By Lisa Hamel
Let’s talk about health ladies.
It happens just about every time I get on social media or open a news website. Another article on what I’m eating that I shouldn’t. How I can look skinnier or younger or smarter or you get the idea…and to make matters worse-one article will contradict another leaving me feeling confused AND guilty.
Does anyone else feel this? Like all our efforts to eat gluten free/organic with the right pots and pans and the right filtered water at the right temperature still isn’t enough. Then we feel guilty so we drown our guilt in a bag of kettle corn and a candy bar coupled with a bottle of kombucha for good measure. Don’t even get me started on exercise…
We live in an age of unknown prosperity and leisure. We have so much time free from the work of our hands-the kind of work that our forefathers knew. We also have unlimited information. Information inundating us constantly that our minds are forced to process. As a mom of children with food allergies, special needs and my own autoimmune challenges, I can barely watch the news! So here we are, with little that we actually “must” do to survive and an excess of data to feel guilty about. It’s enough to make you crazy. How does a woman navigate such a world in a healthy way?
You should know that I am labeled a health nut. While I agree that the greater portion of our country needs to wake up and realize the value of whole foods, many of us are turning our health into an idol and it’s time to put things in the right perspective.
1. Accept that there will always be things we CANNOT control. The inferred message from most of these articles is to take control of your health in a way that makes you the god of your universe. My family eats ridiculously healthy but I cannot control the cell phone waves running through the air. If we don’t have wifi, our neighbor will. We live next to low voltage power lines and although our EMF detector (yes, we bought one) says we are in the normal range, I could lay awake at night worrying about it if I let myself. It is in these moments I must remember that I serve a God who is sovereign.
2. Recognize where your fears come from. This is a tough one. Often times our fears come from our idolatry. There is a huge difference between being DRIVEN to eat healthy/exercise/etc. out of fear of cancer, obesity, autoimmune disease…and being DRAWN to it because you honestly know it’s best for you…that you will feel better, and have a clearer head for serving the Lord with your life.
3. Bond with the feeder and not the food. It is God who supplies our needs. Food is huge part of our lives and so each time we eat, we can remember that the Lord is our God. That He provides for us. Many of our brains have been re-wired to think that joy comes from food. Joy actually comes from relationship! The dopamine hit you’re looking for from that chocolate cake is actually a substitute for the ideal brain chemistry reaction that will happen when you are with people who are glad to be with you! This leads me to my next point.
4. Meals Matter. Try to sit down and have a SIMPLE meal with your people everyday if you can. God made us to bond around food, not with it. In his amazing book, Joy Starts Here, Dr. Jim Wilder says: “No single human interaction provides more opportunities for relational skill propagation than eating meals together.” Anytime I have to abstain from most of what is being served at a gathering because of my allergies, I try to remember this truth. So I eat a banana or lettuce and focus on the people that I am with. It’s an opportunity to put those relationships above my own cravings.
5. Find a way to be active with your kids or with a friend. Bonding with others through exercise has many benefits. Physically you will be doing something great for your body. If you exercise with your kids by throwing a ball or going on a hike, I can pretty much guarantee that they will never forget it. It will be a huge imprint on their childhood memories because you entered into their world. If your kids are beyond that age and in school, find a friend to exercise with. Research (that I won’t go into here,) states the many positive benefits to your emotional well-being by walking and talking. It’s about as good as a therapy session!
6. Let the rest go. Mom guilt is a real thing. Our brains are constantly looking for ways that we are failing. Do the best you can. God alone knows the number of our days. We are his clay. Here to serve him. Don’t let food or exercise or any area of health come before your relationship with Jesus. Learn to turn down the noise of this world and go where the joy is. “In His presence is fullness of joy.” Ps 16:11
This minefield of health is one of many distractions we have in this world. In John 9:1-3 it says:
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
Friends, one of the healthiest, godliest women I know is currently battling cancer. She ate and lived right. God wants to use this so His works might be displayed in her life. You see, Jesus has given us something better than a cancer vaccine. Himself.
Better than a perfect body…a heavenly body that awaits us.
Better than a life free of disease and brokenness…a hope of heaven.
Let that hope of heaven permeate your life on earth, even your smallest decisions about food.