I've long battled food. You would never know it as I've always been thin. But weight isn't necessarily an indicator of food issues. I am not alone. I've had many, many conversations with other women about food. I've already discussed my decision to cut down on sugar, and I have. I read years ago that if you crave sugar, you're depressed. If you crave salt, you're angry. Well, I guess I'm both. Though I'm not sure there is really any truth to that. Bottom line: I eat more than I need to eat.
In nursing school, and later chiropractic school, I studied nutrition. I know the basics of a healthy diet and I've since followed all the latest breaking news from the scientists, much of it conflicting. I had every good intention of saving my daughters from the typical American diet, but my grand ideas were quickly sabotaged by my fat/sugar loving husband. So while I could discipline myself to only buy good food, he brings temptation into the house. The girls still eat fairly well though, lots of fruit and vegetables, along with pasta and rice. They eat very little meat, as they don't like it. Maybe genetics has determined that.
I think food can destroy good health, and also it can be medicine. When I was sick with my lung ailment years ago, Fred would bring me fresh strawberries every day. I ate huge quantities of strawberries and I believe they were a part of my healing. I have celiac disease, so wheat is toxic to me. We know diet is very important. If we have children, we owe them our very best effort to give them the right food so they can grow properly. But where does being a good steward of the body God gave us clash with being obsessed with food? No doubt as a culture we spend way too much time thinking about food. (I know I've spent way too much time preparing food!)
I read a fascinating article by Mark Galli in Christianity Today. He discused the numerous studies always being conducted on food and food's impact on health. In particular, we're always warned of the horrors of red meat. He comments, "Now every time I sit down to a polish sausage or hamburger, I will not be able to count it as joy. The steak sitting gloriously before me will not signal a gift from God but a tempation of the Health Devil and the Grim Reaper."
And there's the point: we can't enjoy the food God has provided for us because food brings guilt! We can't be thankful for it. How can you thank God when you are giving in to "temptation"? Galli goes on to say, "The bottom line is that food of all sorts--but especially food that we have traditionally enjoyed the most, the lusty foods dripping with sweetness and fat--is now seen as a threat. A threat to what? Well, longevity. Most of these studies are about discovering the relationship of a food or nutrient to death...the goal of the scientific health community seems to be to flag foods that cut life short, because, as we all know, the idea is to live as long as possible."
Is this Biblical? How liberating this thought is to me! Can we leave the length of our days to God and stop obsessing about every bite of food? Let's end the guilt and be grateful to God for the nourishment and yes, the pleasure food gives. Can you tell me where the scriptures say our goal is to live as long as possible? That the pursuit of the fountain of youth should be our goal? Galli says, "This fixation on food's relationship to death is but another sign of our culture's deep fear of death." As Christians, what do we really believe?
I think I'll ENJOY a dish of Breyer's strawberry ice cream right now while I plan tomorrow's lessons for my girls, my very healthy girls, raised on the bounty of our organic vegetable garden but allowed the occasional treats their father takes joy in giving them. Scripture tells us "all things in moderation." (Oh, if we would just do that!) We press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. The goal is not longevity and food is not our god.
Mark Galli sums up his article with these wise words: "The point of our sojourn on this planet is not to live long but to live well."