[Now, let me see if I can get all of this out clearly and not just throw up all over you. Figuratively, of course. Maybe also literally.]
I just stood at the counter and ate about two cups of ice cream, straight from the carton, while the kids watched TV.
I know exactly why I did it, too.
I even considered the internal reasons while I was shoveling spoonfuls of chocolate peanut butter indulgence into my mouth.
I didn’t eat my usual filling breakfast this morning.
I didn’t have a decent snack waiting for me in the fridge.
I got hunger pangs about an hour ago. But we were at the park, so I waited.
Instead of choosing a lunch that would bring me life, I reacted impulsively to the sight of the ice cream carton and the appetite my body still had.
And it got me thinking.
I. Hate. Diets.
I have never. ever. wanted to go on a diet. (I’ve never actually gone on one either.)
I’ve seen people all around me doing them. The whole concept of dieting just sounded like death to me.
I couldn’t stand the thought of some system telling me what I can and can’t eat.
Thankfully, a different
diet eating plan landed in my lap early last year. And would you believe that it actually brings life and balance?
It celebrates the beautiful foods I can eat — and I fully enjoy them too. Not only do I enjoy the process of eating, but I also love the results. I’m not just talking about weight loss. My energy levels have been revived and I’m no longer shackled to the power of cravings. [ahem, assuming I can actually feed myself properly first, of course.]
The Physical & Spiritual Appetite
Of course, even after a year on this beautifully-balanced eating plan, I still trip up. But it’s much less frequent for me and I’m much more aware of just how unsatisfied I am after a junk food binge.
I was very aware of this after my ice cream binge today. Which led me to consider the connection between how we feed our bodies and how we feed our spirits.
Just like the physical body, the spirit has an appetite.
If I don’t feed my spirit life-giving nourishment, I wilt from the inside out.
I lose my ability to think clearly (Biblically, actually). I get used to the taste of “junk food”, but it’s not bringing me an ounce of life. I’m more subject to “impulse-eating” and “junk food” cravings, like the news, social media, television, shopping, etc.
I might even binge.
And just like the ice cream, these impulsive binges might satisfy me in the moment. But ultimately, they end up leaving me depleted long-term because they have not actually addressed the need.
It’s a cycle I’m sure many can attest to. When we feed ourselves junk on a regular basis, we can fall into a spiraling pattern of mindless consumption that never actually satisfies.
And what’s worse, it ends up chaining us.
When We’re in the Junk-Food Cycle
How can I break this devitalizing, crippling cycle of impulse? Of feeding a very real need with junk that only binds me down?
Physically, I could go on a diet. I could follow all their rules for eating and see results on the outside.
I could measure all my food, restrict my calories, weigh myself every day, or wipe out complete food groups from my diet (like carbohydrates). But this rigidity will inevitably lead me to stumble and likely grow discouraged. I might even swing back in the opposite direction, binging on all the forbidden foods and eating myself into a cycle of despair.
I might see images of other people on the same diet who look like perfection, and it just makes me feel like a failure. I either resolve to try to harder, or I resign, tightening my chains to junk food, sticking to the pattern of eating I know, and figuring I’ll just never be “that type of person”.
Or, perhaps I actually stick with my discipline, stay fit all the time, and live life with a mindset of how utterly better-than-you I am.
Spiritually, I could go on a diet too. I could follow a system that lays out rules for behavior, telling me what I can and can’t do.
To many, this is called religion.
If I follow all the rules, maybe I’ll see some positive results. But when I stumble, I’m confronted with the same sense of failure.
When I see others who look “holier” than I think I could ever be, I resign myself back into a cycle I know. I could never be “that type of person”, so I remain in the unhealthy habits of feeding myself based on cravings, feelings, and reactions.
Or, perhaps I’m actually pretty good at following all the rules and proceed to live my life under the conclusion that I’m basically a goddess.
Meanwhile… that appetite? That very real need for nourishment and balance? It’s still there.
Diets & Religion Fall Woefully Short
When I consider my personal reaction to diets, I think “No wonder so many people are turned off by religion!”
Just like the word “diet” for me, “religion” brings to mind images of restriction.
Diets: “I could never go on a diet that told me I couldn’t eat ice cream.”
Religion: “I could never follow a religion that tells me I can’t party on the weekends.”
It brings to mind discouraging or uninspiring images of its followers.
Diets: “I could never be as disciplined on keto as that girl.” Or “That poor woman is depriving herself of all of life’s goodness!”
Religion: “I could never be as nice and ‘holy’ as she is.” Or “These people think they are totally better than everyone else, the hypocrites!” Or “Look at those poor saps, they never have any fun!”
It brings to mind images of our own weaknesses.
Diets: “I could never have the self-control to give up my carbs.”
Religion: “I could never have the self-control to give up partying [or whatever comes to mind].”
These rules, restrictions, judgment, and personal weaknesses are devices of darkness, and they’re keeping us away from something beautiful.
Finding Freedom in Wellness
It’s funny for me to see how God has used something as basic as an eating plan to shed light on His desires for us (and yes, this includes you).
Of course, this tends to be the order for a lot of lessons. We first understand something in the physical, natural context, and then we see how the same principle applies in spiritual contexts (1 Corinthians 15:46).
Just like my eating plan is not a diet, FOLLOWING JESUS SHOULD NOT BE A RELIGION.
Jesus has never been about rules. (This includes religion and politics.)
>> He is about connection.
His entire purpose for walking this earth was to reconnect us to Him.
To be so intimately joined together. To know Him and really see Him as He knows and sees us.
>> He is about freedom.
He came to free us from the chains that are holding us down, whether we see them or not.
>> He is about beauty.
He came to reveal a quiet and breathtaking beauty that is waiting for us if we choose it. A beauty that penetrates the depths of our souls. A beauty we never even realized was missing.
>> He is about a lifelong journey.
Yes, he came to save us. But this goes so far beyond praying the prayer of asking Him into our hearts. We can experience the joy of eternity and victory with Him right. now.
Once You Taste It, You’ll Never Want to Go Back
When you finally experience the freedom and wellness in intentional and balanced nourishment, you never want to go back to the numb, mindless pattern of consumption that chains you up.
You don’t realize how chained you were until you’re free.
And the more you live in freedom, the more your appetite catches up. It starts craving real nourishment and becomes totally unimpressed with the fake.
Slowly and gently, you are transformed into a new creation.