What is God’s Plan for our Health?
When you read Genesis, "the beginning", it’s pretty clear that our lives now are little like God’s original intent for humanity’s existence. We were vegetarians (Gen. 1:29), without bodily shame, without toil of labor to grow our food (Gen. 3:17), and with very few restrictions other than "don’t eat the apple." With that first sinful bite of food, Adam and Eve sent humanity into a tailspin of improper eating and resulting consequences throughout history.
Much of our health is based on what we eat (probably a bit on sleep, too, but don’t tell my body that). The brain and the gut talk to one another, the status of each affecting the other. Some say we have a second brain in our guts. Hard to believe? Consider stress-induced "butterflies" and how poor nutrition, especially lots of sugar, can impact mental acuity and cause hyperactivity. Studying God’s plan for our health comes back around to what we eat.
Can eating be a spiritual endeavor? Consider:
- The first temptation, although that of pride, used food as a vehicle to accomplish the first sin.
- Food is immediately in the spotlight again when Cain and Abel bring tithes to the Lord of different qualities.
- God’s mercy is demonstrated through the miraculous manna and quail in the dessert. The people are fed, but they don’t even realize that they still need to be fed (spiritually).
- Christ often ate with his followers, regularly sharing key teachings with them over a meal, including the Last Supper and the giving of His Body and Blood.
- After the Resurrection, Christ revealed Himself to His friends a number of times over a meal: in Emmaus, when He first appeared in the Upper Room (He asked to eat), and when He cooked fish for Peter, John and the others on the seashore.
- The early Christians met for the "breaking of the bread" in their homes.
The Many Sides of Eating
Eating is also not something that humans do in isolation, neither physically nor figuratively. Eating is an important form of community, and some theorize that it is just that, the community aspect of meal time, that makes eaters either healthy or unhealthy.
Folks in the scientific world have dubbed the superior health of the French people, in spite of their diet heavy in saturated fat and white flour, the "French paradox". There are as many theories about the answer to that paradox as there are people trying to figure it out, but one possibility is that the French eat slowly, with friends and family, and not to excess. The French do not say, "I am full," but rather, "I have no more hunger." When we Americans are expected to eat until we are full, perhaps we’re destining ourselves to obesity!
Eating is an input/output system in more ways than one. Not only is our health dependent on appropriate food input and effective output, but the very act of eating food has such an impact on our community and environmental health. Like a stone tossed into a still pond, each action we choose has an effect on everyone around us, even people we’ll never know. The plastic bottle I drink from today may impact my fertility 10 years from now and Susie Q’s cancer rate 100 years from now.
How do you view your faith and your food? Are they connected?
In the last of this three-part series, I'll discuss animal and soil health, the high cost of cheap food, and medication.
Copyright 2010 Katie Kimball
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