I really don’t know where to start with this… And this will be really hard and embarrassing. Food is a huge struggle for me – I really don’t want to admit my idolatry. But I have the feeling many others are stuck here too. So I guess I will start at the beginning of my story.
My whole life, I have loved food and struggled with maintaining a healthy weight. One of my Mom’s most terrifying moments as a parent involves a story of losing me as a toddler at Grandma’s. They searched everywhere, calling for me – even at the neighbors’ house. They finally found me hiding with a sneaky grin, elbow deep in the cookie jar. Cute, right? Except that it was the start of something bigger. I continued hiding my cookie habit. And I continued that unhealthy relationship with food. I would sneak food from the pantry. I often ended a stressful day with ice cream. Ben and I celebrated with fine dining and overeating was a privilege to me. We enjoyed junk food nights worthy of a Gilmore Girl.
I have to admit it publicly. Food has a grip on me.
Food is an emotional thing for people.
It’s how we celebrate holidays.
How we mark milestones.
How we cope.
How we pass time.
How we express appreciation.
How we convey acceptance.
How we commune socially.
Try doing the most enjoyable things in your life or weathering storms without a connection to food. It’s nearly impossible! Our culture is wrapped up in food.
My Food Journey
For me personally, gluttony is a struggle. It always has been. It may not make sense now – with a restricted diet for food allergies I eat extremely healthy (basically meat and veggies) and I’m down to 113lbs (which I weighed in 4th grade!) – but in the midst of clean eating, I still turn to the god of food. In this culinary desert, I’m forced to take this huge opportunity to conquer this sin, this reliance on food.
I cleaned my diet up significantly when we did Insanity. And again after watching all the nutrition documentaries like Forks Over Knives. But the significant restrictions came while I was pregnant. I got really sick, and a clean, healthy diet was the only thing keeping me out of the ER a fourth time. But once Elliot was born I could eat whatever I wanted! Ice cream, processed snacks, and chocolate became staples again. Then she had a dairy allergy. I willingly gave it up – no problem with rice dream, maple syrup, and Oreos. Indulgence. And indulge I did! Come on – I was a lonely, depressed, sleep-deprived stay at home mom with a colicky baby. Oreos were my life line. Or should I say Kroger Kid-O’s (I forgot to mention we were broke too). Then the allergies kept developing. So I kept cutting – nuts, gluten, processed sugar, grains, fruit, nightshades, on and on… Until one point I ate less than 10 foods. At least today it’s more than that, but still very limited.
With each restriction, I just turned to something else I craved. It doesn’t matter what my diet consists of – I still feel consumed by food. It may seem impossible to be a glutton on kale, but I am. I still need food to cope, connect, and celebrate. And without it, I feel crippled.
Creation and Culture
Especially this holiday time of year, gluttony is an acceptable sin in our culture. It certainly is for me. Some of the blame doesn’t even fall on us though. If you know anything about food additives, sugar, and processed food, you know that these foods are altering your brain’s reaction! Just google “MSG lab mice” for fun. Unless you like Chick-Fil-A and Doritos…then don’t. Sorry to ruin them for you. It’s a shame that the foods of our day are designed to be addictive.
But regardless of the current state of the American diet, food has served as temptation since Adam, Eve, and the apple. But I really don’t think it’s wrong to enjoy food. Food serves many purposes. God made it in it’s natural state. His people were given the Passover – a meal to remember and celebrate. Jesus shared meals with outcasts as a sign of acceptance. His church received communion and the promise to share it anew in the coming kingdom. Creation was designed to nourish us – and I believe more than just physically.
But when we rely on food for things that should come from The Lord, we sin. And this sin has plagued me for years. I’ve worked to turn away the last several years. But to this day – this moment! – I struggle. And this huge diet restriction of the last year is serving as the perfect opportunity for God to refine me.
Now is the time for me to put food in it’s rightful place in my life: nourishment, sustenance, fuel. Now is the time to replace gluttony with self control – but more importantly, worship. I want my life to be consumed not with food, but with the Father. Not with pleasure, but praise.
Instead of seeking comfort from food, I need to ask God for his comfort.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Instead of fighting stress and anxiety with another snack, I’ll pray for peace.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
Instead of dwelling on my diet, I’ll set my mind on eternal things.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:1-2
Right now I have Matthew 4:4 posted in the kitchen: “Man does not live by bread alone…” I want to be reminded of what really fills my heart. And it’s not what goes in my stomach.
Someday my body will heal and I can eat more things again, share meals with others, and maybe even go out to eat for date night. I believe God made food to nourish us and to be enjoyed by us, so I want to use it for both of those purposes. Someday I’ll again be able to have some of the things that I’ve come to miss. But when that time comes, I want to have a proper perspective and right relationship with food. And it’s not being an indulgent emotional eater or a judgmental health nut. It’s about using food for the purposes God gave it to us for, and consuming it as natural as God gave it to us.
But mostly, it’s about knowing that I truly live on every word that comes from the mouth of God, not every bite I put into my own mouth.