When it comes to food, I rarely tell myself, “NO”. If I’m bored and want a snack; off to the cupboard I go. If I’m in the mood for ice-cream; I load up the kids and we drive to the Dairy Queen. When I get bored, late at night; I find a snack. Most of the time, I don’t even want anything specific; I just want something. This has been my habit for the past several years. I eat what I want, when I want it, and as much as I want. Of course, this habit hasn’t benefited me much.
For the longest time, I pretended like compulsive-eating was funny. I’d make jokes about how much I ate and how much weight I was gaining. It was easier to laugh at the situation than to actually analyze my behavior. It was even easier to make excuses for myself as to why I ate too much of the wrong foods.
The truth is that I am overweight. I’m a 4’11” female and I weight over 160 lbs. While I do understand our health doesn’t boil down a number on the scale, there is no denying that I am not at a healthy weight. It’s quite noticeable that I’m carrying around a few extra pounds. You can see it in my face even. (Also: PLEASE do not tell me that you weigh much more than me and that I am not even that fat. This is not a comparison.)
For most of us, we want to lose weight because we want to look better. We want a flat-tummy, toned arms and legs, and only one chin. That’s fine. However, for those professing Christianity, that should not be our primary motivator. We should want to glorify God in all that we do; including what we eat. We don’t get to put Christianity on pause at meal time, right?
For me, my relationship with food stems from a lack of self-control. I don’t just eat a few potato chips; I must have the whole bag. I can’t just eat one cookie; I eat 6. Honestly, there are times when I’m going on a total binge and I really just start to feel shame. As horrible as I’d feel, I wouldn’t stop. The food tastes good, it makes me feel better, so I keep eating. I’m not eating to nourish myself; I’m eating as a hobby. If Christ is my comfort; why am I using food to comfort me? If self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit; why don’t I control myself around food?
On the flip side of all this, I do believe that the pendulum can swing too far the other way. We can become so obsessed with health and weight loss that it becomes a problem. Just ask anyone who has ever had an eating disorder. (If you are struggling with disordered eating, please seek profession help. And for a bit of encouragement, check out Beauty Beyond Bones. You’ll find her posts helpful and uplifting, I believe.)
See, this isn’t about going from fat to skinny. A good friend of mine recently told me that while I may have fat, I’m not fat. Just like I have finger nails but I am not finger nails. Fat is something I have, it doesn’t define me. My identity is rooted in Christ and I can’t lose hold of that. I don’t need to lose weight so that I can let my identity of “fat” go. No, it has nothing to do with that, really.
I want to get control of myself. I want to stop being so impulsive and reactive. I need to learn to deny my flesh from time to time. I need to make wise choices for my body. You know, maybe have some fresh fruit as a snack instead of eating 5 Kraft Singles. I know my body isn’t permanent; I also know that I don’t want to die a painful and miserable death. I know I don’t want to be in pain when I’m old. I want to enjoy sitting on the porch with my husband watching our grandkids when I’m old. I can’t do that if I need a nurse to care for me by the time I’m 65.
I’m not here to shame anyone for being over-weight. As I’ve said, I’m carrying around some extra poundage myself. However, if you are a Christian and you are over-weight or obese, I would encourage you to analyze yourself as well. Is your relationship with food healthy? Do you make wise decisions? Do you control yourself around food? Is food your go-to comfort? Is your diet God-glorifying? You don’t need to answer to me; take it to God.
Lastly, Scripture tells us that all things are permissible, but not everything is beneficial. If you want a piece of cake; have some cake! If you’re camping for the weekend; have some s’mores around the campfire. I’m not going to say you’re sinning because you’re eating something besides raw kale. However, I have to wonder if eating too much of the wrong foods day after day is beneficial. For me, I’m going to make sincere effort to make better choices with food. Perhaps, I don’t need to indulge every single craving…