Sunday, October 2, 2016

Eat only when hungry?

I got a question from a friend who's working on her health journey, too. Here's what she asked:

Do you only eat when your hungry? And is it dishonoring to God if we eat when not hungry? I'm struggling some.

Having questions about how our eating habits affect or reflect our relationship with God are common among Christians who have struggled for a long time with weight loss and caring for their body.  First we have to sort out all the "diet rules" we have stuck up in our heads, get past all the guilt we've heaped on ourselves and then dig into the Word to see just what God has to say about the whole topic.

Many of us are are familiar with a few verses that show up in Christian diet books and sermons about our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit. The problem is that the manner in which these verses are quoted usually just add to that guilt load on our shoulders. 

Remembering that God loves us first and foremost and that He extends grace and mercy to those who seek him is the first step out of this rut we're in. 

No condemnation, no guilt to carry around, just a realization that we've been headed the wrong way, a sincere confession to Him and an about-face to show that we really do want to do all things to honor Him. That's all it takes to get back on the right path. The best news is that we don't have to depend on our own strength to change. He helps us every step of the way as we commit our ways to Him.

Here's what I wrote back to my friend:

I do try to eat only when I am hungry. 

Do I ever eat when I'm not hungry? Sometimes. I don't think that's a sin in and of itself. I do think that we need to honor God with self-control and taking care of our bodies, so if I have a cookie for dessert after dinner (when I'm not really hungry) or even if I have a cookie or two for a snack, I don't think that's a sin or dishonoring God. 

If, on the other hand, I dive into a pack of cookies because I am angry, bored or depressed and eat the whole pack, I do consider that a sin for me, because eating is not the way God would have me resolve emotional issues. Overeating harms my body and is a poor substitute for turning to God when He is the One who can help me most. 

Does that make sense? I understand the struggle. We get bombarded with so much "diet info" that it's hard to tell what's right and what's wrong after a while. The best advice I can give you is that this is a matter between you and God. When in doubt, ask Him. Then honor whatever you feel Him telling you. For instance, the other night I really wanted to eat while watching TV (and old habit of mine). I was not a bit hungry, but the urge to munch was strong. 

I said a quick prayer, ran through all the reasons why munching would defeat my goal to be healthy and honor God with my body and self-control, then I offered up the remaining hours before bedtime as a fast unto the Lord. No snacking. My offering to Him. I felt good when my head hit the pillow and no extra pounds showed up on my scale. 

I shared with her that lately, I've been feeling like God is nudging me to help people more in this area of weight loss and getting healthy, but I've been putting it off because those old thoughts that I had to have it all together and be at my goal weight before I could help others had crept back in. It's not true!

Sometimes the best person to understand and encourage someone is someone who is going through the same thing. So, I'm here for you - all of you. If you have a question, if you need to talk to someone or if you just need a word of encouragement and someone to pray for you, just click the contact button at the top of this page and drop me a note.

Meanwhile, I'm going to be praying that God shows me the best way to help others. Would you be praying for me, too?

We're in this together!


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  1. Thank you for your help, Jan! I'll be praying for you too.

    1. I really appreciate your prayers, Joy. Thank you, my friend.

  2. Thanks Jan, your words have been a great help!

  3. Glad to have you along with me on the journey, Pam. Praying you have a successful week.