There is no other substance quite like food. We celebrate with food, console with it, and, in turn, we guilt, shame and punish with it. How we eat, and what we choose to eat, can either provide nutrition and healing or cause grave illnesses.
We sit down in front of our lovely meals and say grace. We pray, “Dear Lord, thank you for the food before us. Please enable it to nourish our bodies.” We eat. An hour later many of us slip into condemnation mode. “Why did I eat that?” “Why did I eat so much?” “I’m so disgusting!” What brings us from gratefulness to guilt so quickly and so powerfully?
Far too often I see people use food as an excuse to ridicule themselves. I know because I’ve been there. I used to be absolutely cruel to myself about my relationship with food. About 10 years ago, after a shame-filled experience that involved binging on corndogs and cupcakes, I walked into my counselor’s office and made my confession. “Oh! You’re so cute! Just like a little kid!” she replied. Her response completely threw me off guard. Where was the scorn? Where was the shame?
Until that moment, I believed God was sternly pointing his finger at me rebuking me for not taking better care of his temple. My negative thoughts produced a cycle of guilt, and the guilty need punishment, so I’d feed, literally, the condemnation. The revelation that God’s love for me extended to my relationship with food shattered my guilt induced binging for good. God opened my eyes to the beauty and power of food. I began to understand the stunning truth of what food could really be – life giving to our bodies and souls! My desires for “fake” foods diminished and my cravings for whole and healthy foods skyrocketed. In those whole foods, I began to find God’s comfort and love.
I find it interesting that the term we use for prayer before we eat is “grace”. I think it couldn’t be more apropos. Grace is exactly what we need in our relationship with food. Next time you pray before you eat, let that grace envelope you. Eat in the knowledge that God loves you and takes great pleasure in giving your body the nutrients necessary for a vivacious life. When guilt creeps its way in, let it alert you that grace is on its way out. Remind yourself of God’s goodness and move on. Eventually you will find yourself full on life, love and joy.
Have you experienced shame or guilt when sitting down for a meal? What would it be like simply letting that go?
After reading Christy’s blog, what would you like to say to God?
Christy Foster is a Life Coach who specializes in nutrition and wellness. She holds a bachelors degree in speech-language pathology and audiology from the University of Northern Colorado. She is the wife of author Nathan Foster. Together they have two crazy-cute kids. She is also the lead singer of two classic rock cover bands. You can find her blog at www.soulcarrot.com