By Kathryn O'Neill
So, should a Christian diet to lose weight?
With a plethora of Christian weight loss and diet books coming out each year, the answer seems to be 'yes', right?
After all, shouldn't Christians - of all people - have control when it comes to food? We're known as people who don't smoke, drink, swear, or tell dirty jokes, so shouldn't we also have control when it comes to our weight?
Obviously we need to diet right?
Hold up there a second!
To begin with, in my experience I've come to believe that diets don't really work for anybody - Christian or non-Christian. There are lots of reasons why, but for this article I'll stick with the reasons of special concern to Christians.
Have you ever stepped back for a moment and taken a good hard look at the television we watch, the radio, the movies, the billboards. Have you ever listened to the conversations we North Americans have or noticed what we spend our time doing?
If you have, you've probably noticed something a little bizarre:
Our society is food-obsessed!
> We go to restaurants to socialize.
> We visit coffee shops to chat.
> We discuss the latest diet we're on and read the latest diet books (or even cook books).
> We enjoy our must-have popcorn and soda at the movies.
> We carry snacks with us so we won't get hungry.
> We're constantly bombarded with ads for restaurants, candy bars, soda, snacks, ice cream, even diet shakes, diet bars, diet cookies...the list is endless
It's common place in our society to hear somebody say "I shouldn't eat that, I'm watching my diet" or "This tastes so good, it's probably a million calories." or "I've been good all day today so I can have this..." or "I love chocolate/french fries/carbs/whatever but it just goes straight to my hips".
We talk about what we eat; we think about what we eat; we base much of our lives around what we eat.
Does it seem like something is out of balance here?
Now, there is nothing wrong with food or enjoying a great restaurant or coffee shop. (And I'm praying that there will be LOTS of chocolate in heaven!)
The key word here is BALANCE.
God made everything for us to enjoy. However anything enjoyable (food, sex, money, etc) can also get out of balance and start to take a wrong place in our lives, the place of prominence that God and God alone deserves to have.
That's when we have a problem. That's when these things become idols in the Biblical sense: things that we have placed in front of God.
So what do diets have to do with this?
Diets actually contribute to the problem of making food much more important to us than it should be!
When we go on a diet, what are we ALWAYS thinking about?
Right - food!
>> 'Am I allowed that burger?'
>> 'How many fries can I have on my plan?'
>> 'When can I eat next?'
>> 'WHAT can I eat next?'
>> 'How many carbs are in that?'
>> 'How many fat grams?'
>> 'Is that a properly food combined meal?'
>> 'What's the lowest calorie item on the menu?'
By always thinking about and restricting food, it takes on more value to us and consequently starts to become our top priority. The temptation then becomes to think that food can fill other legitimate human needs besides hunger, like love, peace, acceptance, excitement.
And not only do diets encourage this out of balance behavior, they also do something that is absolutely critical to understand:
They place blame on the food, not the person!
By going on a diet, it's implied that we simply haven't eaten the 'right' food. It's all the food's fault, we haven't had a part in contributing to the weight gain. And, as Dr. Phil says, "You can't change what you don't acknowledge"
Because the truth is this: if you overeat ANYTHING, be it apples or apple pie, you will gain weight.
And until you address the CAUSE of why you overeat (changing your heart), changing the food by dieting will do nothing. You will not lose weight permanently and you will continue to struggle with food in a never ending cycle.
This last point is key to understanding how to lose weight. Before starting any weight loss program, the focus must be turned to you, your actions and your heart, not the food.
To lose weight, try turning to the true God to fill the void you've tried to fill with food. That's when you'll lose weight for good and realize that it's not really about the food at all!
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