Over the past year I have had a major love/hate relationship with food. (The last time I blogged I wrote about my love/hate relationship with Pinterest so… I’m not really sure what all this love/hate-ness says about me. Perhaps I need some sort of intervention? Or a Xanax?)
I’ll start with the fact that I love food. LOVE it. Every year since we’ve been married, when Jordan asks me what I want for my birthday I say, “I want to go out to a nice dinner and do the whole deal: appetizer, wine, entree and dessert!” That is the only thing I want and I look forward to it every year! When my in-laws asked what I want for Christmas one year, I told them a Chipotle gift card. They laughed and then asked what I really want. Now 2 and a half years in, they know me well enough to realize they didn’t have to ask that question. That is what I really want! My brother-in-law did end up getting me a Chipotle gift card and I’m not lying, it was one of my absolute favorite gifts! I seriously got so excited that I could just go to Chipotle whenever I wanted without checking our budget first (which has a very small amount alloted for eating out, much to my dismay) or asking Jordan for forgiveness later :).
I love food. It was what made me enjoy being pregnant in the midst of many other things that made me not enjoy being pregnant! Aaaand it was what made me struggle after having Riley, with 55 lbs to lose from all of the unrestrained food indulgence I partook in. And this is what made me realize that perhaps I loved food a little too much. Because it was so incredibly hard to suddenly have to practice restraint and self-control. (OK real quick sidenote: let me not get too over-dramatic here. Not that I ever have that problem. But in all seriousness, I’m not a binge eater. And most of the time I would eat pretty well, even in my pregnancy. I just mean that I also never told myself “no.” So while I was never really eating like fried food, fast food, or candy bars all the time; if I wanted a donut I’d eat a donut. If I wanted a burger or bagel or ice cream or cheese covered anything or, well, Chipotle, I would eat it. Any day, any time of day.)
Oh man, I love food.
But more recently, I’ve also started to hate food.
I blogged through our sugar-free experiment in July so if you read any of those entries, you know that it was a huge challenge for me! I was grumpy about it. It was the most restraint I’ve ever had to practice when it came to food (except for that time I did the South Beach Diet before our wedding. I don’t recommend it. Unless you personally like inflicting pain on yourself, in which case, you may actually enjoy it.) So it was actually really good for me! I mean, it was obviously good for my body to detox. But it was also good for my character to have to practice so much discipline and self-control. We live in such an over-indulgent, rich, convenient society that implementing any disciplines into our lives is a good thing.
I think it was during this sugar free month, however, that I started really wrestling with my relationship with food. I hated how much of a hold it had on me. I hated that I literally thought about food all.day.long. Food I wanted but couldn’t have, and food I could have but didn’t want. I constantly felt frustrated and bitter.
Then more recently, I started Weight Watchers. I am so glad that someone pointed me to WW because it was definitely the best weight loss plan for me! It has room for some indulgences, it’s just all about budgeting. Every food costs a certain amount of points, and I was allotted a specific number of points each day. It helped me to not feel too deprived but not give myself the permission to consume whatever I wanted whenever I wanted either. It put good boundaries around my eating, while also giving me some freedom. But then what started happening was that I could not see or think about food without attaching points to it. In one sense, it was good for me to feel a cost attached to food. That it’s not harmless to just put whatever I want to in my body. But food just started to feel like a negative thing. I would think, “mmm a panini sounds good for lunch, but I don’t want the points” so I just wouldn’t eat. It started to feel like a bit of a thrill to stay significantly under points. If they were giving me 26 points a day to consume, I would only eat 10. Bam! Take that Weight Watchers! And since I love food so much what I would start doing is if I really want pizza and wine (which happens, oh… every.single.day. Pretty much.), I would just not eat all day, then eat a couple of slices for dinner with a glass of wine, and have only used up 14 points all day! And still lose weight! Even though I’m not a type “A” personality and having control isn’t usually a thrill for me, I started feeling the addiction of having control in a way that was producing obvious results.
Then on top of all of this, I have been sick for a few months. I was feeling nauseous 24/7 and thought for sure I was pregnant (I’m not, by the way). Eating makes the nausea way worse and would sometimes result in me throwing up. I’ve been seeing my doctor through all of this and about a month ago we pretty much ruled it down to gastritis. I had never heard of it before, but basically it does cause you to feel nauseous and have a hard time eating. Women sometimes get it after having been pregnant because of all the extra pressure the baby put on the lining of the stomach. So that was making it way easy to keep my daily WW points super low, because if I did eat anything I felt so awful. Which made my hatred of food grow stronger. Food, which I once loved so dearly, was becoming only a source of survival. I’ll eat because I refuse to starve myself, but I don’t enjoy it anymore. It’s like getting drunk (not that I would know or anything). It’s enjoyable while you consume it, but then you feel awful. So whenever I eat I have food hangovers and they’re brutal so I eat as little as I can get away with. I hate food.
As I’ve been wrestling with this I have felt so refreshed and thankful for Deuteronomy 8:3 which says, “…man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Jesus quotes this verse in Luke 4 when he has been fasting for 40 days and is tempted by the devil to turn a stone into bread, thus proving that he is the Son of God.
The fact that I think about food SO much (whether it’s with positive or negative connotations), shows that it is an idol for me. But here in scripture I am reminded that God is ultimately my source of life, survival, refreshment, rejuvenation, energy, and enjoyment. I need Him more than I either need to eat food or not eat as much food. He is what I must live on. He should be what consumes my thoughts and my every desire. And He is fully satisfying. Never too much to make me sick, always enough to sustain me.
Jesus had a perfect relationship with food. He fasted often, meeting with His Father in his hunger and proving that He is the Bread of life. But he also frequently enjoyed good bread and wine in the company of friends. I mean, that’s the kind of person I’m trying to hang out with! He had it right. He enjoyed food and drink. He did not worship it. I’m trying to figure out what that looks like for me right now.
I’m thankful that he died for me in the midst of my mess with this. And encouraged by the fact that His resurrection offers hope that I can have new life; I can in fact achieve a healthy, balanced relationship with food. Both in this life and the life to come.