We live in a fallen world with evidence of it’s fallenness all around us. The world of food, as we know it, is marked by actual deception and addiction and we aren’t even talking about it. Like every other aspect of our lives, the food we put on our plate is in serious need of redemption.
I’ve done some reading and learned some of the science behind the profound effect food can have on us, for better or worse. If you’ve never read about why you can’t put the bag of chips down or why you’re in the pantry at 10 pm every night and just can’t be satisfied enough to go the heck to bed, it will blow your mind. You can find a lot of this info in the book It Starts With Food. Hint hint- satiety signals and hormones are the buzz words here.
Everyone who has followed my suggestion to read this book has had a “This is me,” reaction to the information about how some food (namely those which we aren’t biologically meant to consume on a regular basis) can effect us in less-than-desirable ways. Many of these effects are lost on us because our brains, while on the Standard American Diet, are now hardwired to expect these foods. Changing habits is hard, so we keep consuming these foods that make us feel out of control.
And this is just a teensy bit of the satiety component of the conversation. I could go on and on about gluttony, fast food, underpaid farmers, frankenfood, culture and more. These elements are all part of a huge conversation.
Food & My Faith
The reality of Jesus in my life affects everything, so when I realized how much this food experience resonates, I thought a few steps further, into my spiritual life. Here’s the conclusion I have come to:
Food was created by God to be good to me. I believe this to the very core of my being.
When food is continually having these adverse effects on me, perhaps I need to be realigning my choices toward food that I have proven (through rigorous self-experimentation) will be good for me. The food I was consistently eating on the Standard America Diet wasn’t making me feel good and was having ugly psychological affects on me. God has given me access to food in the world that can be delicious and make my body and my mind feel good.
What a gift we have in real food, which is meant for our good!
God has given us the need for sustenance. “Give us today our daily bread,” is in the Disciple’s Prayer, after all. Given that fact, I just can’t accept the thought that He meant for us to regularly consume that which renders us slaves to the feeling it gives us. I’m referring to the out of control nature of many of our relationships to certain foods. Because that’s what’s happening. That’s why you can’t put down the potato chips and you just need “a little something, but don’t know what” before going to bed at night.
Please know I’m writing this to myself too, friends.
If there is a meal that makes me feel good, it’s because God made it so, down to the very micronutrients. When I realized this, I didn’t want to regularly consume the foods that weren’t making me feel good.
Don’t hear what I’m not saying.
Right now, some of you are all like:
Ali, do you dare say God doesn’t want me to enjoy my Granny’s cookies? Are you saying that eating my Granny’s cookies is a sin?! Are you shaming me for eating my Granny’s cookies every single time she makes them for me?
No, no, and hell no.
First of all, you do you. I will never, ever shame someone who chooses to eat differently from me. But there’s a bigger conversation to have here.
Here’s the thing about your Granny’s cookies: You have a connection to them that I cannot relate to. This connection is emotional. When you eat one of Granny’s cookies, you’re transported to a simpler time and you feel all the nostalgic goodness of your childhood.
Hear me clearly: The experience of eating Granny’s cookies, with all the nostalgia and warm fuzzies, is also a gift from God. I believe we were made to feel that goodness, too, and be grateful for it. I believe that goodness points us to our need for more.
I also believe we often take these food experiences to extremes, allowing them to be used for bad instead of good.
Let’s keep talking about Granny’s cookies, for consistency’s sake. Say she sends you a dozen of the cookies and you open up the box and smell the sweet, chocolatey yumminess. For most of my life, what would have immediately followed was mindlessly shoving those cookies in my pie hole until all twelve of them were gone, only to look up and feel shame, realizing I didn’t even want all twelve of those cookies to begin with. Oh yeah, and then I need something salty/crunchy, so I might reach for a bag of potato chips to balance out my palate. I know I’m not alone in this experience.
Now, be honest. Are Granny’s cookies being used for good in this scenario?
Don’t you see? Granny’s cookies can be redeemed, friend. But not without hard work and introspection. But if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll repeat this cycle and never get the results you want.
Freedom from this cycle in within reach. I learned that through Whole30 and I sit here today with my own version of the Granny’s cookies story. I am not perfect, nor do I claim to be, but I’m free and claiming redemption over my relationship with food because it is really that important.
Have you thought about food this way? How does food need to be redeemed in your life?
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