Monday, February 24, 2014

the idol of comfort {food}

This is the second post in a series of posts on the topic of "comfort" and how it can easily become an idol in your life. To read the first post in this series, the idol of comfort, click here

This morning my devotional read: 

“A Christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abundant, effective, spirit-filled life God planned for him.”

I’ve had an unhealthy relationship with food for at least four years now. Before that I played basketball for several hours a day and didn’t really think about what I was eating. It wasn’t necessarily “healthy” food but it didn’t consume my thoughts more than the ten seconds it took to order.

Then there was the freshman fifteen and the sophomore thirty, and before I knew it I was thinking about food all the time. I thought about when I was going to eat, how much I was going to eat, what I was going to eat, who I was going to eat with, what they would eat, what they would think about what I was eating, how fast I was going to eat... It was unhealthy – and I’m not talking about the food.

But my attitude toward food was and - in many ways still is - holding me captive and preventing me from the abundant life God has planned for me.

Last week I said that when the storms of life thrash at our front door, we tend to run straight toward our idols. Well, needless to say, when the storms of life thrash at my front door, I usually run straight for a bowl of chocolate cookie dough ice cream. When things get hard, my first response isn’t to run to God, it’s to run toward a plate full of french fries.

The funny thing about idols is that they are normally good things – good things that we start to desire more than God. So, I’m definitely not saying that ice cream and french fries are bad for your spiritual life, but I am saying that my attitude towards ice cream and french fries is bad for my spiritual life.

For several weeks I have been considering doing the Whole30 cleanse – going 30 days without grains, legumes, dairy or sugar. I have watched Robyn and her husband reap the benefits, and I’ve received a lot of encouragement from Beth to give it a try.

After doing an extensive amount of reading online as well as the book It Starts With Food, I’ve decided this is exactly what I need for several reasons.

#1 I don’t want to do it. I think this is probably the biggest indicator for me. I don’t want to give up bread and yogurt and certainly not chocolate. But, why not? Do I really need these foods? Why am I clinging to them so tightly? Through this thirty day fast, I’ll have a chance to let go to my comfort foods and depend more on God for fulfillment and reward.

#2 It’s outside of my comfort zone. I’ve gotten pretty good at this meal planning thing. I have my go-to recipes and I rarely spend more than thirty minutes prepping a meal. This cleanse is definitely going to disrupt my “comfortable” schedule, giving me another reason to cling tighter to God to supply my energy and meet my needs.

#3 They get it. The people who created the Whole30 diet understand the unhealthy, emotional attachments we have to food. According to their book, there’s a whole lot of science that goes into why dieting always fails and why we keep coming back for more comfort food. But, they have lots of rules {like no paleofying desserts} because they want you to do more than deprive yourself of certain ingredients. They want you to change the way you think {and feel} about food.

All this to say, I started my Whole30 cleanse today. But I’m thinking of it more as a fast than a cleanse or a diet. My desire for the next month is to replace my over-desire for comfortable food with a powerful desire for God.

From everything I have read, it’s going to be incredibly tough – and you may find a cranky post or two over here at Wonderfully Complex – but in the end it will be incredibly worth it. I’m excited about the health benefits – both spiritually and physically – and ask that you keep me in your prayers.

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him.”

~Psalm 62:5-8

Have you tried the Whole30 cleanse? Any tips or advice?


  1. i am so proud of you, Jenny!!! i can't wait to read about your process going through this!! if you need any suggestions or encouragement along the way feel free to email me!!!

    i had a problem of obsessing over food as well... i seriously would start the day thinking about what we were having for dinner. and i'd think about food all day. whole 30 has helped me to break that emotional attachment to food! i'm sure it will still be a struggle, but this program helped a lot! it's so freeing to realize that, you know what, i really don't NEED food like i thought i did. i NEED God more!

  2. Good for you for doing this!! I've never heard of the Whole 30 diet until now, but I'm curious to hear how you like it. I like how you said that idols are good things that we tend to want more than God. This is so true for so many things for me!

  3. I really like your reasoning behind why you're going to do this. And what an eye opener--to realize that you were running to unhealthy food instead of running straight for God in the sad and bad times. It sounds like you're making exactly the choice you know you should be making right now--good for you, doing the brave thing instead of the easy thing!

  4. I could never do it. I've drastically changed my eating habits as it is but I don't think I'd survive 24 hrs on ANY kind of cleanse, hahaha!

  5. You go girl :) I'll be praying for you!!!

  6. I'm on day #2 - and my body's response has been really interesting. My mouth tastes like it does when I fast and don't eat any food at all. And, really, it is a fast - giving up something so I can draw closer to God. Thanks for your encouragement and for sending me all those yummy recipes!

  7. Thanks - I've been reading a lot about it {and still am}. But the book "It Starts With Food" is what really convinced me to do it. It's only day 2, but my body is already revolting from its lack of sugar. It's incredible not only what emotional ties with food we have, but also the biological ties. I'm really going to have to depend on God for this one.

  8. Thank you - I don't feel very brave right now, but I'm still convinced that it's what I need to do. It's only Day #2, but when I wrote this post I had no idea how strong my attachment was to certain foods. It's extremely eye-opening.

  9. Ha, I'm sure you could do it if you had to. But, I definitely realize this isn't for everyone. I've never done a cleanse before, so this has been a real shock to my body already. I was pretty much ready to give up about 5 yesterday.

  10. Thanks, Esther! I need all the prayers I can get - this has been way tougher than I thought it would be.