Eating for the Glory of God
Earlier this year I had some major health problems that doctors were unable to figure out or diagnose. I won't go into the details about my other health problems that plagued me all LAST year (2014) that included several trips to the ER, six rounds of antibiotics that did nothing but completely mess up my digestive system, several visits to a highly esteemed breast surgeon who made me undergo a very unnecessary breast surgery where he scalpal-ed healthy breast tissue and biopsied it, for no reason. Can I also not mention that out of desperation, I made an appointment with a dermatologist who fixed, in 15 minutes mind you, what several ER doctors, a family physician and a breast surgeon could not.
So, at the beginning of 2015, I started having other issues. Not learning from my previous experience, I went back to my family doctor, who referred me to 2 specialists. After several more visits with both of them, plus a colonoscopy, a cystocopy, and CT scan that revealed nothing, one of those specialists wanted to keep troubleshooting my issues and scheduled me for more surgery.
I was at my wits end.
My trust with doctors and the health care system was shot.
Their credibility to solve my issues turned into a big fat zero.
Thus the start of my fine tooth combed research into holistic and natural approaches to health care and lots of conversations with God through prayer.
In January of this year (2015) I began daily juicing 7 cups of organic carrots, beets, celery and ginger and went completely organic raw vegan for 7 months straight. I was very strict with my diet, which included ONLY raw veggies and greens, with very little fruit, other than blueberries, raspberries and an occasional Bosc pear (I was trying to avoid unnecessary sugar).
Along with several months of physical therapy my health began improving slowly over the course of those months. What I was doing was definitely not a "pop a pill" kind of quick fix. It took lots of dedication and perseverance through good and bad days. By the end of July, my pain was gone, not to mention I lost 30 pounds.
However, as good as those results were, I felt like a slave to my diet. Lots of self discipline was needed to keep up that way of eating and I felt like I was constantly in a bad mood because I just wanted a nice warm piece of bread with butter, or an ooey gooey grilled cheese sandwich, or carne asada tacos. It was almost torture, ok... that might be a bit exaggerated....but it was extremely difficult to go out to eat with my family with my big jar of carrot juice and watch my family tear into Chick-fil-a, or yummy Asian food.
With my symptoms and pain subsiding I figured it was safe enough to deviate a bit from my strict eating regimen and I began eating a bit of cooked organic food that included organic meats, breads and cheese. Not too much. At first, it was just a bite or two to see how my body would react. When nothing happened, I began incorporating a bit more and eventually my diet included several "normal" eating days within the week. I still juiced 3 or 4 times a week but I was not doing it daily. I still ate loads of veggies though they were oftentimes sauteed in coconut oil with spices and garlic. It was also nice to eat an egg burrito again. We raise our own chickens so the eggs were super healthy (free range/no-GMO feed fed) and the tortillas were also organic. I still stayed away from all processed sugar and sweets still but began eating more fruit.
I regained 10 pounds but that didn't bother me much. What did bother me was the gnawing stomach pain that slowly began creeping back into my day.
All that to say......I need to go back to a better way to eat.
With my initial pain and health problems gone, I feel like I have a little more leeway in what I can and should eat. I know I don't have to resort to a super strict raw vegan diet, though I do have to admit that the chronic stomach pain that crippled me for 20 + years was completely gone while I was eating raw vegan. I also know that realistically eating 100% raw vegan was too daunting.
Through trial and error, by mostly listening to my body, I have figured out what does and does not work for me:
Here is what does NOT work, even if its organic:
meat, cheese, cow milk, all grains (even corn if its in the form of a grain), rice, sugar, no processed food (even if it's organic, like crackers or store bought tortillas) oils other than coconut oil or olive oil, all store bought salad dressings
Here is what DOES work (all organic)
A plethora of veggies (some raw, some cooked) cooked lentils, cooked and sometimes sprouted chickpeas, a variety of fruits, coconut milk, coconut oil, organic olive oil, loads of avocados, all nuts (except peanuts)
I decided to share all this on the blog to help me stay motivated and to help instill an excitement for my limited food choices. I follow several raw and vegan food blogs and have learned that vegan does not have to mean boring or bland food.
This is what I ate yesterday and as I plated it, I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful it looked and especially ecstatic at how scrum-dee-lee-um-shus it was.
Lettuce wraps smeared with a broccoli guac seasoned with dried onion, dried basil and coriander, roasted sweet potatoes cooked in coconut oil, and cooked lentils with garlic. My taste buds were jumping for joy. I did not feel like I was missing out and my tummy was satisfied....with no pain afterward. SCORE!
I don't want to spend my days and nights crippled with stomach pain. Quality of life is shot when that happens. Through this journey of trying to heal my body, first trying the conventional way - going from doctor to doctor with horrible results- then taking matters into my own hands and putting in my body things grown out of the earth - how God initially intended to feed us -
Genesis 1:29-30 says And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”
Before the fall, before sin, death, and decay entered the world, Genesis 2:8 tells us the Lord God planted a garden. The initial plan that God had in mind was for us to eat what came out of the ground. He made fruits and veggies with the perfect amount of "stuff", (aka - nutrients and minerals) to give us optimal results for health.
It's no mere coincidence that eating more fruits and veggies helps our body heal. It's a God ordained fact.
I've learned what causes pain after I eat it and what does not. It just so happens that the food in its most natural state, the way God created it, without much manipulation, is what helps my body function better.
When I feel better, I'm a better mom and wife.
I know others will read this and think that what I am doing is extreme. It may be, but having chronic body pain is pretty extreme too. I have to live in my body. I have to interact with my family. My family are the primary recipients of how well I take care of my body.
As Christians, we are given directives and mandates from the Creator of the Universe, the giver of blessings, big and small, to be good stewards with the blessings that God gives us. Oftentimes people limit those directives to financial blessings by being intentional with their monetary giving to mission ventures that reach others for Christ. To be good stewards with our money means to channel the money God gives us to good things that bring glory to God.
In the same way, God has given us a body. Having health in our bodies is a blessing.
Trust me, when you have a body that is not working properly, you covet a healthy body.
Yes, we are to continue to glorify God in health and non-health, but if we have tangible means to help our bodies become or stay healthy, why not be good stewards with it by feeding it what it needs to work better.
People often assume that taking care of our bodies means working it out physically and then eating a moderate diet of a variety of foods. And that may work for some people but it wasn't enough for me.
However, there also seems to be a stigma that says, as Christ followers, we can't or should not get too "extreme" with our diets because its borderline idolatry to take what we eat to such "drastic measures", such as not eating meat or restricting certain food choices.
1 Corinthians 10:23 says “All things are lawful". Many Christians will use this verse to advocate that we can eat bacon, hamburgers, and all things yummy because nothing is restricted when it comes to our diets. That may be true, but for some of us, eating anything and everything because of our freedom to eat it may not be beneficial for us individually. The rest of the verse says "but not all things are helpful". So just because we have the freedom to eat and drink whatever we want, not everything is helpful for us and this is where discernment comes in.
If I am laying in bed, writhing in stomach pain because the hamburger I ate was just too yummy to resist or because I was having a fellowship meal with other Christians and food was the means that brought us all together......how is that helpful to my family when I get home?
I am not advocating extreme diets for those that only want to lose weight. I am also not advocating a one-size eating plan for everyone.
I am advocating listening to our bodies in such a way that we know what helps or hinders our capacity to be good stewards of the body God has blessed us with.
If I am my children's primary discipler, wouldn't it be irresponsible for me to continue to put into my mouth food that causes me pain simply so that I can appear "normal" to others or because my taste buds crave it, but inevitably it causes me great bodily distress, crippling me from being a better discipler to my kids and overall ambassador for Christ?
That might be a good rhetorical question to ponder. I'll end with that.
Oh, and while I devoured my beautiful delicious lettuce wraps, my family had this - the same roasted sweet potatoes, roasted broccoli with carrots and onions, jasmine rice and organic chicken sausage.
1 Corinthians 10:31
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Instead of telling myself that my food choices are limited, I'm gonna rock my vegan diet to the glory of God!!