The Key to an Abundant & Free Life

The Key to an Abundant & Free Life

Hi guys! Today I have the privilege of sharing a post from my friend and the founder of livinglikegolden, Sarah Johannesen. I asked Sarah to share her story with finding food and body freedom in Christ, and guys it’s so good— Enjoy!

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The Fruit of Self-Control & Eating

The other day a friend (and fellow dietitian) gave me the book, “The Weight of Grace” by Paula Neil Coleman. She told me that it was one of the only books she’s read that truly aligns with the principles of intuitive eating and God’s Word. After reading a few pages, I felt like I’d already pulled out a million nuggets of truth to share with you guys. But there was one thing the author said that really stuck out to me. She said that the discipline of dieting is not the same thing as self-control. Of course, I knew this in my heart, especially with all the intuitive eating work I do and research I’ve found to support it, but still, up until this time I was struggling to be able to explain the concept of self-control as it relates to our eating, in a grace fueled way. This post is my attempt to do just that, but likely not in the same way you've heard it before.

The Self-Control Conundrum

You see, for a lot of people, not being able to stick to a diet or clean eating regimen leaves us feeling like we have zero self-control. But if we truly believe God’s word, we know this can’t be the case. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God gave us a Spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control”. And again, in Galatians 5:22-23 Paul writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” The moment we believe in Jesus Christ for our righteousness, the bible says we are a new creation on the inside, filled with the Spirit of God, which among other things, gives us self-control.

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So why doesn’t this gift of self-control make us able to follow a diet plan?

Let’s look at the definition of the greek word “sōphronismou”, which is translated to self-control in 2 Timothey 1:7. According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon the word means an admonishing or calling to soundness of mind, to moderation and self-control. Likewise further translations of the verse use sound mind and wise discretion in place of self-control.

Soundness of Mind & Intuitive Eating

Soundness of mind legally means to have the capacity to think, reason, and understand for oneself. Every person has inside of them a consciousness or intuition which allows them to do these things. Yet as Christians, we are told that we have a supernatural ability from the Holy Spirit to think, reason and understand for ourselves things that are not understood by the rest of the world, “for we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16”). So understand this: obsessing over a diet / rules for eating that come from outside ourselves and outside God’s word is not an expression of soundness of mind or wise discretion, it’s simply following the world’s rules in attempt to get something we already have through Christ, whether it’s health and healing, validation, worth or love.

On the contrary, when don't look to the world for answers but to the Holy Spirit within us who has the ability to overwhelmingly shape our intuition and who gives us “wise-discretion”, we are able to make nourishing decisions for food that will meet our own individual needs. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure,” (Philippians 2:13). Listening to him and to the physical cues he’s designed in our bodies when it comes to what and how much to eat will lead only to good.

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Our natural inclination is to nourish our bodies, not harm them through overeating or eating so called “bad for us” foods. Yet most people are convinced that if left to follow their own intuition they would continually cause harm to their health. The truth is you can trust your body and the spirit within to guide your eating. “For no one hates his own body, but feeds it and cares for it,” (Ephesians 5:29). Self-control then is just the power to choose what is best for us, to say no to sinful/harmful things. But my friend, feeding your body is NOT sinful, and breaking somebody else’s diet rules isn’t a lack of self-control. The word of God does not condemn you for eating any food and neither should you. The new testament makes clear that all things created by God are good and nothing is to be rejected if received with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:4).

Maybe it’s a harmful mindset on food, a lack of understanding of our true value and worth in Christ, or an incomplete knowledge of His love for us that drives us to diet or worry about eating a certain way. In any case dieting is not what we need, so why would we expect God’s spirit of self-control to help us with dieting, when it just might be a path to destruction?

While I agree that overeating any food can be harmful, I believe that if we will stop following food laws & worrying over what to eat and instead listen to our intuition, to the Spirit’s leading, we’ll leave space for knowing when to eat and when to stop. We’ll listen and understand when our hunger is physical or emotional and how best to satisfy it.

Transformation comes with new thoughts

It’s time to have a NEW THOUGHT about feeding and caring for our bodies. One that is rooted in truth and not the patterns of the world. New thoughts come through hearing the truth of the Word of God. Transformation comes from believing the truth and putting it into practice.

If you’ve felt out of control, guilty, or ashamed about your eating and your body and you’re ready to find a new way of eating, one that nourishes both soul and body, one that’s rooted in the truth of God’s word, please join us for the grace-fueled eating e-course launching this Friday! The introductory course will only be available for the first 50 people. To reserve your spot, visit the e-course page and enter your email.

As always if you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. Until next time, happy fueling :) 

Radical Grace for Eating

This post is significant for me. It reflects a major paradigm shift in how I view food and nourishment. This transformation didn't happen over night, but rather over a half a year or more, and if you count my original journey with nutrition as a stepping stone, it really began 6 years ago.  That being said, I don't expect to completely change your beliefs around food and eating with one blog post, but hopefully I can start the 'wheels a turnin', as they say (but who's they any way?).

I don't think I've shied away from the fact that I am a christian, but in case you weren't aware before, now you are. This post is unabashedly bold/open concerning my religious beliefs and how they have transformed my views on eating and pretty much everything else. I understand not everyone believes the way I do, but if you are a Christian, definitely read on, because what I'm about to say is NOT the popular opinion when it comes to "biblical eating" books, teachings, etc.

If you aren't a christian, of course I'd love for you to read on. I'm hoping you'll see an entirely different side to christianity than the one you probably know now: a system of rules, judgement, guilt, religious activities, etc. I'm hoping you'll find something radically different, that you will find Radical grace.

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Merriam Webster defines radical as: favoring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions. Grace is defined as the unmerited, unearned, favor, love and kindness towards someone. 

I would argue that to give someone kindness, love, and favor that they don't deserve is a pretty radical thing; it's an extreme change to our existing practice. We're used to earning everything we have, especially in America. That's our value system - work hard, earn money; be kind, gain friends; do good for others and it will come back to you. Now maybe you know a hard working person who isn't kind, but when they get a good job or a promotion, you tell yourself, "well, at least they DO work hard" and you feel semi-okay about it. But what about people in our lives who we think are lazy, mean and selfish? Not many of us could truthfully say we hope that person gets a killer job, wins friends and favor at work, and receives regular promotions. 

This is why grace is so radical! God, who is perfect, had love for us even while we were underserving, so he sent his son Jesus to die on the cross as a punishment for our sins, rise from the dead to conquer death and condemnation, and redeem our imperfect lives. Now we have God's unearned love, kindness, and favor for our lives - if we will trust in Jesus's finished work for it.  Better yet, God promises this unearned favor, love and kindness will NEVER run out no matter what we do or don't do. Now that is radical.

But what does this have to do with eating, nutrition and my job as a registered dietitian? Well, everything. When I finally grasped that God's love and favor on my life were (and still are) real regardless of what I did or didn't do (and it's only really been revealed to me through experiences), I realized that this knowledge should and does change my perspective on everything. I began to understand how Good God is. So I thought, why not trust him with my passion, my career, and my everything else?

As a dietitian and a nutrition nerd, I used to get caught up in all the research, and the back and forth nutrition discussions rittled with "expert" opinions. I found myself getting whiplash from the ever evolving nutrition "theories" out there, all in the name of trying to help people "solve" their own nutrition/health puzzle. It's part of why I was attracted to nutrition in the first place, I love problem solving and the constant pursuit of knowledge. But after a while, when despite my best efforts, the people I loved and I myself continued to have "nutrition hang ups" (as I will call them), when all the knowledge in the world only led to confusion and a constant obsession with thinking about food, body image and exercise, I needed something new. I needed a form of understanding I could not get from any woman, man or institution - it had to be God.

So as any good millennial would, I googled things. I searched for: Christian nutrition, diet, health, etc., but nothing I read lined up with the loving, grace giving God I knew. Most articles talked about "honoring the temple" or "eating clean", some even suggested we go back to old testament food laws. The majority promoted a strict guideline of rules supplemented with prayer for "self-control".  This was all just more of the same, and something about these strict food rules didn't sit right with my soul or my experiences. 

So I did what I probably should have done in the first place - I prayed.  However, don't misconstrue that for a pious religious activity. It would be better to say that I complained to God.  He led me to...wait for it... the bible (via the bible hub website of course, but still, THE BIBLE). I looked at every verse concerning food, especially those in the New Testament. It was important for me to consider the New Testament with the Old Testament, because as Christians we follow the new covenant of grace. And God's covenant of grace is different than the covenant He made in the old testament, which centered around rules and absolute obedience. When I came across verses I didn't understand (and there were many), I asked God to make His word clear to me. Over time and still today He is revealing the truth to me. 

This is what I've found: I've found that NO food has the ability to make someone good or bad and that all that God created is good. Jesus himself said that nothing that enters a man defiles him, only that which comes out of him defiles him, thereby making all foods "clean" or lawful to eat. I read that later, God spoke to the apostle Peter and told him that nothing was to be considered impure that He has made clean (referring to all animals for eating). Further, the bible says nothing is to be rejected if received with thanksgiving. Therefore, food laws and regulations deeming some foods "good" or "clean" and some foods "bad" or "unclean" are NOT in line with God's Word and Jesus's sacrifice. { 1 Timothy 4:4, Matthew 15:11, Acts 10:10 - 15 }

I also found that while all things are lawful, not all things are beneficial, but God does not tell us WHAT is not beneficial, he leaves that to us to determine for ourselves. He says there is NO condemnation for those who rest in Jesus's finished work. This means the food you eat cannot bring judgement on you from God and should not cause you guilt. He also tells us to set our eyes on him, to set our thoughts on good things. This means taking food off the pedestal and making God the source of our nourishment. {1 Corinthians 10:23, Romans 8:1, Hebrews 12:2, Philippians 4:8}

But what about the verse that talks about "taking care of the temple of God" in reference to our bodies? Well, God does tell us to take care of our bodies, but first of all this verse is not even in reference to food (read it yourself if you're curious). Secondly, truly taking care of our body does NOT mean starving it or beating it to submission, as many in our culture are accustomed to doing. In fact, the apostle Paul writes that these things are of no use when it comes to becoming more like christ. {Colossians 2: 20 - 23}. No, taking care of our bodies would entail feeding them regularly and honoring the inner wisdom God gave us!

Finally, God promises that he will withhold no good thing from those who love him, so why would he withhold the enjoyment of good food, energizing movement and a healthy life (all good things) - he wouldn't!  {Psalm 84:11}

There is so much to unpack here, but I can't do it all in one post. In the future I hope to use this blog to touch on these principles from both a scientific and faith based perspective.  I've had a lot of "new thoughts" (to me) when it comes to nutrition and health, and I know they're going to help someone else, because they've already helped me. 

Stay tuned for part 2, where I will talk about how this has affected my eating specifically and the way I view nutrition counseling.  Until then, stay fueled :)