you mentioned on my blog back when I announced my current pregnancy). The best current understanding of PCOS is that it is a pre-diabetic condition, where your body does not deal with insulin well. You end up producing more insulin (because you don’t use it well) and that excess impacts your ovaries to put out the wrong proportion of hormones – and then leads you to a crash, as the insulin finally works through and you end up low on blood sugar. I hope this quick explanation made some sense.

    This is something I have researched a lot in the past year, and it’s only since I figured all this out (and found a doctor who is up to date on this stuff) that I’ve managed to have a pregnancy this successful. You are fortunate with your pregnancies, but addressing the food problem as pre-diabetes might help. I take diabetes meds now and watch my diet (when I’m not battling morning sickness) and it makes a world of difference in how I feel and in my hormones. Anyway, if you are interested in some sources for more info, just let me know. PCOS women often have a very hard time losing weight because of the nature of the condition – and once that is addressed things often get better fast.

    Jen @ Joy of Frugal Living

  36. a square peg

    i experience the same effects you’ve described after eating a lot of sugar/”white” stuff. whether you are pre-diabetic, diabetic, hypoglycemic, or whatever, cutting out sugar and refined carbs is definitely a good step. they’re nutrient poor, and replace much healthier things you could be eating, so i think your goal of eliminating them in your diet is a good one, though as others have pointed out, you may want to have a glucose tolerance test done, and maybe even a thyroid test (thyroid issues can cause fatigue and weight gain).

    i haven’t read all of your diet-related posts, so this may be of no use to you, but if lower-carb dieting is something you are interested in, then i highly recommend the two cookbooks, 500 Low Carb Recipes and 500 More Low Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender. they have tasty recipes that are easy to make, and easy to adapt for those in the household who don’t have a problem with carbs (such as adding pasta to the shrimp scampi recipe for the carb eaters), which is nice because you don’t end up making two different meals. she’s got several other books, but these two are my favorites.

    also, something i have done in the past and plan to begin doing again is simply avoid buying refined and highly processed foods for “the kids” (especially breakfast cereal, or goldfish crackers, or graham crackers), because if they’re in the house, i eat them. the kids don’t need them either. if you don’t have it in the house, it’s a lot easier to avoid eating it!

    one final thing that i just started doing is planning our suppers for 2 weeks in advance and posting the day’s supper on my blog. that way i know exactly what i’m having and i don’t succumb to the temptation to just buy a frozen pizza and pop it in the oven, or worse, go out to eat (bad for the waistline and the pocketbook).

    good luck with your quest! i’m right there with you!

  37. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    Jen @ Joy of Frugal Living –

    Interesting story about the PCOS thing (I can’t remember if I mentioned this on your blog): back when I was diagnosed (via both blood test and ultrasound) my research led me to think that there was definitely a connection to insulin issues, so I decided to cut out all caffeine, sugar and white flour. I did that for a couple of months and though I eventually went back to eating some processed foods, I never ate them quite as much as I had before.

    Anyway, a while after I cut out caffeine, flour and sugar I was able to get off all medications related to PCOS. When I went to a new doctor a couple years later, they could find no evidence of PCOS. It’s odd since my first doctor had assured me in no uncertain terms that this condition would never go away, but I don’t seem to have it anymore.

    It was a big lesson for me though in learning how sensitive my body is to simple carbs. In fact, that was the first time I really began to listen to my body and notice how those kinds of things were impacting me.

    Thanks for your tips, and for reminding me of that!

  38. HPD

    Jennifer as a guy, I look at food a little differently. I struggle with gluttony. I too, love the N0-s diet.

    I do not want to make another diet suggestion for you, really, it is not a “diet” really, but an addition to your diet.

    Click here:


    It is called the “shangri-la” diet, and it is fairly popular, but it is, yes, a bit weird. But, so are most saints. There are a lot of thinking people of enjoy this so called diet. What it does is add, hopefully, good fats! Good fats make you feel satieted and eat less.

    I have never really been what you would strictly call out of shape, but I would say that I have had my problems binging on the carbs you talk about. Bags of doritos and cartons of cookies would disappear like so many japanese cities in a Godzilla movie.

    But, those cravings just flat out lessen on this diet. And it hardly costs anything—mere dollars really. It will not get you to diet heaven, but it will help.

    How about another reckless experiment?

  39. Amy Jane (Untangling Tales)

    Your post made me think of this post, though yours takes more of an effort to be applicable.

  40. Xia

    Great awareness Jennifer. I continue to pray for you on your journey.
    Xia’s Mommy – Stephanie

  41. Anonymous

    You need to listen to U2’s new album and specifically, track 3, which is called “Moment of Surrender.”

  42. Gabrielle LeBlanc

    This sounds more like a food ALLERGY than a food addiction. But perhaps it's only a matter of semantics, as the solution is the same: cut out the problem food altogether.

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