You know, food is one of the most interesting things we interact with daily and yet so infrequently recognize for its multi-faceted features.
- It’s a necessity.
- It’s beautiful, colorful, natural, or unnatural.
- It’s comforting.
- It’s filling.
- It’s exactly what we want.
- It’s exactly what we need.
- It’s a “solution” to all kinds of emotions – boredom, fear, grief, nervousness, excitement, anger, celebration.
- It’s misused.
- It’s delicious.
- It’s greasy, dry, brittle, flexible, chewy.
- It’s served frozen or bubbling hot.
- It’s created for the purpose of sustaining you.
- It’s been manipulated into worship of the body.
- It’s spicy, sweet, bitter, tangy, pungent.
- It’s been manipulated into our god.
- It’s a love-hate relationship for most people.
Food was designed for perfection. Like everything else, it has been turned into a curse for us. We struggle to cultivate it (or at least our farmers/scientists do), and we struggle to keep a healthy relationship with it. So many of us fight to no end to establish a right relationship with food by trying to eat well. It may be one of the few things we struggle with our whole lives. Why? Because we can’t quit it. We can abstain from alcohol, sex, drugs, shopping(to a certain extent), and other things we abuse that can destroy the fabric of who we are, but we cannot quit eating. To survive, we must tear off a piece of bread, chew it, swallow it, and derive nutrients from it. This simple act can give us health and energy or cause problem upon problem upon problem.
And just like the multiple aspects of food, we can struggle in an almost limitless way with food. We can over eat, under eat, binge and purge, eat only junk food, be overly strict about a specific diet, over-exercise to compensate for our meal, over-exercise and not eat, be possessive over our food, constantly think about what we’re going to eat next, eat when we’re bored/stressed/tired/etc., judge other people for what they eat/don’t eat/feed their kids. Even eating the right amount, exercising the right amount, but spending a majority of our time obsessing about both is unhealthy.
It’s great to eat well, exercise, and have the proper body shape we were designed for, but if it comes at the cost of only thinking about food, what we look like, how our pants fit, and what others think about us, then it’s an idol. No matter how great we look, and how healthy our bodies may be, our relationship with food can still be unhealthy.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be concerned about food at all, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t eat well or exercise. I’m saying the mentality we have towards food determines if our relationship with food is healthy or not.
Having a food idol is an emotional problem that often manifests itself in physical form.
Food idols can be physically obvious, but they do not have to be. Someone can still struggle deeply with food without being obviously overweight or underweight. Speaking as someone who has struggled for half of my life with a spectrum of food issues, this is not alien to me and is a real cultural dilemma. I would venture to say a majority of people in the United States struggle with food in one way or another.
Because food fascinates me, torments me, and nourishes me, I’m beginning a long process of studying it, the many ways we interact with it, and how to fight being controlled by it. I hope you’ll give me your feedback and experiences with food as I jump into this endeavor.
“For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” – 2 Peter 2:19b