1) Describe your relationship to/experience with food. If it has changed over time, describe the change.I have always loved food…the variety, the possibility, and the flavor. However, my experience of eating food has not always been pleasant. Ever since I was a baby, I have had digestive issues–meaning I had pain and discomfort often after eating. Until I was 25, I thought there was nothing I could do to change my digestive issues besides medication remedies, and they often didn’t work. When I was 25 I began dating my husband who was gluten free. As we often shared food on dinners out or I cooked gluten free to accommodate his dietary restrictions, something funny happened… I began to feel better! This began a journey of learning that what I eat, affects how I feel. Five years later, I found and have stuck to a diet that has brought me complete healing–the Paleo Diet. No longer do I fear pain when I eat–and that is an amazing gift. Some might say being on a such restricted diet would be too hard but it has opened my world in learning how to cook well and understanding the relationship between my health and food.
2) How has that relationship/experience affected the way you think about your body and/or your self-image?As I have experienced physically healing, my body image has become more positive. My body looks completely healthy now. I rejoice in that and thank God!
3) How has that relationship/experience affected the way you relate to others?I find myself more passionate to educate and help others learn the importance of diet and nutrition. As others in my life have come to realize a specific diet would help their health issues, I share my story and resources that I’ve gathered. And while I once began my recipe blog simply to keep my recipes organized, I now write to give encouragement to others that eating Paleo is possible and yummy!
4) How has that relationship/experience affected your spiritual life?I attribute my physical healing to God. I prayed for years to be healthy and He has answered those prayers.
5) What word of wisdom or encouragement would you offer other people on a similar journey?Reach out to others going through similar journeys, search online for support and resources, and seek the Lord’s strength and encouragement through it all. Also, if you are interested in the Paleo Diet, check out my blog at: jennsartofeating.wordpress.org.
What about you?
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It’s no secret that fasting is a spiritual discipline. Especially as Lent has just passed us by, we are more acutely aware of the relationship between denying the body and preparing the soul. But what about eating? How does indulging in the “desires of the flesh” promote spiritual pursuits?
I have never been a breakfast person. Perhaps it has something to do with being a night owl and an insomniac, but I just can’t seem to digest anything right after I wake up in the morning (or the afternoon). Say what you will about the “most important meal of the day,” but even the thought of consuming food in the morning is enough to turn my stomach.
In high school, I used to force myself to eat the lunch I brought with me every day because I was afraid I would be accused of having an eating disorder if I didn’t present at least an effort at eating. I developed a habit of eating as fast as possible in order to finish my lunch before my body had time to realize what was happening and complain.
In college, I actually passed out once after going more than 48 hours without food while studying for midterms. I had been so busy holed up in my room that I didn’t even realize I hadn’t visited the dining hall in two days.
I’m still not a good eater. I forget to eat all the time, and when I do remember, I am either too busy or too tired to eat well or even at all. But along with my Lenten fast from being awake, I have been making a concerted effort toward listening to my body to find out when it’s hungry. Here’s what I’ve been learning about the spiritual discipline of eating:
- Eating is a good and necessary aspect of human living. It is not something to be despised or beaten into submission but something to be cultivated.
- When I ignore my body’s messages about being hungry, it stops telling me what I need.
- I have to re-teach my body to experience hunger by providing consistent food. I am teaching my body to trust me again.
- Just eating isn’t enough. My body needs a healthy and varied diet.
- When I eat properly, I actually lose weight because my body is no longer in starvation mode.
- My body learns unhealthy habits like craving chips and chocolate just as quickly as it learns healthy habits like craving fresh salads and fruit.
- Not all my body’s messages are healthy. I have to discern the difference between being hungry and just having a craving for junk food.
- When I listen to my body and give it healthy food on a consistent basis, my digestive issues magically disappear. Imagine that.
- It’s also easier to go to sleep and stay asleep when I am eating well.
- Eating isn’t about gaining or losing weight; it’s about making healthy choices to help bring wholeness and balance to my body.
- Making the time to eat, and taking the care to choose the best food rather than whatever is easiest or quickest, is like making time for God.
When I am able to make healthy, balanced choices for my body and discern among the messages my body sends which ones are necessary and which are not, then I am better prepared to live my life in a healthy, balanced way. Learning to listen to my body is teaching me to be more discerning, more conscious, and more intentional about my daily living.
The spiritual practice of eating is hard work, and I’m not always very good at it. I tire easily and fall back on ignoring my body or feeding it with whatever is easiest. But I know that learning to make good choices and put more effort into what I put into my body is teaching me the value of intentional living.
How are you living your life on purpose? What are you intentional about?