I sat glued to the TV, waiting for the Today Show to announce this New Year’s best diet. My eyes followed the host as she stepped alongside a table demonstrating the meals I “should” be eating now.
It was clear– this year, carbs are off the table. The segment came to an end and the host, not skipping a beat, announced: “Coming up next: How to make a decadent French Toast for your New Year’s brunch”.
“If I knew which way to go, I’d take it!”
Food contradictions. They are everywhere and what is “right” changes faster than the trend from boot cut to mom jeans.
The diet industry has trained us to look for clear, one-size-fits-all instructions. But, what and how we eat to feel our best is so individualized, it’s nearly impossible to come up with a set of cut and dry rules. Or is it?
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT DIETS?
In the Bible, we can find the answer to “all things pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3-11) within its pages. Yet, on the surface, it may seem the Bible itself contains some contradictions about how to eat.
In Genesis, we read about how God gave us plants and meat to eat (Genesis 9:3). In the book of Daniel, we’re told how Daniel requested to eat only vegetables and was a better man for it (Daniel 1:11-16).
Within the Old Testament law, it is clear God cared about what His people ate as He provided explicit instructions about which foods to avoid and which foods to eat. Today, with scientific advancements, we are able to see why these laws were in place and how many of these instructions helped to preserve the Israelites from diseases.
In Proverbs and the Psalms, we see numerous reflections about how we are to approach food as the shift moves from our external behavior to the attitudes of the heart. We are admonished to not eat too much (Proverbs 25:16) and to avoid gluttonous practices (Proverbs 23:20-21).
The New Testament finds its focus solely on the heart. All food is given the stamp of approval and dietary laws seem to be a thing of the past.
Mark 7:19 NLT Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.)
Here we see how our outward behaviors matter most as they reflect the condition of our inner self. Jesus puts trust before dietary laws when he tells us “do not worry about what you will eat or drink” (Matthew 6:25).
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We find further instruction to:
- Be self-controlled (1 Peter 5:8).
- Discipline our bodies (1 Corintihains 9:27).
- Make no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14).
- Glorify God in ALL we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).
- And, treat our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
So while the “rules” about what to eat loosened, the commandments ultimately became more difficult. No longer could we fake it by following a food plan. Our spiritual muscles needed to be so strong that they led us to a God-glorifying diet.
HOW DO I EAT IN A WAY THAT GLORIFIES GOD?
While no food is “off limits”, what does it mean to eat in a way that honors the answer to the question- “What does the Bible say about diets?”.
How do we eat all things with self-control while treating our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit?
Well, it depends.
Each of us is unique. We each thrive on different types of foods, various portions sizes, and individualized eating schedules. You and I each have our own areas of growth.
What it takes to glorify God in your eating depends on what the Holy Spirit has for you.
Rather than offering you a list of to-do’s, I’d like to give you a few simple questions you can ask yourself when deciding what and how to eat.
1. How is the Holy Spirit leading me?
Isaiah 30:21 NKJV Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,“This is the way, walk in it,”Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.
If we are honest, we often know in our heart of hearts whether our eating is in line with godly behavior… or not. It is easy to find justifications to eat (“I’ll just have one”, “I’ll start tomorrow”) but godliness doesn’t bend to our excuses.
Take a moment to listen to that still, small, voice before eating. You don’t need to be afraid to confront the truth because the Holy Spirit will empower your decision to be obedient!
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2. Is this food beneficial for both my body and the calling God has on my life?
1 Corinthians 10:23 NLT You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.
Yes, we are allowed to eat any type of food but we are also called to be wise (Matthew 10:16). A diet built on processed foods is NOT going to fuel your hopes and dreams. And, it’s not a great way to care for the “temple of the Holy Spirit”.
Be sure to marry wisdom with freedom and seek to find what will benefit you most, body, mind and spirit. And here’s a hint– your best yes is not always the “healthy” choice.
Remember, it is 100%, absolutely ok to enjoy ALL foods. But, there is a threshold which leads to poor health and bondage
3. Will eating this food lead to poor choices?
Romans 13:14 NKJV But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
You know what it is. It’s the food that is just “soooo good” you abandon all rational thought to have it. For me, it’s a tub of creamy chocolate ice cream, a bag of opened chocolate candies, or a chocolate cake that can be eaten in transparent slivers until the entire thing is vaporized.Are you seeing a theme here?
I know my weakness and therefore choose to keep chocolate desserts either a) at the grocery store where I can have them anytime I want to b) in individual serving sizes. If I am tired, stressed, or feeling emotional, even less indulgent foods can be eaten in excess. It is important to know thyself.
THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTIONS
When we pause to contemplate our answers to these 3 questions we will be faced with the truth of our decision-making. This can feel like a big time investment for something as daily as food. We need to look at this as more than simply “deciding what to eat”.
These questions spark and nurture conversation (prayer) with our Heavenly Father. If done with diligence, you won’t require this level of introspection forever. In time, you will naturally assess your choices and create your own “diet” to follow.
As your actions line up with God’s will, you won’t need to ask them at all! You can put on your mom jeans, grab a bite, and go!
DOWNLOAD YOUR 3-QUESTIONS PRINTABLE
- Download your FREE Eating That Glorifies God 3-Question Printable and print 1 or 2 copies on cardstock and cut them into 1/4’s.
- Display and distribute these cards where you will need them most.
- Practice answering these questions ANYtime you make an eating decision. Sure, not all food choices are temptations but it’s a great habit to get into.
- Check out the Faithful Finish Lines Program, where you will learn how to apply your faith to your health and Fitness.
Brandice Lardner is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Author, and Jesus Girl whose mission in life is to help women ditch the diet mentality and find peace with food and their bodies so that they are better equipped to do the great things God has called them to do.