Food Habits Fitbruary

Finding Self-Control In An Out of Control Culture

Note: This essay was originally posted on the former Fitbruary.com blog.

Here is a fact: you can eat whatever you want.

Here is the truth: you can’t just eat whatever you want.

Here is the point: the truth always outweighs the facts.

I’ll explain.

Historically speaking, my personal relationship with food has been governed by one criteria—taste. If it tastes good, I love it, and if I love it, I eat it.

I’m not talking about the strangely appetizing recipes you see in Buzzfeed’s Tasty videos. I’m talking about Chipotle Burritos, Olive Garden breadsticks, and pretty much everything under the Golden Arches. (My mouth may or may not have watered after typing that sentence.) Lord, help me! I’m just saying that I have had legitimate friendzone conversations with Popeye, the Hamburglar, and the Pillsbury Doughboy.

But throughout many cycles of dieting, many more cycles of absolutely not dieting, and trying to find a way to have my cake and eat my tacos too, I have grown to learn that a lot of the foods I love simply don’t love me back. A single tear just ran down my cheek, as I’m sitting here drinking a flax-infused green smoothie. Ok, I’m over it.

Sure, the fact of the matter is that I can eat whatever I want. But the TRUTH says that I can’t just eat whatever I want.

Look what Paul writes to the church at Corinth:

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. (1 Cor 6:12-13)

Ok, so Paul is actually speaking about sexual immorality here, but the food metaphor serves us well. Yes, we get hungry, and our stomachs need food to be satisfied. But just because it’s not illegal to eat donuts and pizza every day doesn’t mean that eating donuts and pizza every day is the best way to satisfy your hunger. There are more important things to be considered. Namely, that my body is on loan from God and He gets to tell me how to cared for it. In fact, the Bible moonlights as a “How to Care For Your Body” handbook.

For instance, later in 1 Corinthians Paul writes, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

And there’s more where that came from! Read these verses in the context of caring for your body:

  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
  • 1 Timothy 4:8
  • Romans 12:2
  • Luke 12:22
  • Genesis 1:27
  • Ephesians 5:18

Now, as much as I’d like to blame the food for being so irresistible, I have to be real with myself and admit that the problem is my foolishness and my recklessness. What I mean by “foolishness” is a lack of understanding why I should or should not eat certain foods. AKA wisdom. And what I mean by “recklessness” is my total lack of self-control.

Sounds disheartening, but there is good news here.

The wisdom that I need comes from God, the One who knows all things (Proverbs 2:6). And self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, the One who gives me power (Galatians 5:22-23).

This means that I am off the hook.

I don’t have to have a degree in nutritional science, or read calorie counts to know how to make healthy food choices. I don’t have to muster up a truck load of willpower to resist eating an entire basket of Olive Garden breadsticks and then ask for a refill so I can stuff six more in my purse. (True story -_-). All I need to do is surrender this area of my life to God, and He will give me the wisdom and power I need to make every choice for His glory. He will remind me of why I’m doing what I’m doing, and he will provide what I need spiritually, mentally and emotionally so that I can walk in victory physically.

I have tried so many dieting and weightless plans over the years. I’ll spare you the list. But I will say that once, I went on a ketchup-free diet thinking that this was going to be the answer to all of my health and fitness woes. Foolishness at it’s finest hour, y’all. The point is that there is only one way to win the food battle—God’s way. Allowing the Holy Spirit to empower you, direct you and lead you in every food decision you make. This might sound exhausting, but all it takes is a little practice. That’s why #FITFEB exists, so we can start practicing these empowering habits that will transform our lives for God’s glory.

Check out this powerful paraphrase of Galatians 5:22-26.

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original. -Galatians 5:22-26

This is how we find self control in an out of control culture. A culture that glorifies recklessness and self-indulgence. A culture that says, “Do it if it feels good,” and, “Eat it if it tastes good.” But here’s what I’ve learned: no food tastes as good as healthy feels. So it’s time to prioritize our health for good and not look back.

One commitment I have made is to start every month with a 10-day smoothie cleanse (no joke), and I’m cutting out carbonated and sugary drinks completely. As I surrender this to God, I’m feeling more empowered than ever to live for my health and His glory. And to believe the truth is better for me than the facts will ever be. I hope He leads you on your unique path of wisdom, power, and healthy eating!

Three cheers for the truth!

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