Thomas Jefferson once said, “We never repent for having eaten too little.” How this quote strikes at the very heart of our glutinous culture. We live in a country where we have been blessed with abundance. Everywhere you turn there is surplus. This is further highlighted when placed in the backdrop of the rest of the world. The vast majority of the population in the United States is hundreds, if not thousands, of times wealthier than a major portion of the rest of the world’s inhabitance. We have much. We consume much.
How, then, should we respond as believers? How should we handle the fact that we live in a culture that is submerged in excess? We have access to food 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. What our society lacks, however, is thoughtfully displayed discipline by a community not driven by any other motive but love. How, then, are we to live?
Portion control, the kind of “food” we eat, and when and where we eat are just a few examples of where an increase in personal discipline would benefit us all. Christians are called to be keenly aware of the problems of society and are to live such lives that practically demonstrate a better way.
Consider the Israelites during their journey through the desert. In Exodus 16, a beautiful story unfolds about God’s relationship with his chosen people. This story is emphatically and undoubtedly about God’s provision for His people. Without such provision the people would have surely perished in the desert.
Morning and night God provided food for the Israelites, bread in the morning and quail in the evening. These provisions, however, did not come without specific instruction on how to gather the food, how much to gather, and how much to eat. The amount of food that was to be gathered was based on the needs of each individual. When some in the camp did not follow these commands the food spoiled and was no longer fit for consumption.
This is where our conversation picks up. As I read through the saga again I began to think about the wisdom behind these commands. The thoughts that kept nagging at me surrounded the idea of one’s need. Not only was God making sure the Israelites were completely and utterly dependant on his provision, but they also had their needs met – no more, no less. They were commanded to receive exactly what they required according to each individual need.
My fear is that we don’t have any idea of what our food consumption needs are. This proves true if you simply take a look around at our population. The obesity epidemic is higher than ever before and spiraling out of control. Our children are being tested for hypertension, high cholesterol, and other health issues that can be linked with obesity. We have a responsibility to ourselves, the future generations, and those who daily go hungry to begin to understand what our food consumption needs are in order to discipline ourselves to those levels.
This, after all, is living counter-culturally. Our society consumes – it is wasteful, and it is paying the price in healthcare costs and shortened lives. Something has to change and, in my opinion, the keys to cultural change are held in the hands of those who call themselves followers of Christ. Changing the current culture is in our new-birth DNA. It always has been and it always will be.
Where shall we begin? We must first look at ourselves and our families. Allow me to offer a few suggestions to begin taking steps towards changing ourselves.
3 Practical Ways to Demonstrate A Difference:
First, drink water. Replace any sugary, caffeinated drinks with pure water. A simple rule of thumb for your individual need for water is this: take your body weight, divide it by two, and the total equals your base amount of water (in ounces) that should be consumed daily.
Next, fill your day with plenty of vegetables and some fruit. I’m sure I don’t need to lecture anyone about the nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce is the best source for required vitamins and minerals that one can find. Furthermore, your body knows how to digest fresh foods (more on this later), how to use the nutrients to their maximum potential, and will help you feel fuller longer.
Finally, we are a privileged society and can afford to eat meat, if we so choose. Portion control is important here. Our bodies were not designed to consume massive amounts of meat in a single sitting. No doubt you’ve heard of the 4-6 ounce rule as a proper way to determine the appropriate size piece of meat, but who’s going to pull out a kitchen scale to figure it out every time you have a steak? So here’s another rule of thumb: if your piece of meat is the same size as the palm of your hand (thickness and diameter), it’s the correct size for you.
One final thought. Remember that lifestyle changes must happen slowly and consistently. Always add new things before cutting out old habits. And most importantly, stay positive. Cultural change will only happen if we change ourselves first.