Many of us have distant thoughts and dreams about ourselves being fit, healthy, and enjoying a sustainable long-term healthy lifestyle, but it remains exactly that, a distant dream. Some of us look at others and wonder how they do it. They wonder what it must be like to be IN CONTROL of their health, but can’t gain a conscious awareness of how it could be possible given their daily battle with unhealthy food choices, and how it often ends, that the food wins.
Paul says when he talks about eating in Corinthians that we cannot defile ourselves by what we eat, as did Jesus, but we are also called to obedience and self-control. There has to be BALANCE. This means not giving into and indulging in the flesh. Now in this day and age, our food is full of toxic, addictive substances (which is a topic I will address further on a different day), but this makes avoiding gluttony and over-indulging in the flesh EVEN MORE TRICKY..
Guilt is a natural consequence of sin, and is meant to tell us we have crossed a line. But when does eating become sinful? Gluttony is defined in the oxford dictionary as “habitual greed or excess eating”, but when does it become excess? How do we avoid it from becoming too excessive? Well something I suggest we start to do is to Think with your spirit and mind, rather than your stomach. Being in control vs. impulsively acting on our desires of the flesh without taking time to consider some important factors.
The factors we should consider are: 1. Am I truly hungry? 2. Is the food I am about to eat going to provide me with the sustenance and nutrients that I need? 3. How will I feel AFTER eating this food? So many of us human beings eat for different reasons. It could be boredom, it could be to numb, to distract us from something else, it could be for pleasure, or it could be to satisfy cravings or desires deeper than just being hungry.
The fact is, eating food triggers a response in the brain, it activates dopamine in the pleasure center of the brain, and that is where the response of pleasure comes from in relation to eating. God designed food to be pleasant, don’t get me wrong, but there are ways to abuse this and allow food to become more than what it was intended for, and that’s what we need to recognize, and why we need to ask ourselves first if we are actually hungry!
Becoming tuned in to this may take some time. Some of us may not even know what that feels like because we are so used to eating our emotions instead of eating for sustenance. The more we listen to our bodies, the more familiar it will become. We don’t even have to think about when to eat because our bodies will tell us exactly when we are ready. There is even quite a benefit to ALLOWING ourselves to be hungry, and sometimes a benefit to not eating right away or at all for certain periods of time. (This is called intermittent fasting, which I talk about further along).
The next question: Is what I’m about to eat going to provide me with nutrients and sustenance for my activity level? So, you have to look at the calorie to nutrient ratio. God created the world with a rich source of nutrient-dense foods. Those foods are all still available today in abundance! There is no reason to turn to over-processed, man-made foods even if they sometimes look
or tastemore appealing.
The fact is, the man-made foods or highly processed foods are often nutrient-lacking but very HIGH in calories which is the opposite of what our bodies need. (source below) These GOD-MADE whole foods are rich in minerals from the soil, vitamins, protein, fiber and healthy fats. Every single thing we need in our nutrition comes from the foods God has provided to us.
In light of this knowledge, we have to THINK ABOUT the foods we choose throughout the day to put into our bodies. The last question we have to ask- how will I feel after I eat this, is ALSO VERY IMPORTANT. The highly processed man-made foods of today and even some of the crops are not what we were desgined to eat. (YES, SADLY EVEN SOME CROPS) due to genetic modification and hybridization! Understanding the impact of the strong relationship between daily exposures and our health, we really all need to take on the duty of guarding our bodies from unhealthy exposures, food included, and ESPECIALLY food.
How do we know if something is not healthy? We pay attention to our body’s response. It took me YEARS to discover that my acne issues were exacerbated by processed dairy products which turns out to be somewhat supported by medical literature. (I wrote a research paper on this during college, but also my acne issues ceased upon cutting processed dairy out of my diet, sources below). If I had’ve paid more attention earlier I would have learned years and years beforehand what was causing it, and saved myself a lot of trouble.
If you know that by eating a footlong subway sandwich, your arthritis will start acting up the next day, PERHAPS that may not be a good choice! Or if you forsee that eating that donut at work will cause mental fatigue and a grouchy afternoon full of emotional ups and downs due to the glycemic response from your body, you could politely pass and grab your DARK CHOCOLATE BAR or fresh fruit that you very wisely packed that morning in your lunch bag! OR you could say, you know, tonight I think I will have that donut. The ball is in your court. You are not good or bad for your eating decisions KEY (within the realm of self-control), and even then, you are not bad, you are just a sinner, in need of more unfailing grace. Thank GOD we have our savior, Lord and King routing for us every step of the way! Thank God his grace makes it possible for us to get back up and try again the week that we had a Friendly’s sundae five days in a row after our stressful work day. Thank God that his love is so UNCONDITIONAL that even if we left our house in the night to go buy a package of blueberry muffins to eat in the car while the kids are sleeping, he would not TURN AWAY in disgust, leaving us in the dust. He is changing us day by day, and we have to rejoice in our sufferings, even the ones involving food, and the continuous struggles and challenges that can exist in such a seemingly meaningless area. The fact is, if we surrender this area of our lives to him as well, and we ask for the faith to change, he will give us the portion of himself that we need to do so. Go in grace, but also with the FAITH that he can and will help us succeed, even in this battle too!
-Joy Hoisington, CFNC, LE
 Kang, M.-S., Oh, J.-S., Lee, S.-W., Lim, H.-S., Choi, N.-K., & Kim, S.-M. (2012). Effect of Lactobacillus reuteri on the proliferation of Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermidis. The Journal of Microbiology, 50(1), 137–142. doi: 10.1007/s12275-012-1286-3
2 Kang BS, Seo J-G, Lee G-S, et al. Antimicrobial activity of enterocins from Enterococcus faecalis SL-5 against Propionibacterium acnes, the causative agent in acne vulgaris, and its therapeutic effect. The Journal of Microbiology. 2009;(1):101.
3 Kober, M.-M., & Bowe, W. P. (2015). The effect of probiotics on immune regulation, acne, and photoaging. International Journal of Womens Dermatology, 1(2), 85–89. doi: 10.1016/j.ijwd.2015.02.001
 Cordain L, Lindeberg S, Hurtado M, Hill K, Eaton SB, Brand-Miller J. Acne Vulgaris: A Disease of Western Civilization. Arch Dermatol. 2002;138(12):1584–1590. doi:10.1001/archderm.138.12.1582.
4 Mojon-Azzi SM, Mojon DS. Strabismus and employment: the opinion of headhunters. Acta Ophthalmologica (1755375X). 2009;87(7):784-788. doi:10.1111/j.1755- 3768.2008.01352.x.
5 American Academy of Dermatology/Milliman. Burden of Skin Disease. 2017. www.aad.org/BSD.