Food Issues: Part 4
Physical healings are an interesting thing. At first you feel like some kind of superhero, completely immune to injury, illness and disease, as if, because God healed you of this one thing, you’re untouchable. Then you realize that you’re still a fragile human being who better wear your seat belt, watch where you’re walking, and look both ways before you cross the street, just like everybody else. :)
Though I didn’t obtain superhuman, mutant powers (much to the disappointment of my comic-book-loving-self) being healed was very encouraging. After months of feeling like a completely different person, I finally felt like Kayla again; she was back.
Anyone who has come back from any kind of physical injury or illness knows that that is when the real work begins, which was no different for me. I had to get back to my routine, back to achieving my personal and business goals, I had to get my strength back, and I had some work to do to lose some weight. Thankfully, the majority of the weight was water retention and inflammation so, after only a week of a strict, clean eating diet, plus increasing my water intake, I lost half the weight and have been able to keep it off since.
I think I can speak for everyone when I say this: we want to look good and feel good, we want to be strong and in shape, we want to be healthy and live a long time, and we want to eat whatever we want and not get sick or gain weight.
It’s that last part that gets most of us.
I think it’s also safe to say that most of us are nostalgic eaters. The reason for this is actually scientific: our taste buds and sense of smell are connected to memories, so when we smell something we have smelled before, we will immediately remember one of the last times we smelled that. It’s no different with our taste buds. Why do you think we all go nuts every autumn wanting pumpkin spice…everything? Because we remember last Thanksgiving or a few Falls ago, or even Halloween as a child when we were jumping in leaves and carving pumpkins and sipping hot cider around a campfire with friends. We want to recreate those memories, so we believe eating those foods will recreate the memory.
A friend of mine reminded me of this last time I was visiting her in Nashville. I lived there in college and had my favorite places to eat, hike, shop, etc. So, naturally, every time I go back to visit I want to go to all of those places that left a “good memory” imprint on my brain and recreate it. This friend of mine laughed at me and said something to the effect of, “Kay Bay, why do you always want to go to______? Their food is okay, but we have so many better restaurants now. Next time you come visit, we’re going to better ones.”
I believe this “nostalgic eating” phenomenon is why it’s so hard for many of us who have been diagnosed with food allergies/intolerances or other health problems that limit what we can eat to completely change our eating habits…for good.
That was me after Whole30®. I was convinced I had reached total and complete dietary enlightenment and would never return to my old ways. But I did.
There’s a Bible verse for this that the Spirit brought to mind (that I’ll touch on again) that goes like this:
“As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” Proverbs 26:11
As gross as the analogy is, I’m that dog. And every time I returned to my…folly, I would get sick and inflamed and frustrated. Now I have had many people tell me, “Well, you probably didn’t reintegrate right,” or some other quick-fix reason. I’m telling you, my body really, really doesn’t like anything that’s not a vegetable, meat, fruit, or nut. Occasionally I’d have some kind of grain that wouldn’t make me sick, so I’d think, “well maybe I’m not actually intolerant,” so the next 2 years ultimately became a game of “let’s gamble” almost every time I ate a meal that I didn’t prepare myself. Sometimes I won the lottery, but most often I didn’t and I would be miserable.
I have many friends who have shared their frustrations with me in this area. I’ve actually interviewed a couple of them and asked them to share their stories in a couple “guest blogs” to get their perspective. Because I’ve heard all the jokes and seen the late night TV hosts making fun of people who are gluten free but don’t even know what gluten is, and I’ll admit I was once one of them. But until you go through the frustration of being at a party with friends with tables upon tables of incredible food, food you used to eat with no problem, and now can’t eat, you don’t understand the frustration. We try to convince ourselves that it’s mind over matter or something we can outgrow (or out-eat).
It is at this point that the Enemy gets a foothold. It is at this point that the foods you are eating become directly correlated to your relationship with God. It is at this point where obedience and defiance meet and only one comes out on top.
This is the point that I was at a month ago when God laid it on my heart to do an extended fast. I was tired of gambling with my health and my body. I was tired of trying different diets. I was tired of trying to reintegrate foods only to get sick and blow up like a balloon. But most importantly, I was tired of thinking and obsessing over food. Meal planning, ingredient reading, and food-intake-tracking can all be exhausting. If you’re not careful, all of those things that you can be doing for good, and even doing to honor God can become an idol or just another way for the Enemy to distract you. And that’s where I was. My food issues became the biggest distraction in my life. And, though one might argue that that isn’t a sin per say, I believe that the moment something becomes an obsession, it becomes a sin. The reason being, that obsession can quickly become an idol. Jesus talks a lot about temptation and idols and being careful about slipping into traps. The best passage of scripture that kept coming to mind when I was going through this was Matthew 5:29-30
If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
For me, food had become too big a focus in my life. So I prayerfully decided to completely do away with it for a time and entered into an extended fast. The fast is what prompted me to write about food and, well fasting, in the first place. It was eye opening. It was life changing. It was hands down the best thing I’ve ever done for my spiritual life. And, I believe all believers should fast. Though I'm still on the journey with food issues, I've learned how transformative fasting is, so my next few sets of blogs will be on the topic of fasting and what God taught me during those two weeks and the weeks following.