Monday, January 28, 2008

dieting and gluttony (1)

1. Of or relating to a food regimen designed to promote weight loss in a person or an animal: the diet industry

I have put myself on a diet.

Which is an embarrassing admission, since I am deeply suspicious of diets (and the diet industry, inextricably and somewhat disturbingly linked in the definition above). I've always thought that diets often promote idolatry (an unhealthy obsession with food) and vanity (an ungodly preoccupation with outer beauty) rather than godliness.

Although this is less a diet (a short-term and generally unsuccessful solution to weight gain) and I won't be following any fancy weight-loss plans (ditto, although such plans have their place, and I can count points as well as the next girl).

I'm simply eating less, and less unhealthily, in an attempt to develop a new long-term relationship with food i.e. one where I can stop after 1 piece of chocolate, where I don't eat whenever I feel bored or depressed, and (let's be honest) where I can fit into the jeans of yesteryear (and not that many years ago, either).

Self-control has never been my strong suit, but I have learned, during my continuing battle with over-spending, that it only (only!) takes 6 months to develop a (hopefully lasting) habit of self-control, with God's help. New attitude to food, here I come! One week down, only 5 3/4 months to go.

I would love to say that I am motivated by godliness (choosing to depend on God rather than food for comfort) or love (so that I might have more energy for my husband and children) or even by health (and yes, I do find scary articles about the risk of diabetes highly motivating) but let's be honest, it really comes down to comfort (oh, to be without that sagging spare tyre which is the inevitable product of 4 children) and vanity (ditto).

The reason I tell you this is not to embarrass myself in public (although I find I am doing this quite successfully) or to share my secrets of weight-loss with you, or to invite you to accompany me on my "journey to a healthier you". There will be no before- or after-photos, no handy hints, no "9 steps to slimness".

I am writing about this because I think dieting is a major issue for our society, and for Christians today. Epicureanism, dieting, and gluttony are all common forms of food-idolatry in our society. We are confused about the Bible's teaching on food, and we have forgotten the Christian wisdom of the past.

But what does the Bible teach about food? What should our attitude to food - and dieting - be? Why are there so many weight-loss books on the shelves of Christian bookshops? Does God really want my body, his "temple", to be skinnier as well as more godly? What is gluttony, and is it really one of the seven deadly sins? Is "moderation" godly? And is the Bible's call to "self-control" a call to diet?

Stay tuned, because I'm incapable of going on a diet without doing a lot of reading and thinking about what the Bible has to say.

You can follow the thread on dieting here.


Cathy said...

I'm staying tuned, but just don't keep me waiting too long!

In the meantime, the most successful diet I have undertaken was simple to follow, cheap and involved no extra preparation - ideal for busy families!!

Was it biblical - well I guess it involved self-control and not making an idol out of food/body image by devoting inordinate amounts of time and energy to it.

Jean said...

Sounds good to me.

I'm planning about 1 blog a week on this topic. It may take us a while to get through it at that rate. Sorry, but I have a husband to love and 4 kids to care for and 1 or 2 big, thoughtful blogs is about all I can manage in a week without neglecting them!! So you'll have to be patient.

Hey, that could be a good chance to grow in the way we've talked about, patience! ;)

Rachach said...

Great topic and I think the questions you are asking will help us all to think biblically on the issue. I look forward to your findings.