I have mixed feelings about an image making the rounds on social networking sites. It’s a split screen of a hamburger and fries on one side and a salad on the other. It reads as follows:
“One ‘bad’ meal won’t make you fat...Just like one ‘good’ meal won’t make you skinny.”
As a person in eating disorder recovery, my antenna goes up whenever I come across images/messages which portray a kind of “half- truth.” I believe this image is, indeed, one such message. Yes, logically, we know one serving of junk food will not make us weigh 1,000 pounds. Likewise, eating a salad will not transform us into some mythical perfect being. Both are not realistic. But, this statement, while possessing this “half-truth,” still, however, contains its bottom line message: the certain desired image is a thin body.
To me, it smacks of a backhanded compliment. I remember once, when I was twenty-two years old, my younger roommate (age nineteen) once told me, “you’re not that old.”
(Those of you older than twenty-two, please feel free to chuckle here).
But I feel this good meal/bad meal sentiment is like that. It TRIES to make us feel better, to soothe fears, to help. However, the main message still contains a judgment in it, saying, “even if you eat, the worst possible thing in the world (being fat) won’t happen to you.”
It’s the judge-y food equivalent to “The Wizard of Oz” Glinda-to-Dorothy question mark, “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” But the value placed on thinness and the fear of fat are still there.
It’s complicated, isn’t it? I mean, c’mon, let’s face it, since the beginning, there have been food issues going on. Ever hear of Adam and Eve?
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
Yeah. It’s about desire; it’s about fulfilled need. It’s about something which “looks good.” But is it? And is it supposed to be that estimation to us?
That’s where much of the issue lies right? We subscribe more value to food than it warrants.
“Is not life more than food?”
Jesus, in Matthew 6:25
In its basic purpose, it keeps us alive. It doesn’t love us, comfort us, punish us or rescue us. It keeps us living.
And, ideally, from the wide variety of choices out there, food is designed to keep us healthy. Vitamins, mineral, nutrients, protein, carbohydrates and fats are a part of that process.
But where do we usually place our focus? On the calories, right? Enter the “good food/bad food” principle. And each one of us has a definition that falls under those headings, right?
Salads and vegetables usually fall under the “good” heading; ice cream and cookies usually comprise the “bad.”
But, while, yes, there are healthy and not so healthy choices out there, food does not have the power we believe it has. It’s a resource, a tool, a vehicle, something to be used for its INTENDED purpose. When it isn’t, however, that’s when eating disorders and unhealthy views/expectations come in, creating chaos and harm.
And we often don’t see it, gradually believing food/diet lies we’ve been exposed to over many years.
“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice: but what I hate, that I do.”
The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15
And then, “all of a sudden,” we are astonished because we have issues and/or eating disorders? We don’t understand, exactly, just how we arrived to this place of pain and confusion. But, nevertheless, here we are.
But we miss some major points. First, God created food, for us:
“Who giveth food to all flesh...”
More specifically, God takes care of our needs:
“Therefore I tell you, do not 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? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
God isn’t anti-food; He knows we need it. Food is not a sin to Him. Wrong attitudes, however, are. It’s not because God wants to punish us; He doesn’t want us hurt by lies. And isn’t that what diets, “good and bad foods” are: lies?
So, what’s a more “Godly” view of food? How about the following scriptures?
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”
1 Corinthians 10:23
“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
1 Timothy 6:8
God’s not hung up on whether or not we eat a candy bar or a salad. He wants us healthy and happy. And He wants us focused on HIM, more than the food of the moment. Yes, that can be a challenge, especially if the food issue has been an all-consuming one in our lives.
But here’s where Psalms 136:25, once again, gives us hope:
“Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth forever.”
Did you catch that second part?
“…for his mercy endureth forever.”
We’re not in control; God is. And God is not intimidated with our bodies, our functions and our responses to food. He knows how to handle us. He knows our needs, including our needs for His love, wisdom and mercy in our lives.
Let’s trust that, then, instead of our “good/bad food” thoughts!
Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse