Gluttony, addiction, and not listening in prayer

March 18, 2009 | 66 comments

The Story

This past summer I decided that now was the time for me to finally deal with gluttony. Not only was my weight creeping up higher and higher after each pregnancy, but for as long as I could remember I’d had a real problem with overeating that I seemed unable to conquer.

I first tried to get this problem under control when I was 15, and had been trying — and failing — ever since. None of the zillions of diets or programs or mental strategies I tried ever worked on a long-term basis. Starting this past summer, however, I decided to try something radically different: I would ask for God’s help. I was sure that this was the missing piece of the puzzle, that by leaning on the Lord I would be able to get my tendency to commit the sin of gluttony at least somewhat under control.

I was surprised and disappointed — you might say, “crushed” — when things didn’t play out like I’d hoped they might.

I was incorporating prayer into the fabulous No-S Diet plan for conquering gluttony, and that took me a long way…but not far enough. After a few weeks went by I started to fail. A lot. I have so many vivid memories of sitting in front of a plate of food and saying a prayer begging God to give me the strength to not have extra helpings, pleading for him to let me stop eating when I felt full…and then I’d eat to the point of being overstuffed anyway.

I know, it makes no sense. Why didn’t I just stop eating if it were so important to me? If you’ve never experienced this I’m not even sure I can describe it. “Stop! You’re full! You’ve had enough!” one part of me would say; but some other, much more powerful force within of me would rise up and override all other thoughts, fixating on the food in front of me in a blind panic. It was truly a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type situation, the Dr. Jekyll in me powerless to stop the gluttonous Mr. Hyde.

I prayed over and over again to ask God to help me stop overeating, yet it continued to happen day after day, week after week. Eventually I stopped praying about it.

Then, a few months later, I got in a regular habit of going to Adoration. I even got to the point where I would leave my list at home and try to just clear my mind and let the Lord lead me. And a funny thing started to happen: even though I had long since given up on the topic, I started to feel strong guidance when it came to my food issues. Through prayer and meetings with my spiritual director I got a loud, clear message that my bad eating habits were not just leading me to the sin of gluttony but leaving me tired, sluggish, irritable, and thus impacting my family and spiritual life.

After a profound moment in Adoration when I finally realized after 17 years of repeatedly falling flat on my face that my way wasn’t working, I admitted my powerlessness and turned the whole thing over to God. With no more plans of my own, I finally began just listening when I prayed about this issue.

And, sure enough, God had something to say.

Food Addiction

Shortly after that moment, a series of “coincidences” led me to discover the concept of food addiction. A rough summary of the theory is that some people’s bodies react to sugar- and flour-based foods like alcoholics’ bodies react to alcohol and that, like alcoholics with alcohol, these people need to surrender to the fact that they’ll never be able to eat those foods in moderation, that they must abstain from them completely.

It sounded pretty extreme. In fact, I probably would have blown it off I hadn’t encountered people who had had astounding results by putting it into practice.

I had the pleasure of corresponding with a blog reader who shared with me her own dramatic story of being chronically overweight, eventually topping out at 370 pounds and feeling suicidal. After she got the right information about food addiction she not only got down to a healthy weight of 150 and has kept it off for eight years and through two pregnancies, but her spiritual life grew by leaps and bounds as well (a version of her inspiring story written a few years ago is available in a Word doc here). When I joined the “The Body Knows” food addicts email list I encountered many other people who had almost identical stories to hers. Their testimonies were intriguing and compelling…and sounded vaguely familiar.

I prayed about whether or not I should consider doing some kind of food addiction eating plan, and the answer I heard could be roughly translated to, “YES!!!!!!”

After a lot of research and more prayer, I decided to go ahead and cut out all foods with flour and sugar, as well as other processed foods, just to see what happened. Unlike other times I’d done something like this as part of a short-term diet, this time I would do it indefinitely, letting God lead me day by day.

The Results

That was in late December, and the results over the past 12 weeks have been amazing.

  • As the food addiction theory would predict, when I cut out the foods I was addicted to, the insane cravings went away. Not having those foods in my system tamed that Mr. Hyde inside of me, so much so that I could even serve my family things like biscuits or cookies without having one myself — something previously unthinkable.
  • Gluttony has become manageable. I quickly realized that when there’s not a sugar- or flour-based food involved in a meal, I can act like a reasonable human being when I sit down to eat. Suddenly those voices that said “You’re full! Stop eating!” actually had some impact on my actions. Though I still have a tendency to be gluttonous that’s not always easy to overcome, with that powerful Mr. Hyde vanquished from the table it is at least now possible.
  • I’m no longer yanked around by food-induced mood swings. Not only has it been easier not to commit the sin of gluttony with this new way of eating, but it’s been easier to avoid a lot of other sins as well. The post-meal “crashes” that I used to experience on an almost daily basis left me extremely vulnerable to angry, selfish, slothful behavior. I still have all my same bad personality traits, of course, but without the biochemical factors to exacerbate them it’s much easier to overcome them. (My husband says it’s been stunning to see how much more calm and “able to deal” I seem when he comes home in the afternoons.)
  • I’m much more detached from food. When I used to think of detachment from food, I assumed that that always meant eating all things in moderation. For most people, that’s probably the case. It’s taken me 17 years of banging my head into the same wall over and over again to realize it, but I finally see that the way for me to be detached from food is to cut out the foods that I cannot control myself around. I am now able to enjoy meals in a spiritually healthy way — that is, appreciating and taking pleasure in them without obsessing about them — and I don’t even miss the foods I’ve given up now that they’re out of my system.
  • There have also been some dramatic changes physically as well. I am noticeably less “puffy” (I get many comments on that), and less inflamed and sensitive to pain. Also, my body has started dropping weight like crazy, even though I wasn’t trying to lose weight. Despite eating more than the recommended calorie intake for pregnant women, I lost a few pounds during the third trimester, and am already down to a post-baby weight that it usually takes me months to reach (in fact, after baby #3 I never did get down to the weight I’m already at now). I’m trying to make sure I don’t get caught up in the dangerous “high” of the scale, but it’s been amazing to see how my body naturally began to release weight after I cut out processed foods.
  • And, finally, my daily diet is so much more nutritious than it used to be. I eat so many more fresh fruits and veggies than I used to, I recently calculated that the increase in vitamins and minerals from my new way of eating is almost equivalent to taking a daily multivitamin.

The biggest lesson I learned, however, was about listening. In all that time I spent chattering at God about gluttony, ordering him to help me follow through with my plans to stop overeating, I thought I had all the answers; it never occurred to me that I might be barking up the wrong tree. It was only after I got still and calmly let the Lord guide me that I realized that my particular problem was one of gluttony and addiction, and that I couldn’t treat one without treating the other.

The lesson I’ve learned here has made me think about how often I do this in other areas of my life: I think I know exactly what needs to happen, so I pray to ask God to make it so, as if I’m the one in charge and he’s some kind of wish-granting genie. Considering the dramatic changes I’ve seen in terms of my relationship to food, it makes me wonder what else the Lord could do in my life if I spent a whole lot more time listening.

UPDATE: I posted some sample meals in #2 here.

photo: conradh


  1. hmom

    I’d love to know what you eat on a daily basis. I read the links and was discouraged at how limited the food choices were. No flour or wheat ever? Thanks for posting this!

  2. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    I’d love to know what you eat on a daily basis.

    Thanks for your comment! Here’s an example from yesterday:

    Breakfast: Steel-cut oats
    Snacks: Mixed nuts or toasted Ezekiel (flourless) bread with peanut butter
    Lunch: Big salad with hardboiled eggs
    Dinner: Red beans and rice with sausage

    I read the links and was discouraged at how limited the food choices were. No flour or wheat ever?

    It’s definitely extreme. Actually, I haven’t had to cut out the entire list of stuff that people with really serious addictions do. My cravings stopped after just cutting wheat, sugar and processed foods.

    The thing is, for those of us who have issues with these foods, it’s SO much better than the alternative. Even though going without them is a huge change, continuing to eat them is just not an option if I want to be able to have a sane attitude towards food. But it’s probably not something I would have done if I didn’t have a pretty serious issue with them. 🙂

    Also, I have found that I can make some exceptions. E.g. when people have brought me food after the baby was born that had some processed carbs in it, I did eat it in small amounts. Some people can’t do that, but so far I’ve been able to without it totally derailing me. (Although, as expected, my cravings did come back when I ate those foods.)

  3. Margaret in Minnesota

    There’s much here for me to contemplate. What’d I love to hear straight off is how you conquered the caffeine addiction. I’m not going to let you get away with simply blogging “I was too lazy to make a cup of coffee one morning, and so I quit.”

    I think that’s the gist of what you once said, but I’ll need details than that if I’m going to forgo my daily cup of coffee.

    Specifically, how has giving up coffee helped you in your Saint Diet?

  4. Anonymous

    Jen, food “addiction” is a really problematic term. Addiction is a process that occurs in the brain and it does not involve inflammation, swelling, weight gain, indigestion, etc. as you’ve described. There is such a thing as compulsive overeating behavior, but again, not a true “addiction.” This doesn’t sound like what you’re describing, however. It sounds like you might have a food intolerance, specifically to wheat. Food intolerances (called allergies by some) do give rise to inflammation, skin symptoms, digestive problems, sinus congestion, and more. Furthermore, for reasons not clearly understood, food allergies cause addiction-like behavior. When your body is reacting to a food, I guess eating *more* of it gives temporary relief. Even the fact that you’re able to tolerate small amounts of those trigger foods points to an intolerance or an allergy.

    I would really recommend that you learn more about food allergies so that you can possibly identify any others you may have and also correctly treat yourself, as I don’t think an addiction-based approach really makes sense.

    I went through this recently and discovered that my body reacts to dairy. I have always been a huge dairy eater, and never thought I could live without it. Once I went off it, I found that I was no longer having stomach aches and stomach cramps. I hadn’t really noticed them until they were gone. Other symptoms disappeared, and I also began to drop weight my body had been holding onto.

    • Rachel

      ^^ anonymous, If you research current well detailed information on the way sugar affects your body (especially fructose) then you can understand that sugar is indeed a highly addictive substance that most people without realising are addicted to. You can definitely have food intolerances as well, and the more sugar and wheat you eat the more your body can begin to build an intolerance against it. You can definey lot be addicted to food that caused you many physical issues, allergy or not, sugar is a clear example of that

  5. elizabethelaine

    HI Jen,

    Thanks for posting. I know in my heart of hearts that I’m a food addict just exactly as the program you linked to describes, but I’m in denial about what I need to do. I’m also in utter terror about the result of past diets, including a super strict macrobiotic diet, which also cuts out a lot of the things the food addiction diet cuts out. i found that dieting for me just led to greater and greater bouts of bingeing and uncontrollable eating behavior. I suspect I’m one of the people with extreme addictions (it would match my family history as well) and may just be my cross to bear.

    It was uncontrollable eating though, that led me to my conversion to God from being an Buddhist/Atheist though, so maybe I should be thankful for this addiction. If you don’t mind my sharing, I clearly remember my “maybe God exists” moment. I was huddled in the bathroom convincing myself not to try throwing up (I have never taken that step, thank God) after having eaten a million candy bars (I was in the midst of starving myself on a Weight Watcher diet so was particularly vulnerable to cravings) and I thought, “well, acting as though there is no God is clearly not working for me, maybe I should start acting as though I believe in Him and see what happens.” My food issues didn’t magically go away but I got some peace after a while.

    I’m a long time reader, but I haven’t introduced myself yet. I’ll do so soon.

  6. Margaret in Minnesota

    PS. I think you should add the label “Saint Diet” to this post.

  7. tinkerbell the bipolar faery

    no wheat? woah.

    i find one of the keys to avoiding overeating is mindfulness … like attending to what we are eating. also waiting 20 mins (from starting the first portion) before deciding if i really need another portion.

    my husband has always said, if it comes in a box or bag then that’s what you’ll end up looking like. true, methinks.

  8. Anonymous

    Thanks so much for writing this. Has given me a lot to think about as I struggle with sugar addiction.

    Round Rock, TX

  9. Laura

    This does sound a lot like me! For Lent, one thing we done is to not have anything with high fructose corn syrup in it(I know, it’s weird). As you know, it does cut out a lot of processed food that way.

    I have to agree that I do feel better, but sometimes I am still at a complete loss as to what to eat. My biggest problem seems to be at the dreaded “snack” time.

    I’m also afraid that once Lent is over I won’t have the resolve to keep it up.

    Any time you want to throw in a sample daily menu, I know I would appreciate seeing it!

    God Bless!

  10. Amy

    Hi Jennifer!
    I just came across your sight, I was on Elizabeth’s sight. You caught my eye by talking about gluttony. I wanted to tell you about a Bible Study I’m doing right now. It is called The Lord’s Table by Mike Cleveland. Wow! How blessed I have been by this study so far. It is 60 days and I am on day 14. You can look at it on their website . It’s a beautiful reminder that we are to feast on Christ and find our satisfaction in Him, rather than seek it in food. I just wanted to share this with you. Blessings, Amy

  11. Denise

    Thank you for this, I’ve been wondering about your Saint Diet. This gives me a lot to think about. I definitely need to spend more time listening to God.

  12. ella

    I would recommend anyone who wants a book written by a reputable physician concerning losing weight with cutting out flour and sugar should get “Dr. Gott’s No Sugar No Flour Diet” book. He also has a follow up cookbook with decent recipes, I have been able to stay consistently on the diet well over a year without any problems, and have been able to control cravings and increase my exercise as well. I also fast which I attribute that I am able to do because I am not tied to craving the sugar and flour which was a strong addiction for me previous to the diet. Good luck to all!

  13. Kelley

    I was at Adoration a couple weeks ago and got another reminder to “sit down, shut up, and listen”. Yeah… He is pretty blunt with me about this one. I have to be reminded… often.

  14. Terri

    “I have so many vivid memories of sitting in front of a plate of food and saying a prayer begging God to give me the strength to not have extra helpings, pleading for him to let me stop eating when I felt full…and then I’d eat to the point of being overstuffed anyway.

    I know, it makes no sense. Why didn’t I just stop eating if it were so important to me? If you’ve never experienced this I’m not even sure I can describe it.”

    This part really resonated with me. It makes perfect sense. How many times have any of us been on the verge of sin, praying to God for help? And then sinned anyway? How many times have we been angry with someone and not stopped ourselves from yelling? How many times have we done it even while knowing it was sinful and, in the backs of our minds, calling to God for help?

    Anyway, I think many Catholics can identify. The problem may not be with over-eating, but most Catholics have struggled with some lack of control or sin against temperance. I have heard similar descriptions from people who battle or have battled addictions to masturbation, pornography, and “over-drinking” of alcohol.

  15. Anonymous

    Psalm 46:11 (NAB) “Be still and confess that I am God.”

    I believe you have employed “contemplative prayer” or “centering prayer”. Prayer that stresses on listening for God rather than asking for God to do something.

    It is not always easy to do but very powerful. Lectio Divina is another aspect of contemplative prayer that is very helpful.

    In regards to your diet or as I would prefer to call it more appropriately: a lifestyle change, I can verify it 100%. Many years ago I discovered exactly the same change of eating habits through a book called “Fit for Life”. The changes that took place within me physically and mentally were astounding. Again its not easy, especially in the beginning, but I recommend it to all.

  16. Joy of Frugal Living

    Very interesting! Thank you for sharing more details.

  17. Anonymous


    I found your blog just yesterday (forgot now what link led me here) and want to thank you for sharing your conversion story, diet challenges, etc. (it seems to be just what I need to read and hear right now). It is wonderful for me to find someone who asks the same questions I do about God, even though I am a cradle Catholic. Your words have helped me have a new appreciation for my sometimes floundering faith. Thank you.
    Peg in Denver, CO


    Thank you for being so specific here, it was really helpful in understanding more about your “Saint diet”.

    When my sister was young she was pudgy and had serious problems with asthma attacks when she would do even a small amount of exercise (like walking down the street to a friends house). My mother took her to allergists, asthma folks, etc, and they all said, “we don’t know what’s wrong, she’s not allergic to anything, and she doesn’t have asthma.”
    She decided to cut out sugar to try and lose weight and within about two days she had lost upwards of 10 lbs and the asthma attacks went away.
    We still haven’t found a doctor that can explain exactly what is going on there, but who cares, it works! She avoids sugar and is fine. I always find it interesting when someone else has a similar experience because no one believed us when we would tell them that my sister couldn’t have sugar because she had some kind of allergic reaction to it – how else can you explain it to people? Even today if she so much as drinks a glass of lemonade with sugar in it she will gain 5 – 7 lbs overnight!


  19. Xia

    GREAT post summarizing your journey! It’s so hard for the medical community to truly accept that a person can be biochemically addicted to sugar wheat and flour – but I’m living proof that it’s true. I encourage people to read Food Addiction, The Body Knows and From the First Bite, Kay Sheppard’s wonderful books to better explain it all. Thanks for linking to my story and I sure hope it helps others as it saved my life and brought me to God and ultimately back to my Catholic Faith. It is my cross to bear, but I would NOT give it up for anything as it leads me to God EVERY day, and for that I am so grateful. For those who think the plan is so restrictive, it does look like it at first glance, but after 8 years of following it, I actually eat MORE variety than I ever did before. Here’s today’s plan to give you an idea:
    Breakfast – waffles made with 4 oz. silken tofu, 1 egg, 1/2 cup uncooked oat bran, 1/3 cup powdered skim milk and 1 tsp. walnut oil (I just cut them and eat them dry, love it! but some omit the powd skim milk and top with yogurt and fruit), 6 oz. of pineapples and strawberries on the side – Lunch – 1 cup barley, 4oz. crumbled ground turkey, 1 cup canned diced tomatoes, 1 cup onions/peppers mix and italian seasoning – Dinner – 4 oz. hamburger, 8 oz. potatoes (cut at 10oz. raw into fry shapes and baked in oven with spices on top for flavor), 2 cups salad, 2 tsp. mayo, 1 T. yogurt and 1 T. mustard as dressing for salad – Metabolic b4 bed – 6 oz. apples and blueberries warmed up in microwave over 1 cup plain non fat yogurt – YUMMY! There is also a great cookbook for this plan here that I helped to edit. ENJOY and God bless all.

    Stephanie (aka Xia’s Mommy and soon to be Isa’s Mommy too! – click my name to link to my family blog).

  20. bearing

    This is great good news to hear from you, Jen.

    You may find that as time goes on and your blood chemistry improves, you are more and more able to occasionally use the foods that once were dangerous to you. According to some research (see the Gary Taubes book Good Calories Bad Calories) it seems to take a year to eighteen months of restricted consumption of that kind of stuff for the body to reach a tipping point at which you can eat more like a “normal” person.

    So it might be worthwhile to identify a date, 12 to 18 months after you started your flour/sugar restriction, and after that point experiment with adding back, say, whole-grain breads.

  21. Amy

    What an inspiring post, thank you for sharing! For a while now I have come to the realization that I must have a food addiction, because that Mr. Hyde thing you describe, where you cannot stop eating even when you know you should, I know EXACTLY what you mean. It must sound nuts to someone who has not experienced it.

    I would love to give this a try, but I am worried about getting over the hump of the first weeks of giving such foods up. You say the cravings went away – but how long did that take?

    I am going to talk with my husband about this – he is skinny as a twig but processed foods and sugar aren’t good for him either I am sure!

  22. SarahL.

    How is the diet affecting your food budget? Has adding more fresh vegetables/fruits and cutting out the mac&cheese caused your grocery bills to go up significantly? Thanks.

  23. Cathy Adamkiewicz

    Great post, Jen. I’ve linked it to my blog at

    I discovered my carb addiction years ago. Cutting out “the white stuff” makes such a dramatic difference.

    My theme this Lent is “speak Lord, your servant is listening.” I am in awe of what I’m hearing.

    Thanks, Jen!

  24. Anonymous

    I had an unhealthy relationship with food for many years. The Holy Spirit helped break that strong hold in my life.

    Your post today helped me remember that nothing is impossible with our great God.

  25. Kate Wicker

    As someone who has struggled with my body image, been a slave to the scale, and even suffered a clinical eating disorder, this post spoke to me on several different levels. Above all, your realization that you had to listen to God to overcome your struggles.

    In my quest for recovery (which is an ongoing process for me), I initially discovered a lot of New Age mumbo jumbo about rediscovering your “Self,” finding Zen, etc. in your life. What seemed to be missing was anything about letting God in on my struggles and listening to him. As soon as I started looking at things from a Christian perspective and attaching myself to Christ rather than to my desire to control my weight, my true healing began.

    I could blather on about this forever, but I wanted to thank you for sharing your journey with a food addiction.


  26. Kelly

    Only white flour, or whole wheat as well? Oats okay? Or rye, or ant other alternative grain.

    Tell us more, we want to know! 😉

  27. Debbie

    WOW – I linked over here from Elizabeth Foss’s blog and was astonished to read your story – because it sounds like my own struggles with food and gluttony – a battle that has raged for most of my life. Like you, cutting out certain foods seems to help and like you, I have sensed that the Lord is asking me to let him “take over the reins” of this part of my life. Easier said than done, as you have already experienced. Your post is truly an answer to my prayer. Thank you for you honesty and persistance!

  28. Abigail

    Adoration ROCKS!

  29. Katherine

    One question I would have would be, “How would a person know if they are a food “addict” or just a person with a tendency to overeat?” I know I’ve always struggled with my weight. But I’m also hypothyroid and come from a mother who associates food with comfort. Personally I find myself to be a very sensory eater. Even if I am full, if it looks so good or tastes so good, it is so hard for me to turn it down, but I have done it and think I could again … when I’m not hormonally nuts and 6 months pregnant with chocolate cravings. 🙂

  30. amy @ withpurpose

    OK, I’m busted. Everything you described is totally me. I’m a master at talking myself out of the need to address my food issues (pregnancy, breastfeeding, can’t subject the rest of my family to major food changes, the budget doesn’t allow it, too many other issues to work on, at least I’m not overweight, etc. etc. etc.). I think it’s time. Thanks for the great post.

    By the way, congratulations on the birth of your baby! Many blessings!!

  31. amy @ withpurpose

    After writing that last comment I remembered a post I wrote a while back along the same lines, namely, that I need to work on this area. I went back in my archives and sure enough, I wrote about my bad eating habits BACK IN JULY 2004! Wow.

    I’m tall too (6’2″ in my case) which makes “hiding” my overeating dangerously easy.

  32. Anonymous

    Thank you.

  33. 'Becca

    I’m so glad this is working for you!!!

    I want to thank you for this detailed post for an entirely different reason than most people: It explains what a holistic pharmacist was talking about when she gave me such wrong advice the other day! I’ve been wondering for years if a dietary imbalance of some type is one cause of my terrible headaches which often involve food cravings. After hearing just a one-sentence description of my situation, she said firmly, “You have to give up all wheat and sugar.” and talked about how my body craves these foods to feed an overgrowth of yeast. I argued that I have NO other symptoms of yeast trouble (a friend has that, so I’ve heard a lot about it) and that I never crave highly refined carbs, only semi-whole-grain products and fruit. She said I could take her advice or continue to suffer.

    Well, now I see better where she was coming from, and it looks like it’s a common enough problem that I can forgive her for jumping to the conclusion that it’s my problem too. (Have you read about yeast imbalance? Do you think that’s a factor for you?)

    A realization that came to me on my own is that this pharmacist was assuming that all food cravings are bad, that they are feeding an addiction or parasite. In my case I think it’s more likely I am craving what my body NEEDS. Why? Because I am one of the few remaining Americans who has a healthy relationship with food! I tend to like things that are good for me, eat only when hungry, not overeat, etc. That’s something to be EXTREMELY GRATEFUL for! I already knew that, but thanks for reminding me.

  34. Anonymous

    What a great post at a necessary time for me and my family. I have long been addicted to chemicals, and the same biochemical and spiritual concepts stem the gluttony of those addictions as well.

    Just read a great book called “Change Your Brain. Change Your Life” by Daniel Amen which can help identify underlying brain functions that may lead to these types of behaviors and can be managed naturally through diet, exercise and supplements.

    For those suffering from depression and addiction, I also recommend the books by Joan Mathews Larson for great information on biochemical repair.

    When your body and brain work right, it allows you to realize the serenity of a rich spiritual life.

  35. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    Only white flour, or whole wheat as well?

    I’ve found that my body reacts the same way to both white and whole wheat flour, so all flour is out for me, at least for now.

    Also, in case anyone’s interested, I posted some sample meals in #2 here.

    Thanks for all your great comments!

  36. Elizabeth

    I cannot even tell you how many times I have THANKED GOD for NOT giving me what I was praying for!!!

    Have you tried Spelt flour?
    You can get it in health food stores or online and it is VERY easy to make muffins or quick bread. It has a very high protein content and is very easily digested…I LOVE it!

  37. Amy

    I have come back to read this post three times now. It’s speaking to me in some way that I can’t quite put into words… but I definitely see myself here. I’m considering some diet changes, not sure I’m up to something as radical as yours, but I’m doing lots of reading and praying right now.

  38. Patm

    You know, just food for thought here…did you ever think that you’ve been given a thorn in the flesh and “my grace is enough.”

    Perhaps you are given this for a reason…to keep you humble and out of trouble! 🙂

  39. Catholic Bibliophagist


    Do you have any Type 2 diabetes in your family? The kind of crashes you describe could be the early stages of prediabetes. I used to get that kind of carb crash and the irritable crankiness that goes with it. Eating more fast acting carbs would make it seem better because my blood sugar would then shoot up. But then it would crash down again.

    Fortunately, the kind of diet you’re following now is the best thing you could do if you have a genetic tendency to diabetes. But if it runs in the family, an awareness of it is a good thing to keep in the back of your mind.

    I liked Anne Peter’s book, Conquering Diabetes. It has a chapter on prediabetes and explains how the various kinds and stages of diabetes work. Fascinating stuff.

  40. Terry

    If anyone is interested in a more scientific basis for the food addiction issue Jennifer is describing, they should watch the video presentation located here:

    It runs about an hour and describes the natural basis for what is known as the pleasure trap.

  41. Leticia

    Congratulations, Jen!
    This is the exact advice (minues the Adoration) I received 20 years ago from a woman who lost half her body weight and kept it off via Overeaters Anonymous. The white flour and sugar were the main culprits.
    The Adoration is the key ingredient, I am finding.
    Now, I want to put that great advice into practice. . .

  42. Jen

    Wow – I KNOW that sugar and white flour are my main problems too. I am way hypoglycemic in that I can’t even eat a high protein bread product with peanut butter without crashing. I am “afraid” to let go of sugar all together, but I’m thinking I will HAVE to, and I know as the cravings go away, I won’t care as much anyway.

    And the Lord has worked in my life in this area already. . .I KNOW I need to obey HIM. But I like what you said about listening – I need to listen more to what HIS plan is instead of just asking Him to come and bless my own.

    Thanks for this great testimony!

  43. Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller

    I’ve been struggling with the same 10 pounds for 2 years now following a car accident after which I was unable to exercise for several months. I think it drastically changed my metabolism because even though I eat well (lots of fruits and veggies) and exercise, I can’t make any headway. Whenever I’m doing well with avoiding bad fats and bad carbs, I wind up trashing all my hard work with some junk food and I see it on the scale the next morning. I do think giving up sugar and flour would do it for me – but I’d have to combine that with prayer to keep me from compromising myself. I’ll come back and comment if it works.

  44. Jen

    Hi again, Jennifer,
    After reading this post, I decided to give this a try. I’ve not been eating sugar and flour for about a week and a half and I’m amazed at how much more stable my blood sugar has been. I think I might still have to tweak my approach to figure out if I need to cut back on other carbs – like corn tortillas and rice – both of which I LOVE, too!

    I mentioned this post in my last post. I’m not sure how backlinks work, but here’s the link to my post if you want to check it out.

    God bless,

  45. Rina

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now but I think this is the first time I’ve ever commented. I can totally relate to everything you are saying here and I’m SO THANKFUL for this post. I’d never heard of this concept before, but I exhibit all the symptoms of having a food addiction. Both me and a friend of mine have determined to cut out both sugar and wheat from our diet. I must say that the thought of NEVER having these foods again is a little difficult, but I’m determined to get over this. I went to the site you linked to, and saw that she recommends not eating any rice, barley, oats, etc. but I saw in your post that you do eat some of these things. Could you tell me what you have cut out of your diet that have helped you? Is it just sugar and wheat? Any advice or suggestions you could give me would be greatly appreciated!

  46. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    Rina –

    Great to hear from you. I just have a sec but wanted to reply quickly…

    Cutting out all wheat, flour (including whole wheat flour) and sugar seems to have done the trick for me. After my “moment of surrender” (that I blogged about in one of these posts) I was (and still am) open to giving up rice and other grains, but that doesn’t seem to have been necessary for me. I was able to get gluttony under control and not obsess about food and still eat whole grain rice, steel cut oats, etc. Though I think it’s different for everyone.

    It’s definitely intimidating to think of never eating those foods again, and I think that’s why the spiritual aspect is so important. You really do need to just let yourself be led one day at a time and not worry about what’s going to happen in the future. Also, the cravings do go away so you don’t really care that you’re not eating that stuff. That’s been my experience anyway. 🙂

    The Body Knows email list is a great source of info for stuff like this that you may find helpful as well!

  47. Tod Torrent


    You may have already heard of this organization, but for folks needing another layer of support for food addiction, Overeaters Anonymous can help:

    They have weekly meetings in all the major areas and can be a GREAT source of help for those battling this problem.


  48. Rina


    Thanks for getting back with me. I’ve been off of sugar for a full two weeks now, and I must say that I’ve also experienced that the cravings have gone away. I just don’t find myself WANTING sugar or sweets anymore. That, alone, is an incredible thing. I am still having a difficult time with overeating other things, however, so this week I’ll be cutting out wheat as well and, if necessary, I’ll begin taking out other grains. Thank you for your thoughts on this and thank you so much for being brave enough to write about your struggles in this area. I feel incredibly blessed to have learned about this – I’m starting to win a battle I was beginning to loose hope in.


  49. Beth/Mom2TwoVikings

    Jennifer, I’ve had this post bookmarked for weeks. I’ve been thinking and thinking and praying and praying about it. Am I really a glutton? *blush* And, the answer is a defininte yes.

    While it didn’t do the trick for you, I got The No-S Diet via interlibrary loan and it was like a dawning of light into my mind.

    I’ve also been looking up the writings of Aquinas and Cassian about gluttony and feel really convicted about it. I had no idea how much all-things-food has been controlling my life.

    I swore I wouldn’t hit 40 this overweight but I did. So, instead of waiting for some easy day to start – the first of a month, the first of a year, whatever – I started yesterday…just a regular ol’ day.

    With God’s help and your initial testimony, I’m hoping a year from now I will see some serious change.

    Thank you!

  50. alwayswithme

    Thanks for commenting on my blog and referring me to this entry on your blog. I remember a couple of years ago I was losing weight without really trying at all. The only thing I was doing differently was some really faithful Bible study and time spent in quiet prayer with our Lord. A friend even asked me what diet I was on because I was so obviously losing. The only thing I could tell her was that I was spending most of my day with God. As time went on, I stopped doing what I had been doing and started gaining again and feeling oh so much less peaceful. Thank you for reminding me of this time in my life and I am going to read all these comments you have on this entry plus any others that you have written on this subject.



  51. Inez

    I'm a Quaker, and as we say, your post "speaks to my condition." Thank you! I know the Spirit lead me to this information and your story.

  52. Anonymous

    Dear sister;

    What a great news that you have found the wisdom of life. Congratulations both for you and your husband. I am a Muslim and want to add that in the centre of Islam, ıf you would like yo be a real Muslim, you need to accept the existence of all Prophets that Allah sent to the world, which also include İsa (a.s) Christ.
    I hope that you also see the real part , the reality beneath this. May Allah protect you ,you beloved ones, your country, your people, all the human beings.

    Allaha emanet olun.

  53. Isabel

    Food addiction is very real. I am a food addict currently in recovery. I’ve lost alot of weight but I also know from meetings that a persons weight is not always indicative of their degree of food addiction. I belong to a community of men and women all arounnd the world that follow a spiritual 12 step program based on the twelve steps of AA known as FA (Food addicts in recovery anonymous). We have members from other 12 step programs such as AA and NA and also people whose only addiction is food. The website is . I found this program while visiting in the US, but am now an active member living outside the country. There is a solution out there for food addicts. Search online, there might even be a meeting close to you.

  54. Tricor

    After reading this post, I decided to give this a try. I’ve not been eating sugar and flour for about a week and a half and I’m amazed at how much more stable my blood sugar has been. I think I might still have to tweak my approach to figure out if I need to cut back on other carbs – like corn tortillas and rice – both of which I LOVE, too!

  55. Katie- "Wellness Mama"

    Thanks for posting this! I went through a similar realization and switched to a no grain/sugar, low carb lifestyle with an emphasis on lots of veggies, protein and healthy fats. It is amazing how much better you feel! My background in Nutrition actually made it harder for me to get there, because I had to get past all the common misconceptions that conventional wisdom has about “healthy, low-fat, etc”. I also think that eating this way is closer to how God intended, as we are eating more of the healthy, whole foods he gives us. Thanks, as always, for great information and inspiration!

  56. Claire

    Jen, I went back to these posts about your struggle with food addiction/gluttony. Oh boy, can I ever relate!!!! I recently changed my diet and attitude (so I thought) and lost 25 lbs, with about 20 more to go. I got to the point where I could pass on dessert and bread without any stress.

    Then I let my sister-in-law and her sister talk me into having my favorite martinis and bread, etc that I should never have. That led me on a downward spiral. I’ve gained back about 15 of the 25 and I’m back to negotiating with myself…I can have this ice cream today and start tomorrow.

    I’m going to try to follow your advice and listen to God instead of myself. Thank you for these posts which I plan to read and re-read as many times as it takes to “get it.”

    God Bless Jenn. I can’t wait to see you on The Journey Home.

  57. nisey


  58. nisey

    Now U need to guide me specifically on what to change bcuz I can’t do that no flour no sugar change ALONE BUT NEED YOUR HELP THANKS HOLY SPIRIT IN ADVANCE FOR DELIVERING ME FROM GLUTTONY & FOOD ADDICTION JUST LIKE YOU DID FROM DRUGS!!!!

  59. Marcia

    Hello! I am so happy I ran across you! This info is amazing and just what I needed to hear. Btw, I was googling “Saints and gluttony” when I came across your site. I am so happy to have found this info! I needed to hear it. I’m overweight and have created a precious daughter to follow in my footsteps. She’s 90lbs MORE than I was at her age! 🙁 Anyway, I’ve ordered a few books at the library and hopefully (prayerfully) we’ll be on our way… THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      How inspiring! You’ll be in my prayers, Marcia!

  60. Vanessa

    I’m so glad that you found something that works for you! That’s awesome! I’ve been praying for years for The Lord to heal my mind. I have tried everything from staying still to listen to fasting to you-name-it. I pray and read the Word every day. I try my best to live a life that’s pleasing to the Lord. Yet, I feel that He has been silent for a long time. My stomach hurts every day from eating too much. It’s a torment. I would rather not live if I have to live with this torment. I tried everything related to my food consumption, including what you described in your article (no flour, sugar or processed foods). Nothing has worked. The crazy cravings and obsession never go away and nothing works long term. It’s a nightmare. The only thing I haven’t tried is getting on antidepressants. I really wish I didn’t have to try that route, but I’m just so tired of dealing with this. I have read that some antidepressants have been shown to reduce binges. Anyway, this was a good article. You’re a great writer. I hope your blog blesses many people.

  61. Rose

    Thank you so much.I have been trying to over come my over eating sugar and flour. Thanks for leading me to this site God.

  62. Sharon

    Wow the MSG sounds so like me. I love my bread, rolls, pasta, and rice! I struggled with weight especially after 3 kids, lost my gall bladder or rather trashed it away. I am in the med field but am totally sold that God have our bodies the answers to heal itself and traditional meds don’t help, chinese medicine/ herbs/accupuncture, I’ve found truly see where the problem is and helps u fix it. I think God has put so many ppl around me with this knowledge. Recently I found out that my liver is now trashed, have sugar carb cravings and caffeine cravings, headaches, joint pain, I’m overweight, tired, moody, in degradation, nausea, vomiting, etc… I’m gluten intolerant. My herbalist: Chiro diagnosed me and after being off gluten for 3 weeks almost all synptoms went away. When I started back again I felt HORRIBLE! It seems hard to keep on track bc everything around us is full of carbs salt sugar and caffeine…. Not to mention all the chemicals and hormones.
    I’m so sick and tired of being seriously sick and tired!!!!! God made my body mind and spirit and I’ve just been tearing down his temple! How can I teach my children’s class, volunteer at church, hospitals Nd jails like I had been when I’m overweight and tired? What about the role model I’m not beingfor my Kiddos? And although my hubby is super sweet, a over plump wife isn’t the cutest! Haha!
    But seriously I’ve been off gluten and I know how amazing it feels to actually feel good! To not be in pain, with constant headaches, mood swings, and losing weight was just a plus. No gluten in 3 wks..,, I lost 20 lbs! I wasn’t starving! I are a lot of veggies lean meat and juiced MY brains out. I lived it a d it tasted great, I had to find receipts and pay a bit more for natural organic and gluten free stuff but I felt good, I looked good and it’s cheaper down the road when your in the hospital dying from all the toxins drs will put you on thinking their saving your life but really don’t know what they’re doing but it’s what they’ve been taught.
    God I know all the Answers but still poison myself?!?!? Ugh?! Whyyyyyyyy???!!!!!!
    I need to give it all up to God. He made me. He made the things that are good for me and now I have to be a big girl (no pun intended) and take what he’s blessed me with. Eat right. Don’t be lazy and not prepare food that’s good for me and if I don’t… Make the right choices when I eat out.
    God is there. He’s the answer . I just have to read his word and open my ears to hear him so he will guide me and when I put my time and energy into him, it all works out. I will be a healthy me.

  63. Jeanmarie

    It breaks my heart to think of people beating themselves up over so-called gluttony. If our bodies don’t get the nutrients they need, in sufficient quantities, they generate powerful signals of hunger and craving. Eating the wrong things (modern processed foods) screws up our brain chemistry and hormonal responses to food. Eating a whole-foods, animal-based diet (pastured meats, eggs, raw milk from pastured cows, organic vegetables, some fruit, ample healthy fats like butter, pastured lard and coconut oil, etc.) will satisfy cravings. There are individual differences so fine-tuning may be required, especially if there are food intolerances/allergies involved, which is likely if someone is eating a lot of wheat, corn, soy and processed industrial oils.

  64. Michelle

    This is exactly what I needed and the timing was right. When I happened upon it, I had already gone little over a week without sweets.

    I have often suspected that I was like an alcoholic when it came to sugar, but denied it due to my love for it as well as the “seeming” absurdity of it all. I knew for sure that it affected my energy AND my emotions.

    Well, I tried for years and years to quit smoking. When the time was right though, the effort was minimal. It kind of felt that way now too but then…. my nephew left for Basic Training and the first thing I noticed after the tears subsided was that I was craving a huge slice of NY cheesecake smothered with fruit topping! May the grace of God help me.

    Thanks Jen, for your down to earth, funny and inspiring way of sharing your own life experiences.

    Anyway, I have 8 children (6 still homeschooling) with 6 that are 14 and under. Streeeeeesssssss doesn’t help matters.


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