Let Them Drink Coke (Part 1)
Yesterday, I ate a doughnut.
It’s important for you to know this because of what I’m about to tell you: I am passionate about nutrition. Well, I’m getting there.
While my journey toward mindful eating has been a long one, marked by disordered eating, recovery groups, and counseling, it really wasn’t until recently that I began to think meaningfully about what I put into my body and how it affects me. This greater interest in nutrition is reshaping what I put on my plate, what I allow in our house, and, most surprisingly, what I hope for the church.
When I had the opportunity to step into the role of children’s ministry director at a church over two years ago, one of the first things I changed was the list of approved Sunday school snacks. As a children’s ministry intern, I had doled out fishy crackers and fruit snacks and cookies galore, to kids who were more than happy to devour them. But it’s hard not to notice the sugar high those snacks produce and how difficult it is for the kids to focus on the Lord—or anything—when they are hopped up on sugary treats. So, I exchanged the cookies for carrots, the fruit snacks for whole fruits.
Earlier this year, when I stepped down from my ministry position to become a stay-at-home mom, my interest in nutrition grew as I mentally prepared for my little guy’s transition to solid foods and struggled with how to get my own body back in shape after childbirth. It forced me to focus on every meal as an opportunity to nourish and heal, which was difficult because of poor eating habits I developed as a time- and money-poor graduate student.
While I still haven’t completely weaned myself from fast food bean and cheese burritos, I find that my interest in health and nutrition continues to grow as I learn more about—and become increasingly distressed by—the industrial food system and the irrefutable links between the “Western diet” and the plagues of American society: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and the obesity that promotes them all.
Even though you probably haven’t had the same journey I have, the Affordable Care Act (“Obama Care”) has put everyone’s health on everyone’s mind. If the diseases that cause medical costs to skyrocket and health insurance to be unaffordable for a large segment of the population are PREVENTABLE diseases and, in many cases, able to be REVERSED simply by changing one’s diet, then why isn’t that a part of the conversation?
I bring all of this up on a theology blog because I don’t understand why I have not once, in my 20 years as a Christ follower, heard a sermon about food. About diet and exercise. The silence is confounding.
It’s not like the Bible doesn’t have anything to say about food. But maybe we have hijacked the message and used it to sanctimoniously gorge ourselves. For example, how many times have we sat down to a greasy, processed meal and asked God to bless it to our bodies? Can we even make it through that prayer with a straight face? How often have we preached that adolescents are to avoid sexual immorality because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and then treated them to artery-clogging ice cream after youth group? Is my body only a temple of the Holy Spirit when I’m in sex-mode, but not when I’m eating?
My next post is going to focus more specifically on what the Bible has to say about food and nutrition. In doing so, my hope is that we can be transformed by it and be used of God to call people away from devotion to food—which is at the heart of a lot of our disease—and toward devotion to Christ.
It’s an act of care we can all afford.