It’s been a month since I’ve blogged about the questions from Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book to help with food addiction. I would much rather stop this series, to end the reflection about the heart issues behind my eating habits.
Part of my desire to be done is because I am a quick results type of girl. I don’t like things that take time. I’m your typical American woman who is used to instant gratification. And this is stretching on a long time. (I am going to speed it up by combining a few letters together, because I don’t know if I can’t take it much longer!)
But I’d also liked to move on because by God’s grace I am doing better. I have been experiencing victory. Not every day. This weekend has been a emotional food binge fest, but most days I am able to have a more balanced relationship with food. It’d be easy to pat myself on the back and decide I’ve arrived, and I can move on.
I know that the heart issues that fueled my drive to binge or starve can seep into other areas of my life. That’s why I love these questions from Elyse: a little tweaking can make them apply to any idol you are fighting.
The only reason I am continuing the think through these questions is because I said I was going to on my blog. I want to keep my word. For those of you who follow and read this, thanks for keeping me accountable.
Alright, enough ramble. Time for I and L. (We’re skipping over P, but we’ll come back to it. I and L combine better together.)
I is for Inroad
If I eat this will it create an inroad for sin?
Romans 13:14 “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”
I see this question as a pre-emptive strike, a good one, if such a thing is possible. It’s the type of question that goes requires absolute honesty and humility. The question of doubt, idolatry, stumbling, and covetousness can be wiggled round with a mixture of legitimate and illegitimate reasons. But the question of an inroad goes straight to the heart. It is basically asking me “Will eating this (whatever it may be) make the lusts of my flesh stronger?”
It’s a difficult principle because it requires me to own my weakness and realize that even though I want to be strong enough, I may not be. Even if I am able to control the physical actions after eating a trigger food, will I be creating an inroad for the sinful attitudes of idolatry and covetousness? That is probably the biggest struggle.
In trying to root out inroads in my life I have been practicing abstinence from trigger foods. For me those are starch and sweets (and for me sweets are anything that are more than 5 grams of sugar because my body cannot handle sugar). It’s not that I never eat them, sometimes I make exceptions, but as a general principle I abstain.
Yesterday I was really craving toast. I had shoveled a lot, and I wanted something hearty to eat. So I decided that it would be an okay treat, which it was. I had absolute freedom to eat that toast. But afterwards I found myself struggling with desiring more, obsessing over having more toast, or chips, or brownies, or anything that would satisfy my need for pleasure. It was not sin for me to eat that toast but it made the rest of my night a struggle with idolatry and covetousness.
Maybe a better way to phrase this question would be: Is it worth it to eat a food that will create an inroad for sin?
L is for Life.
Would eating this food harm my life or health in anyway?
“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13 (Elyse holds to the broader understanding of what this commandment demands in that it is wrong to do anything that harms your life. Hence the reference)
L relates really well to I for me because they are both questions that keep in mind one’s health: spiritual and physical. I deals with spiritual, L deals with physical. I am fortunate that the foods which create inroads for me are also the foods that harm my health.
Wheat/starch makes me feel bloated, exhausted, achy, gives me brain fog, and packs weight on me.
Sugar gives me piercing headaches, fatigue, stress and packs weight on me.
Dairy is a food that I can eat without creating an inroad, but it almost always causes me muscle inflammation and digestive issues when I eat it, so I refrain- usually.
This principle sometimes causes me frustration. I get angry that God has given me a body that responds to such delicious foods the way it does. Not that I don’t have desserts and treats that I can make which don’t cause me physical pain, but they aren’t “those other” desserts which “everyone else” can have, so I get jealous (ie. I covet.).
But this question hits on the fact that my body doesn’t belong to me and God can do whatever He wants with it. Also, that life here on earth is about service, not gratification. The question challenges us to do everything within our power to preserve our health so we can serve God to the best of our ability as He allows.
(That last part is important. Pursuing a healthy lifestyle is rapidly becoming an acceptable idol within Christian culture. It’s based on a good desire, but if we lose sight of the fact that God is in control of our health and life span then our healthy pursuits are meaningless.)
I don’t think the principle of eating for your health rules everything out all the time. The Bible commands feasting. We should feast and enjoy the wonderful foods God has given us. I think the tricky part of living in American culture is that we could feast every day of our lives. When do we feast? When do we fast (either in part or in whole)?
It’s a difficult question, one that needs to be answered on an individual basis, but I know for me it means that for most of the time I am going to need to refrain from starch, sugar, and dairy, not only to resist temptation, but also to stay healthy.