Each year, eating Christmas food starts earlier and earlier for me. If I’m not giving in to another pack of mince pies or a hollow chocolate Santa, I’m socialising over a Christmas meal and I plan it around the desserts! I start backwards and work my way to the main course. I seldom get a starter. Now that Christmas is over, the festive food has stopped and the new year’s resolutions have taken over. The good news is the New Year doesn’t need to be the only time of the year to make a change.
After years of comfort eating and being overweight, I decided to join a well-known weight-loss group and lost more than two stone between the spring and summer of 2016. This is something a self-confessed chocoholic would never think possible. The group was held in a church hall and behind the rows of tables that displayed healthy food products and recipe books, a wooden cross hung on the wall.
Every time I came to the group, my eyes were drawn to that cross. I thought to myself, if Jesus turned up to the weekly weigh-in, I wonder if the consultant would give him a hard time. Surely turning water into wine would be considered empty calories. If Jesus broke bread to share with the group, would comments be made about the carbs or would he be asked to swap it for a healthier choice? With a smile, I knew God was interested in this aspect of my life that I had struggled with for so long.
Here are three things that I discovered on my pursuit to becoming healthier:
1. The battle with food is a heart issue.
In the Garden of Eden, the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil was forbidden. If I didn’t know that it was the first moment where humans turned away from God, I would think that fruit was banned! What a great idea to not have to feel obligated to cram in my five-a-day! However, it wasn’t the fruit itself that was bad, it was the state of the human heart. Overeating was my way of trying to find comfort in unhealthy foods that could never satisfy, while choosing not to allow God to be my source of comfort. Only God could change my heart and deal with the root cause of the problem.
2. Fruit is central to the Christian diet, especially self-control.
Fruit should be a staple of the Christian diet, but not just any fruit! In the Bible, the fruit of the Spirit is listed as “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). To break any unhelpful habit, self-control may feel near enough impossible and at times it’s still a real struggle for me. However, self-control is possible with God – He is the gardener who prunes us until we bear good fruit and He provides everything we need.
3.We need to see ourselves and other people through God’s eyes.
God’s children are the apple of His eye and we can see His love for us through Jesus. In a culture that judges us on what we look like, we need to turn our own eyes towards God who created us and sustains us. He wants to heal the broken places in our heart and we need to remember that we are made in His image.
This same culture uses advertising to tempt us to consume more and have more. Yet, we need to look at those in our world who lack basic needs including food. It’s a gross injustice to overindulge at the expense of distributing resources where they are most needed. We can make a difference to the lives of those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition through supporting those who work to meet those needs. It’s because of God’s love for us that we should love others as we love ourselves.
A final thought…
I still struggle with making healthier choices and my sweet-tooth ensures I still plan a meal around the dessert menu. However, I need to continually tune my ears to the truth of who I am in Christ. Rather than making another new year’s resolution to lose more weight, I want to be willing to be transformed by the Spirit of God. I want to live a life that displays and bears good fruit, for that is where lasting change takes place now and every year.