It’s early in the year, and you know what that means: time to talk diets. There are so many it can make your head spin. Calorie-counting, Paleo, the Daniel Diet, Weight Watchers, Gluten-free, South Beach, Atkins, the list goes on.
And it is good to watch what you eat. Many people in this area have changed their lives for the better, and they deserve high praise for their discipline.
But when does dieting become too much of a good thing?
A new word has surfaced recently to describe an obsession with healthy eating. It’s called Orthorexia.
The phrase was coined by Dr. Steven Bratman in 1997. Orthorexia is a fixation that often creates more anxiety and social problems. Sufferers can’t attend dinner parties or accept a meal offered in kindness.
In biblical times, a Christian could be offered meat that was sacrificed to idols. This created a crisis of conscience for some believers; while Christians knew that the sacrifice didn’t affect the quality of the meat, they worried how eating it would look to someone who wasn’t a Christian. Would it affect their witness?
1 Corinthians 10, Paul discussed how the issue should be handled.
“‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say — but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ — but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
“Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.’
“If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if someone says to you, ‘This has been offered in sacrifice,’ then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God — even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.”
Paul’s point was that the people were what was important, not the food. When we obsess about what we eat to an unhealthy point, what are we really worshipping?
Unless you have a serious medical issue and if God will be glorified by you delighting in a piece of pie that your neighbor worked hard to bake for you, by all means, enjoy the blessing they wish to give you. There are plenty of other times to eat healthily.