Rising Above Food Wars
Just yesterday one of my readers emailed me to ask how to avoid alienating people who chose not to eat a diet of whole foods as she does. Here, in part, is her letter to me:
I wanted to know your thoughts about having a lifestyle where you care about what you eat and what you avoid based on wisdom and research.
I've been trying to refrain from telling people what I learned from my research about nutrition, but sometimes the topic comes up amongst my peers. Sometimes I get the impression from others that that they think I'm crazy or that my hope is not fully in the Lord. I get offended by this.
I think it's a liberty to have a lifestyle like the one I have based on good nutrition principles. But even for me to mention anything about sprouted grains or pasteurization, people get sensitive and easily offended. But I understand when they get sensitive because I get sensitive.
I don't want something like this to ruin my relationships with other believers, but at times I get to the point where I refrain from saying anything about what I know and have learned concerning nutrition. I want to avoid others feeling uncomfortable.
What are your thoughts?
Here is my response:
Eating very conscientiously is important to me also, as you know. It is a liberty that no one should judge you about. Yet it happens. But nutrition is also something that I personally never talk about unless someone asks me for information concerning it. In fact, I most often take a very light-hearted approach if the subject happens to come up and joke about it to ease the other person's discomfort.
It's important to me that I make no one feel like I am judging them based on their food choices. I just don't take it so seriously in front of others that they feel an intensity from me, like it's so very important to me, though it is. That is what I am more concerned about rather than others judging me.
There should be freedom for any woman to come to me for counsel (regarding any topic) or fellowship, so I don't want food standing in the way of that. I don't want anyone feeling intimidated by my food choices. Loving others has to be first. My food choices are hidden behind my love for others, if you know what I mean.
Yes, it is important what we eat, but unity is more important. Consequently I will not say a word about any food that is in front of me at church potlucks or when we are invited to someone's home. I eat everything I can get away with at those times. Yet, I will not eat anything that I know will cause me to be ill, but it will never come up in conversation from me to the host or hostess, etc.
I blog about my food choices and post recipes that are healthy, but I would not post on facebook about this topic of eating healthy. Any one of my friends from church can read that and people just do not understand how such food choices could make a difference. They really just do not understand. I used to be the same way.
Yes, we will still be exposed to a toxic environment and even some supposedly healthy foods that may not be so healthy, but overall, my diet has enabled me to minister again. There was a time when I could hardly crawl out of bed and ministry was impossible. But since I began eating whole foods things have changed for the better. Now for me to go back to eating foods that put me back in bed would be sin unless I had absolutely no other choice. People can ask if they'd like and I'd be happy to tell them that in whatever I do, even in what I eat or drink, I will do all for the glory of God.
One person in particular asks me on a regular basis why I won't eat sweets at church functions. I tell that person, "Because I like to sleep at night". I'm also asked by this dear saint why I would ever get sick (presently) if I eat such a healthy diet. First off, in answering these questions, I don't get offended. I love this person. In a light-hearted way, laughing, I say (regarding that question), "If you think I get sick often now, you should have seen me 7 years ago." I don't get into lecturing about why sprouted grains are a better choice than whole or refined grains. I don't discourse on why raw milk has helped me so much, etc. I just answer that I can now function and minister when I couldn't 7 years ago and laugh when I say it.
Ask God to give you the ability to let it all roll off your back like water off a duck's back. Ask Him to give you an intense love for the saints, even (rather especially) for those who judge you. Make it a reason to love them all the more.
As for those people who think I look down on them because of the way I eat as opposed to the way they eat, if they only knew how insignificant this important part of my life is compared to my love for them, they would drop all their defenses and just enjoy the fellowship we have in Christ.
This is also something you can pray for - that your love would far exceed any important lifestyle choice to the point that you felt that choice was totally insignificant compared to your love for others. Your food choices are important, but compared to your love for others, your relationship to that choice should feel like hatred. Does that make sense?
I hope this helps. It's all about your attitude. When another saint was critical, I invited that family over for dinner and fed them the most delicious meal I could that was organic and locally grown, etc. Their taste buds were delighted and surprised I think, but the topic never came up in our conversation. We just had such a great time and the subject of food has never come up again. In fact that family's love for us has grown and there is absolutely no tension regarding this subject now.
Love always wins the day as does humility. Always take the low road and think of others as better than yourself, especially those who are critical.
Keep up the good work of feeding your family in the best way that produces the best health. God will never fault you for that. But He will fault you when its importance exceeds your love for others, though He will not require that you eat differently, just that you think differently.
Wonderful exhortation! I'm older now, but throughout the years I've run the gauntlet of healthy food bandwagons. Eventually we come to realize that we are not our food choices, those choices don't define our character.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Sharon. That was well and truthfully (and LOVINGLY) put! I am a mother of four toddler sons. My husband faithfully works hard to provide for us as the Lord provides for him! It is important to me to feed our family well i.e. whole, organic, etc. As you well know, this can be costly, but I make the best choices that I am able to within the realm of what God has provided for us. Beyond that, I leave the rest to God's keeping. We feel it is important and Biblical to graciously, even delightedly, receive whatever food is put before us at another's home even if it is something that we would not choose at home. This seems to help keep food low profile and in it's proper place as well as serve as a reminder that love is all important. Admittedly, I have friends that I stress out over having over for meals, etc because I feel that my food choices will be judged as not measuring up to their healthy standards, but your article is a good reminder of what my mother always encouraged; "respond in the opposite spirit!" We ARE free--to love and serve and then to do the best that we can within the realm of what God has provided for us. Thanks again.ReplyDelete
I absolutely love what you mother encouraged you to do - "respond in the opposite spirit". Of course, responding in the "opposite spirit" is responding in the Spirit of God. This is helpful to me in a situation I am currently in with someone who is actually persecuting me for my faith. Though that idea is what I wrote about in the post above, articulating the principle so beautifully and concisely makes it very tangible and easy for me to grab onto.
Thanks for the insight!
Sharon, that was a wonder response to her question. I will have to take your advice. I do not usually get sensitive about the topic but I do have a hard time explaining myself in person.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing :)
Sharon, thank you for this. You addressed some concerns I had as if you knew what was on my mind. Thank you!ReplyDelete