I grew up in a teetotalling Baptist church – to this day I feel guilty if I have a second glass of wine. Well, not too guilty, but somewhat guilty. I don’t want anyone to read this and feel guilty about the second brownie – unless that second brownie is, in fact, ruining your health.
If your health problems and problems with controlling weight gain are a result of metabolic disease and you are struggling to do what you can, then this is not meant for you. It is for people (like me) who have a tendency to distort the natural goodness of food.
I need to speak frankly about the obesity and poor health epidemic in what we call the “First World.” Our misuse of food resources contributes to the poverty and malnutrition elsewhere in complex ways. It isn’t so much that we burn corn for bio-fuel in our cars instead of improving mass transit or simply staying home when we can. It is the consumption of plastic, the growth of agri-business, the insatiable need to be informed of all the buying opportunities before us. We find our natural tastes spoiled by artificial foods; we crave comfort in carbohydrates.
If it is sinful to overindulge in alcohol, it is equally sinful to overindulge in food and underindulge in healthy activity. The more weight we carry, the less we want to move. The less we move, the more weight we gain. Excess weight contributes to heart disease, cancer, joint stress and damage, depression and mood swings.
The worst of it for me is to see people enabling and encouraging others to continue in the unhealthy trend. My realization of how strong that enabling behaviour is came through facebook. If anyone in my group of friends posts a recipe that calls for butter, cream, chocolate or icing sugar, everyone wants to try it. Broiled fish and a salad? No, thank you. Discussion of Christmas cookies? Eighty people join in. Discussion of exercise? Two people contribute.
Do I need to say we have substituted relationships with foods for relationships with people, sensual pleasure in taste and consumption, for pleasure in communication and even for intimate physical pleasure in our marriages?
I don’t need to outline a diet for anyone – there’s plenty of information available. I would suggest that everyone who is struggling to overcome food-related or emotional-eating issues consider keeping the Advent fast to some degree.
God did not give us life so that we can waste it and abuse it. As our Lord said to his disciples “Eat what is put before you.” He did not tell them to eat beyond what they needed. So eat what is put before you, in reasonable amounts, remembering to leave resources for many who otherwise will do without. Enjoy the meal, and do not make the meal your sole enjoyment.