God Before Weight
It seems so many people are either overweight or underweight. Is there a right way to think about food so that it doesn't control us?
For some, eating and drinking is a daily routine; for others, it's a matter of survival. Approximately 24,000 people die of hunger every day. So, it seems rather ironic that people who have plenty of edible resources die of over-eating or under-eating.
Jesus gives us some good advice:
Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?.... your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matt. 6:25, 32, 33)
"Take no thought" does not mean we should neglect our bodies or over-indulge them. Jesus showed that by putting God first, we will have what we need in a normal way. And, in the Bible, people were grateful for the food they received and shared.1
Recently in school, I have had to encourage some of my friends to eat. One friend told me that she was going to stop eating lunch so that her body would use some of her fat for energy.2 I said that what she was planning to do can turn into a disorder called anorexia, which came as a shock to her. You always hear about people with extreme cases of eating disorders, but to realize that a "simple" and "genius" scheme for losing weight is actually similar to or can lead to anorexia and other extreme cases is startling. Another friend, after finding out that I am a vegetarian, decided that she would become one, too, so that she could lose weight. After I explained to her that losing weight is not the right motivation for being a vegetarian and shared thoughts about how eating is normal and natural for the body (and always has been), she came to the conclusion that she would not use vegetarianism to lose weight.
King Nebuchadnezzar offered some of the most promising children and young men, among whom were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his best meat and wine so that they would grow stronger and be able to serve in his palace. But Daniel (and the other Hebrews) refused the king's meat and asked the prince of the eunuchs if they could only eat pulse (peas, beans, etc.):
Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat.… So he consented to them in this matter….And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat. (Dan. 1:12-15)
Daniel and his friends proved that food had no power over them. They were "fairer and fatter" than the boys who ate the king's meat!
Food does not need to control our lives. Anxiety over weight does not need to control our lives. The sayings of Jesus and the story of Daniel show that by putting our trust and focus in God, everything else falls into place. We must be reasonable in life. We cannot binge all the time, but we also cannot stop eating. Putting God first is the key to good health and well-being.
High School Student
1 Before Jesus fed the multitudes, he said a blessing and thanked God (Matt. 14:19; 15:36). Jesus also blessed the bread before he shared it during the last supper (Mark 14:22). During Old Testament times, the children of Israel were grateful for the manna they received in the wilderness, which they were to gather "every man according to his eating" (Ex. 16:16). But when they kept more than they needed and left it until the next day, it "bred worms, and stank" (16:20). They had to learn to trust God to fulfill their needs, to be obedient to Moses' instructions which came from God, and in a practical way to understand exactly what they needed -- not to over-indulge and hoard. It's a good lesson for us.
2 This is actually a mistaken belief. If you stop eating, your body goes into starvation mode and actually ends up storing fat.
Usually when we over-eat, we do so because we are unhappy or dissatisfied with something going on in our lives. So, we may ask ourselves: "What am I eating over? Why am I not satisfied?" Other times, we overindulge because we "love" food. We can ask: "Why do I love food more than myself? Why am I giving food power over me? Why am I caught up in sensuality?" Usually, we're not satisfied with ourselves, nor do we love ourselves when we diet or starve ourselves to lose weight. We may ask, "Am I allowing myself to be controlled by media images and physical appearance? Do I feel out of control? Who is really in control of my life? How can I love myself better?" These questions are starting points. This topic could take up several pages, but Sarah has given us excellent insight to start thinking correctly about food. Isn't it comforting to know that God has the answers and that we can hear the answers to our individual needs! If we can be truly "absent from the body and … present with the Lord" (II Cor. 5:8), we will be following Jesus' advice and will gain a greater love for ourselves, which can't help but be evidenced in a healthy, balanced body.