Excerpt from Let Food Be Thy Gift
Break up with diets and workouts
When we look at how we spend our time, money, energy and thoughts, it appears that we are in a bad relationship with food and exercise. The truth is that any relationship with food and exercise is a bad relationship. We are not designed to be in a relationship with food or exercise because relationships are mutual and they exist between living, breathing, feeling and thinking creatures. A piece of cake or a bowl of quinoa will never say a single word at the dinner table. Food cannot give you a hug and a workout cannot give you a shoulder to cry on. We are not designed to be in a relationship with inanimate objects or experiences.
Perhaps, you don’t think that you are in a relationship with food and exercise. What if we dig a little deeper to see if you are?
If food or exercise have the power and position to expose feelings of guilt, shame, fear, despair, excitement, anxiety or pride, then their place in your life is outside their design. Food and exercise are designed to nourish us but neither food or exercise should be a competition or make us feel like winners or losers. Likewise, feelings of love, approval, comfort, value, acceptance, disappointment, sadness and anger should only happen in relationships where food and exercise are simply daily gifts of love and nourishment that we can experience and enjoy together.
Perhaps you aren’t looking for food or exercise to change your feelings but are you using them to tell you who you are? Who are you? I am a ___________. Did you fill in the blank with the way you eat or exercise or the way you look? Diets and workout programs are not supposed to give us an identity. They may be things we do but they are not who we are. If what we do has the power to tell us who you are, then who are we when we are not doing that particular workout or eating that particular food? Who are we when there are no organic vegetables or we hurt our back doing an overhead press? Giving anything the power to tell us who we are will also give it the power to tell us what to do, which brings us back to the bad relationship with food and exercise. If food or exercise tells us who we are or what to do, then we are in a bad relationship with food and exercise.
Food and exercise are not identity givers. Instead, they are gifts designed to nourish our whole person and nourish a real connection with others. Food and exercise cannot be the connection that we need to establish real relationships. But in today’s world, food and exercise are anything but gifts to nourish a real connection- rather they are the connection. Our conversations revolve around food and exercise to avoid our real selves and to help us deny our loneliness, lack of connection, insecurities, vulnerabilities, weaknesses and fears. Why is it easier to talk about food, think about food and use food to fill ourselves up, than to talk about ourselves and share the emptiness and sadness that we feel in our lives, jobs, habits and relationships?
Remember, no matter how much or how little food we eat and how much or how little exercise we do, these things are never going to give us the peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control that we are designed for or establish the real relationship with others that we need to live and become our best selves. Food will never love us back and we will never be able to out run our regrets, disappointments and failures. However, we can chose to give up our relationship with food and rediscover a relationship with ourselves that is healthy and that needs the gifts of food and exercise shared in community and practiced together with our neighbor to live as we are designed.