Discipline Through Dieting

Originally posted on Faith Tech Life

Dieting… Man I hate that word. A friend of mine asked me, “How is your diet going?” a few weeks back and I quickly responded, “I’m not dieting, I’m just watching portion sizes.” He quickly, being funny, posted the definition of the word diet which revealed it is what we eat.

Diet has been a swear word for me. I hate diets. The reason I hate them is because I have watched person after person fail as they chase after some new fad, or trick to lose weight. It almost always turns out to be the same thing for everyone who diets. Cut carbohydrates, cut protein, cut sugar, cut fat, the paleo diet, wait watchers, and any other diets on the market, all seem to be set up for two things: 1. To sell books, and 2. To fail.

There are success stories in every “diet,” but eventually almost all of them fail. Even the surgeries to shrink stomachs and force a person to eat less food, seem to ultimately end up failing more often than not. The person who has the surgery, eventually stretches their stomach back out and slowly eats more, and more, and more.

I believe the reason they fail is because they are virtually all focused on one thing: weight. They are focused on getting from the current weight, to a lower value. But what happens after that? The person stops dieting and returns to eating like normal. The result? A cycle of lose, gain, lose, gain, that continues in a way that almost always leaves a person gaining back more than they lost, resulting in a higher weight, and unhealthier life than they had before.

As a Christian I understand gluttony is a sin. When all of the controversy over same-sex marriage was going on, and many preachers were talking about sexual sin, I often asked, “Why are you so focused on this one sin?” At the time same-sex attraction affected less than an estimated 10% of people in the whole country. “With almost 70% of Americans being overweight, why do you never speak of the sin of gluttony?” There are fat people everywhere and we never hear a word said about it. Gluttony has become an accepted sin.

The response? “Gluttony in the Bible isn’t about being overweight!”

Seriously? That’s like claiming that adultery, and sexual sin in the Bible isn’t talking about pregnancy while you’re carrying around a baby out of wedlock. Like the out-of-wedlock mother, the overweight individual carries their sin out in the open for everyone to see, and that sin is NOT being overweight, the actual sin is what causes the average person to be overweight. Gluttony. A lack of self control. Little to no discipline.

“Gluttony doesn’t mean that” is an argument expressed by the overweight person, and it’s a silly argument. Generally speaking the unmarried mother didn’t get pregnant without being in some sort of sin, a dog doesn’t get wet without being in water, and the fat person didn’t get fat without overeating.

“But I just don’t get enough exercise, it’s not really about how much I eat!”

Oh, I have that same problem! That makes us fat and lazy. Hint: That isn’t better.

A simple search through scripture for words like: Discipline, self-discipline, self-control, and gluttony will reveal a whole ton of information about the topic. The argument, “It’s not about being fat” while ridiculous, is actually true. It’s not about being fat, it’s about not having self control. It’s about not being able to discipline yourself. It’s about greed, It’s about your stomach being your God!

It’s the same thing with you’re spending habits — perhaps a topic to be covered in another post. We love to satisfy the flesh in every way. To do so, has become a completely acceptable way of life to American’s. In fact, it’s ruthlessly defended as a right or another freedom in Christ.

I’ve heard many times about how the overweight person really isn’t “controlled by food.” Yet I’ve never met one who isn’t crabby, short fused, or poorly behaved when they are really hungry. The defensiveness of everyone who defends this sin makes their own idol obvious.

We, as believers, are exhorted to be controlled by nothing, and to discipline the flesh. This is why simply “dieting” is not enough. Dieting is about weight, but what I need is a change of life that includes an honest evaluation of my priorities. Weight loss is no doubt fun to track as I lose pounds, and it encourages me that I’m moving the right direction in this area, but the end goal of the whole process should not be to reach 170lbs, the goal should be, and for me is, to learn to live a life that honors, and glorifies God, in my life, through the way I live. To not be wrapped up in this addictive sin of self-indulgence.

Cutting carbohydrates, or protein, or following some other diet long enough to lose some weight is only a bandage for this sin, not a fix. Learning to live a totally new, disciplined lifestyle that puts God and his commands first, now that’s a fix. A fix which can be applied in many other areas of life. Discipline in eating, spending, anger, speech, and sexual purity are all equally important. We absolutely can not earn our salvation, but if we have salvation, we will have a heart which presses us to obey what God’s word teaches.

I have been working on my own dietary changes for about 40 days. My wife started just 13 days ago. In the last 30 days our grocery bill has dropped by almost $200.00. The grocery bill didn’t go up with special diet foods or fat free, over-priced garbage that is low in this element or that element. Instead the bill dropped as we focused on balanced meal choices and non-gluttonous portion sizes.

It took a ton of discipline to make it through the first few weeks as my body adjusted to a reasonable amount of food, and I rejected the relentless urges to eat despite being constantly hungry. As my bodies adjusted, and I learned to eat like I needed, rather than like the average American, my hunger subsided, and the weight started to come off. I eat almost all the same things I’ve always eaten, I just eat a more reasonable amount of them.

An unexpected side effect to being hungry is that I’ve come to have more empathy for those who go without. As I look(ed) at my available calories for the day, knowing that I can’t eat until meal time, or I risk eating too much, I have found myself thanking God that I have to work hard to resist temptation. I, almost without fail, give thanks to God before eating, but for me, thanking him for the need to refrain from eating has become a new prayer.

How wonderful it is to be born in a world where our greatest struggle is a disciplining of the flesh. We, American’s, have won the blessing lottery you might say. We take it for granted, argue about our rights to use and abuse it, while someplace a mother has to choose which child will get food this night. Do you ever think about that? Because before I stopped living controlled by my stomach, I didn’t think of it near enough.

Today in our country, there are people who will dig through garbage cans for food scraps while I struggle against the desire to devour my cupboard. These people were not on my mind near enough two and three months ago. We take time to argue about organic verses non-organic, this farmer or that farmer, pork or beef, this store or that store. We will pay double what we need to for food, whether it be to eat “better food” or eat double what we need, while other men, women, and children in our country will dig through garbage cans for food. What does that say?

It is my hope to make no changes to my food budget, but to take the money in which we are saving through our learned discipline and obedience and feed others with it. God has made it clear to me that if I would stop focusing so much on satisfying myself, if I would spend time learning to live as I should in this area, rather than as a rich man, that I can do more for others. While I hate the term dieting, through it, I am learning discipline.

NOTICE: Opinions are not facts to anyone other than the opinion holder. As a result opinions you find here are subject to the same winds of change as the evolution theory, age of the earth, and political promises.

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