Since then—twenty plus years have passed—my eating habits have fluctuated; but eventually I accepted I had an unhealthy relationship with food. So I embarked on a quest to decipher why I couldn’t maintain a healthy lifestyle.
I know I’m not alone. Many people I converse with about food will admit to some sort of problem. Some laugh it off . . . and some cry. But it is obvious that an escalating problem in today’s society of plenty is how we deal with food. Our minds reel with questions: What should I eat? What shouldn’t I eat? How much should I eat? Why should I eat that? Why shouldn’t I eat that? We meditate on it. We mull it over. We munch on it (pun intended). We toss the questions around until we feel as if we are on a merry-go-round with no off button. The thoughts consume us. And we feel as if there is no place to hide.
During my quest, God disclosed to me many eating issues go deeper than just making wrong choices. Lies we believe affect these choices. Lies we decide to believe. Rationalizations. Justifications. Validations. Excuses. Thought patterns. Things Satan whispers in our ears until we don’t need him to whisper them anymore . . . because we believe them and tell them to ourselves.
So instead of discussing which diet is best or how many hours of exercise will counteract the effects of the piece of pie we just ate, I want to look at the purpose of food and how we have twisted that purpose by believing lies. I want to identify the lies so we can replace them with truth.
What is the definition of “food”? What is its purpose? Until a few years ago I never stopped to ponder these questions. But since we deal with food on a regular basis (that’s an understatement), we should answer these questions. Here are my initial thoughts:
Food can be . . .
• a comforter
• something to keep my mouth and hands busy
• the satisfier of my cravings
• what I use to keep my stomach from talking to me
• an outlet for my creativity
• a necessary evil (having to think about and plan three meals a day can be mentally exhausting)
• something we fellowship around
How do you define food?
My Scholastic Children’s Dictionary defines food as, “Substances that people, animals, and plants eat to stay alive and grow.” Hmmm. Really? Substances? Sounds boring and unappetizing. It contains no depth, no enjoyment. I wonder what my husband would think if tomorrow he asked, “What’s for dinner?”
And I responded, with a lilt in my voice like all good wives have, “Substances, dear.”
I prefer a definition I heard at a conference: fuel for our bodies. Again, not very appetizing (the smell of gas fumes comes to mind). However, this definition helps me maintain the right perspective on the purpose of food. When I think of fuel, I think of something that provides energy to keep going. I am compelled to ask: What is the best fuel for our bodies? To take that one step further, we are told in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (for those in Christ). Therefore, the real question is: What is the best fuel for God’s temple?
The living God dwells within these bodies He created. Why would we poison them? Why would we load them with substances that are harmful and contrary to what God desires?
Because we believe lies and rationalizations like:
• I deserve this reward for doing well.
• I can eat as much as I want if it’s healthy.
• My eating habits have nothing to do with God.
• I’ll miss out on something good if I don’t eat this.
• One won’t hurt.
• It’s a time of celebration/special occasion. /It’s a party. /I’m on vacation.
• It’s too hard/too time-consuming/too expensive to eat properly.
• I’ll start my diet tomorrow.
• Eating this will relieve stress.
• This food will make me happy/give me comfort.
• If I turn it over to God, I’ll never enjoy food again/I’ll never be able to eat this again.
• I’m in PMS.
• I’ll exercise it off.
• I’ve already ruined my diet today.
And the list goes on.
What lies/rationalizations do you tell yourself to justify eating improperly?
Barbara Winters and her husband, Don, have four children, Kevin, JT, Kenneth, and Melinda. Barbara home schools her children and encourages her husband in his pastorate position. Barbara writes a column on the characteristics of God for Lucid Magazine at www.lucidmagazine.com, has several articles available for purchase at Churchmouse Publications, and writes a blog exploring lies and truth related to food issues at http://foodliesandtruth.blogspot.com/. Stop by her blog and say hello.