To the girl who struggles with feeling controlled by food, yet desperately desires a life of food freedom without the guilt, shame, or regret, my hope is that today’s post with 5 Bible verses for food freedom offers you a fresh perspective from a biblical lens. I believe the Lord cares deeply about our physical health, just as he does our spiritual.
I’ve had my own struggle with feeling controlled and enslaved by food and fitness. In college, I tried to find my worth, value, and identity in how I looked. This led me to over-exercising and under-eating in an effort to lose weight to “look better”. I desired the approval of others, plain and simple. What other people thought of me was top of mind…I was a puppet to the fear of man (rather than the reverent fear of God).
This approach to “health”, fueled by working for approval rather than from it, was disastrous. As I said, I equated “looking better” to “losing weight”. I read alllll the health magazines and tried to implement their plans and rules. With my Type A perfectionist mentality, the all or nothing approach was the only way that seemed effective. I tried to eat “as clean as possible” and “burn more calories than I ate”, which only led to constant thoughts around/about food. Pair that with other stressors from school, my social life (feeling unapproved/unliked), and in hindsight poor emotional health with poor coping mechanisms, and it was the perfect recipe that always led to me overeating and binging on things like peanut butter, cereal, granola, a whole pint of low cal ice cream, or chips (to name a few). This made me feel like a failure who lacked willpower which only added fuel to the fire. “I’ll just start over tomorrow, eat a super healthy breakfast and run X miles to burn X calories to get back on track”.
It was an endless cycle that was discouraging, enslaving, and miserable. I honestly hate reliving it; I remember so much pain and confusion and feelings of despair. The enemy had me in such a pit of shame and self-focus. I never believed that I could be where I am currently — content, confident in who I am, and actually reaching my health goals without the rigidity. If you feel that way, keep reading 🙂
Now that is just a CliffNotes version, but to condense it down even further into the main factors that lead to this unhealthy, controlling relationship to food/fitness, those would be:
- All or nothing thinking
- Poor emotional health and coping mechanisms
- Under eating
- Over exercising
- Acting for approval rather than from approval
- Placing my worth in physical appearance
- Making a god out of a gift from God
- Living by the world’s standards and beliefs rather than God’s
I could probably list off more, but we will start there (I said a CONDENSED list afterall…trying to stick to it!). How many of those factors sound like your reality?
What Changed in My Journey to Food Freedom
You wanna know what changed my view of health from what you just read, to one of food freedom laced with grace, gratitude, and true joy? I shared a bit on a recent IG post you can find HERE, but to recap:
- I stopped placing my worth and identity in how I looked — it’s now steeped in who God says I am (which isn’t linked to my performance).
- I no longer idolize food, fitness, “wellness” as a whole, as a god — I now see them as gifts (from a gracious Giver).
- I quit seeking approval from others — I now live from approval through Christ (whose view of me doesn’t change).
These three changes impacted every single factor of my health journey…for the better…and offered me food freedom without an ounce of guilt. My identity was now firmly rooted in Christ, and the idols I had created in food and fitness were put in their rightful place: as a good gift, not a god. With my identity restored and my idols uprooted, I felt free.
Simply put, the action change only came because of the thought change.
The thing that helped me reach these changes? Renewing my mind. Consciously filling my mind with God’s truth, instead of the lies of the world — lies that are ubiquitous but also sly, and found everywhere from the shows we watch, to the music we listen to, to the posts we scroll by aimlessly on social media. When I say I started filling my mind with God’s truth, I don’t mean vague phrases like “Jesus loves me” (though that vague statement carries SO much weight to it!), but by really digging into Scripture daily and reading it, meditating on it, and praying it over myself and my health. Asking God to change my heart, to want what He wants and to see myself how He sees me. To live from already being approved by Him, rather than for the approval of others.
The phrase “renewing your mind” comes from Romans 12:2 which reads “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. It indicates a continual action, not a one and done kinda thing. It also reminds me of the passage in Philippians 4: 8-9 which reads “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things…practice these things…” The word “practice” stands out to me, reassuring me that it is something that probably takes time and doesn’t come easily. So, I continually chose to renew my mind with Scripture, even when it didn’t “feel” like it was changing anything. It wasn’t a quick fix or overnight transformation, which can be hard to wrap our minds around this day and age.
Overtime, however, I started to realize that my thoughts HAD changed. About food. About fitness. About myself. About my worth. About…everything. I realized the Lord cared deeply about me, and was reminded that He loved me even in the midst of my sin — if HE loved me in the midst of my sin, maybe I could learn to extend that same grace and mercy to myself? I rested in the truth that God’s approval of me was not based on my performance, but on Christ’s performance on the cross in my place.
So, if you are desiring and seeking after a food freedom that the world has yet to give you, I wanted to share 5 Bible verses that helped me find a lasting and true food freedom. I encourage you to dig into these for yourself and see what the Lord reveals to you. Write them down where you’ll see them, make then your screen saver, whatever you need to do to remind yourself to practice renewing your mind.
5 Bible Verses for Food Freedom
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. – 1 Corinthians 10:23
Every food is permissible to eat, nothing is “off limits”, and our food choices do not lend to our moral character. However, just because something is permissible, doesn’t mean that it’s going to be the most beneficial (in that moment, and/or in the greater picture whether physically, mentally, or emotionally). We can allow ourselves full permission to eat something, yet not eat it. This verse helped me see that all foods are fine to eat, but they might not all be the most beneficial…but they will ultimately never determine my goodness or my morality. Questions to ask yourself: does this food, and how I’m consuming it, build me up mentally, physically and/or emotionally? Does how I consume this food bring me closer to Christ? Does it honor the body he gave me? When we allow ourselves permission to eat all foods without judgment, the absence of restriction makes it easier to look at foods objectively.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
One of the most freeing realizations we can make and hold onto: it isn’t about us. When we aren’t focused on our appearance as our badge of worth/approval, we are free to steward our bodies in a way that breeds life and freedom. Our bodies are not our own, so we are called to exercise stewardship over them (careful, responsible management over something entrusted to your care). Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit; “your body is a temple” not for your own vain glorification, but to honor and glorify Christ in and through your body. It. Isn’t. About. You…and that’s a good thing. God cares more about our motives and obedience than he does the outcome. And thanks to Jesus dying in our place, He doesn’t expect perfect performance from us, either.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31
Again, it’s not about us. When we do things for our own glory, we eventually become enslaved to it…usually because we’ve staked our identity in it or have made an idol out of it. How you approach food and fitness can be done for the glory of God! WHATEVER you do can be done for the glory of God. Our motives behind our actions is what matters. Ask: “Am I doing this to glorify God, or myself?” Humbling question. God getting the glory takes the pressure off of you and your performance.
“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” -Psalm 107:9
Food will never be able to fill the void in our heart. It will never be able to comfort us, protect us, or satisfy us like Christ will. Reaching to food for emotional comfort isn’t a bad thing, but it can become a dangerous thing if it’s the only way we deal with our emotions. Why? Because the comfort doesn’t last for long, and usually leads to us feeling even more guilt or shame for our food choices. And God is not a God of shame or guilt — those are not good things. So, turn to God. Seek Him. He alone can satisfy. And if you want to eat something, that’s okay too (food is a good gift from God!!), but now we’re aware of its limitations which empowers us: we aren’t broken, and we don’t need to live in shame or guilt if/when we eat something.
“There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” – Mark 7:15
Out of the HEART is where we see our true selves; our heart reveals who we really are, what we really think, how we really act. Nothing outside a person can defile him, so our food choices don’t define, or defile, us. We aren’t “better” if we eat “healthy”, nor are we “bad” if we ate the “less healthy” option. We can view these options objectively rather than being emotion-driven. Yes, your physical health is important, but the Lord cares more about the state of your heart, for that ultimately drives everything you do (including how you approach stewarding your health!). Want to get to the root? Look at your heart.
Hopefully these 5 bible verses for food freedom were a helpful start for you in claiming food freedom for yourself! I want to encourage you to sit with and reflect on these. I also mentioned Romans 12:1-2 and Philippians 4:8-9 briefly — those verses were helpful in reframing and renewing my mind as well. But the Bible is chock full of thousands of verses and truths that undoubtedly, while not explicitly related to food and fitness, can and will offer you a refreshing and living-giving perspective to approaching your health journey with true food freedom. Use these as a starting point.