I have been trying to eat healthier lately for two reasons. One, I need to lose some weight and eating cookies, chocolate, ice cream, and high calorie lunches are not very conducive to that goal. Second, I just feel better when I eat more fruits and vegetables, and less sugar and carbohydrates. But eating better is a struggle for me when I am feeling stressed.
This week I’ve been doing pretty good and have eaten a healthy lunch with lots of fruits and veggies every day. Today, I brought some leftover chicken and rice dish, and then went to Safeway during lunch to buy a cucumber and a red pepper. I love cucumbers and red peppers, and even like to eat them raw with no dressing or even salt. Mmmmm. As I returned to work and walked towards the building to go back to my office and eat, pleased that I had chosen such a healthy lunch today, a thought occurred to me. “Take every choice captive to Christ.”
That thought applied not only to my choice of what to eat, but also to my choice to take the stairs up to my third floor office even though I was tempted to take the elevator. I realized that this was the key to changing habits and eating healthier. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth:
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
The wisdom of this verse applies to the choices we make each day as well as the thoughts we allow to take root in our head. The world wages war against obesity with diet drugs, fad diets, liposuction, and other quick fix ideas. But the truth is that the only way to lose weight or to maintain a healthy weight is to eat a healthy diet in which the calories you consume are less than the calories you expend in your daily activities.
Some of what I have come to think of as my favorite foods are just not that low in calories or at all healthy, like cookies, chocolate, and ice cream. When I eat them I tend to have a bit of food amnesia about the last time I ate something not good for me. But each time I am hungry I have a choice to make about what I eat. And in reality, some of the foods I really love, like cucumbers and red peppers, are very healthy and make a great snack choice. If I take every choice captive to Christ’s leading, if I put the Holy Spirit in control of my choices, then I can by His divine power demolish the strongholds in my mind that say only cookies, chocolate, and ice cream are really yummy and satisfying to eat.
Today I have applied this principle to eating habits, but it could be applied to any of the choices we make each day. The choice of whether to speak or hold our tongue, of whether to watch TV or talk with our kids, or any number of other choices we might face. If we ask Jesus to guide us in our choices and take the time to listen to His counsel and wisdom, then we can take each choice captive to Christ.
It is overwhelming to think of wholesale changing the way we act and think, but if we approach it one choice at a time it’s much easier to manage. The principle is similar to breaking down a large project at school or work into smaller parts and tackling one at a time. It might be overwhelming or seem futile to think of writing a 300 page book, but if you break it down into one paragraph or one chapter at a time, the task become manageable. In the same way, it is overwhelming to me to think of completely changing the way I eat, but if I make a change one meal or snack at a time, and ask God to help me with each little choice, then what seems impossible can become a reality.
Do you have some aspect of your life you would like to change, some habit you would like to break? Just take it one little choice at a time and take each choice captive to Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Before you know it, a new healthier and more godly habit will take its place.