Wanted to share this photo with you. It is a photo of a dollar bill in a tea cup that serves as a gentle reminder that I ate last night when I wasn’t hungry. If that sounds a little strange, let me explain. Putting a dollar bill in a tea cup is my way of reminding myself that I overate last night. It’s not as painful as a slap on the wrist but it is more powerful, to me. All in all, the extra meal is no big deal. I am not beating myself up over it. I don’t hate myself. I am not even close to giving up on my mission to feeling better. But George just sits there, seemingly watching me each time I pass him by. He wants to be back in my pocket which can only happen, according to my self-imposed rule, if I do a 30 minute exercise (walk, treadmill, weights, or something) that is not part of my regular regimen.

I call it the “experiment”, and named that due to my small imagination. The idea is that many times when we eat, we don’t need to and we shouldn’t. Like your grandma used to say, “eat if you’re hungry.” Well, I found myself eating when I wasn’t hungry. The result of not waiting until our bodies tell us to eat is that we spend more on food, more on clothing, and we force our bodies to work extra to process the extra caloric intake. Another result of my overeating was weight gain. Hey, you can’t load the UHaul and think it won’t be heavier. The body is made wonderfully by God to store fat so that in lean times we have food stores to draw from. But unless I’m expecting a famine, there is no good reason for building up the storage. And if I do expect a famine, food can be stored on shelves outside of the body. So the idea is to eat when hungry. Eat when your body is saying it needs food. And don’t starve and do yourself harm.

So why are we eating? Because the commercial said to. Because our fleshly eyes tell us to. Because we are bored and eating is a way to fill the time. Because we LOVE eating. These are not good reasons to eat. It just seems that we ought to be listening to and obeying something else. Someone says, “But I get a headache if I let myself get hungry.” So eat and don’t wait so long to satisfy a real need. Someone else says, “But I have diabetes and going hungry can cause my sugar level to go haywire.” Fine, listen to your body. Eat when you need to. Don’t get yourself sick. If that little meter is telling you your sugar is too low, eat. BUT don’t eat if the body isn’t saying to. That’s the point.

The right focus requires prayer and trust in God. Many people have lost (or never learned) the ability to make such a correction by returning to “center” (the happy place where we eat healthily, when we need to). So without help, and wisdom, and prayer, a person could overcompensate and go careening off into another problem. At first, to correct this eating behavior might not seem intuitive. Without keeping our focus on walking with God and serving God, our attention could turn to people: what are they thinking, what are they expecting of me, do they like me, am I attractive? A person who tries to correct his eating behavior might overcompensate and thereby create a whole new problem – things like vanity, bulimia, or worse. So too, as in all things in life, in this matter proceed with prayer and drawing near to God.

One more thing. Don’t think for moment that this is a treatise against fat people. Every Christian I know has a shortcoming. Some of them are less visible, but just as much a problem. One of the greatest servants for the Lord I have ever known was a preacher in Kansas who had the most loving and giving spirit I have encountered. He would give you a hug and you knew that you were loved. And he was giving of his time and was a faithful preacher of the Word. When he collapsed from a heart attack, it was very sad. George is gone but he was a man of God. George had a rather large belly, but it didn’t stop him from serving the Lord. It didn’t stop him from loving people and helping them in their troubles. I have known a number of Christians who were or are overweight. They do not let that get in their way of being what a Christian is supposed to be.

If you do eat when you are not hungry, no one is going to tell you about it. But you can tell yourself you owe the tea cup a dollar. And George will give you an occasional glance and a smile. Him sitting there will remind you what you need to do.

God bless you in your walk with God. Skinny, fat, or in between, we must serve the Lord!

Dan Mayfield

Categories: eating, self-control

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