Food & The Christian Life

Food. There's just something about it that comforts the soul. It can take you back to your childhood when mom and grandma made those fabulous meals. However, it can also be a trigger to painful memories depending on taste, texture or flavor. As Christian's, we understand that food is talked about a lot in the Bible, everything from sharing meals to the sin of gluttony. The purpose of food is multifaceted. We need it to fuel our bodies. It can be used as a fellowship tool. It is one of the items behind festivals, holiday's, and feast days. It is a ministry...with it we can help those who are hungry by giving what we have in excess, facilitate fundraisers, or even help others learn how to use food wisely.

Recently, I've been confronted with a bout of anxiety. Within this bout are deep seeded issues within myself that I must work through. One of the things I've been convicted of is this very idea of food. Sometimes, I just eat to eat. Boredom, self-comfort, and even just because I want to. It was in this that I realized why I hadn't gained or lost weight recently in my weight loss journey.

I had been on anxiety meds before, and I knew a side effect of them was increased appetite, so 2 years ago, I felt it time to get off the meds, so I stopped meds, changed what and how I ate, using more natural ingredients and picked up my walking habit that had waxed and waned over the years a bit. I lost 20 pounds over the course of that time frame. But I bottomed out and hovered within 5 pounds either direction for a while. Then the anxiety came again. When that happens, I naturally lose my appetite a bit anyway. This was the motivation I needed to really look at why I had bottomed out and not lost weight. I love food...too much. I mean, I went to Culinary School. I'm a sucker for a good meal. But the problem is, everything I strove to accomplish was undone by snacking and processed carbs. I had cut my carb intake anyway, because I discovered I was gluten intolerant when I kicked off this weight loss journey.

With that said, I kicked processed breads, sugars, high fructose anything, canned things and processed food (for sodium reasons primarily) altogether in favor of fresh/frozen instead. I eat more boneless skinless chicken breast, fish, beans, and legumes for protein. I cut my calorie intake from 2000 to about 1500. In the 2 1/2 weeks post Thanksgiving weekend wake up, I've shed another 18 pounds. I've increased my walking again in addition to my eating habits. The pounds are melting off. And that's when it hit me. I LOVE the way I'm eating now, I feel better, AND the pounds are disappearing! It occurred to me that eating healthy doesn't have to be a drag. I discovered that food is a lot more important than I had originally thought...and I've always thought the ministry of food was important. I discovered that gluttony is a much bigger problem in America than I realized at first. That's when God led me to realize that I have a gift that He wants me to use for His glory.

With my education in the Culinary Arts and calling to minister to God's people, God can and wants use me in a very valuable way to tackle the issue of gluttony and healthy eating. Eating can be fabulous and healthy at the same time. I believe God wants me to help other people who struggle with gluttony, weight loss and eating healthy (and for the right reasons) as a ministry. I've been equipped to help others fight this fight. So, let's do this.

In a nutshell, here's what I've done. I've cut processed carbs like all breads, pastas, sugars, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated & fractionated oils, margarine (I use unsalted butter ONLY if I can't substitute), canned goods, processed foods (boxed potatoes, meal helpers, canned soups, deli meats, etc.), reduced dairy and beef intake, started with a quality fish oil supplement, increased boneless, skinless chicken breast, natural skinless turkey breast, and fish intake, increased fresh fruits and veggies (or frozen), beans and legumes, healthy nuts and natural grains, and I used more healthy oils like canola, olive and sesame oil instead of butter. I make an Ezekiel bread, not sprouted, but whole grains and use that as a "bread" of sorts. It doesn't do well with sandwiches like PB&J, but the PB, unless you make it yourself is loaded with bad oils like palm, hydrogenated and fractionated oils, and the J is loaded with sugar. I've also downloaded a calorie counter to help me keep track of what I'm taking in.

In addition to this, what's needed is some cooking skills. First, cut out frying altogether. Stop frying stuff. Fried stuff, even pan frying, is bad. When oven baking, use a wire rack to raise whatever it is off of the pan so it doesn't soak and cook in the grease. Steaming is the best, obviously, so I've combined the saute idea with the steam idea. For breakfast, it's homemade oatmeal with honey and nuts or fruit of some sorts, yogurt and a homemade low/no sugar granola that has nuts and dried cranberries or raisins. I also throw in a healthy cereal like a puffed rice or oat O's once in a while. For lunch its a tossed veggie salad with beans, chicken or fish as a protein, with usually no dressing. I try to leave a little sauce when I cook my beans to wet down the veggies or even use a very small dab of vinegar/olive oil to help moisten it up. However, I've come to love no dressing on a salad. (That wasn't always the case...I had to have a little something, though I've never been a huge fan of dousing the dressing on a salad.) Sometimes, if there is a leftover from the night before, I'll use that someway. For dinner, I usually chop up some veggies and a protein of some sorts and saute them with a tiny bit of olive oil and sesame oil. I'll season with various things...anything from turmeric and Italian herbs, apple cider vinegar and a pepper herb, or even a southwest spice motif. The idea is that you use enough herbs and spices without adding salt. You can put a little wine in to add flavor, or I put water in. Either way, it helps to 'steam' the veggies. I usually find that I get enough sodium from other things to cover my necessary intake and the other flavors really add enough punch to cover the reduced salt (pepper does well too). Now this isn't a hard and fast menu, but it's a basic idea of what and how I do things.

The idea is that you can eat healthy, affordable and tasty. If you need help with this, please leave a comment here or find me on social media. I would love to see you get healthy and pursue food for the right reasons. In the coming years, I will be releasing a book dealing with food and our Christian life titled, "The Life Diet". In this book we will discuss these ideas more. Until then, again, if you need assistance with this, please let me know.

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