Science, industry, and government have complicated our food. Food is intended to be simple and pleasurable. Instead, we rely on specific food movements to tell us how and what to eat. Based on the statistics for obesity, high blood pressure, and chronic diseases, our Western diet has failed us. Sadly, in most of America, pharmacies out number supermarkets. Perhaps if we used food as God intended, we would not need as many prescriptions filled to fix our sick bodies. As we develop real food habits, we can replace visits to the pharmacy with trips to the Farmers Market or visits around the perimeter of the grocery store where real food is featured.
Christians recognize the necessity to attend Bible studies and to maintain a rich devotional life so that our spiritual life remains strong and vibrant. Theologian Wayne Grudem affirms that to “neglect regular reading of God’s Word is as detrimental to the health of our souls as the neglect of physical food is detrimental to the health of our bodies.” When it comes to the stewardship of our body, unless a medical doctor dictates the necessity of a dietary change, we don’t want to be told what or how to eat. Christians want to compartmentalize what we feed our souls and how we nourish our bodies. We willingly welcome the transformation of our hearts, but how we fill our bellies remains off limits.
While we have the freedom to eat deep-fried Twinkies, does that food choice benefit our body, strengthen us to fulfill kingdom work, or express gratitude for the real foods that God created for our benefit? Are we eating and drinking to the glory of God? This is not to say that the need to change our eating habits trumps the need for God to transform our heart. At some point, though, in our Christian journey, we need to prayerfully consider “how our eating and drinking either reveals or suppresses the glory of God.”
Real Food Habits For Healthful Living
1. Express Thankfulness for Food
We donate one calendar day to express and acknowledge our gratitude for food. If we are honest, most attendees around the Thanksgiving table are more consumed with the NFL kick-off or the Black Friday deals than with actually giving thanks for the abundance of food displayed on the Thanksgiving table.
Christians make it a practice to bless the food before partaking, but are we really grateful for the food that fills our plate? Do we even know where any of our food originated? Writer Josh Bishop expresses in his article, Digesting Grace: Why the Food We Eat Matters to God, that food, “When properly understood as a gift, it becomes clear that food is a tangible expression of God’s love for us.” As theologian Norman Wirzba has put it, food is “God’s love made edible.” It is one essential way that he shows his care for us.
If we supped with our agrarian forefathers, they would groan in disappointment as we lap up our Lunchables. For the most part, consumers are conditioned to purchase food that is pre-mixed, pre-measured, and prepared. From time to time, we need a culinary kick in the pants that wakes us from our hyper-processed food slumber.
Over the years, I’ve learned to use food as a means of expressing gratitude to the Maker of food. It might sound like lunacy, but the deeper I seek God in my devotional life, the more I want to honor him and thank Him for his provision of food. I can see God’s handiwork when I pick up a crimson apple. I am hard-pressed to find His creative handiwork in a bag of neon orange Cheetos.
2. Eat to Honor God
There exist numerous food movements that purport promises for health. My suggestion is to start with the basics and form a habit of eating real food, food in its natural state that is void of the marks of a laboratory. Remember food should be simple.
Indeed, we have the freedom to consume the container of food with a list of ingredients that requires a degree in biochemistry to figure out what we’re really about to eat. However, that freedom does not give us a license to ignore the responsibility of taking care of the only body we will ever have.
3. Avoid Imposter Foods
Believers are quick to remove any spiritual imposter that might compromise our moral values or evangelical witness to the world. However, we are less mindful of applying that same fervor in overseeing the purity of our food. Every time we choose highly processed factory and laboratory fabricated foods over real foods, we welcome a fake into our diet which can compromise the health of our bodies.
According to an article in the New York Times, “the engineering behind hyperprocessed food makes it virtually addictive. A 2009 study by the Scripps Research Institute indicates that overconsumption of fast food “triggers addiction-like neuroaddictive responses” in the brain, making it harder to trigger the release of dopamine. In other words the more fast food we eat, the more we need to give us pleasure; thus the report suggests that the same mechanisms underlie drug addiction and obesity. This is permissible but most definitely does not benefit our health.
The answer is to turn to foods provided by the Creator.
4. Use Food to Fuel Your Body For a Greater Truth
My missionary friend, Ralph Stice, once told the story of jogging in the park behind his apartment outside of Paris, “as I looked at the bearded North African men in gray T-shirts, camouflage pants, and combat boots jogging around the paths and doing sit-ups and push-ups, I said to myself, ‘There’s NO WAY those guys are going to be in better shape than I am.’ As the months passed, several of those men no longer participated in the group fitness runs. They had left for jihad in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The jihadists laboriously strengthened their bodies to perform heinous acts to wipe out human life. Those of us who value human life should strive to strengthen our bodies so that we can build community and fellowship with others.
5. Ban the White Stuff
In preparing for this article, I phoned a friend who specializes in repairing automobile engines. I asked him, What is the one substance that could ruin an engine?” His reply, “sugar.” If sugar can kill the life of an engine, we should think twice about eating gobs of the white stuff in its many forms. Clear your kitchen of any white sugar and white flour. Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, creators of the Whole30 Program devote an entire chapter in their book, It Starts With Food, ” on sugar and sweeteners. The bottom line: “Sugar does not make you healthier.”
As far as white flour goes, I could devote an entire post just on industrialized processed grains. Now, that is not to say that grains are the enemy. In fact, unless you suffer from Celiac’s Disease, grains milled at home provide immense nutrition.
6. Use Food as It Was Intended
God promises to provide our basic needs, and the food is inarguably one of them. Food represents our dependence on God for physical nourishment. Bamboozled by the food industry, it fools us into believing that easy, disposable, fake meals offer the same nutritional artillery than real foods. Unless a Food Network superstar motivates us to convert our culinary ways, we tend to maintain an apathy towards real food.
Instead of settling for meal mediocrity, revolutionize your diet with real food and watch it enhance your life and improve your health. I am no different than most busy moms that weaken as my grocery cart comes to a screeching halt in front of the marinated chicken tenders. Rationalizing the potential purchase of the tempting cheat meals, I pause to read the marinade ingredients (I google four of them) because they look freakishly out of place on a food label.
I like what Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface Farm, proposes,“Wouldn’t it be neat if as a culture we were as interested in our kitchens as we are about the latest celebrity hookup or breakup?”
To encourage and equip you for a life of real food eating and living, please accept a tiny printable gift from me: Beginner’s Checklist for Real Food
Which habits outlined in this post do you see yourself applying? Have you started a real food journey, if so share your accomplishments and struggles?
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