New year, new you?
Thanks to Netflix, the four-part docuseries You Are What You Eat is causing millions to rethink their eating habits. The documentary follows twin pairs to determine the outcomes of a plant-based vegan diet and an all-inclusive omnivore approach.
As a health coach, I’ve received plenty of questions about the series. Its popularity proves again that many people long for a magic fix.
Almost every client I see asks me, “What am I supposed to be eating? Just tell me what to eat and when, and I’ll do it!”
In many cases, these questions reveal more about their heart than their health.
Worshipping at the diet altar
I started dieting at a young age. I’ve witnessed many dieting trends shift over time. We went from the low-fat “fat makes you fat” trend in the 1990s to the high-fat “fat makes you skinny” trend in the 2010s.
Some of the most popular health bandwagons today include Whole30, Paleo, Mediterranean, keto, vegan, and carnivore. We have biohackers determined to increase longevity and “live to 120.” Depending on whom you ask, each method is backed by science, with studies to support their efficacy.
And depending on who’s doing that particular diet, you’ll get levels of religiosity and evangelism that rival Kanye during his Jesus phase.
Yes, people draw strong lines in the sand about the right way to eat.
What does the Bible say about what we eat?
Food concerns are not new to the church, though they showed up differently in the past.
In fact, in the first-century church, the great food debate was about whether to consume food that had been sacrificed to idols or not. In 1 Corinthians 8:8 Paul tells us, “Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.”
And 1 Timothy 4:4 reminds us, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.”
How should Christians consider what we eat?
We can’t save ourselves with food alone.
- I utilize a food-as-medicine approach with my clients, and I believe nutrition is a powerful tool for supporting health, as I share in “What does the Bible say about physical health?” However, putting the fate of our health into our own hands, without discussing our plans with the body’s Great Architect, can border on idolatry. Spending more time obsessing over the created than with the Creator will cause a fissure in your relationship with God.
What we consume nutritionally feeds our cells, but what we consume spiritually feeds our soul.
- “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Nutritional satisfaction is temporary. Nutrient needs change. Even just two hours of high stress can completely alter the microbial balance of the digestive tract. Your stress level during a meal impacts your ability to absorb nutrients, whether you’re “eating clean” or not.
Choose to consume the Bread of Life.
- “Man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Yes, you are what you eat, but when you view God’s word as your primary nourishment, that phrase hits differently.
Nutrition science will change, docuseries will come and go, but the word of God is permanent.
Instead of putting all your hope in the next health trend, put your hope in the one who supplies “every need of yours according to the riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).