“And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” (1 Timothy 6:8)
My brother David once quipped that keeping weight down is like holding a basketball under water…the minute you let go, whoosh! Up it rockets.
That applies directly to me, and maybe you can relate.
I have the metabolism of a snake—I can eat a mouse-sized portion, and my system takes a week or more to digest it. Which is why I’ve been on a perpetual “diet” for decades. And will be for the rest of my life.
But I hesitate to use that word “diet” because it’s really an eating lifestyle—choosing healthy foods in reasonable amounts, to maintain a decent size and well-being.
Meanwhile, Americans (and other Westernized cultures) are in the middle of an enormous pandemic of obesity, posing a much greater threat to our health systems and longevity than COVID. Diabetes is rampant. And it’s getting worse.
What’s caused this? Multiple factors, but we simply eat too much, and we eat too much junk. The contributing culprits are fast foods, huge restaurant portions, sedentary jobs, instant gratification, and modern stress. A general lack of exercise adds to it, but boatloads of workouts won’t undo overeating.
As Christians, we have a calling to take care of ourselves. Our goal isn’t to be svelte…it’s to glorify God. Your body is a “temple of the Holy Spirit”—worthy of respect as a gift from God, created by Him and for His purposes.
It’s not easy. For me, it can be brutally hard at times.
When we over-indulge our appetites (yep, it’s a sin called gluttony, and I’m guilty as charged), we sabotage our health and ability to serve Him with our very best efforts—putting self-gratification ahead of His mission.
This is a spiritual war, and you’re in the middle of a battlefield. There are almost limitless temptations in our Western culture…just look at all the pizza commercials at night on TV, hamburger billboards, chocolate bars at every cash register (even at hardware stores).
How do we cure the obesity problems that plague us? Diet plans are dime a dozen, with new ones cropping up every day…keto, paleo, organic, whatever. There are no quick fixes, no easy one-pill solutions.
What I’ve learned is basically a common-sense approach. I’m not a nutritionist, but here are some methods that work for me and why:
- Arm yourself with prayer. Take your plans to the Lord, asking His Holy Spirit to guide you in making good choices and help you thwart the plans of the devil. Satan just adores sideswiping us with words like, “You deserve this,” when you’re faced with a tempting choice. (Nope, mint-chocolate-chip ice cream does not constitute something “green” in the veggie family.) Pray for self-discipline in large quantities.
- Make healthy eating a priority. Your well-being and energy levels are at stake. This is a never-ending marathon. If you splurge now and then, get back on the wagon and return to your plan. Always keep your goals in mind. Do. Not. Give. Up.
- Plan ahead. Write out what you plan to eat and stick with it. Shop the “perimeters” and frozen food aisles of the supermarket, majoring on produce and other fresh products instead of pre-packaged goodies. Scout out farmers’ markets. Then, cook at home. Keep track of your choices for a week—there are lots of apps out there to help you monitor your food intake. Make adjustments as you find recipes that work for you. Stash (or throw away) the temptations, and put healthy snacking choices within easy reach.
- Don’t eat out. Take your homemade lunch to work. You’ll save money, too. If you have to dine at a restaurant, look for menu items with lower calorie counts and fewer carbs. If you’re served a huge portion, eat only part of it. Take the rest home, or cover it up with packets of artificial sweetener to make it unappealing and inedible. You DON’T have to clean the plate.
- Drink lots of water, especially before you eat, to help you feel full. Homemade fruit smoothies are a good way to fill up with fruits. Don’t “drink your calories”—switch your sugary coffees and soft drinks to flavored carbonated waters.
- Focus on “fins and feathers” (poultry, fish) and less on red meats. Add lots of veggies and fruits, fewer starches. You already know how to eat healthy. Keep everything in balance—proteins, fats, carbs, fibers—without going too far off the deep end of fad dieting.
- Add accountability. Whether it’s a personal friend/family member or a program like Weight Watchers or an app, find help to keep you plugging away at your goals. A prayer partner is even better.
- Eat with contentment and gratitude. It’s hard to sip on a glass of water while others relish their fudge brownies à la mode. If someone is willing to share their treat, eat one spoonful only…and stop. Otherwise, when you’re feeling resentment over sacrifices you’re making, turn your thoughts toward Jesus. Lift up gratitude to Him for what you’ve been given. Savor every bite of God’s gifts of food to you. Practice contentment when cravings threaten to overwhelm you.
Friends, I encourage you to stand strong in the Lord and in His mighty power when it comes to your eating habits. Take care of yourself, not for selfish interests but to honor Him. I share these thoughts, not because I have it all together (I fail daily) but because I love Jesus and want to serve Him as long and as well as possible.
Let His model prayer—which includes “give us this day our daily bread”—be yours as well. Make healthy choices every day with gratitude, for His glory!
Lord Jesus, You paid the ultimate price for us when You gave Your life on the cross, for our salvation. How small it is, then, for us to sacrifice our cravings in order to honor You with our bodies. Please guide us and give us the self-discipline we need to guard our health. Make us strong in Your power to serve You. In Your precious name, Amen.
Next week: The great trifecta of health continues—with exercise….
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© Copyright 2022 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.