It might seem like a small thing but I suspect it’s a problem for many: I struggle with portion control. In fact I spend rather a lot of time feeling guilty about portion control – or my lack of it.
I ate too much. I feel too full. I’ve overdone it again. Why do I never know how much is enough?
Having recently embarked on a health kick, those Recommended Portion Size Charts have me rolling around my kitchen floor in laughter. When did you last measure out a portion of chicken with your rolled up fist? Or use a matchbox to correctly dispense your daily ration of cheese?
It’s safe to say I am finding the change to my normal unhealthy, sedentary regime a challenge. Yet, I know it has to be done. There is heart disease and high blood pressure in my immediate family and not too long ago a nasty looking number greeted mefrom the face of the scales. My children are young but I’d like to still be around to see them get old – change is needed.
It gives me great solace knowing that Jesus, God in the flesh, walked on earth and experienced a full range of human emotions; he was tempted, tried, tested, shamed and suffered and yet, was without sin. But what about when I eat too much? Or struggle with the temptation of food? Although the Bible tells us he ate and indeed feasted, as far as we’re aware Jesus never needed to diet. Are my troubles too post-modern for the Bible? Absolutely not.
Oddly enough, portion control seems to be discussed in the Bible. I find the notion of we, mankind, being God’s chosen and allotted portion rather intriguing. Verses in the Old Testament bare witness: “The Lord’s portion is His people, Jacob His allotted heritage” (Deuteronomy 32:9) and ‘“many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard; they have trampled down my portion; they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.” (Jeremiah 12:10). The Hebrew word for “portion” suggests that God was satisfied and pleased to receive us; indeed planned to voluntarily obligate Himself to us as His chosen possession. We were all He wanted. Genesis shows us that while God in His limitless creativity could have gone on to create many more species, worlds, galaxies and universes, after He created Man and Woman, He stopped.
What about that for portion control?
God knew when to stop and I’m thankful for it. He deemed mankind, the pinnacle of creation, to be “very good”. To have kept on adding to the created order would have cheapened that which now existed. By this we understand we are enough for our God.
While the concept of dieting might be a contemporary cultural challenge, the Bible is not short of inspirational examples regarding the underlying issue of self-control – we see Jesus drinking wine but not getting drunk and refusing bread after a 40-day fast.
Thinking about the way that God made mankind and is satisfied with us has begun to change the way I think about food. When I stuff my face with second and third helpings, or push beyond my body’s natural call that it’s full and has had enough, I cheapen the value of my original portion. I show ungratefulness and dissatisfaction with what my body, created by God, actually needs and the food God has provided to meet that need.
I’m beginning to think that my weight loss success might actually start with me facing up to greed, ungratefulness and a lack of satisfaction in my Saviour. Since there isn’t a dieting book in the world that will walk me through that process, I’ll be ditching those and sticking to my Bible. Suffice to say, it seems the old adage might be true after all; the Bible really does have something to say about every area of our lives.