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There is one relationship that has many of us tied up in knots. We feel guilt, shame, hatred, love, obsession, control, confusion and frustration. Yet, it’s the one relationship that not one of us can walk away from. We can’t say “I’m done!” and quit, once and for all. We need it to survive.
It’s our relationship with food. And what a mess this relationship is.
We use food to comfort us.
We use food as punishment.
We use food to feel unworthy.
We use food to celebrate.
We use food for fuel.
We use food to feel control.
We use food to feel out of control.
Sigh… This isn’t an easy one. This is heartbreaking, to feel so affected by food. I have listened to so many tear-filled stories of women that feel dragged through the muck because of their relationship with food.
As women, we tend to drift between two extremes with food—complete restriction and then complete abandon. One day, you’re “in control”, tracking everything you eat, carefully considering every portion and feeling good about your choices. The next day, all willpower escapes you and you eat everything in sight…or you just don’t eat at all.
Either way, food is an enemy. It’s a wild, untamable creature that has us trapped.
Why is this so freakin’ hard?!
If I could sit down with you, hold your lovely face in my hands and look you straight in the eyes, I would tell you this:
“Food is good and God wants you to enjoy it, and to not feel trapped by it. He really does.”
I would also gently tell you that eating healthy is not actually hard. You just might need to let your mind and heart mend from the lies about food that you have been told:
You have to count calories.
You need to measure your food.
Eating carbs makes you fat.
Eating fat makes you fat.
Eating after 7 p.m. makes you fat.
You have to cut out sugar (or gluten, or dairy).
You have to eat all organic.
You have to eat perfectly.
Lies, all lies. They’re based on half-truths, but every single one of these statements about food introduces another way for us to fail. Once again, eating healthy becomes an impossible standard.
And food remains our nemesis.
I need you to take a breath here. (Breathe in, breathe out.) This is heavy stuff, I know. The feelings associated with food go deep.
Stop and think about your relationship with food. Do you see food as just a pile of numbers that are going to make you fat? Do you view food as a giant obstacle between you and your ideal body? Do you vacillate between hating food and loving it? Does food overpower you?
Be honest with yourself. How is your relationship with food?
A Picture of Perfection
Now, let’s step back and view food from a grander perspective. God designed our bodies to function extremely well (and feel really good, too!) when we provide it with a sufficient buffet of good nutrients. But God also gave us taste buds, which He didn’t have to do. Why? So that we can enjoy food and find pleasure in eating!
As we look ahead to a perfect and redeemed world, what do we see?
“The Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And He will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces.” (Isaiah 25:6-8)
Amazingly decadent food, rich wine (nice, right?), and not a single tear or shadow of shame in sight…this is perfection. And food is part of the picture. So cool, right?
Shifting Our Mindset
So where does this leave us? Back to understanding that food is good (not bad!) and eating healthy does not need to be hard. Let me show you some mindset shifts:
- Don’t eat vegetables, proteins and healthy fats because you have to, but because they bring your body the nutrients it needs to function at its best.
- Don’t resist junk food because you think it will make you fat, but because it provides your body nothing of benefit, and you just don't need it.
- Pinpoint the decadent foods that you really enjoy and bring you loads of pleasure. Keep some of these foods in your rotation. (Dark chocolate? Wine? Ice cream?)
- Start to see every meal as another opportunity to spread good nutrients to every corner of your body.
- Shut down the lies about food when they start to creep in. Reread them again, if you must.
I recognize that this is so hard. That shifting and changing our relationship with food can take a very long time. This tiny, insignificant blog post may be barely scratching the surface of what you are dealing with. But if you can identify the negative ways that you view food and the lies that you believe, this may open the door to freedom for you.
And that is what I'm praying for.
Is this topic striking a chord with you? You may also be interested in these blog posts...
Balance and Moderation: What Does This Even Mean?!
Nutrition Facts are Not Helping You! 6 Reasons Why You Need to Stop Reading Food Labels
Ten Nutrition Mistakes You Are Probably Making