iets flip the pyramid on its head.

In fact, diets make the entire “pyramid” about food or food and exercise…well, about SELF:

As you can see, this isn’t a very stable image. When the beneficial food choices are what life is all about, life topples easily. That is why we can’t keep it up! But when the pyramid is laid out like the HEAL pyramid is, with God as the foundation, there IS a stability for our entire lives!

Diets tell us what to eat, when, and how much (most of the time). Many of us come to this stage of our life with a wealth of experience with diets. Some of us have lost a truckload of weight. Most of us have gained it right back. The diet doesn’t last forever. For some of us, what does seem to last forever is the obsession that dieting can trigger. Obsession with our appearance, with nutrition content in our food, labels, points, blocks, grams, calories and exercise mania.

For many of us, we have to try to walk far afield of graphs, charts, nutrition information and so forth for a season..maybe even a long season…so that we can truly get our bearings with the Lord’s direction and experience the freedom from obsession that he desires for us.

For me, the most recent chapter of this experience of freedom for me has come by not using a bathroom scale. I can’t pretend that I have this figured out yet, but CAN say that I am feeling a lot more freedom than I have ever known now that the scale doesn’t greet me each time I go into the bathroom…beckoning to me:

“Hop on and see…
…just go ahead and check…
…come on…you want to…
…you know you do…”

Only to have me get on that piece of metal and instantly be puffed up with pride at my “accomplishment” or condemned because of my “failure.” (Really, most bathroom scales are NOT accurate to within 2 pounds, so how can I “celebrate” that as a success or bemoan it as a failure? And what about cyclic fluid retention and a million other reasons that a person can vacillate in their weight even by 5 pounds in a single day? Goodness…the hot fudge sundae I ate the night before, does NOT show up as fat weight overnight! Why do we accept these lies as truths worthy of condemning us?)

All of this to say…as soon as we begin to talk about “Beneficial Food Choices” some might say, “I knew it! I knew this was a diet like any other!”

This isn’t the case. There is a huge difference! Let’s look again at the HEAL pyramid! Open your books to have a look at it.

We are doing this so that, as we hit the fourth level, that of selecting beneficial food choices, we can see that this is NOT a diet. So, let’s review a bit…

First – The pyramid is set up the way it is so that the foundation is God. He is the basis for everything and runs through everything. The other “levels” of the pyramid will fall unless the Lord sustains and flows through the others.

Secondly, the second level of the pyramid deals with the tendency we have of looking to food OR dieting OR eating “healthy” food as a means of feeling better about myself, about life, about anything. If I blame food for my condition, if I “hate” food and resent that I have to eat it (for instance), then I do not yet have a healthy relationship with food. Diets usually blow right past this concern. We are taught to hate certain foods and that other foods are almost capable of imparting “righteousness” and virtue to us if we eat them. In fact, there is even an eating disorder that has been recognized in recent years. It is called orthorexia nervosa and is “health food obsession” in a nutshell. The HEAL book challenges us not to go there…but to allow God’s Spirit to heal and soothe what is the true ache in our hearts. Only God can satisfy our need for heart satisfaction and, by Jesus’ blood, make us righteous. Only the Lord can enable us to forgive ourselves for the many years we have abused our bodies or tormented ourselves…not eaten when we were hungry, forced ourselves to eat tasteless foods that were supposed to be good for us, or thrown food down our throats when we weren’t hungry…and all the motives behind all that we did. The LORD HEALS!

As we invite the Lord to deal with this in us, we begin to test the waters of 0 to 5 eating–eating what we desire between the parameters of physical hunger and satisfaction. That is the third level of the pyramid. I hope we can see why these levels do need to be addressed in this order!

We may experience a broad plethora of emotions as we begin to eat only to satisfy physical need and stop eating for the many reasons we have been previously. This takes us back to level 2…dealing with our relationship with food…and back to level 1…allowing the Lord alone to be for us what we have turned to food to be… (See how these levels are interconnected?).

As these levels begin to be more a part of our lives, we sense the Lord calling us to a greater sense of responsibility for the body he has entrusted to us. We begin to discern that we feel physically better in response to some foods than others. This almost seems like an incidental awareness that may emerge slowly as the obsessions fade. We may feel like garbage when we start the day with a quick bowl of cereal, finding we crash and burn within an hour. Or we may realize just how energized we are for half a morning after having some other foods. This is the insight we carry with us into this fourth level of the HEAL pyramid. We may discover that some of the information we learned during our dieting experiences, can actually be “sanctified”–used by the Lord in a beneficial way. But all the while we remain aware that the heart can be deceived…we can wander back into our obsessions if we aren’t alert!

Over time…and it may take a long time for some…we begin to be able to use nutrition information to begin to select foods that are more beneficial than those we chose when we began this process. Not for righteousness’ sake…as we remain steadfast that only the Lord can truly impart virtue into our lives…but because with discernment and a sense of responsibility, we want to feel better and operate at our best. This is a slow change. We also choose foods that the Lord gives us an appreciation for…including the taste!

I learned from my exposure to the “ZONE Diet” years ago that I really feel much better when I have protein with each eating occasion. When I am at a 0 and eat something without protein, I will experience a lack of energy much sooner than when I am sure to have protein as well.

So, then, level 4 is that place we arrive not where we try to revert back to a diet…no, we continue to allow the other three levels of the HEAL pyramid to undergird this top layer. The fact that this layer is smaller than the others indicates it isn’t supposed to be a focus.

You see, so often, we flip the pyramid on its head…we try to make eating beneficial foods where we start AND where we end. We ignore the rest of the pyramid. That is certainly what diets do!

So…with this all said (sorry that this was so long!), let’s look at our goal for this level. Please remember to give yourself time to get there. This isn’t a “do it today” sort of goal. You may not find yourself emotionally ready to exercise this type of discernment until you have rested in the freedom of the other three levels for a long while (like a year!). All the Lord to lead you.

We move to a spiritually mature approach to nutrition when our spirit of vanity and perfectionism is replaced by a spirit of gratitude and a genuine desire to honor God…this comes only from a heart of change–when we really realize who we are and who we belong to–that our lives, our beauty, our bodies are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). HEAL book, page 47

Level 4: Beneficial Food Choices (Journal your responses if you don’t have the HEAL book…and share them here if you like!)

Goal: _________________________________________________
Action Steps: ___________________________________________

My goal: To be able and willing to delight in beneficial foods more frequently. Not to consider myself more virtuous for doing so.

Action Steps: To have fresh salsa available all the time (this is one of the few beneficial foods that I enjoy…so I may as well have that as a snack instead of cookies!). To select grilled chicken instead of fried at least sometimes. 🙂

For me, this has to be babysteps!

Tomorrow, I will post the next assignment and some thoughts about it, too. 🙂 Hope you are still hanging in there! 🙂