Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Food and Well-Being Excess

I was on Amazon perusing books, and came across a health “bible” whose promotional copy claims, “God’s plan for our lives is that we be well physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually—and without unmanageable stress!”


God’s will for us is clearly outlined in Scripture, and while it is many things, it is not what this health "bible" claims (we could start with John 16:33 that tells us “in this world you will have trouble”).

This is simply another version of the prosperity gospel. Whether we “think positively” in the traditional sense of the prosperity gospel or put our faith in positive actions, it’s all the same: co-opting God in the hopes of an easy fix based on a misreading of the positive statements in His word. In essence we are putting ourselves as the author and perfector of our health in spite of the things a fallen world dishes out: accidents, car crashes, cancer (and don’t tell me we can control whether or not we get cancer), depression (and don’t tell me that Christians cannot ever experience an episode of depression).

I could go on and on with the ailments, tragedies and curveballs that are out of our control, “manageability” and ability to prevent.

This health “bible” is just one example of a false teaching of a Christian persuasion (a trend that I observe is growing).

Health and wellness bandwagons, which have traveled the secular world since the beginning of time, have turned into a traffic jam today.

All of this food and fitness striving, be it “spiritual,” Christian or secular, is morphing into an obsession, if not idolatry, of what we put in our mouths and do with our bodies.

For example, there are people who must navigate the organic, non-GMO, free range, cage-free, non-gelatin, dairy-free, gluten-free obstacle course in order for their adult children and/or grandkids to be able to eat dinner at their house (and vice versa. I also know of cases where it is the parents who are hostile to their adult children for eating meat, or for not being vegan. One mother lambasted her non-vegetarian daughter with explicit descriptions of the meat industry at the dinner table, while the family dined together). I was recently at a European bakery when someone came in and asked if the bakery sold gluten-free products (selections of which are readily available elsewhere, so needn't necessarily be offered at a European bakery! The bakery proprietor's answer was "no" to the gluten-free question). Similarly, I’ve seen waiters at Bar B Que restaurants shake their heads in bewilderment at customers who complain that there aren’t enough vegetarian options on the menu (when vegetarian and vegan restaurants abound where they could find ample selection). 

In addition, I’ve sat quietly and considerately through many an oratory on the life-changing properties of essential oils, supplements, probiotics and protein powders.

Whatever happened to, unless one is at a picnic, the general understanding that “chips are bad” and “broccoli is good”? Whatever happened to moderation and enjoying food as food and not something to rearrange our DNA?

It’s great to improve upon food choices where we can. GMO’s are scary! But I think we have gone totally bonkers! An occasional GMO cornflake isn’t going to kill us. But fussing over it might kill our relationships. Trying to find non-GMO cornflakes might stress us out. And that might kill us!

But there is hope: just today I read an article that said that too much running is worse than not running at all!

This is good news for someone who gave up running years ago because I decided that I want to die in old age with my God-given kneecaps and still be able to walk when I’m 70.

In the coming days I hope to post additional thoughts to help moderate the current food and wellness hyperactivity. I like to think of these essays, painstakingly gleaned from the Internet, as “food for thought” (in the traditional use of that phrase, not literal!)

copyright Barb Harwood

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:25-27

“Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’” Matthew 15:10-11

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