“Dear Food, I Love You, I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me- Interview with Julia Fikse



Host James Egidio: 0:37

Hi, I’m James Egidio, your host of the 99 Relapses Podcast. The podcast that moves you from recovery to discovery through the grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When you hear the word addiction, the first thing that comes to mind is drugs and alcohol, and with good reason. These are the two most common addictions that are publicized the most throughout mainstream media, especially amongst high profile personalities in society. However, there are more people addicted to food in the United States, which cause a myriad of healthcare problems.. My guest struggled with food addiction and obesity throughout most of her life. Today, seven years later, she has surrendered her entire life and her addiction to the Lord. It is my pleasure and a blessing to introduce my guest on the 99Relapses Podcast Ms. Julia Fikse. Hi, Julia. how are you?.

Julia Fikse: 1:39

Hi James. What a joy and privilege it is to be here today. Thank you for inviting me.

Host James Egidio: 1:44

Thank so much. Absolutely. Three times a charm, right? You’re back,

Julia Fikse: 1:49

We have been trying to make this happen with all of the tech, so if this is working, it is meant to be. And my prayers, the Lord will do. Wonderfulthings today to encourage People who are struggling with addiction.

Host James Egidio: 2:01

Sure. Just discuss a little bit about your struggle with obesity and food addiction and how it’s led you to where you’re at today with your ministry.

Julia Fikse: 2:16

Oh, yeah. So I have always loved food for as long as I can remember. I became a Christian when I was five years old. I asked Jesus into my heart, and that is the single best decision I ever. Nonetheless, I did struggle with food from a very young age. In fact, I remember being at a Brownie cookout, the Girl Scouts, and then before the Girl Scouts, there was brownies for the younger girls. And when my parents came to pick me up, I had been throwing up because I had eaten an obscene amount of toasted marshmallows. And from that day on, Probably should have gotten the hint that I liked to eat too much food, but I really didn’t. And all through my younger years and into high school, I really struggled with food. I remember going away to camp and when I got back, my mom was so surprised because I had gained 10 pounds at camp and most people would lose weight. My best friend was the soft serve machine that week and it was unlimited amount and I ended up gaining quite a bit of weight at camp. And in high school, I struggled with food and keeping a healthy weight. I would actually eat and then diet and eat, and then diet. Dieting to lose weight so that I could try and control my weight and my health. But then when I thought, hey, I had lost a few pounds, then I’d go back to eating and it was a very extreme sort of style of eating to just be able to fill a void and a need and to calm down. And I think that’s when I really started using food in the sense that food did help me calm down. It did keep me company it. A source of entertainment. And so I wrestled with that throughout high school and in college I gained 50 pounds. Some people gained the freshman 15. I, blew past that. And again just this unlimited amount of food in the cafeteria and not being able to manage my food because I was using food to help me feel better. Feel calm. and get through really tough situations and, there isn’t enough food in the entire world to help us get through a tough situation or solve our problems. And so I kept needing more and more to get through those rough days. And so when I graduated from college. I was very overweight and that’s when, I got a job and I started in the diet culture world where I could afford to now pay for diets to help me lose weight so that I could eat. And I got married and my husband and I moved to Los Angeles and that added a whole different set of challenges in terms of body issues and expectations, although I imagine that those things probably happen everywhere. It was really difficult to be here in a place where so many women were so thin. And so I found myself in ton of different diet programs, one of which I was getting shots in the morning every day, weighing myself, to make sure that I hadn’t cheated the night before. And I remember one day talking to the nurse and saying, I don’t know that my problem is really food in the sense that I can do a diet but it just doesn’t last. And I think there might be something wrong with my head and my heart around food. And she said we don’t do that, I can help you eat, less and let’s just keep going with this plan. And so I put it aside and I did I yo-yo dieted up and down in extreme weights throughout my young adult life. when my husband and I decided to adopt it was very exciting. I knew that I wanted to be an adoptive mom for a long time, and so when we finally called the adoption agency, we prayed for four things. We wanted twins, we wanted it all the legal to be settled. and we wanted it, we were praying for a fast adoption and we were praying for healthy kids, right? They told us, don’t even think about it. You probably won’t get twins. That never happens. But it turns out that four business days after we finished our paperwork, we were called and a family had chosen us for their twins. So we raced off to the hospital and while we were there, we learned that they had some challenges. They had a traumatic birth situation, and they were about three months early and they had been in the NICU for two months. And when we talked to the doctors, it sounded like everything was fine with just one exception. And that was, they were eating So here we had twins. We had the legal was all taken care of. It was super fast, and they were healthy that day. And so we decided, yes, we wanted to be their parents, and we went in and we met them and it was so amazing. We stayed in the NICU with them for another month and it turned out that they never took a bottle. We tried many different things and ended up having to put a tube into their stomach so that we could feed. We could lavage feed them, which is pouring the food into their bellies so they can eat. While we had OT, PT, all kinds of therapists, social workers, nutritionists, doctors surrounding us and in our home. many days of the week to rehabilitate them and help them to eat. So as you can imagine, this was a real struggle for me because the occupational therapist wanted me to go out and buy all of the most delicious, amazing food for them. So we had avocados and some of it was healthy bananas and nut butters, and some of it was not healthy cuz we wanted to tempt them to eat. So we had all kinds of, delicious ice creams and things like that in our house. And they had a lot of things happening for them, which was inhibiting them from eating. They had a gag reflex. in the front of their lips, so they would vomit every time, anything touch their lips. So we had plastic on the floor. I got really good at catching vomit in my shirt, and they would aspirate so we would have to clear their airway because they would vomit while they were trying to breathe. It was a big deal. So through all of this between the stress and the food and trying. Help them survive. And my husband and I trying to survive I gained a lot of weight. And the day that we got to take out those G tubes was a wonderful day. And soon after I realized that I had a challenge with food, I had, I was weighed more than I had ever waited in my life. And I couldn’t stop and no diet was working for me. So I ended up. at an addiction program for eating over overeaters and so as I sat out there in front of the building This Is Where The Healing Begins, came on by 10th Avenue North and I thought, okay, do I think this is where I’m supposed to be? And I walked in and it was a dark room. It smelled like burnt coffee. Smelled like smoke and cigarettes and everybody seemed really sad and they wanted me to say, hi, I’m Julia. they wanted me to say that I was a compulsive overeater and I was not ready for that at all. So I sat there, I did introduce myself, and I got a sponsor. And in my short time there, the sponsor really wanted me to believe that my problem was sugar, and she thought that everybody’s problem was sugar. And so obviously my problem was sugar, and I didn’t know if my problem was sugar. And I. wasn’t sure if that was going to solve the problem for me if I stopped eating sugar, so I went through the 12 steps, nailed it, lost a few pounds, got out of there, and went about my life as I. had never really solved my eating problem, and so as with all of the situations before in my life, I went back to eating and back to restricting and back to dieting, and then back to eating again, and ended up gaining all the way back and more. I got to the point where I was obese. I was living with obesity. I had a few health issues because of it, and I went to the doctor and I told my doctor that obviously I had hormone issues. I had some kind of a problem and I needed to have bariatric surgery. I wanted the sleeve. and she told me, no, I won’t give you the sleeve, but I will encourage you to go to 30 meetings in 30 days of a food addiction program. And I was like, no, I’m not an addict. I don’t wanna go back to that program. I don’t wanna go. And I talk about this in my story that it was very difficult for me to hear her say that. And I didn’t wanna be an addict, and I didn’t know, I believed in Jesus. Why wasn’t Jesus? Working, why wasn’t my faith working to help me solve this food problem that I had? and so I agreed to go again and it was, I was very reluctant to go. I went in the morning and I fully planned to sit in the back and not participate and leave and do that for 30 days so I could go back to my doctor and tell her what I already knew that this wasn’t gonna work for me. So when I showed up early in the morning, I opened the door. Sure enough, there was seats in the back. There was seats throughout the whole room. No one was there except for one woman. And she looked at me and she smiled, and she said, oh my goodness. I’m so glad you’re here. I can’t have a meeting with just one person. and that moment was pivotal for me because I was trying to solve this problem on my own. I was trying to have a meeting with one person to solve my addiction, and when she came into my life, she was so sweet and she had recovered from several different addictions and she helped me along and I ended up meeting. my new sponsor and I was what’s called a retread, I guess if you’ve been in the programs before, people who’ve gone and then stopped and then go back again. The day that I went into that addiction meeting, there was a movie out, it’s called it was called The Revanent, and it’s about a man who gets mauled by a bear and he stumbles into town, Bruce. Battered and bloodied, and that is how I felt when I walked into that addiction meeting. Totally malled by the bear of food and completely unable to manage it. actually found a toy in the house later that day and it was a bear the size of about a milk carton, a plastic bear. And I put it in my refrigerator to remind myself not to let the bear of food get me. And when my husband came home, he opened the refrigerator and jumped out of his skin. And he was like, what is this? There’s a bear in the refrigerator and. that’s to remind me not to let the bear of food get me. And so he used jokes that I should have a bear for the people who go through my program. Dear Food, I Love You. I Hate You. Don’t Leave Me and I don’t have a bear. I do have a printable on my website. And if you think that something like this would help you head on over and you can print it up and put it in a place to remind you not to let the bearer food get you. So I started down this road of recovery in a new way, in a fresh way, and I started to see amazing success, thanks to the Lord. I focused on the first three steps. This time I really needed to know that God would help me through this, and that he cared, and that he would listen and that he could help me. And so for the first year, I focused on the first three steps and it went really well. Except for one point about six months in, I woke up and I just wanted cinnamon rolls really bad. I used to go after I dropped the kids off at school and get a flat of cinnamon rolls from the store and I would eat it and hide the evidence. And so today, on this day, I woke up and I wanted that cinnamon roll, and I was able to, Willing to give up everything that I had gained up to this point. All of the chips, all of the things to have this cinnamon roll. And so I prayed about it and I asked the Lord, you know what? I know that I wanna stay on my recovery plan, but I really do want these cinnamon rolls. So I thought, okay, I’m gonna pray about it, but then I’m just gonna go have them anyway. And as the Lord and I were talking he asked me an interesting question, which was surprising at the time, and that was, would you have the cinnamon rolls without the frosting? I was like no. I don’t want the cinnamon rolls without the frosting and so he in this still small, loving way, a asked me if frosting might. the problem, and I didn’t wanna admit that frosting could be a real problem of food for me. And so this moment that I learned that the Lord really does care about helping me and helping us about this problem, this little food problem, because it actually is a big problem, the things that we’re willing to sacrifice. For food, it can be pretty significant like for me on that day. And so the next thing the Lord asked me is, what’s going on in your life that you’d be willing to give it all up now for frosting. and I remembered as I thought about it that the day before my parents had called and told me that my mom had been diagnosed with ALS and she had about a year to live. And so I had not really put the two together that I really wanted that soothing comfort of food and a longstanding comfort food of mine, which is frosting. or was frosting that I really wanted that to make me feel better and recover from this painful news. But no amount of frosting in the world can change my situation. Only the Lord can help us, and only the Lord could help get me through that. And I realized that on that day. And so I did not have the frosting. Instead, I wrote a goodbye letter to frosting. And this letter I saved it. And it’s actually in my book if you wanna read it and it really did help me to say goodbye to this food that had so much power over me. And sometimes when we think about food addiction, we think it’s all the foods, but really a lot of times it’s only a few foods and some of the foods are even engineered to be addictive. And so we can let ourselves off the hook a little bit, identify those and break free with the Lord’s Health from those foods. And then wonderful opportunities open up for us in terms of experiencing victories when we can just say goodbye to a few really challenging foods in the moment. That’s hard, obviously, because these foods are very important to us, but the Lord can and does help us recover from those, and so I continued my recovery and as I did that, I lost weight that I’ve never been able to lose before. I started to feel great about myself. and I finally got to a place where I was really happy and content and feeling free, and that was wonderful. And one day I woke up and I was sick. And this was an interesting thing. I had a fever and I don’t usually have fevers that last for a long time. And I had a lot of pain in my gut. So I had a fever and pain in my gut. I went to the hospital several times. They sent me home every. until two weeks into it, it was a Sunday morning and I felt like something exploded in my abdomen. And so we called, my husband called the 911. The fire department came and took me to the hospital and it turned out that I was septic and that my organs were shutting down and they had to send me into emergency surgery, and they told us that I might not live through it. And that was a very difficult moment. And I went in and they cut me through very a long incision, leaned me out. And I did survive this really horrific sickness and operation. And I went into several. Years really of recovery from this several surgeries later. And so one of the things that happened was I never really found out what happened. Why did this happen to me? What? And I didn’t know if I could prevent it in the future. And that left me with a lot of fear. So I went through the process of recovering and getting strong again, and the surgeries that followed and then, when I was finally feeling better about two years later, I was praying about it and I was talking to the Lord about how afraid I was, and he brought me to James five, which is a verse about if you’re afraid and sick, go to the elders of your church and ask them to pray for you. And I didn’t really want to do that. I was too embarrassed to go to the elders of my church. They didn’t have time for me to pray for me in my mind. And so I did end. seeing one of the elders walk by me at church and God, put it on my heart to talk to him and ask him if our church did that, or the elders would pray for you. And he said, oh sure. Just send an email in and we’ll we’ll try and set that up. It might take a while. It was only a few days. My pastor wrote me an email and said, come on over, and my husband wasn’t gonna be able to go, but then he did at the last minute be able to come. And so we went to this meeting where the elders were all there early in the morning. I walked in and I was so uncomfortable and I ended up telling them about my sickness. Actually my pastor ended up telling them about what had happened to me and that I was nervous and that they pray for healing for me. And the Lord pressed on my heart to tell them about my compulsive overeating and food addiction challenges. And I didn’t wanna tell them about that at all. But I knew that I could not leave that meeting if I didn’t. And I quickly said, while we’re here, if you guys would please pray for me that I really wanna help people recover from compulsive eating and I really want recovery and I really want recovery from food addiction. And would please pray for that too. And my pastor says to me, you know what, Julia, I think that might be why we’re really here. And I took a sigh of relief and I sat there while they put oil on my head and. Prayed over me and it was one of the most wonderful, amazing experiences that I’ve ever had. And I’d like to encourage you, if you’re struggling with something and you would like the elder of your church to pray over you, to go ahead and give your church a call and ask if they do that, because this is a wonderful thing and it is life changing for me. I actually left that meeting feeling exhilarated. Like I don’t know if there’s many days in my life where I have felt that free excited and happy. Maybe when I ran down the aisle with my husband after we got married and we kissed in the foyer, and that might be one example, but this day was so amazing and what I wanna share with you is what changed for me? Something changed and for me to really put my finger on it at first was, Scary. And I didn’t know how to put words to it, but all of my life I had looked at food and it was never enough. Like I would look at a plate of food and I would see it be empty before I’d even taken a few bites, I would look at a buffet of food, a huge table. And for me, it just still didn’t seem like enough food to me. I remember just wanting more and I would see food as not enough and so when after this prayer meeting, suddenly I would look at food and I would see it as enough food that would fill me up. Never in my life had I ever thought that I could ever actually be full. I would see food as too sweet or too rich. Never in my life had I ever thought, when I would hear people say, oh, that food is too sweet or too rich, that I didn’t understand that. And so now I could see it. It was as if spiritual but also connected to my physical body, my eyes that scales had fallen off of my eyes and I could actually see what food was. Whereas before, how I had seen food was distorted. Now I could see food for what it really was, and it was so exciting and it took me about a week before I could even share it with my husband or even the pastor of my church and say, you know what this is amazing. Healing that has happened for me in the way that I see, understand and experience food, and I’m just so thankful to the Lord for bringing me to that place. I don’t know exactly why I got so sick, but I do know that it was that sickness that brought me to the elders of my church for prayer. And in that moment of prayer, the Lord asked me to ask them to pray for my healing with my food addiction, and I was healed. And I’m so excited to be able to see and experience life in a new way and not be worrying about, So many of the struggles that I have had with food addiction because of what the Lord has done, because of his healing power. And I wanna encourage you today, if you are struggling with an addiction and you feel like you just can’t you can’t break free of it. There is a healing power by way of the Lord Jesus Christ. And maybe get out there and ask some others to lay hands on you and pray for you. And there is victory out there for you, so keep going after it. And maybe you’re, out of that addiction. But now you’re struggling with food. And I wanna tell you, this is really common to me. I think food is often like the last stop on the superhighway of addictions. And it’s a doozy, right? So a lot of people who have been struggling with heroin all their life, they finally kick it and then they can’t figure out why they can’t kick the food addiction. And that’s very common. Food addiction is a little bit of a different type of, Challenge. And so if you’re struggling with that I would love to encourage you and help you, you can grab my book. Dear Food, I Love You. I Hate You. Don’t leave Me. It’s a workbook and maybe it will help you work through why the food is an addiction right now. Yeah. When you’ve come so far and how to kick that one. And then also if you’re like me and you’ve really struggled with food all your life and you feel like there is no hope, there is hope, there is a way to conquer this problem and it can be a daily struggle, but it does get easier and it gets so much more joyful, the more victories that we experience along the way. So I just wanna thank you all for having me today. Thank you James.

Host James Egidio: 25:28

And oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

Julia Fikse: 25:29

It’s really, truly an honor to be able to share my experience and hopefully encourage other addicts to know that food addiction recovery is,

Host James Egidio: 25:38

Yeah. I do have a question. How long did you struggle with your food addiction?

Julia Fikse: 25:43

Let’s see, probably 40.

Host James Egidio: 25:45

And where was the real turning point?

Julia Fikse: 25:48

For me it was having to humble myself and go back to a food addiction program. And try again. And in that place of just feeling completely defeated. Having people there who did really care about me and who were there and wanted to help me cuz they understood and they had been there and learning that I can’t do it alone. I really am. I can do this on my own kind of a person. And so I want to be sure that I’m including number one. our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in my journey and asking him to come alongside me and help me. And also asking for help from other people. That’s a real turning point. Sure. When we find, and sometimes the first, and this is interesting, we can ask some people or one person for help and they may not be helpful, like my first sponsor, but I gave up and and I left. But we can try again and find and pray about God bringing us to someone who can really be helpful to us when the first person isn’t as helpful. A few times more asking and not giving up, we can find someone who really can be a positive encouragement for us. Yeah.

Host James Egidio: 27:06

What inspired you to start your program?

Julia Fikse: 27:09

That’s an interesting question. For a long time I did not want to tell my story. As a person who grew up as a Christian, I had a tremendous amount of guilt that I feel like I had put food first over God ultimately, and I would never, ever want to do that. And I didn’t really realize that I was doing it. And once I thought, oh my goodness, I. first thing I’m doing when I have a negative emotion is eating instead of praying and going to God. That’s a problem for me. And so when I thought about my own healing and. Think to the Lord about it. I, like I said, I didn’t want to tell others my story because I felt so bad about it, but once I did start to open up and he provided opportunities for me to talk about it, I realized that I wasn’t alone. And I also realized that this is a very real struggle for a lot of people and a lot of Christian women actually. Really struggle with food and don’t know what to do or where to go or how to even talk about it. And so once I started to talk about it and people would say, oh my gosh, me too. And then I had been given the tools to help people. Actually went to school, back to school, and I became a functional medicine health coach. So I learned about healthy. and how to use food as healing and nutrition for our bodies. And then I also went back and I learned about food addiction and compulsive eating and how to help people get out of those kinds of mental health challenges around food. And I really got to a place where I wanted to help others get out of that bondage of food with the help of Jesus Christ and also biblical principles. It’s amazing to me how these these clinical tools for success fair so well with what the Bible teaches. It really is astonishing. God made us, he loves us. He. Created our bodies. And so yes, when we’re combining those two things, we realize how powerful prayer and the Bible and scripture is for our healing.

Host James Egidio: 29:27

Share with the audience of the 99 Relapses podcast, both listeners and viewers. A little bit about your program OneStepToWellness.com, just a little bit about how it works.

Julia Fikse: 29:39

Yeah. So my website is OneStepToWellness.com and I’ve written a book called, it’s a workbook, actually called Dear Food. I Love You, I Hate You. Don’t Leave Me the beginning of the workbook one, I share my story so you can read more about that. And then the workbook goes into 10 chapters where we learn how. To identify our food challenges and how to take the steps that we need to take so that we understand why we’re eating what we’re eating, and why we’re eating the way that we’re eating so that we can make these changes to our diet and also to the way, and I think really more importantly, change the way we see food. We stop putting food first. I think a lot of us don’t realize that we put food first and the Lord says, there shall be, no other gods before him and we don’t wanna be, at risk of putting anything before him. And so through this program and we’re gonna talk about different steps to figuring out why we eat, what we. and what we’re eating and how to manage food in a very healthy way in our heads so that when we get ready to do a meal plan, we can succeed because we’ve figured out why we eat what we eat, and we’ve managed those foods that are dangerous for us and really have the ability to take over. And so this first book is about breaking the strongholds of. And putting God first so that we’re preparing ourself for a healthy eating journey that we can actually succeed at. I forgot to mention Book two is coming out soon and it’s 10 Power Tools to keep the success of our Progress that we’ve made. And then book three, we’re gonna talk about creating our own meal plans and what maintenance really looks like. I’m really excited about those two books and they’ll be coming out in the next couple months.

Host James Egidio: 31:39

Nice. And again, the website is one Step to Wellness. Did you wanna show the viewers the book that you have?

Julia Fikse: 31:47

Oh, okay, sure. Your book. I’ve got it right here. It’s called Dear Food, I love you. I hate you. Don’t leave me. And it’s got it’s got a ton of Bible study materials inside. It’s a lot of places to journal. I’ve got some really great. Worksheets. I’ve got one worksheet in here where we look at our emotions and think about what foods we want to eat when we experience a certain emotion and telling you the people who have gone through that worksheet, their minds have been blown when they realize how much food they’re eating is related to specific emotions that they’re feeling, like disappointment, anger sadness. things like that. So that’s a marvelous worksheet as well as a food timeline where you can write down and learn more about kind of your own history with food and what has happened along the way that might have brought you to this place. This book is a great book to do in a group because there’s so much wisdom in a group. So I’ve built this program so that in churches you can do workbook one. Fall Bible study and workbook two in a winter Bible study and then workbook three in the spring Bible study. And then as a group, you’ll have gone through the whole program together and become closer to each other and so much closer to the Lord together and really shared encouragement, wisdom, and prayer along the way. It’s very powerful.Host

James Egidio: 33:13

Yeah. Yeah. I know we talked about that too in the past about a lot of churches, they don’t emphasize weight loss. Ministries and fitness ministries, you see that lacking in a lot of churches. Why do you think that is?

Julia Fikse: 33:32

I think food is a way that we show love and we can take that to a level that is unhealthy. And so depending on the person and how they are doing with food and health so churches, I think ultimately we wanna show each other love and take care of each other. And one of the main ways that we can do that is by providing food. And so I think it can be difficult for churches to really dive deep into food because food also can be, like I said, a way of caring and and many times it just gets a little muddled and confused. So we as Christians, If we do struggle with food, just being able to identify that in ourselves and say, you know what? I struggle with food. It’s very hard for me to stop eating certain things, to stop eating so much of certain things, and. figuring out a way to help ourselves solve that problem because sometimes, it’s harder to find programs in the church for that. I actually found my recovery in a secular program and that was hard for me because I, there wasn’t a Christian for miles around for years, and not everybody has that experience, but I got my recovery because of, Jesus, and people would say to me, Julia, your recovery is amazing and I would want to tell ’em about Jesus, and I would want to talk about Jesus, but it really wasn’t welcomed to specifically name Jesus Christ. My Lord and Savior as my higher power. They preferred that. We kept it vague, but I knew in my heart that the real power, the real healing, the true healing comes from Jesus Christ. And really the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous, so many of those principles are pulled from the Bible. And so God knows how we can heal. God knows what tools we need to heal, but really we’re saved. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Host James Egidio: 35:43

Absolutely. Amen. Again, the book is right here. It’s called Dear Food, I Love You. I Hate You. Don’t Leave Me, and the website is OneStepToWellness.com. And Julia Fikse, thank you so much for joining me for this episode of the 99 Relapses Podcast. Also just for those who are listening I will post the links to Julia’s website as well as her booklet, though you can find that on the 99 relapses.org. There’ll be links that’ll go directly to her website and to her book. Thank you so much again for joining me for this episode of the 99 Relapses podcast and God Bless.