In today’s diet-inspired culture its easy to feel guilty about the food choices you make. But I believe we are not meant to have a spirit of guilt and shame and, as I’ve discovered, the Bible provides plenty of proof that God doesn’t want you to feel badly about the way you eat either.
When I first started down my career path, I approached food with wonder. As I learned about various foods and our body’s unique ability to break them down and utilize them for fuel and nourishment, I found myself amazed at how it all worked.
Yet it didn’t take long for that wonder to wane. In fact, it seemed as though the deeper I dug into nutrition science, the less it became about wonder and the more it became about finding the most ideal way to eat. Nutrition became a weapon, one I used to weed out the good foods from the bad foods, and set the stage for rather restrictive eating and, eventually, led me down a disordered eating path.
Nutrition isn’t meant to be a weapon and food isn’t meant to be an all-consuming pursuit. Food is just food and although its role in your life matters, we often spend too much time trying to control it rather than enjoying it for the benefits it truly has.
A few weeks ago my husband asked my thoughts about a verse he found while reading through 1 Timothy. The verse went like this:
They’ll tell you not to eat this or that food—perfectly good food God created to be eaten heartily and with thanksgiving by believers who know better! Everything God created is good, and to be received with thanks. Nothing is to be sneered at and thrown out. God’s Word and our prayers make every item in creation holy. 1 Timothy 4:4-5 MSG
Now Paul was writing against religious idolatry that was still being held from before Jesus. But the principle holds here. Our pursuit of eating well can often turn into a pursuit of perfection. A pursuit that ultimately misses the point. This verse illustrates this, showcasing how every food can be a gift and approached with gratitude.
Its easy to think that if we eat a certain way, we can achieve the way of living we desire. Yet this fails to take into account all the complexities of life or the fact that living a full life isn’t dependent on our food choices to begin with. Your purpose, your worth – none of that is affected by the foods you choose eat.
Food is discussed in the bible on many occassions. Not all of those times are pertinent to the discussion here, but I believe these verses do reference food in a similar fashion.
Go eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. Ecclesiastes 9:7
Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. Genesis 9:3
Therefore I tell you, don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Matthew 6:25
But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. 1 Corinthians 8:8
Looking at food through this context is interesting and for me, serves as yet another reminder that I don’t need to take food too seriously. It also assures me that foods really aren’t meant to be labeled as “good” or “bad” – that food is just food and that no matter what we choose to eat, our value as a person isn’t dependent on how we choose to fuel our bodies.