For many, avoiding certain foods is a matter of staying well versus becoming ill. If you have celiac disease and eat foods containing wheat gluten, you will likely experience intestinal cramping, bloating, and/or vomiting. If you are allergic to peanuts, eating a food with only a tiny amount of peanut in it can cause anything from a small rash to anaphylactic shock. If you have diabetes, even though you may not feel the effects immediately, repeatedly raising your blood sugar by eating sugary or starchy foods can result in peripheral neuropathy and blindness. Even if you have only a mild allergy to certain foods – such as my allergy to foods containing citric acid – eating such foods brings discomfort by affecting the mouth, gastro-intestinal tract, and/or skin. In light of my allergy, I almost never eat citrus fruits – or if I do eat them, I do so with an awareness of the consequences I will likely suffer.
It is reasonable, when considering your health and wellbeing, to take into consideration your own diseases and studies that link certain foods to a higher incidence of heart attacks or cancer. But women who struggle with overeating need to beware. Ladies, don’t kid yourself – don’t tell yourself you are creating food rules for the sake of your health when you’re really just cutting out certain foods in the hope that you’ll lose weight.
Almost anyone can lose weight – at least for a while – by restricting the amount of food she eats, but as a long-term solution to overeating, restricting your diet with self-imposed (or program-imposed) food rules will ultimately backfire, especially for Christians, because that is not the way God designed for us to live as “new creations in Christ.”
Yes, we are naturally designed to care for our own bodies (Eph. 5:29; Prov. 27:7), so acknowledging that certain foods either lead to feeling unwell or to negative health consequences, is also natural. But, relating to food according to food rules, such as “Thou shall not eat refined sugar” or “Thou shall not eat wheat gluten” because you believe these rules will assist you in conforming to the world’s standard of thinness will do to you exactly what the law, “Thou shall not covet,” did to Paul – arouse the desire to do what is forbidden. (See Rom. 7:7-8.)
Be honest with yourself about why you are following the food rules you’ve adopted. Ask God to show you whether certain food restrictions are truly wise in light of your health or whether you are attempting to do in your own strength what God has already equipped you to do in His Spirit; that is, relate to food in a self-controlled manner. (See Gal. 5:16, 22-23 and Tit. 2:11-12.)