Day 23 – Learning to Stop Eating Junk Food

If you’ve ever tried to clean up your diet, you know how difficult it can be. Eating healthy is important to ward off disease, improve our immune systems, and to live long, full lives. Yet for so many, it is a near constant struggle. Generally speaking, we know the foods we shouldn’t eat, but we have such a hard time staying away from them. Why is that?

It all comes down to science and the way our brains are wired. Foods that are high in fat, salt, and sugar tend to be the most unhealthy, and also, the most addictive. That is because when we eat them, it triggers a dopamine release in our body. And as covered in an earlier lesson, dopamine is a neurotransmitter that imprints pleasurable experiences on the brain so we will be more likely to repeat them in the future. It is associated with nearly all addictive behaviors, from doing hard drugs and checking your phone a hundred times a day, to eating fast food and, you guessed it—watching porn. 

Here’s the thing though—your body can only handle so much dopamine. The more dopamine you trigger your body to release above normal levels, the more desensitized your body’s dopamine receptors get. That means that to get the same high you’ve experienced in the past, you need a greater stimulus in the future. If you’ve ever wondered why addictive behaviors escalate over time, this is it. This is why if you eat unhealthy foods, you will crave more of them in the future—and over time, you become more and more unhealthy.

When changing your diet and learning to eat healthy, there’s an important principle, which, given enough time, will play out. Whatever foods you consistently consume, you will develop more of a hunger for. The opposite is also true. Whatever foods you choose not to consume any longer, you will eventually lose your appetite for. That doesn’t mean you’ll never have a craving for anything unhealthy. Rather, it means that for the most part, your appetite changes for the better as you eat better. You will still have to exercise self-control from time to time, but it will get much easier as you consistently make healthier decisions. 

This process of reassigning our hunger gives us a key insight into how dopamine works. Dopamine ultimately reinforces whatever behaviors you engage in to fulfill your appetites. If you refrain from fulfilling your appetites with unhealthy things for long enough, your brain will eventually get the message that it needs to find other ways to get dopamine—and as you pursue healthier options, you will begin to form new attachments to them through, you guessed it—our old pal dopamine. In this way, dopamine can be both a powerful enemy or a helpful ally. It all depends on whether you pursue it in unhealthy or healthy ways. 

As you begin the journey of cleaning up your diet and learning to make healthier choices however, the choices can feel very difficult. That is because most people who are used to eating junk food have created quite strong appetites for it. This is why, in the beginning stages, most experts recommend cleaning out one’s fridge and pantry to get rid of unhealthy foods that they might crave in a moment of weakness. It’s far easier to develop a new habit if you cut off access to the old way of meeting your cravings. In the long term, as you eat healthier foods, your body and brain adapt to the changes. In the beginning, however, you are far more likely to stick to a healthier way of eating if you don’t have access to junk food in the first place

Now, of course, we aren’t just talking about how to stop eating junk food. We are talking about how to stop looking at porn—and more specifically, how to become a healthy person who no longer needs to look at porn. In fact, you will find the process for kicking junk food habits to the curb and learning to eat healthy is not all that different from that of quitting porn. Putting the spiritual aspect of it to the side for just a minute, porn is essentially sexual junk food. It’s a quick, unhealthy way to respond to your cravings that comes with all kinds of long-term negative side effects. And the process for getting free involves the difficult decisions to get the junk food out of the house and force yourself to find other healthier things to replace it with. In the long run, as you make healthier decisions, you will reduce your unhealthy cravings and attach your hunger to things that give you life and not just a quick fix. 

Day 23 Freedom Work

Scripture Reading — Read in the book of Proverbs until you find at least 5 separate verses that speak to the struggles you have, and write them down. 

Journaling Exercises — Answer the following questions at length in your journal. Aim to spend at least 5–7 minutes per question.

  • In what ways do you want a healthier life? How is the process of quitting porn a part of your pursuit of a healthier life? 
  • Without using spiritual language, how has porn use contributed to you being unhealthy? In what ways has it been like junk food to you? How has it affected the way you see yourself, others, and sexuality?
  • Again, without using spiritual language, make a list of as many benefits as possible that you will experience when you learn to replace porn with healthy ways of getting your needs met. Then answer the question—are you willing to make the difficult choices you need to make in the short term in order to change what you hunger for in the long term?

Prayer — Father, I want to be healthy, healed, and whole. I want to be fully human, and to treat others as fully human. Reveal to me the ways that porn has harmed the way I see people you love. I don’t want to see others as objects that I can use to satisfy my own desires. I want to see them as people you love dearly, created in your image. I yield my eyes to you and ask that you fill them with light, that I may see as you do. Amen.

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Dr. Joseph Serwadda's Story

Over the past decade, numerous pastors and leaders from all over the world have been crying out (and even begging us) for discipleship resources in their language. This may sound extreme, but in America we have an abundance of books and resources that are available to us that are often taken for granted. In many ways, we have access to excess.

In some developing nations, people have never seen a book in their language. When leaders from these nations are given a book, they treat it as sacred gift! They even hand-write books and Bibles word for word so that they can spread this message of hope to others in their sphere of influence.

Dr. Joseph Serwadda, a leader from Uganda who oversees a group of churches that number approximately 27,000, echoes this need among pastors and leaders all over the world: “Our biggest need is not money or bigger buildings, but solid teaching. We lack literature for people to read and study on their own. The more people we have in church who are less instructed in the Word of God, the less solidity we have. Come and help us preserve the harvest. This is a Macedonian call!”

Pastor Yassir's Story

Over the years, Cubans have long suffered under the oppression of a single message: communism. Despite this challenge, Yassir is committed to sharing a new message with his people, a message of transformation that can lead to national revival.

Cubans, in general, have been conditioned toward communistic consumption. That’s why Yassir wants his people to embrace a new identity: a life defined by what they can give. This shift requires growth and maturity that can only come through a new perspective.

He explained, “The Cuban church is strong and filled with passion. But I believe it’s important that we shift our mentality. We need to see how the Gospel goes beyond our own needs. Ultimately, we need to take responsibility for ourselves and our nation, and not just wait for outside intervention.”

There aren’t many Christian resources in Cuba. So, Pastor Yassir’s church, along with many other churches throughout Cuba, have been profoundly impacted by the resources Messenger International has provided for them in their own language.

In our conversations with Pastor Yassir, he often cited an ancient proverb: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ve fed him for a lifetime. He sees MessengerX as a tool both to feed his people and teach them to fish.

It’s become evident that after many years in our ministry, the most effective way to transform a village or town is not to construct a church building. This just keeps the local leadership dependent on us.

We are much more effective if we give the indigenous leaders such as Pastor Yassir spiritual knowledge that will empower them to influence their village, town, or city. Such knowledge helps produce the faith needed to grow and sustain the work, which, if necessary, will include buildings and other resources.

Stories like Pastor Yassir’s fuel our mission, because we believe that everyone deserves to know life-transforming truth!

Nura's Story

Before Nura became a follower of Christ, her life was a living hell.
After the death of her husband—from whom she endured many years of abuse and suffering—she became a widow with four children. In search of peace and inner healing, she sought solace in religious places and practices, which only led her deeper into depression and financial debt.

Her last resort was Jesus.

“I came to the Christian church and begged for help! I accepted Christ after I heard of the promise of peace and healing that is found in Him,” Nura wrote. “I slowly began to recover, but there was one thing hindering my healing—unforgiveness.”
Filled with regrets, Nura struggled to forgive her husband. But the grip of offense began to weaken when her pastor handed her a copy of The Bait of Satan.

“I forgave my husband after I learned how much I, too, needed forgiveness,” shared Nura. “Now I am healed, and I have peace for the first time in my life. Some even say I look ten years younger!”


Pastor Raphael's Story

Pastor Raphael was raised in Kenya, immersed in a culture of darkness. As a child, he lacked affection because his father believed that strong men don’t show love. He continually witnessed his father beat and belittle his mother. Everywhere he looked, insidious behavior was practiced toward women and infants—families were being destroyed and lives were ending before they had a chance to begin.

This was the destiny Raphael was headed toward.

But everything changed when truth entered the scene. The first area to be transformed was Raphael’s heart—which, in turn, transformed his marriage and his family. And with a strong and healthy family, his whole outlook toward life has changed.

“Through the resources of Messenger International, a relentless passion was ignited in me to see the people of my country free from lies,” shared Raphael. “I discovered my purpose to train up others and bring God’s transforming truth to remote villages.”

Raphael has trekked miles through mud and rain to reach people, often rising early and returning late. He would travel over 50 miles a day with his bicycle—but through the generosity of the MessengerX community, he was given a motorcycle, which has enabled him to double his efforts while easily transporting the resources and supplies he needs to facilitate his classes. Raphael has seen over 200 of his students graduate in the villages he serves.

“Thank you for investing in my people,” expressed Raphael. “Each day tribal warriors are transformed into children of God, marriages are infused with love, and the innocent are protected. Your generosity has given us the tools we need to rewrite our story and reclaim our humanity.”

Dahlia's Story

Formerly a Muslim, Dahlia fled to Turkey after she was expelled from her Iranian school and excommunicated by her family. Her crime? Becoming a Christian.

You can now find Dahlia in a refugee camp, far from what she once called home. But despite the upheaval, she has found purpose in her pain. On a daily basis, Dahlia walks through her makeshift town and prays over the people. They have become her people—the audience of her message.

Dahlia has become a messenger, and she is often spotted lovingly serving those around her and sharing her faith with them. Despite language barriers, people are drawn to her because they see something different in her. And what’s amazing is that she’s not only reaching the people in her refugee camp, she’s also impacting those she left behind in Iran.

“I’ve had calls from Iran,” writes Dahlia. “People who mocked me because of my faith now believe in Jesus and want to know more. So, I tell them about MessengerX, which has a lot of translated discipleship resources.”

As we continue to provide people like Dahlia with life-transforming truth in their own language, we’re helping them grow in their faith and discover their purpose—and we’re equipping them to make a difference in their world.

“I am beyond thankful for all of the books that I’ve been able to read in my language, such as Driven by Eternity, translated in Farsi,” shared Dahlia. “I read them again and again. The messages keep me company in this lonely season, and they inspire me to reveal Jesus to the hurting people all around me.”