The dictionary defines Authentic as “genuine. Real. True. Worthy. Reliable. Trustworthy.” In our current culture, we should not be surprised that so many are seeking an “authentic life.” We are inundated by the “highlight reel” that is social media. We are confused, misled and lured by the superficial, the farcical and the unreal. Surrounded by a world that is increasingly focused on the surface—and the circus—rather than substance or purpose, authenticity is beginning to trend.
More and more people are growing weary of the superficial (praise!) and are now craving authentic experiences and relationships.
We’ve discovered chasing the highlight reel is exhausting and robs us of joy! We’ve realized that the inauthentic leaves us wanting, unfulfilled and unsatisfied. True, it triggers fleeting feelings of happiness, but never provides a lasting sense of peace and wellness. When our experiences and relationships are authentic, we take the time to develop deep meaningful connection and focus on substance, we uncover our purpose, our wants are filled and we feel at ease. This shift in mindset is deeply encouraging!
“To be authentic we must cultivate the COURAGE to be imperfect—we must believe we are worthy—invite grace, gratitude and joy into our lives.” B. Brown
There are many relationships in which authenticity is key (friends, family, spouse, children, self), but I want to focus on our relationship with food. As a culture, our relationship with food (and, in turn, our relationship with our self image) has grown increasingly angst-ridden and unhealthy. This once simple relationship has been corrupted by the inauthenticity and deceit of the food industry and our diet culture. The food industry (and its practices) has disconnected us from nourishment, our palates, our hunger and our physical health. Diet culture has deepened this disconnect. In its quest to make money, it fuels fear and confusion; it has disconnected us from common sense, balance, and our emotional health. Every time we turn around we read and hear more “research” that tells us:
To fear real food groups (increasing our dependence on food/diet products) that causes anxiety and confusion because the “research” constantly changes which real foods are “healthy” and which are “unhealthy.”
OUR lack of control is why we are unhealthy, unhappy and unable to TRANSFORM (ignoring the truth that the game is rigged because elimination/deprivation/imbalance fuels our lack of control and makes us dependent on cyclical, chronic dieting)
The food industry and diet culture are not authentic.
Their products are not real. Their labeling practices are not true or trustworthy. Their research is rarely reliable (in my lifetime alone I’ve been told to fear eggs, butter, dairy, meat, carbs, fat only to be told the opposite; I’ve been told breakfast is the most important meal of the day and to eat frequent small meals, but now discover that only “fasting” until 12 p.m is healthy; I’ve been told its calories, no its macros, no its glycemic index, no its…...ITS ME!). As well, diet culture preys on our insecurity and traffics in the “highlight reel.” It markets inauthentic and/or unsustainable transformations that leave us feeling unworthy, less than and inevitably like failures.
How do we heal our relationship with food and take TRANSFORMATION back. How do we anchor our food relationship in all that is real, true, worthy, reliable, trustworthy? How do we authentically transform?
In Romans 12:2, God instructs us:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Paul’s use of “be transformed” is not rooted in temporary change. Rather, “be transformed” is meant here as a “way of life.” A state of being that is “continuous.” Biblical transformation does not seek the superficial or temporary change. No. The authentic transformation that is spoken of in Romans is an inner reorientation; it is a renewing of our minds and spirit; it is substantive and rooted; it is what happens when we turn from the ways of this world and seek God’s ways.
God promises that His ways are for our good. He tells us:
“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
He teaches us the way to experience His goodness and transformative powers is to:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Where the food industry and diet culture prey on our fears, insecurities and demand perfection, God showers our imperfections and our failings with GRACE.
He calls us to a narrow path not a perfect path. He asks us to daily pick up our cross, trust HIM to carry its weight and ease our burden. So many of my clients trust God’s ways and His goodness in so many aspects of their lives, but not in their relationship with food.
Why do we leave HIM out of our relationship with food? Why do we tell HIM over and over again that we do not trust His bounty by believing research that the foods he designed cause us harm (I promise it is not the dairy, the wheat, the gluten or the meat...rather it is industrialized farming and growing practices). We tell HIM over and over again: WE’VE GOT THIS! We can carry this cross all on our own. We don’t trust his provision. We can CONTROL our food choices through willpower (just a small tangent: in an unfallen world, paradise, OUR willpower failed. Just saying.) and the wisdom of this trending diet guru. Is it any wonder we are failing miserably as a culture with our weight, health and self image? We consistently seek and rely on man’s ways. We trust the inauthenticity of the food industry and diet culture trends rather than the TRUTH of God’s word. We believe we can heal our guilt, shame, and disintegrating self-worth through SELF CARE rather than seeking God’s care.
I truly believe, with every fiber of my being, that we can authentically transform our relationship with food (health and self-image, too).
We simply need to let God in. When we turn away from trends and rest in HIS truth, He will restore us. When we seek Him first, He will:
Our imperfections and weaknesses are part of His plan. He will use them for His good. Our brokenness is forgiven and covered. God does not traffic in shame, guilt or anxiety to draw you to His ways. He does not tell us we are less than or unworthy. Rather, He provides peace, He reassures and eases guilt, He strengthens us to stand firm against our weaknesses, He fills us with joy despite our situations or circumstance. He says we are:
He transforms us from the inside out and His transformative power is eternal.
We can live a life in a balanced, healthy relationship with food. A relationship that is not rooted in fear or false idol worship. But, a relationship that is rooted in Truth, nourishment and self-discipline. We need to seek God first and trust His will and provision even in something as simple as how we nourish our bodies.