Wholly Healthy: Fighting the ‘Food Lust’ Battle

I’ve been trying to lose weight lately. It has involved lifting weights, eating some boring food, drinking much more water and cutting back on (sigh!) sweet tea.

My attempt has confirmed the truth, related by a good friend and exercise expert, that weight loss requires one to be … hungry. I have to step back from the refill, the snack or the second helping and go on about my day. Or I have go to bed with a little gnawing sensation in the belly (you know — the one much of the world has all the time).

This issue has been on my mind lately because I am saddened by the devastation that overeating and obesity can cause. So many of my patients are on multiple medications — pills for their adult-onset diabetes, or their chronic joint and back pain, or their high blood pressure. Far too many end up with back, knee and hip surgeries. They have coronary artery stents or bypass surgery due to heart disease. They have a lifelong debility due to stroke. And yet much of it would have been avoided if they had just lost weight, since being overweight contributes to so many of our common health problems.

During a recent time of dieting, I realized that I was thinking about food far too often. Why would I obsess about food when there has never been a time when I was actually in danger of not having any? Because I like it, I reward myself with it, I treat stress with it, I socialize with it and, ultimately, I abuse my body with it — unless I’m very, very careful. Maybe if we called it “food lust” instead of the older word, “gluttony,” it would make more sense. Of course, it would still be the same sin.

Yep, I’ve “gone from preaching to meddling,” as my pastor dad would say. But as we engage in an ongoing national dialogue about how to pay for health care, the hard truth is that our health care would cost a lot less if we took care of our incredible complex bodies and encouraged one another to do the same. Maybe it would help if we as Christians remembered that this body is God’s precisely designed tool for doing kingdom work, not simply ours to abuse and neglect.

Losing weight is hard. But if you try and succeed, you’ll never regret the effort.