The Burger Epiphany

My attitude about food was the problem, and that attitude about food had led me down a road that filled my body with problems. The decision to explore what could help my body had the power to change my life.

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Addiction is a funny thing. It’ll sneak up on you when you are unaware. It will fill your life with unnecessary demands and overpower you again and again. It sucks.

I promised myself as a little girl that I would never be an addict. It can do too much destruction, and life is just too precious for that nonsense. I have seen addiction cause the loss of over 200,000 dollars, a home, a car, and dignity in one person’s life, in a matter of three short years. I have seen addiction cause people to remain in poverty because they value that cigarette more than saving their money or paying their bills. My life has been surrounded by people overrun with addiction. I know these people deeply, and I love them dearly. No one is above sin. The enemy is very sneaky, and sadly we are easily led astray.

In my own life, addiction crept in like slow-rising water. I didn’t even notice it at first or that it was rising. As the years of my life stacked one on another, I had no idea that I was getting deeper and deeper. It was such a subtle thing. I had become an addict, and I had no idea.


“Hello, I’m Dawn, and I’m addicted to food.”

“Hi, Dawn.”


It happened without me knowing it because the addiction was about something you need to survive. You can’t avoid food like you can drugs, or cigarettes, or alcohol.  You have to form some kind of relationship with it. My relationship to food was something I never spent much time thinking about. Every now and again, I thought, like most of you, “Hey, I should probably eat more salads or something. Maybe saute some veggies every once in a while.”

The first time I realized I had a problem was when I was twenty-three. I had gone to Burger King, my dealer of choice, and I was back at home, sitting in my favorite chair about to eat my favorite food. I mindlessly began to eat it, and about halfway through the burger, I felt the Lord say within my spirit, “Do you love me more than that burger?”

A sudden stillness fell over me. My face went lifeless, and my heart rate began to rise. I sat there in a stupor. I thought of Peter on the shore of the Sea of Galilee when Jesus asked, “Peter, do you love me more than these?” My heart cried in unison with Peter, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” But did I love Him more? I knew that deep down I did, but as I looked at the burger and saw its ooey-gooey cheese melted between delicious slabs of beef, with a few pickles for crunch, sandwiched between buttery bread, so warm and delicious, I felt powerless.

Eventually and awkwardly, I told Him, “Yes Lord. You know I love You.” Then in true God-like fashion, He responded, “Then stop eating it.”

Did He really just say that? The God of the Universe was asking me to stop eating my cheeseburger. It is kind of laughable now in retrospect, but at the time, when I was entangled in addiction, it was a heavy question to be asked by someone so powerful. Ugh, the moment of choice — would I put down my idol, my addiction, my obsession, and choose to obey the Lord?

It haunts me still to this day, but I chose no. The guilt, the anguish, the self-pity made every bite taste like death, yet I still ate. I hated myself for it. I ate that burger and those fries, and I drank that Dr. Pepper. As I sat there stuffing my face, my mind told me that God loved me anyway and that, when He looked at me, He saw the perfection of Jesus. It was horrible, and I felt so ashamed. I knew I was taking advantage of His grace, and I knew I had a serious problem.

I continued to live in that strange place of awareness and powerlessness for the next five years. It was horrible yet wonderful in the sickest way. I was aware of my food choices, and no matter how many times I promised myself that I would choose a salad at the restaurant when I got there, I couldn’t help but order deep-fried mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers with fries, and heaps and heaps of honey mustard. Food was like a soothing blanket to me. It was a constant joy. My life had been riddled with unhappiness. I knew that no matter what my life looked like, no matter how sad, lonely, depressed I got, that cheeseburger, or that slice of pizza, or those tacos would taste delicious and wonderful bite after bite, time after time. Food loved me.

I pursued God in my day-to-day. I spent time with Him, and I wanted to honor Him. I pursued community and was vulnerable about most of my sin. I valued the Word and sought out studies and classes to learn more about the Lord. Each time He would remind me of my sin, I would hang my head in shame and promise to do better. Never once did I think to ask Him to help me. Never once did I ask Holy Spirit to give me strength. I tried to use my flesh, my very weak flesh, to overcome something on its own.

By the time I was twenty-eight, my body seriously needed help. Sin always has consequences. I would wake up most mornings feeling fine, but by the evening, I felt run down and exhausted. There was almost always a constant dull headache. I had high blood pressure issues that began when I was eighteen. I would get dizzy at times for no apparent reason. I was overweight, and I’m sure if I had done a blood panel, it would have looked a hot mess. I didn’t know what to do.

Around that same time, I met and married my husband, Chris, and something about that created a space for me to address my health. I think it was the power of his love for me. It gave me a stronger footing when it came to fighting food. Chris’s love empowered me in a way that I had never let God or anyone else’s love do. My husband’s love gave me security and a safe place. The Father showed His love for me by giving me Chris, and through that, He opened the door for my breakthrough.

The morning after our wedding, we were at Cracker Barrel getting ready to set out on our honeymoon, and I sat there, eating a stack of pancakes. I stopped and thought, “Why am I doing this?” I realized that I felt so lousy, and I was doing it to myself! I was tired of it. Tired of the back and forth, the up and down, all the disappointment and frustration. I told Chris I thought I had an issue with gluten. I think I assumed that partly based on ignorance and partly based on the giant stack of gluten sitting in front of me. We talked it through and decided that I would give the gluten-free life a try just to see what would happen. What could it hurt?

Now, I am not saying that gluten was the enemy here. My attitude about food was the problem, and that attitude about food had led me down a road that filled my body with problems. The decision to explore what could help my body had the power to change my life.  It was the first time I chose to eliminate something from my diet. It was the first time I took control of the food I put in my mouth. It opened up a world of possibility for me and took me from living like a victim to living in control. We should not be slaves to anything, especially not inanimate objects.

It’s nearly four years later, and I am happy to announce that I am no longer addicted to food. It can rear its ugly head every now and again, but now that my habits have changed, it doesn’t take much to quiet that voice. I have spent countless hours doing research and leaning into the Lord for wisdom and strength. I have invested money into Naturopaths who have helped me tremendously. I have spent a lot of time detoxing and shopping for the best raw organic foods. None of this happened overnight, none of it was necessarily easy. But every small step has gotten me farther and farther away from the girl holding that cheeseburger and closer and closer to experiencing health the way our Father designed it.

The small steps add up to big strides, and eventually, you look back and can’t even recognize the you from years ago. It’s an incredible feeling and a breathtaking experience.


To read more about my journey overcoming food addiction, and some helpful tips for you, read Self-Care: Let’s Talk Biology.


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About the Author

Dawn King is a Carolina native with a Neverland heart. She's an Enneagram 4 that believes beauty can be found even in the darkest of places, light is always bright enough to outshine darkness, and love is stronger than any madness or evil. She values kindness and honesty more than most anything else. She will always believe that to change the world you must first change yourself.