I wrote last week about a book my sister-in-law Pam gave me called Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC by Frederick Buechner. It’s a little dictionary of sorts in which Buechner looks at various words from a Christian perspective. As I’ve been reading through I’ve noted some of the definitions that interested me or made me think with an eye towards eventually writing a blog post on one or more of them.
Buechner defines Gluttony as follows: “A glutton is one who raids the icebox for a cure for spiritual malnutrition.” Wishful Thinking, pg. 35.
I think this is a very apt definition. I know that for years I have eaten, especially unhealthy foods like chips and candy, when I am bored, stressed, or angry. In each of these instances, I had a spiritual problem that I was trying to fix with food. Or I was just trying to ignore the spiritual problem and hoped that eating would make me feel better. It seldom did.
Even though I was often aware of what I was doing, my efforts to stop this behavior were generally unsuccessful. I knew that what I really needed to do when boredom, stress, or anger plagued me was to stop and talk to God about it, and to seek His help for my spiritual struggle.
But I think eating unhealthy food often can cloud one’s judgment, leading to more of the same.
But recently I discovered, thanks to my doctor, that I am allergic to dairy and quite sensitive to wheat products. I have had to give up both and the positive effects on my physical health have been awesome. Now that I feel better in general, it is easier to think more clearly when boredom or stress elicit a desire to eat junk food when I am not hungry. It has changed my outlook on food in general. My mind is clearer and it is easier to remember where the source of my strength to overcome boredom and stress lies, and that is with my Savior.
Just today I had placed in front of me a number of sweet treats that in the past I would have eaten out of boredom and habit. But I was able to resist them all, thanks to the self-control of the Holy Spirit.
I confess that when I am upset or angry I can still be found eating right out of a family sized bag of potato chips, but I have at least dealt with the boredom and stress issue. I am, after all, still a work in process and I am “confident of this, that he who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 (NIV).