I anxiously flipped to the back of my Bible, desperate to find the perfect verse (wait…any verse) to reveal the answer to my food struggles. I scoured “food,” “foods,” “eat,” and “ate,” to name a few. I read every reference that I could find with hopes that some verse (any verse) would shine a light on the path to food freedom.
But, the more I searched for a solution, the more overwhelmed I became as I tried to fix that which didn’t need fixing.
You see, food was never the “problem.” My heart was.
When it comes to things like food, dieting, fitness, and body image, we like to put them in a little box. And our relationship with God is in a separate box.
We long to bring these two areas together, but we aren’t really sure how they fit.
Not only do they fit together, but your faith can (and will!) influence your dieting choices. Since I figured this out, I’ve found so much joy and peace. The desires of my heart have been met in ways I didn’t think possible.
Christian Dieting Tip #1: Guard Your Heart
You know that feeling when you start a new diet? I don’t mean the excited “this is finally going to work” feeling. But the one where your new eating plan is constantly lurking in the back of your mind…
You’re so consumed with thoughts of what you can and can’t eat. Or when you should or shouldn’t have any and every food. You’re completely obsessed with the thought of how to make this The One that is going to finally help you lose weight.
It’s almost as if the diet is your knight in shining armor and weight loss is your happily ever after.
But, the reality is…in those moments of obsessing and worrying and planning, we’re turning to something besides God (a diet) for comfort. And that, my friend, is an idol.
I know the word “idol” sounds a little bit archaic, as if it doesn’t fit in this day and age. But let me assure you, it couldn’t be any more fitting.
Who’s (On) First?
An idol is simply something that takes the place of God in our hearts or something that we give higher authority than God. This could be anything.
It could be your children, a marriage relationship, shopping, sleep–anything that we seek comfort from or that occupies more time and space in our thoughts than the Lord does.
It’s really convicting, isn’t it? We don’t like to think of ourselves as having anything more precious to us than Jesus.
But, it’s really, really easy to turn a diet into an idol because diets are all-consuming. Going from point A to point Z, having to learn an entirely new way of eating, can completely take over your life.
In fact, the food preparation and the shopping and that massive learning curve can become the thing that you think about all the time. New food rules create all-or-nothing thinking that eventually turns into all-or-nothing eating.
All these diet side effects start to really add up as we become more preoccupied with food each time we start a new diet (and put a new food group at arm’s length).
Even if you made the choice to follow a diet plan to bring glory to God, make sure you don’t allow it to become your idol.
Christian Dieting Tip #2: Let God Lead Your Way
If you’re going to build a house or buy a new car, you’re probably going to do some thoughtful planning first. After all, you don’t want to get halfway through building, or halfway into a five-year payment plan, and realize you don’t have enough money to finish.
The Word of God tells us to count the cost before we start any project. And it’s the same when starting a new diet. You need to ask: Do I have all the resources I need to complete the Project Diet Overhaul?
How much time, energy, and resources do you have available–and can you keep up with the required commitment long term?
- Are you willing to never eat carbs again?
- Can you allot an hour a day at the gym indefinitely?
- Are you ready to count points/calories/containers for good?
Ultimately, this plan is something you intend to do for a while. If you’re only a few days in, and you’re already starting to waver, it’s going to be hard to stick with it.
Yes, plans are good.
Yes, you need to be committed to following that plan.
But…always know that His plan might be different.
Allow God to direct your steps each and every moment, and make decisions based on His plan for you.
Make Plans Much?
We want to know where we’ll be tomorrow, next month, and 27 months from now. But any time we assume we have the power to plan our own futures, we’re living in pride.
Instead we should say, “Today, God, what do you have for me?”
Set your gaze on where it is that you want to go. Choose your goals and plan how you’d like to get there. Then allow God to intervene and move your plans when He wants to.
Letting God Lead Your Diet in Real Life
For example, let’s say you’ve got a healthy dinner on the menu. You’re headed home to cook this meal, and then…God calls you to some sort of ministry.
Because you’ve determined “first things first,” you don’t get upset or feel like a failure. Rather, you set aside your plan and grab something quick. You pray for guidance and maybe you end up feeding the kids something fast that isn’t necessarily the best for them.
But you follow His plan and His purpose for your life. You trust that His plan is better, even if doesn’t seem so at the moment.
That is listening to Him in step.
On the flip side, imagine you have plans to go out with your husband on your anniversary to your favorite restaurant. You’ve been planning an indulgent dinner and a special dessert (chocolate, anyone?).
As you sit down, you’re so excited about this meal. Then you hear the Holy Spirit prompt you to order the chicken instead of the pasta. Or, maybe He tells you to skip dessert or leave half the food on your plate. And, even though you’re a little disappointed, you know that obedience tastes better than any fleeting food.
You had your plans, you yielded them to God, and He ultimately directed your steps.
Christian Dieting Tip #3: Give God The Glory
God does all things for His glory. That includes helping us achieve a healthier lifestyle by making better food choices and even losing weight.
When we let a diet become an idol or try to direct our own path to success, we’re allowing the enemy to win. Why? He is trying to steal that glory from the Lord!
Eventually, someone will ask, “How did you lose weight?” or “What diet are you following?”
When it’s all about us, we’re apt to answer on our own behalf. And, we make it all about ourselves and our own ability.
Instead, let’s try our best to shift the focus to our Heavenly Father, so that we can give Him the glory that He deserves for the work He’s done in our lives.
Think about what an amazing witnessing opportunity that is, as you can tell the inquirer exactly how God led you step-by-step onto the path of self-control, faithfulness, and endurance. How He saw you through the low moments and how He taught you how to overcome temptation.
You shine for Him–and that heavenly reflection draws others to Him.
Here’s a Quick Recap of the 3 Things Every Christian Needs to Know About Dieting:
- Do not let the diet become an idol. Watch out for the diet side effects and really pull back and make small sustainable changes. Don’t let that diet take over your time or your mental space.
- Make your plans, but allow God to direct your steps throughout the day. Be open to what He’s telling you to do. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit who will be prompting you to do what is in line with His will.
- Make sure you’re glorifying God in it all. Even the smallest thing is an opportunity to praise our Heavenly Father for all that He has done…and how He wants to be intimately involved in even this area of our lives. Enjoy bringing your faith into your food choices.
Brandice Lardner is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Author, Amazon #1 Best Selling Author, and Jesus Girl whose mission in life is to help women ditch the diet mentality and find peace with food and their bodies so that they are better equipped to do the great things God has called them to do.