Friday, February 10, 2012

Food on Friday : Healthy Habits, Part 1

A Moment Back in Time
This morning (when I began this post it was morning anyway), I want to discuss an issue that often goes under the guise of "healthy eating", but first let me share with you a story from my own life:

Fall 2008: I had just returned to college from a crazy busy summer of counseling at a Christian camp in northern Michigan (shout out to Lake Ann!). My diet, while at camp, had consisted mostly of Cliff bars and snow peas in the cafeteria with the occasional trip to the organic restaurant in Traverse City for some "real food".  Needless to say, I was looking very thin. Not unhealthily thin, just skinny, but normal for a diet consisting of mostly vegetables [or so I thought]. Here began my semester of the strangest eating habits I've ever experienced. I was a health food nut.. organic this, all-natural that. I racked up my grocery bills at Whole Foods and was mildly obsessed with peanut butter and carrots. My parents became worried that I was focusing so much on "healthy eating" while at the same time taking on an overwhelming amount of extra curriculars. Indeed, it was a recipe for disaster. If I didn't eat a salad for every meal, I would get frustrated. I started "cooking" for myself this semester, which really just consisted of throwing a bunch of vegetables in a bowl and calling it dinner. Ironically, as I became more overwhelmed and busy, I began exercising less and less. I became depressed and soon I was calling home wondering what I was doing 2,000 miles away from home. I felt isolated and like I had failed. I ate desserts and other foods in large amounts (i.e. binged) to try and cope with all of my stress. Most of all, I felt like I had lost control of my "healthy eating" which was terribly frustrating. I cried out to God on multiple occasions to help me to see what my problem was! I knew that how I was behaving wasn't normal, but I also didn't think it was very serious. 

After I went home for Christmas break, I had a breakthrough. I became vulnerable with some close friends who prayed with me regarding this season of depression and loss of control. During that break, I went on a retreat back to the summer camp I worked at and was confronted with the underlying issue: pride. I was too prideful to confess to anyone (let alone myself) that I was overly concerned about the kind of foods that I ate. When I became overwhelmed, the food I ate became an avenue of control and I used it to falsely believe that my life was under control. After that retreat, the Lord taught me that I needed to be honest & vulnerable with those around me, and willing to confess my sin and not let it fester. I went back to Florida with a new outlook and a readiness to fight this battle for real

As I began to examine my life, I noticed that this obsession of healthy eating was not just a habit but a lifestyle. Slowly, I added exercise back into my regular routine and was thankful that the Lord was giving me the desire to want to be healthy but not consumed. As God exposed my heart, He revealed to me how my relationship with food was tainted with many false ideas. I also had false ideas about my image, my body, and my relationship to exercise. I was encouraged that the Lord was showing me so many things, but I didn't really know where to go from there practically, besides attempting to "put to death the deeds of the body, so that [I] might live." (Romans 8:13) I saw the need for more specific, focused ways to battle this area of my life -- I wrote note cards with Scripture passages, had an accountability partner, and prayed often for God to help me in this area. All of these things did indeed help tremendously.

But I asked myself, "Do I have an eating disorder?". I puzzled over that question and came to the conclusion... no? So, if I didn't have an eating disorder per say, then why have I met so many other women who have dealt with the same issues? Again, I ask "Is this an ED?". Well, you will be curious to know that I have done some research on this topic of a"healthy eating obsession". I've even made a few enlightening discoveries. I would like to share those and other thoughts in a series on Healthy Habits

For now, let's ponder what Paul says in regards to eating meat sacrificed to idols (which may cause his brother in Christ to stumble): ""All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor... If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:23-24, 30-31)

Do you adhere to a strict healthy diet? What is your motivation behind your food choices? Have you considered that this may be more than just an eating regime, but a lifestyle for you?

Stay tuned for Healthy Habits Part 2, Food Rules - And Food That Rules [You]

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