On Baking Bread, Part One

Jun 8th, 2011 by Birdie in Faith, Life, Musings, The Past

This last year has been a year of illness for me. I had my barely functioning gallbladder out in late February after living with terrible pain every day starting in August, and I had hoped that would solve the intestinal upset and other odd aches and pains that plagued me, too. Now, three months later, the pain from that organ is gone, but the almost daily intestinal pain, mouth sores, muscle and joint aches, and other unmentionable issues didn’t go away.

So, a few weeks ago, in a desperate bid to feel healthy again after close to a year of feeling sick, I started paying close attention to what I ate and what seemed to trigger those responses in my body. The culprit? Bread. Or, well, gluten to be precise.

Gluten is in wheat, barley, and rye. Wheat is in the majority of packaged food items on the market. So, just about everything out there contains gluten. This makes it very, very difficult to cut it out of your diet, especially when your family loves bread and pasta and they make up the staples in most meals.

Also, I love bread. And I love eating. Having to cut out gluten has made it hard for me to eat almost all of the things I love.

And, therein lies lesson number one.

Idols and Obsessions

Since about the middle of high school, when I really started to have serious issues with my depression and when I really started to pull away from God entirely, I started to eat. I no longer only ate when I was hungry or in need of energy, I ate all the time. I started to look at food like the panacea for all of my spiritual and emotional wounds. If I was stressed, I ate. If I was sad, I ate. If I was angry, I ate. If I was hurt or scared or lonely or overwhelmed or feeling directionless, I ate. And if I was happy, I ate, too.

When I left for college, that didn’t change. I had already made the damaging habits, and I was caught in a vicious cycle that I didn’t know how to break: happy, eat; depressed, eat; social events, eat; alone, eat. Eat, eat, eat. Even when I found my way back into the fold of the church and started to live out the faith I had always wanted, I ate. Food drove me. I thought about it all the time, and I was damaging myself as a result.

I gained a disgusting amount of weight. I hated the way I looked, and I was totally appalled at my inability to care enough to change. My life revolved around food.

It has taken a developing gluten sensitivity to realize that food has been my idol for seven years. Food has been the center of my life when only God is deserving of such a place. So, He gave me the choice to make room for Him.

I don’t look at this as punishment, not at all. God wants His children to be healthy and happy, and my love of food was destroying any and all chances I had of that. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I wanted to shower with my eyes closed. I wanted nothing to do with my body. And, my weight was extremely unhealthy.

I feel that God has broken the bonds that my food obsession had on me, and in doing so, He has put before me the opportunity to become healthy again, to eat better and to develop a much healthier relationship with my food. Food sustains my body, and it’s okay to take some small pleasure in it. But if food is the center of my universe, my spirit and my soul waste away. I need food to survive, but I need God at the center of my life to live.

In just the few short weeks since I cut gluten out of my diet, I feel healthier. I’m eating better, and I’m eating more fruits and vegetables and lean meats. I’ve been forced to cut 90% of the junk food out of my diet because it contains gluten, and so I have started to lose some of this extra weight. And finally, God is where he belongs: right smack-dab in the middle of my heart.

Read Part Two.

A quick aside: I want to be clear that I’m advocating a healthy relationship with food here, not getting rid of it entirely. I tried to make that clear, but I feel like I might need this aside just in case. I am also not advocating a gluten free diet as a way to lose weight. It is a serious undertaking, and while I know there are current fads that say that everyone should cut out gluten and that it’s a good way to lose weight, that isn’t what I’m saying here. I am gluten free because, in order to be healthy, I need to be. My weight loss only has anything to do with cutting out gluten because I can’t afford all of the GF junk foods they sell, and because it’s given me a new awareness of what is in the food I put in my body as well as a new awareness of how much I need to eat to be satisfied and not over full.

3 Comments

  • Yayyyyyyy! This gets me very excited for you. I have no idea what God is preparing you for, but I have a feeling He has a plan that He is slowly revealing. Its funny how He sometimes has to force us to take the hard way (usually because we have ignored all the urgings when it could have been easier), and I’m glad you can see that He is using your health in this way. Our joy can only be fulfilled when God is the center of our lives and we do everything to glorify Him. We are happiest when God is most glorified. So cooking and grocery shopping may be more difficult, but because God has forcefully ripped you from your idol of food, you have a chance at true happiness. Isn’t it wonderful how God fights for us like that? He does everything He has to to to win our hearts for Himself and in turn give us the joy and fulfillment we long so desperately for! I love you, and it excites me to see you seeking God as wholeheartedly as you are. I’ll be praying for you, that you hold on to God even when the excitement begins to fade from this newest revelation, that when you don’t feel Him close you will long deeply for Him so that He can fill you, and that you only grow stronger in your faith and don’t fall back to apathy. I’m so proud of you!

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