Is there a certain way of eating that God tells us to follow? Is there a godly food plan that will lead to success for everyone? This is a really hot topic and one I get asked about all the time.
We ask this question because we want to please God and that’s pretty cool. But, the question also reflects that we want God to fit into a box.
In case you haven’t noticed, God doesn’t fit into boxes very often! In fact, if you do a quick scan through the Word, you won’t find it full of stringent dietary guidelines. The only ones you’ll find will be in the Old Testament, prior to the coming of Christ.
In Genesis, we’re told that all things were good (Genesis 1:29, Genesis 9:3). And then, in the New Testament, Jesus declared that all foods are clean (Mark 7:19). Here we see Jesus addressing the heart of the issue– the idolatry of food…
The Bible says that when we walk in the Spirit, we won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). We walk in the Spirit through the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. These are indwelling gifts that we’re given. We don’t “will” them to happen or strive to make them grow.
You’ve never seen an apple tree straining to produce fruit– and neither should we. We rest, rooted in the nutritious soil of His Word, warmed by the sun of His presence. And, Fruit…it grows!
We’re also told to do “whatever we eat or drink,” to do ALL to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Wow! That’s a higher standard than any diet plan I’ve ever read.
Food Guidelines in the Bible
When you look at the Old Testament, you’ll find some pretty clear guidelines about not eating certain foods. Certain foods and preparations were considered “unclean.”
These rules protected the people from many diseases that were ravaging the areas. Yet, in the New Testament, the emphasis is on the state of the heart– and that, my friend, is a higher standard.
A New Testament “godly food plan” is going to be more about what comes out of the inside rather than what goes in the mouth and through the body.
And he said, “Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”Matthew 15:16-20 ESV
Another example: Jesus talks about the Old Testament law that says you shouldn’t murder. But in the New Testament, He says you shouldn’t even look at someone with anger.
You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.Matthew 5:21-24 ESV
While it feels easier to have fewer guidelines, looking at the state of the heart is a higher standard. And that can be a tough pill to swallow. That’s why we long for tangible guidelines– things we can check off and then feel as if our heart is right.
We ask, “What’s the best godly food plan to follow?” because we want to know if we’re doing well. But the Lord, He always comes back to the state of our heart.
He doesn’t talk about portion sizes or say you should only eat organic. He says, “Let’s look at what’s coming out of your mouth rather than what’s going in.”
When you follow a godly food plan, you’ll be nourished in six different ways. Let’s look at those now.
1. A Godly Food Plan Nourishes Physically
Following a godly food plan means that you focus on glorifying God in your eating. You listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit to guide you.
And when you listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, you’ll know you’re on the right track. You’ll likely be eating lots of real food with lots of fellowship and “fun food” sprinkled in.
You’ll have a good balance of food that you’ll enjoy that will also nourish you.
2. A Godly Food Plan Nourishes Emotionally
Food has been around since the creation of man and the Lord has thrown a lot of parties since then! In fact, many religious festivals center around food. Jesus performed His first miracle at a wedding where He joined the celebration. And, when the Lord returns, we’re going to have a great feast in the new Heaven and new Earth.
Food is part of our emotional health. It connects us with people. We call it fellowship because there’s something special that happens when we gather around a meal. He knows it and that’s why He encourages it (Acts 2:42).
3. A Godly Food Plan Nourishes Spiritually
When we learn to walk in the Spirit, food will nourish our spirits, too. Some of the Fruit of the Spirit includes self-control, love, and joy. When we are living the Fruit of the Spirit, this will be evidenced in the way we interact with food.
A godly food plan will represent the Fruits of the Spirit well. If you were to eat with the Fruit of the Spirit, how would that look? Instead of always focusing on what you’re eating, think about the way the Lord would have you live your life.
What would your diet look like if you ate with love?
First, imagine eating with love for yourself– You are God’s creation, and He loves you with a never-ending, unstoppable love. What if you focused on loving the body and life that He gave you, taking care of it physically?
Second, your eating can show love for other people. If I’m eating a lot of sugar or living off of processed food, I’m pretty cranky. And when I’m cranky, I’m not too loving. Can you relate?
How would your eating change if you were living in the fruit of patience?
Remember, your goals won’t happen overnight. It’ll take patience to get where you want to go.
Having patience means that when things don’t go as planned, you don’t take out your frustration on a bag of chips.
When you have more patience with others, the internal irritation doesn’t build up and you’re less likely to eat emotionally.
When you learn to walk in self-control, discipline, and perseverance, you’ll see a big difference in how you eat. Over time, as you walk in the Fruit of the Spirit, you’ll find yourself eating in a way that may represent a so-called “healthy eating plan.”
It’s sustainable and spiritually meaningful because you’re doing it with and for the Lord.
4. A Godly Food Plan Focuses on the State of Your Heart
In order to follow a godly food plan, we need to purge our hearts of idols. Maybe you struggle with idols of food, weight, self-promotion, or pleasure.
All of these are things that we put before the Lord. We need to become more aware of the sin that’s within us and begin correcting that rather than trying to “fix” the food by counting it or cleaning it up.
When our hearts are fully yielded to the Lord, our food choices will look a lot different.
5. A Godly Food Plan Will Support Your Ministry
All of us have a ministry that God has called us to. It’s different for each of us and depends on your season of life. Your ministry might be motherhood or you may be called to a mission field.
Having a food plan that supports your ministry is more than portion sizes and “healthy” foods. It’s about the way you eat to fuel God’s great purpose for you!
Maybe you are a prayer warrior. Well, you, my sister, need to feel great! Forget those sugar highs and lows. You need the energy to stay up for long hours praying.
Maybe you’re a mom who’s pouring her heart into her little ones. You don’t want to be tired and exhausted, skipping meals and eating scraps from your children’s plates. Rather, by eating meals with your kiddos and being well-nourished, you can teach and play with your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Maybe you’re a pastor’s wife. Your life is busy, busy, busy. You need to be nourished, but you also need flexibility. You need to be able to go to your congregation’s homes and eat whatever they serve you while also meeting your body’s needs at home.
That’s a ministry-first godly food plan.
6. A Godly Food Plan Encourages Fellowship
It’s really important to be mindful of how food relates to our emotional and spiritual health. We don’t want our diet rules to be so strict and inflexible that we can’t go out and fellowship with others. I’ve missed far too many gatherings because I was stuck in diet rules or stressing about my weight gain.
Food should be just ONE thing in our daily lives. We can’t let one unhealthy (or less-than-ideal) meal completely throw us off track or cause us to retreat from others.
As we align our hearts with God’s Word, a godly food plan will teach us how to walk in the Fruit of the Spirit. Putting the Lord first, going to Him when things don’t go as we expected, will help us rely on Him, one step at a time.
Putting It Into Action
This is a lot of information about following a godly food plan, so I’d love to help you apply it, practically.
What does a godly food plan look like on a Wednesday when you’re tired, your toddler is screaming, and you get a phone call about an unexpected bill that’s already overdue?
It’s time to seek the Lord and pray for Him to give you guidance.
Step 1: Clarify where you want to go.
Sit down with a blank piece of paper and turn it sideways into the landscape position. On the far right-hand side of the paper, write what you would (ideally) like your relationship with food to look like.
It might look something like this:
- I want to eat mostly real, nourishing foods.
- I don’t want to be super-consumed with things like treats. I want to have them but not always want to have them.
- I want to be flexible.
- I want to eat only when hungry and stop when I’m full most of the time. But if a child were to bring me something that they cooked for me, I would eat it even if I wasn’t hungry.
- Food would be in its proper place.
Step 2: Notice where you are today.
Now, on the far left side, jot down where you are today.
- I don’t always make great choices; and when I do, they only last for a little while.
- I get stuck in all-or-nothing eating, wavering between restricting and binge eating.
- I don’t have much love, joy, or peace when it comes to food.
This is not a time for judgment. It’s a time to assess where you are right now. We ALL have areas that we want and need to improve. It’s ok.
Step 3: Start taking small steps toward your goals.
Now, think about the processes of change as a continuum. You’re not going to go from left to right overnight.
The steps along the path may include some practical things like eating more veggies or not snacking all afternoon. But also, the Lord may be moving you into a more prayerful life or prompt you to spend more time in Bible study.
- Think of the little steps you need to take along the way. Do this prayerfully. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you guidance and understanding about what that would look like.
- Focus on that one small thing this week. Maybe once a week, you can note your progress and decide whether you’re ready to add something new. The beauty of this is that you’re able to adopt “habits” one at a time.
- Keep practicing your habit until it becomes not just something you do, but who you are– something you do even on a bad day.
Why a godly food plan works.
When you sign up for a new diet, you change everything at once. It gets so overwhelming, you can’t keep up with all the different things you need to do. There’s no way to know what works and what doesn’t.
But…when you follow a “Godly food plan,” you make little changes along the way. You can make a small change, take an assessment, adjust as needed, and then keep moving on.
Pass or fail, struggle or success– you’re doing this with the Lord. And He will lead you to His godly food plan for you.
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.