Eating healthy is no easy task. America’s obesity rates prove that our culture is opposed to healthy eating and self-control. According to the CDC, 71.6% of American adults aged 20 and over are overweight or obese. Food has become an idol. Obviously, the numerous diet solutions, campaigns, and weight loss surgeries have not resulted in substantial, lasting change. Sticking with any diet plan is incredibly difficult in an adversarial culture. Thankfully, God cares deeply about our daily concerns and struggles, like taking care of our bodies. The Bible contains powerful truths that can embolden us to push against the culture of unhealthy eating and practice self-control in our eating habits.
Food does not offer true comfort.
Romans 14:17 tells us that, “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Unfortunately, people often use food for comfort instead of depending on God’s peace. Calorie and fat laden foods are literally called “comfort foods”. We often seek emotional energy and strength from food, even when we have consumed sufficient calories. Our quest to attain emotional peace from food will never result in long term satisfaction. If we continue a habit of stress eating, the long term consequences will be downright dangerous. Thankfully, we do not have to count on food for comfort or energy. In John 14:27, Jesus promises His followers an incredible gift: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Unlike comfort foods, Jesus’ peace is everlasting and does not include weight gain.
Discipline equals long term rewards.
Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening–it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” (NLT) Resisting treats is never fun, but the end result is always worth the temporary discomfort. Programs like Weight Watchers fail because they mistakenly attempt to eliminate the discomfort associated with losing weight. After one of my friends signed up for Weight Watchers, I walked into her kitchen to see packs of chocolate chip cookies and cheese puffs, all bearing the Weight Watchers label. Everything included in the Weight Watchers bundle was highly processed. In an effort to make shedding pounds painless, Weight Watchers is missing the point. With portion control and a regimented plan, it is possible to lose weight eating processed foods, but this deprives the body of essential nutrients that are only found in fresh foods. Taking care of our bodies and eating nutritious foods can be difficult and time consuming, but the rewards of a healthy body and sharp mind will save us time (and hospital bills) down the road.
Romans 13:14 says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” To put this in modern day language, if there are Oreos in your home, than you will eat Oreos. Self-control consists primarily of establishing boundaries before temptations arise. Having a plan enables us to say no as soon as the temptation arises. During my year of being seventeen, I did not eat desserts or candy. Knowing that sweets were off limits before I attended events or celebrations empowered me to resist the temptation when the dessert table came into sight. Having a plan is essential to sustaining self-discipline. Creating boundaries for ourselves before encountering the temptation strengthens our self-control in the heat of the moment.
We are not alone in the fight to protect and nourish our bodies. God knows that we need strength outside of conventional wisdom and common sense. God’s word not only provides spiritual wisdom, it also gives us practical advice to handle our daily issues like eating. Jesus knows our weaknesses and has provided strength to overcome our own bad habits. The Bible’s spiritual truths are the best guide for navigating all of life’s decisions, including how we should care for our bodies.