Dieting: The New American Religion

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As I begin writing this blog series, my thoughts are a mess.  I feel spiritually ill-equipped to be writing on a topic that I have strong experiences and opinions on.  I still struggle daily with finding a balance between my passion for health, fitness, and the spiritual nourishment of my body. But the question has been lingering in my mind for many months– Have we (American society) noticed how worshipful we are and the high moral regard we place on food and health?  Have we noticed the parallels between the language of the bible and the perfectionist mentality that grows alongside the diet mentality?  Diet culture is sneaky, and this post it meant to be a stark reminded that our health and fitness is meant to be a part of lives, but our relationship with Jesus is eternal.  The dust comes off my bible, and the words begin to flow….

Can you imagine a modern day version of the Last Supper? Jesus takes the bread, breaks it and says “This is my body given to you”.  Two decline- Judas has gone gluten free and Peter is on Day 2 of Whole30.  Jesus mumbles a little under his breath, unsure how to respond and moves forward.  He raises the glass, representing the blood about to be shed for our sins.  Bartholomew hesitates and asks- “hey Jesus, is this wine made from non-gmo grapes?” Andrew pipes up “do you know if this is a 5 or 10oz goblet?  I need to put this in the My Fitness Pal app”.  I imagine Jesus sitting there in shock- lost for words as the significance of the Last Supper is lost.

Let’s take a look at the language used to advertise, market and divide food into categories: naughty, sinful, good vs. bad, in compliance, on plan, temptation, guilty pleasure, whole foods, cheat day, pure, junk, indulgence, cleans… An ad for an ice cream bar describes itself as “Our ultimate indulgence for true pleasure seekers.”   Another popular protein ice cream brand uses marketing terms geared towards our GMO fears and encourages people to “see for yourself just how good healthy ice cream can be!”  Food has been warped into a  battle of good versus evil.  Clean vs junk.  The language of the diet and fitness industry has us led to believe through fear mongering and clever marketing tactics we are either good or bad for choosing one type of food over another.  Diets promise us better lives, higher self-esteem and more if we follow the straight and narrow path to their warped version of salvation.

In the Church, we may witness or be victim warped scripture to justify fat bias, pass judgement and assumptions or place health on a moral platform.  (I also feel the need to add this is a societal issue, NOT just a church issue)  We may assume someone is lazy, unhealthy, inactive etc simply based on their appearance.  “The Lord is my strength”, “my body is a temple”, describing food as tempting or sinful, sticking to restrictive food plans and even worshiping our own discipline or physique.  Are we implying sin when we consume food?  Are we held to a higher standard as Christians?  Can we have balance with food, rather than an obsession that consumes us?  Can we look beyond appearances to remind ourselves that we do not know what someone has gone through and there are medical conditions and psychological trauma that can lead to weight gain/loss?

Our health IS IMPORTANT, I do not deny that.  By keeping our bodies active, nourishing with a variety of foods and feeding ourselves spiritually we are enabling ourselves to be able to serve others in the Lord’s name.  But when our health becomes an idol that consumes our lives, we have a problem.  In this series we will be digging into the bible for examples of how we are called to serve, take care of our bodies, nourish our bodies, common issues such as emotional/binge eating, food addiction, and how these can cause spiritual divide.

Week 2: Women of the Bible and Our Modern Day  Diet Culture
Week 3: Food is More than Fuel
Week 4: Modern Day Gluttony, Food Addiction, Emotional Eating and Spiritual Divide
Week 5: God’s Plan for Food, Our Health, and Our Bodies
(these will be updated with links as published)

bake bread

 

 

 

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