Day 17: Don’t fence me in

Thought for the Day: Boundaries are not restrictive fences meant to keep you from enjoying life, but gifts from a God who cares about your well-being.

Sometimes, the words “no,” “boundaries,” and “limitations” stir up feelings of deprivation and resistance in my strong-willed self. But I’ve learned that I must embrace the boundaries of the healthy eating plan that I chose. I must see these limits as parameters that define my freedom.

I learned this principle through my sweet, little dog, Chelsea, who isn’t the brightest canine around cars. She’s obsessed with trying to attack the tires crunching against our gravel driveway inside our fenced-in yard. As a result, she had an unfortunate encounter with a moving vehicle about the same time I started my healthy eating plan.

After Chelsea’s injury, the vet informed us that helping her heal meant we’d have to keep her calm for three weeks. This recommendation sounded crazy considering it’s hard to keep Chelsea still for three minutes! Worse, she was forbidden to bite or pull at her bandages and stitches. So, the dreaded cone was placed around her neck to keep her injuries out of reach.

As Chelsea healed, I was the master of her new limitations. She punished me with hours of whining and crying. She constantly tried to escape through our fence and kept snapping at her bandages. However, my love for this dog wouldn’t permit me to let her to harm herself. Her brokenness couldn’t handle that kind of freedom. Not yet.

As I watched Chelsea struggle, I was struck by the way her situation applied to my issues with eating healthy. My brokenness couldn’t handle freedom with food outside the boundaries of my plan. Not yet. Eventually I would be able to add some things back into my diet in small quantities. But not yet.

Since my brokenness with food runs deep, my new healthy habits need time to run even deeper. Here are a few of the boundaries I’ve created to ensure success on my healthy eating adventure:

  • I am not made to be a victim of my poor choices. I was made to be a victorious child of God.
  • I can find ways to celebrate that don’t involve blowing my healthy eating plan.
  • If I am in a situation where the temptation is overwhelming, I will have to choose either to remove the temptation or remove myself from the situation.
  • Struggling with my weight isn’t a curse from God. Being overweight is an outside indication that internal changes are needed for my body to function properly and for me to feel well.

I’ve learned that boundaries aren’t restrictive fences meant to keep us from enjoying life, but gifts from a God who cares about our well-being. Whether you are staring at a party hors d’oeuvre table of all things cheesy, or ready to bite your friend’s head off as she reminds you of the healthy eating plan you chose, I pray these boundaries help you like they’ve helped me.


  1. I’m trying very hard to let that “boundaries” thing sink in…and become a GOOD thing about food issues!!! Thanks for addressing this, today…it has been a hard day in this regard. I am a victorious child of God…I am a victorious child of God…I AM A VICTORIOUS CHILD of GOD!!!

    • I gave up sugar for Lent last year, and it was so hard, but I found, that if I tackled one food battle at a time, God blessed my efforts, and I was able to add back “reasonable” amounts. Then, I could tackle my TV binges, and then buffet binges, etc. Even though, I know God is the same God that rose Jesus from the grave, and gave David victory over Goliath…it was just overwhelming for my little brain and body to have boundaries over all areas of my eating, all at once. I don’t know if this will help you, but hopefully it won’t discourage you…I’d never mean to do that! Just adding a little note about how God allowed me to have victory…baby steps. 🙂

      • Judy Brand says

        I never heard anyone say my problem out loud until you said “TV binge”. That’s my fatal flaw, because if I sit down to watch, it seems I’ve made a very bad habit of having to be eating something, constantly. Recently I went on a TV fast, then slowly added the news, 30-minute show and soon a whole movie. I’m having success in small doses and this is good, although I must confess that I’m impatient and want change instantly.
        Thanks for mentioning my problem, Beth, you’re right, one problem at a time. (Fingernail biting is next after the weight loss.)

        • Yes Beth and Judy thanks for mentioning the TV binge problem that I too have.!!! I loved it when Lysa brought this up on one of the DVD sessions in the class we had at church. It was like God was yelling it at ME! He had been working on my heart with the “to much tv” issuse. This mention and yours have sealed it up for me. I can have so much more Bible Study and praying time if I don’t sit in front of the tv night after night for 2-3 hours at a time. Thanks to all of you for making this not just “my problem”!!! God Bless! Greater is He that is in us than He that is in the world!

      • Regarding Beth’s post about sugar elimination, I also tackled that habit and found it is hard to do. But, the results of weight loss and we’ll being is worth it. As I encounter the areas where the goodies call for me to taste, I pray for God’s help in overcoming this habit. The article on boundaries is something I need to chew on and realize they are there for my success in choosing a healthy lifestyle.

  2. We all need boundries of some sort. I am thankful I have a loving God who cares enough to guide my life and not let me fall prey to the powers of darkness. I am a beloved child of the Living God. Thank you Jesus. And thank you Lysa for your words of wisdom.

  3. Its true…the longer you stay away from the junk, the less you crave it. Sometimes, these days, one SMALL taste is all it takes for me to realize “its not worth it!” – and let it go. Once those boundaries are firmly in place, its simply amazing how much room there is to run around!

    • Kim you are so right!!! I have been fasting from sweets and I am not craving them daily like I used too! I feel like I have broken through a wall because I used to eat them every single day, usually more than once a day…..thanks for this insight and God bless!

      Karyn 🙂

      • Lori Arrowood says

        Soooooo….what do you snack on? I mean, if you are cutting sweets out does that mean you are cutting out sweet fruit, honey…how about sugar free chocolate pudding? I can see myself “kicking and screaming” for sugar…. :o( Does anyone have any suggestions? I mean, sometimes I just want to snack and if I binge snack is it ok to binge snack on grapes? I could put a “hurtin” on some grapes. But they are high in sugar……..what to do, what to do. Of course, I do pray about it. ALL DAY!!! I will say that our sweet Lord has answered my prayers by motivating me to craft again. That helps.

        • First of all try not to binge. I have found I can eat the house down and not get the food satisfaction I was looking for. I just now feel yucky from the foodathon. We can have sweet snacks if they are fruit, sf pudding, yogurt etc. Try to make a filling snack of several things. Maybe grapes or an apple with some lf cheese. I don’t use many ff products. Maybe add a few whole grain crackers if you need it to be more filling. Pudding or yogurt alone will not do the trick. Use these with other foods. Have 5 or 6 small meals. This really work. I like cooked apple with cinnamon. Cooked pears are good also. You really don’t miss adding sugar. Try not to use too much artifical sweetener. You don’t want to be craving the sweet taste. Also try to not to use very many white products. Whole grain keeps you feeling fuller and doesn’t make your blood sugar fluctuate as much. Also helps digestion. I have tried many diets but a stricter version of weight watchers like they have now seems to work best for me. Lots of fresh foods. Protien at each snack helps. A half of a sandwich. You can write me back if you want.
          Love in Christ,

        • Lori, I understand your struggles. Binging,mno matter if the food is healthy or not, is still excessive eating, which is sinful. Take your manna as you need it. If you are binging, other issues are going on in which you need God’s power to over come. Honey, I’m talking to you and me at the same time.

          Let’s trust God enough to walk away from the binge…and walk around the block! Believe it or not, that is satisfying too!!!

    • Kim,
      Can’t agree with you more. I never thought there would be a day that I didn’t crave chocolate. However I’m on day 17 of no sugar and I came across a chocolate bar in the pantry the other day and thought I would have one small taste. Not only had I not really been craving it, or even thinking about it (until I saw the candybar), but it honestly didn’t even taste good to me!!! Now that’s a miracle!

  4. Thursday was a day with an unknown craving. I prayed and reached out to God. I resisted many choices. It did not help that my tummy was upset in the afternoon. I had a bowl of chicken soup and hot rolls for supper. I know my calories were over my limit for the day but remembering how just I short time ago, food would have been my only comfort. Now I think and make smarter choices with out feeling deprived. The scale did not move this week but I know that I made good choices. I am learning about myself and that with God’s strenght and wisedom this time will be different. I am a victorious child of God!

  5. Sandi Sherlin says

    I loved reading this today! Boundaries are meant to keep us safe for ourselves. Thank God He loves us more than we love ourselves! I’m learning to accept God’s plan is better than mine…because he loves ME! Great word picture with Chelsea! Thank you Lisa for sharing your heart.

  6. About two weeks ago, I was frustrated and still living in defeat. I knew I just couldn’t do this. We had a revival at our church last weekend, and the speaker in the ladies group actually touched on every truth Lysa has pointed out in the book, and for some reason it all just clicked. The speaker even told us at the beginning of the session we would probably hear things we’d heard before, but sometimes we can be hard headed. Boy, did she know me! After the session, I told the speaker what a blessing she’d been to me at just the right time and asked if she was familiar with Lysa TerKeurst- I just knew she’d read the book too! Nope, sorry to say, she did not and was not familiar with Lysa. Purely a God thing! He is so good and His timing is perfect! Thanks Lysa, and thank you Jesus for not giving up on me 🙂

  7. This is a great way of thinking! I just need to retrain my brain and emotions to view it like this….sounds like what I would say to my children also! I was wondering though what healthy eating plan Lysa is following? I am curious to check it out to gain knowledge about all healthy options etc.

  8. AllisonCBayer says

    Good Morning Lysa, Thank you for the reminder. I’m headed to a sewing retreat this weekend and I’ve packed my own food. It even reduced the cost of my retreat! They have a lovely kitchen. I’m taking my own pan, spices, and healthy coconut oil to cook in. All my meals are planned and packed. Or, should I say my freedom is packed!! Hugs to you and have a lovely weekend. Allison in Texas

  9. Mary Mom MN says

    Lysa, I did three days of victory eating now Yes, even three days in a ROW! Prasis Him. It is not me. oooh at work today I was so tempted. I walked by the sweet rolls once (I had to walk by to get out of the room) and I said to my hand (that was wanting t o stop and get a small sample, “No. You can be victorious int his choice right now. One victory is a victory won.” And whew–I did it. I walked out of the room without sneaking a bite. And continued to make it all afternoon. Whew!!

    One moment at a time, right? : )

    • Hi, Mary:

      I like your statement, “One victory is a victory won.” Great! Yes! One moment at a time! Thank you for sharing with us! God bless you richly! How do you define “victory eating?” I am curious! 🙂

  10. Could it possibly even remotely be possible that brokenness within won’t even allow me to stick to a healthy eating plan? Am I the only one who thought this time was going to be different….to get rid of a swimsuit that was a bit too big….only now to have gained back my lost #’s and am now pushing and pulling my body to fit into my ‘new’ suit? Aargh! What a failure!

    • You are not a failure. Don’t say those words , you may start to believe it. God loves you right where you are and when we cry out He hears our voice. There is probably a blockage from brokenness within. Open your heart for God to heal you and ask Him to reveal any obstacles in the way. Let him show you little by little what they are. He won’t let you down. Remember it is success, failure, success, failure, success, success, victory. Never give up, He doesn’t!

    • Good Morning to everyone. Just wanted to reply to Karin’s message. I agree with Debbie. YOU are not a failure. God gives us a new beginning everyday. Make the most of each one and try o make better choices than the day before. God does not expect us to be perfect. Please keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat, so if you are exercising then maybe you have gained muscle. If you are not exercising it could be something else going on with your body. Please don’t give up. Each time we make a good choice is a step closer to the next good choice. Sometimes we all make bad choices, but we are given new opportunities.

  11. Praise God, I am finally getting victory in this very area. I have been an emotional eater for my whole life. Lately I have been alone as my husband has been traveling. I used to feed my loneliness with food. Since reading and putting into practice the prinicples of Made to Crave I have actually lost some weight (I actually am at my goal). The issue of boundaries is essential to my moving forward in this process. I am adding “boundaries” to my word for the week that I have on my fridge. It goes right along with “beneficial”.

  12. yes, boundaries are God’s protection. The reason sometimes we still want to eat more than God has allowed us or permitted us to is that we want the comfort we get from the temporary ingestion and/or the sensory indulgence, the pleasure that comes from the ingestion of extra foods. We are still not willing to give up our false idol, I guess. If we truly trusted God and believed that anything He told us to do was for our good, then we would probably listen to Him when He convicts us in our Spirit to stop and when He puts the boundaries on with food.

  13. At the same time I began your book, I also began testing for a number of food allergies brought about by symptoms of auto-immune diseases, which I thank God, I do not have. Since then I have had incredible boundaries in regard to food (no wheat/gluten, corn, yeast, dairy, eggs, white potatoes). Going into my third week, I already feel incredibly better. I take my own food, sometimes even into nice restaurants. Last night at a restaurant I prefaced my order with, “I am a little high maintenance,” and started in on what I could and could not have. The server was so gracious and when she said, “Sweetie, don’t you worry about it, I am a diabetic myself, and we need what we need.” She took great care with my order. I am very thankful for the way God sends me encouragement in little ways like a kind server. My boundaries are making me well!

    • Susan in Ontario says

      “Boundaries are making me well”. What a wonderful way to put it! Recently I have had to give up dairy, eggs and sugar in an attempt to get my allergies under control. I have struggled with feelings or deprivation and I have resented having to make these sacrifices, even though I know somewhere deep inside that these changes are good for me. I have been on a weight loss journey for almost four years and only with God’s help have I been able to loose 46 pounds, yet I still struggled with the on-again, off-again devotion to my healthy eating plan and have been caught up in the feelings that Lysa talks about for way too long. This challenge has made all the difference to me; I have found my want-to! “Boundaries are making me well” will be my new mantra, my go-to script when I am feeling deprived of that cheese omlette! Thank you for your wisdom, ladies. What a blessing you have been. Thank you Jesus for NEVER giving up on me (:

  14. “•Struggling with my weight isn’t a curse from God. Being overweight is an outside indication that internal changes are needed for my body to function properly and for me to feel well.”
    I LOVE THAT…Thank you greatly. I am going to print this off & post on my fridge.

  15. I knew I needed a plan, as I’ve been trying to deal with this food issue since September, but I hadn’t thought about my plan as loving boundaries by God to keep me safe from myself. So insightful. (BTW, I started my new plan on Sunday and am doing really well with it, thankfully.)

  16. Angela Kelley says

    Psalm 16:6
    The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. (Love this verse!)
    I, too, have a built-in knee-jerk reaction to boundaries. As I mature in Christ I see more and more that it is his role as my Dad that has Him creating boundaries and begging me to stay inside of them. Sooo many times in my past I chose to step right over that line and get out of God’s will. Boy did I suffer becuase of my willful disobedience. One of the things that I try and remind myself of through this Made to Crave journey is where MY decisions got me in the past. My decision brought me to mid-life with 80 – 100 extra pounds on me. If I do this God’s way and stay in his good and pleasant boundaries there will be victory. There will!

    • Hi, Angela! This is nearly a year after you shared this comment, but it is still very relevant. Thank you very much for what you have shared here. Yes, we choose to step over the boundary lines our loving Father has set for our own good, and His glory! 🙂 I continue to pray for strength in my inner man to make the right, godly choices! It is good to remind ourselves where OUR decisions got us in the past. Good, good thought! I so want to do it God’s way, and He desires to give us victory by His Holy Spirit. We must decide to
      cooperate fully.

      God bless you!

  17. When I really think about the issue of boundaries, my spirit rebels! “Oh no you don’t!” my heart seems to shout. I can talk all day about how helpful boundaries are, and how much God loves us and wants us to stay within his boundaries for our safety. I can even see practical examples of how beneficial boundaries are since I’m parenting 2 small children. For me, the issue comes down to control. Who’s going to control this day? Who’s going to control this choice? I have very little that I can control in my life right now. Has anyone else found that kids seem to shatter any illusion of “control”? 🙂 But food, well that’s one area that I can have total control, total “freedom”, noone can tell me what to do! The problem is that my “freedom” from boundaries with food has left me feeling defeated, filled with self-loathing, and overweight! That’s the lie I believe, if I don’t watch out; that my way is more fulfilling than God’s way. Isn’t that the essence of sin, wanting my way instead of God’s? Oh Lord, help me to see your truth and live within your boundaries that I may have true freedom in You.

    • Whew! I struggle with the oh so temporary “pleasure” of being in control with food/eating what I want. I have stashes hidden in my bedroom. I so relate to the “control” issue. I have a 15 year old daughter who wants badly to be in control and tries so very hard – with negative behaviors and attitudes – that hurt both herself and us – though she doesn’t seem to see that. 🙁 I, too, am overweight. Oh, what a thought: the lie that my way is more fulfilling than God’s way! Whew!!! It does seem that the essence of sin is wanting my way instead of God’s way. Yes, Father, please help us to see your truth and live within Your boundaries that we may have true freedom in You! Thank you, Father God!

      Thank you for sharing this, Wendy!

  18. Struggling with my ________ isn’t a curse from God. Being _________ is an outside indication that internal changes are needed.

    I have taken your thought on weight and found it to be correct in EVERY situation where we need more of God! Just fill in the blanks!

  19. “I must see these limits as parameters that define my freedom.” Writing this on a sticky note and putting it on my computer. Thanks.

  20. Lysa, I’m new to this, so I’m wondering what your “eating plan” is?

  21. Mary Colleen says

    Boundaries are making me feel well also and the knowledge that what I look like on the outside determines a need for a heart change and a thought control-….Thankfully God is in charge of that! “Lord thank you for your Holy Spirit and other gifts that allow us to choose what is beneficial to us spiritually and physically….thank you for Lysa and your ministry through her to us in our time of need. God Bless!

  22. Well I am going to start my diet plan on the first of the year please I need all the prayers I can get I need to lose 100 pounds it is very crucial that I do for health reasons love you all have a great New Year.

    • Hi Carol,

      Praying for you and wondering how your new diet plan is going.

      I had a good and fruitful Made To Crave journey back in spring and summer, but then kind of … got lost. So I’m back on the right path, joining you and all the others.

  23. Loving Father; Please help me to be at peace with the loving boundaries You have set in place for me. As I think, really think of this poor crazy little dog, I can see myself and Your desire for my healing, health and wholeness. Forgive me for being so set on destruction and blinded by the enemies plans for me instead of opening my eyes to Yours. In my Savior Jesus, blessed name. Amen

    • What a prayer, Bonnie! Thank you very much for sharing this with us. God bless you richly as you continue your journey!

  24. I need to love and take care of me the same way that you loved and took care of your pet. Wow!!

  25. This is definitely a new way of seeing a diet period!

  26. I love that statement… “But Not Yet!” My accountability partner is on Weight Watcher’s and she’s always talking about points and how many points something is….. Uhh! I just don’t want to start measuring everything I put in my mouth! I know me! If I can’t have it, I will want it even more!! Sets me right up for failure. I want to enjoy the foods that God made us to enjoy. And limiting myself in a healthy way seems much better. Sure I want Hershey Kisses after every meal and in-between! “But not yet!” Yeah, I can see how this will work so much better than visualizing that I can NEVER have another Hershey Kiss as long as I live!!

  27. I enjoyed your book so much and I’m loving the daily inbox reminders and encouragement. Today’s (well, the one I got today!) reminded me of something I just read yesterday about grace and freedom:
    ‎”Jesus came not as an angry tyrant to strip away our freedom but as an affectionate friend and deliverer to strip away our slavery to lesser things so that we might become truly free.” — Tullian Tchividjian (Jesu + Nothing = Everything)

  28. I do not have a friend to be an accountability partner so I asked God to be my partner. This is much more powerful than a human-partner. I know He can see my every move. When I am measuring 1 oz of cheese to eat with grapes I know that He knows if I fudge (no pun intended) just a bit. When I am reaching for the almonds (just one) I know that God can see me. I want to please Him. I want Him to be proud of me. I want Him to bless me. I cannot cheat even a little. I have to be faithful to Him and to my eating. My problem now is exercise. I need to be obedient to Him regarding that area also but so far I have used the weather and a sick child as excuses. Please keep me in your prayers that I will desire exercise. Thank you all for all the comments above. They are so inspiring. It is good to know I am not alone.

  29. Evelyn Dunston says

    Like Lysa said, the word boundaries stirred.resentment and feelings of denial in me. This morning I turned to the Bible Dictionary and read about boundaries.They are there to “protect from damage”. In Job 1:10 the hedge God had put around Job was to protect him. I need to change my view of the word boundary to a positive – I am not “hedged in” but protected within this healthy eating plan.

    And then I saw a verse that warns me what can happen if I don’t protect that hedge that God’s Word and I are establishing around me. Psalm 89:40 “Thou hast broken down all his hedges; thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin.”

  30. Evelyn, What a great find from your Bible Dictionary. Yes, the boundaries God has around us are boundaries are not meant to prevent us from having what we want so much as those boundaries keep us from harm. The boundaries we place on our bodies can, of course, be perceived as deprivation, but it can also be seen as our way of protecting ourselves by not putting things in our bodies that harm us, and by exercising our bodies to keep us fit.

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