Does food guilt have you wrapped up in bad diet choices? Learn how God’s grace is the antidote and truly the best healthy eating companion ever!
It’s a stinky, slimy, wart-infested little gremlin that nibbles at your ankles like a little dog with a big dog complex. But, it’s also the very same voice that talked you into eating “just one” and then prodded you to finish it off, because you were such a failure and never going to get it. Crazy, right?
Food guilt. Why does it feel so necessary when it’s clearly so detrimental?
Today, we’re going to talk about why you, my sister, need to let go of food guilt in light of God’s grace. Because let’s be honest, a lot of you are walking around feeling guilt, condemnation, shame.
You’re a nice, thoughtful, caring woman, and yet, the stuff you say to yourself is downright awful. You’re being mean to yourself in ways that you would never ever speak to even a stranger. But all of this is happening at the hand of a food choice.
Choosing between broccoli or butterscotch has become a moral decision that does not line up with the Word of God.
The Word of God tells us that all foods have been declared clean and that God cares about what comes out of our hearts, not what goes into our stomach(Mark 7:19).
That’s why today we’re going to dig into why grace is way better than food guilt and why it’s the key to changing how you eat once and for all.
IS THAT FOOD GUILT CONDEMNATION?
But first I want to share a little something that’s super important for this journey, and I don’t want you to forget it as we continue to talk–This is speaking about the voice of the Holy Spirit and conviction.
Don’t confuse conviction with food guilt or condemnation.
The voice of the Holy Spirit is very gentle. You’re going to feel it within your heart, your spirit, or your gut– however the Lord speaks to you. But it’s a prompting from within that lines up with the Word of God.
Maybe you’ve experienced this in other areas of your life. Say you felt inspired to go share the gospel with someone or you felt led to go to the altar and ask for prayer.
Whatever it may be, and whether you were obedient to the calling or not, that conviction came with a firm kindness that comes from a loving parent. “Child, you need to go and do this. Child, I love you. This is what’s best for you.”
That is so different than food guilt.
When we’re disobedient to a calling, we experience conviction, which is pretty uncomfortable…let’s be honest. But conviction also has a sweetness to it as it draw us closer to God. It’s not wrapped in condemnation that makes us want to run and hide from God.
So let’s keep the conviction in our lives, but let’s ditch the food guilt.
STOP FEELING LIKE YOU HAVE TO PAY
Maybe you feel that if you don’t punish yourself, you’re going to keep repeating your poor food choices over and over. You fear that if you aren’t sharp with yourself that you’ll let it all go. That you’ll no longer be motivated to change and you’ll live off Twinkies and soda for the rest of your life.
If we’re not mean, who will discipline us?
Where will our self-control to stop overeating come from?
How will we ever change?
And yet, guilt has more negative side effects than it does positive outcomes. In fact, everything that I listed is actually quite negative. I’d be puzzled to be able to come up with a positive outcome from feeling really, really bad about yourself.
Guilt– It leads to negative self-talk. It keeps us focused on ourselves, which is not where the solution lives. We think about how “I’m the problem,” “I lack self-control,” “I’m never going to stop failing my diet.”
I, I, I…me, me, me. It becomes so painful, negative, and hopeless.
Everything is about us and our eyes are not on Christ, the only place we’ll find our true solution.
Food guilt and shame lead to all-or-nothing eating and doing the exact thing that you don’t want to do.
WHY IS GRACE BETTER THAN FOOD GUILT?
Grace trumps guilt because of two irreplaceable facts.
1. GRACE KEEPS YOU FOCUSED ON GOD.
God’s grace is the road to all of the things you were hoping to accomplish by being stewed in food guilt. Grace is better because it keeps us focused on God.
Negative self-talk and berating yourself does not help. When you notice your sin and shortcomings, determine that it’s covered by God’s grace. This will keep you focused on Him, and it fills your heart with praise, thanksgiving, and gratitude for Jesus Christ.
Wow. That’s not a failure at all. In fact, I would say that a food slip is actually quite worth it if it ultimately pointed you to Christ.
Grace gives you space to keep moving forward because you’re not perfect. You’re human. You’re going to slip and fall, and God has already made provisions for that, as He’s known every food failure since the beginning of time. He’s not surprised. You shouldn’t be either.
Rather than getting upset with yourself, focus on His grace and Jesus Christ and move forward.
2. GRACE GIVES YOU ROOM TO GROW.
Grace also gives us room to learn. When you are stewing in negative self-talk, there are no learning moments to be found within it.
You can’t see up from down. You don’t know which way is left or right. All it is feels dark and cold and a little frightening. When we bring in God’s grace, embrace our humanness and accept His forgiveness, we can lock arms with the Holy Spirit and begin to dig into the why behind our behavior.
We ourselves could dig and dig and try to find our motives and we may never come up with an answer. When we prayerfully ask God into the situation with us, He can show us what’s going on in our hearts and what our true needs are.
This allows us to learn from our mistakes and, ultimately, God gets the glory. Wow!. What a difference.
The choice is self-focus and shame…or God being glorified in our eating through a slip or a success.
That’s truly living in a way that brings God into our daily lives, so that we can glorify Him and grow closer to Him!
HOW DO YOU MOVE FROM FOOD GUILT TO GOD’S GRACE?
Trading food guilt for grace feels like a cavernous jump that we could never make. My first advice to you is to try it…for just one day.
Give yourself one day where you are purposely choosing not to beat yourself up for any food choice. Whatever it is that happens, you’ve committed to let it go in a nanosecond (make it a point to be praying for grace!)
DITCH FOOD GUILT IN THREE STEPS:
1. Notice it.
2. Name it (a departure from God’s will).
3. And then, sweep it under the rug of God’s grace.
This could take just a few seconds or a few minutes. At that point, your life carries on as you make the next best choice possible.
Try it for just one day. Then, check in and ask yourself:
- Are things better or worse?
- Did you have more peace and joy, or was there more negativity and sadness?
- Did you focus more on yourself, or did you focus more on God?
- In which scenario (now or then) was God more glorified?
Take that experimental day and begin to get a pulse of what it is that you’re looking for. And then throughout your daily life, commit to paying attention– Am I in guilt or am I in grace?
Pick one or two areas to focus on, slowly switching yourself from the diet side effects into resting in God’s grace. It’s going to be a slow change, of course. It’s not going to happen overnight; but one moment, one choice, one second at a time, you can begin to have peace and freedom in your food choices.
A REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE OF TRADING FOOD GUILT FOR GOD’S GRACE
So, what does all this look like in real life?
Maybe you notice that you beat yourself up for eating “past full” at dinner or for having an afternoon snack. Maybe you think sugar is your addiction and that’s where a large part of your negative self-talk stems from.
You’re going to focus in on that one area and truly saturate it with God’s grace. This means acknowledging that you are not perfect and that you need God’s help to overcome this challenge.
When things don’t go well (because you’re going to have those moments), you’re going to repent. You’re going to rest in the fact that His grace is enough and move on.
Now, we could probably do this for everything in every area of our lives. But, it’s super-helpful to hone in on the area that steals the most joy and peace from you and start there.
Then, you’ll be able to see how replacing food guilt with God’s grace increases your relationship with Him. You’ll notice that you start making better food choices, not because you have to, but because you don’t feel compelled to do otherwise.
You’re partnering with God, and speaking to Him more. He’s filling your spirit and soul, and your mind and emotions are getting healthier and happier as you go.
Truly, God’s grace far exceeds food guilt–and letting go of it is the best thing that you can do for your relationship with Him, your body, and what you eat.
Brandice Lardner is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, 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.