Have you ever felt caught in a vicious cycle of unhealthy eating habits? Like, you want to break free, but find yourself making the same mistakes over and over?
You know what and when you need to eat in order to nourish your body, and even what foods make you feel your best.
You’ve made good choices in the past.
Yet, you still find yourself struggling. Perhaps you realize that there’s an emotional aspect tied to your eating.
I have certainly been there. And I expect it will be a struggle from time to time.
First of all, I want to encourage you that it’s not hopeless. Every moment is a chance to do something good for your health. No matter how many “bad” choices you have made, it’s never too late to take care of your body, in this moment.
I believe that in order to change our behavior, we need to look at what’s driving it.
Getting to the Root of It
Sometimes there are physical factors that affect our eating habits. For instance, stress, lack of sleep, sugar addiction, etc. These certainly don’t make it easier, especially when we have emotional attachments to food (whether that stems from a simple habit, family tradition, etc.). There’s a lot that can be said about emotional attachments to food and changing our habitual behaviors (you’ll find a lot of helpful info here). But today I want to talk about an even deeper issue. If we are truly honest with ourselves, a lot of our poor food choices boil down to this one thing:
We are seeking in food, what can only be found in Christ.
Let me explain.
A scoop of ice cream certainly gives a brief moment of sweet satisfaction, and perhaps a flood of good memories to go with it. And I will be the first to say, that indulgence has it’s place. But you and I both know that’s not what we really want. We don’t simply long for a sweet taste in our mouth, or a palatable texture. And that emotional release that comes from allowing ourselves to eat “whatever we want”? It won’t last for long.
As humans, we long for things like love, joy, comfort, satisfaction, and even pleasure. But we know that food will not bring us closer to these things (except perhaps for a brief moment, or experiencing only a shadow of them). Yet so often we are content to let food simply mask our hurts, and act as a substitute for our deeper desires. Joy, true satisfaction, and lasting pleasure can only be found in Christ and our relationship with Him. He is enough.
C. S. Lewis explains the fact that we have desires that cannot be met with the physical, or the earthly:
“The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage.”
So, how do we know when we’re being thankful for, and enjoying a blessing from God, versus using that blessing as an idol, or a cheap bandaid? It’s going to be different for everyone, and it won’t even look the same for you at different times in your life. The next time you find yourself tempted to make an unhealthy choice, try stopping and asking yourself why…
”Why am I choosing to eat this?”
“What do I hope to gain from it?”
“Am I expecting this to make me feel a certain way?”
These are the kinds of questions that help me personally, when it comes to my motivations surrounding food. And let me just say, I am in no way suggesting that we live in constant obsession over food, or a fear of making the “wrong” choice. Food is a gift from God, and we can freely enjoy this gift. But let’s not make it an idol in our lives. Let’s not turn to food in an effort to relieve the stress of life, or dull an emotional pain.
This month, I am participating in Clare Smith‘s 5th Annual Living and Active Challenge. One of the disciplines focused on is Scripture memory, and the passage for Week 1 was Psalm 16. As I continually read through it, I am reminded of the fact that I am nothing apart from Christ, and He is truly all I need. And that puts food in it’s rightful place, among all of the many blessings we are given in this life. But nothing when compared to God Himself.
Not to take anything out of context, but these are a few snippets of the chapter that really encouraged me:
I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you’…
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply…
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup…
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Let’s be satisfied with Christ, not food.
Does this resonate with you? How do you put food in it’s “rightful place”? Let me know in the comments below!