I became a Christian before I became an intuitive eater, but I became an intuitive eater before I realized how fundamental a non-diet life was to the practice of my faith. Once I understood that my faith and my approach to food were inseparable, everything finally started to make sense.
Why we diet in the first place:
I don’t think that going on a diet is the same thing as having an eating disorder, but they both originate from the same place: we look to our bodies, or food, to fulfill a need that it can’t rightfully fulfill. While dieting is socially acceptable and almost encouraged “for health,” most people see the harm in eating disorders, which is why they are classified as a mental illness. But before food obsessions reach the point of becoming clinical, they are profoundly spiritual
As Christians, our worth and our identities have little to do with our bodies. In fact, the value of who we are has very little to do with us at all. Instead, it comes from the fact that an omniscient, omnipotent, and sovereign God loves us so much that he died to save us from our selves. But because we are broken people living in a broken world, we tend to lose sight of the power of the core of our identities (God’s love) and instead seek to create identities for ourselves. We define ourselves by our jobs, our education, or relationship status, our friends, our families and the way we look. However, we also live in a society that has strict rules about which aspects of physical appearance are acceptable or praise-worthy, and this creates a conundrum for us if the way we look doesn’t match up with what society has deemed beautiful. Consequently, many of us try to fulfill our deep need for love and acceptance by striving to conform our bodies to the unrealistic standards of the world.
In order to accomplish this task, we focus on food and exercise, creating rules for ourselves (“eat this, not that”) and pushing our bodies to the limit. We devote endless time and energy to the pursuit of a different body that we start to believe that nothing else in life matters as much as how we look. When our efforts begin to be successful, we’re comforted by them; when they fail to produce success, we feel guilty and ashamed. The more we look toward food and exercise (and the appearance of our bodies) for comfort, the more we feed into the lie that our bodies define who we are, and the more toxic our relationship with food, God, and ourselves becomes.
Intuitive Eating, explained
Instead of focusing on restricting, controlling, and shrinking, intuitive eating offers a revolutionary paradigm shift in the nutrition perspective. Diets are about weight loss, food rules and physical aesthetic whereas intuitive eating is about freedom, honoring our bodies, and finding our identities outside of our physical appearance. While diets create enslavement to food and exercise, intuitive eating sets us free from those things.
Or rather, Christ sets us free from those things by offering us a perspective in life that focuses on himself rather than ourselves. Christ points us back to God’s original design for the role of food in the human life which, if you read the bible, looks strikingly similar to the original 10 principles of intuitive eating.
Intuitive Eating without Faith is Empty
Intuitive eating as an eating plan only goes so deep. While it successfully offers an opportunity for healing for those struggling in their relationship with food, exercise, and their bodies, it doesn’t open the door to the big picture. Once the food struggles are gone, what remains of us? What is our life if not about appearances, control, and setting goals?
When we understand that intuitive eating is only a piece of a whole, just one facet of a life lived for God’s glory, we’re set free to finally live, to finally find fulfillment, and to finally thrive as children of God.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”1 Corinthians 10:31