“In an acceptable time I heard you…Behold now is a very acceptable time.” 2 Cor 6:2
All my life I’ve been overweight. I’ve always felt hungry; no matter what I’ve eaten I have rarely felt full. I was always the fat girl in every grade, teased by my peers and embarrassed by my body. When it came to food I was unable to control myself. I had to have ice cream if it was in the house. I loved mashed potatoes, rolls, anything sweet or starchy. I even took gummy vitamins because they were so sugary. I was a foodaholic and out of control. For 45 years I’ve struggled with my weight and the negative emotions that go with it.
Two years ago I went on a strict diet and began to count calories. I eliminated wheat, because wheat seemed to have a detrimental effect on my metabolism. I went to bed hungry every night. I lost 40 pounds, but immediately gained back 13 when I added wheat back into my diet. Doctors tested me for celiac disease, thyroid disorders and food allergies but couldn’t find anything. I was suffering from extreme fatigue, I had acne and was so bloated that I looked pregnant. I was depressed and felt hopeless to ever get down to a healthy weight.
I prayed to God to help me get healthy, but it was a whiny prayer and, I’ll admit, an empty one. I didn’t want to be hungry. I hated to fast. Food was an idol to me.
Last summer, I had a conversation with a friend of mine who mentioned to me that when she was trying to quit smoking some years ago, she began to confess that she smoked. After all, the body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and damaging it can fall into the realm of sin. This gave me pause and made me think about my overeating as an affront to the Lord.
I began to confess the sin of gluttony in the sacrament of reconciliation. I also began to pray to the Lord to help me become completely detached from food. I wanted to eat to live, not live to eat. I wanted to become healthy and to live a long time so I could enjoy my children and, hopefully grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
About a month after I began praying this way I was diagnosed with a Systemic Candida Overgrowth. All of us have good and bad bacteria in their digestive systems. It seems that mine had gone haywire and overtook my digestive system and got into my bloodstream. This particular bacteria, Candida, is a yeast, which demands to be fed…and what does yeast eat? Sugar! This explained my craving for sweet foods.
The treatment for my condition involved eliminating all fruits, grains, dairy, sugars, mushrooms and fermented products, including alcohol, from my diet. That left me with meat, vegetables and eggs as a basic diet. Initially the anti-fungal medication I was on made me physically ill and I could barely eat. One day, as I sat doubled over with nausea, I remembered my prayer asking God for a complete detachment from food. Wow, I thought, be careful what you pray for…
I have been in treatment for over seven months now and all my cravings are gone. Completely. I haven’t eaten fruit, grains or alcohol in all this time and I feel great! My skin has cleared up, I have energy and my stomach is flattening. Recently I have been able to add a few foods back to my diet, like unsweetened Greek yogurt and occasionally heavy cream. However, most foods I have tried to add back have made me sick and my doctor has recommended staying on this diet for the rest of my life. Now I truly appreciate any foods I can eat and pray my meal blessing from the heart!
The most positive result of my condition is that I have been given the grace to embrace this cross…and a cross it is. I pray a lot before the Blessed Sacrament. Regarding my condition, I only have prayers of thanksgiving. I haven’t asked the Lord to cure me of it because I’ve decided to approach it as a lifelong fast.
Now that I know that in order to stay healthy I need to severely restrict my diet, I feel empowered! I offer up my fasting for my children’s salvation, for souls in Purgatory, for sinners who have no one to pray for them.
Other graces have come as well. My husband has taken his vocation seriously and has stepped up to help me bear this cross. He grills meats for me every weekend so I can have prepared food to eat throughout the week. He has been accepting of the changes I’ve made in our family’s dinner menus. My whole family has been supportive of my new way of eating and even my children have come up with recipes that are within my diet.
So, with the cross, graces abound. When I bake brownies for my children or make a nice Italian meal for a friend, I remember to offer up my fast for the person who will be eating the food. Using my condition for good has brought such joy! Joy from knowing my suffering can benefit others and joy that the Lord heard my prayers and answered me in His time.