Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Feasting, Fasting, & Body Image

Yesterday, I mentioned that we consumed enormous amounts of food and desserts on our vacation. Here's the dessert list if you missed it:
  • Peach cobbler with ice cream
  • 2 (TWO) nights of homemade peach ice cream
  • 3 dozen chocolate chip cookies
  • 2 pound cakes
  • 1 chocolate bundt cake 
  • smores
  • Chocolate Passion Bowl
  • 2 dozen Krispy Kreme donuts
  • 1 loaf of cranberry bread
(My mom & sister-in-love pointed out that I forgot to mention the 2 loafs of banana bread, turtle cheesecake, and rice crispy treats that we also enjoyed!)

I realize that food issues are a major area of struggle for so many women (and men too), regardless of age, size, or how "in shape" they are/are not. I think there are two unhealthy ditches that we tend to fall into.

Ditch #1:
Some of us just let ourselves go...always feasting and enjoying every bite of it. We throw moderation to the wind while we feed our hungry bellies (and perhaps our hungry souls) with the richest of foods. We may do this publicly or sneak it in private. But we like to feast and life is one big all-you-can-eat buffet.

Ditch #2:
Others of us can never seem to enjoy a single bite we put in our mouth. We count every calorie, measure out every portion, and feel overwhelmingly guilty if we "sneak" a little dessert. We deprive ourselves, abstain from our favorite things, and often find ourselves judging those without the same level of willpower that we possess.

The funny sad thing is that women on both ends of the spectrum are often suffocating under low self-esteem and poor body image. They'd like it very much if there was some type of exchange policy or refund they could cash in to get a new body all together. Taller, shorter, thinner, more curves, etc... Such a defeating and miserable place to live.

I'd like to propose a third option that I think is both Biblical and life-giving. This approach to food includes both elements of feasting and fasting without the guilt. It actually enables you to fully enjoy food for the gift that it was intended by God to be.

The majority of our lives should be lived with a healthy awareness of what we eat. I don't count calories (although Andy often does), but I eat healthy most of the time. There are many nights after a healthy dinner that I feel a little hungry an hour or two later. Sometimes I'll eat a light snack and sometimes I allow myself to just be a little hungry. We don't typically eat desserts during the week and I don't even keep desserts in our house (lest we would eat them!).

However, on Friday nights for date night, I will eat whatever I want. On family vacation I will indulge in ridiculous amounts of dessert. And at Christmas time, there's no holding back when it comes to enjoying the tastes of the season!

Because the feasting times are special and time-bound, it makes them all the more enjoyable. I don't feast every day. If I did, I wouldn't know how to truly appreciate the times of feasting when they come. I also don't try to count calories when the times of feasting arrive. I feast, and then I pull back.

So why don't we all attempt to climb out of whatever ditch we tend to fall into, and meet each other in the middle of the road to enjoy life, food, and the bodies God gave us.

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