I have a name for the packaged, processed foods we've been talking about—I call them fragmented foods. They look like the real deal, but important elements have been eliminated, scrubbed off and processed out. They are high in calories but low in nutrition. They tempt us with their ready accessibility. Even though they are a fragment of what we really need, they are becoming the whole of our choices. It's time to return to whole foods as nutrition.
By whole foods, I mean foods that are complete in and of themselves. Take an apple, for instance, or any fruit or vegetable. A fruit or vegetable is the ultimate convenience food. You pick one up and eat it. All you need to do is wash it. You don't need to process it. God designed fruits and vegetables to be nutritious inside and out. The rind or skin is often packed full of important nutrients, to say nothing of fiber. Protein is also a whole food. A serving of meat, fish or poultry is complete in itself. You season it and cook it, but you don't have to process it or alter it chemically.
Another benefit of whole foods is the fiber they provide. Our bodies need fiber to keep foods moving through our digestive and alimentary systems. Our intestines and colon need fiber to operate efficiently. Fiber also takes longer to digest, which means the nutrients and calories in the fiber are delivered to the bloodstream more slowly over time. Our blood sugar levels don't spike up so rapidly that they require our pancreas to counter by increasing amounts of insulin into our bloodstream. Fiber keeps our systems from having to be so reactive; they can respond to the foods we eat instead of having to react to massive dumps of calories, sugars and sodium.
In real life, this means we should be reaching more into the produce drawer in our refrigerator than the snack shelf in our cupboard or pantry. How is your cupboard doing compared to your produce bin? Just as you need to go into your closet and accept the truth about your size, you need to go into your kitchen and accept the truth of what you eat. Just because something is called a snack food doesn't mean that it's being eaten just as a snack. For too many of us, this category of food takes up a significant portion of our daily and weekly food choices. Six doughnuts aren't a snack; six doughnuts are a meal. It's the same for you as it is for me.
I want you to go on a great website that will help you to choose food wisely. It's found at choosemyplate.gov. This is the website that gives information on the federal government's food pyramid. Some of you may think it's strange to use something generated by the government to gain understanding into biblical principles. However, the knowledge and insight gained through a study of God's creation (the human body) has contributed to a plan of eating that is tailored to a body's best interests and health. Secular science and research uncover the wisdom and knowledge that were placed in creation by our loving Father. I'm not saying the government is divine or that the plan is inspired, but I am saying that this plan is based on knowledge about the body God has created. I do believe it will help you down the road to your goals.
Start looking over your personal pyramid and memorize the guidelines involved. Get to know how many servings of the various proteins, grains, dairy, vegetables and fruits you should be consuming each day as well as your total daily caloric goals. I want you to start using these as templates for analyzing what you're eating. Begin to interrogate yourself about your food choices. Once again, you're gaining knowledge through baby steps. This is a journey, remember?
The Desert of Doughnuts
Does this mean I can never have a doughnut again? No, but it means I shouldn't have six in one sitting. Why? Because it's not good for my body.
God told us we're to love our bodies, not abuse them. In Ephesians, when the apostle Paul speaks of the relationship between husbands and wives, he mentions the love and care we are to have for our bodies, almost as a given. He says, "In this way men ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord cares for the church" (Eph. 5:28-29).
What would your spiritual health be like if Christ fed and cared for you spiritually the way you feed and care for yourself physically? If you took Christ's example to heart and fed and cared for yourself physically the way He feeds and cares for you spiritually, what would your physical health look like? The answer to the last question, of course, is you'd be walking around in a body God designed instead of a body designed by packaging, processing and portions. If you want to have longevity and health, you're going to have to do it God's way. Not much has changed. It was true in the garden, and it's still true today.
It's not too late to make a positive change in your life. God's on your side, and so am I. Choose truth instead of deception. Eat truthfully and honestly. Begin to make small, repeatable changes every day—baby steps to victory.
Would all hell break loose if I did eat six doughnuts in one sitting? No, but as I choose food more wisely, my body will become accustomed to proper eating. I'll probably feel a little lousy after eating that many doughnuts as my blood sugar spikes up. And that will help me remember the biblical truth that not everything that looks good and tastes good is good for me. Next time I want a doughnut, I may have one, but I won't eat six. There may even come a time when my desire for a doughnut isn't all I think about when I walk into the grocery store or pass that Krispy Kreme down the street.
Try praying this prayer: "Father, I need help to choose food wisely. I confess I have chosen the foods I eat for my own reasons. So often my choices were based upon what I wanted and not what my body needed. Help me to look to You for guidance in my food choices. Remind me that my body is Your temple, and I must look to You to know how to care for it and feed it. As You guide me in what I should eat today, keep me in Your presence so I can resist the temptation of the evil one. Amen."
This article is an excerpt from The Body God Designed by Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D.
Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D., is a certified eating disorder specialist, a certified chemical dependency counselor, a nationally certified psychologist and a licensed mental health counselor. A popular speaker and author of more than 16 books, Dr. Jantz brings his whole-person vision of hope to audiences around the country through speaking, seminars, conferences, radio and television shows such as Dr. Phil, The 700 Club and many others.
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