“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” James 1:17
The French peasantry looked to the extravagance of their king and queen with envy and resentment. They could barely feed their families, often making hard choices of which child would get the largest piece of carrot in an already thin soup. The peasants began to protest while begging for bread, the staple of their diet. This eventually led to the French Revolution, and the guillotine for the monarchy. Years later, the queen, Marie Antionette became immortalized with her callous response to the peasants, “Let them eat cake!” Although there is no historical record of her using these words, the euphemism has been used in any situation where someone is being oblivious to the plight of others.
Years ago, the leader of a weight loss program handed out a paper plate to each of us. She encouraged us to think about our goals and not let the holidays sabotage our efforts. We were to envision our Thanksgiving dinner and write down the foods that were most important to us, calculating to stay within our prescribed limits. She also suggested recipes to help us stay focused, such as crustless pumpkin pie. I left the meeting, taking my paper plate with me, resolved to stay in these preconceived limits. And it’s quite likely that I succeeded, that year.
But not all years have been what I deemed a success. I have vacillated between two spaces. The so-called successful years I spent time analyzing my caloric intake for Thanksgiving. Other years, I ignored calories, eating to the point I felt physical discomfort. The energy I spent analyzing my food intake was wasted by not being present with my family and friends. The amount of time I spent overeating and feeling ashamed of my discomfort also took time away from family and friends. One way or the other, I have either felt anxious about the impending holiday or felt guilty after the holiday.
I have heard a lot of interesting comments since I have lost weight. Most have been related to my appearance like, “You look great!” While I appreciate those compliments but the ones that have meant the most have not been related to my appearance. These included, “I bet you feel better” or “I am sure it is easier for you to get around.” But the compliment that stands above all others came from my sister, Cheryl. She said “Sherry, you are so much stronger than you were before.” That word “stronger” echoed in my mind, articulating the feeling that I hadn’t been able to name before.
I’ve been learning more about intuitive eating versus following diet culture. I’m just in the beginning stages of doing research and in no way have I formed any opinions. But I do know God doesn’t want me to live in this place of anxiousness and guilt. I do think it is important to be healthy, but I no longer want to define health by the numbers game. Feeling healthy should be defined by my energy levels, flexibility, and strength. God gave me a body as a blessing, to help me do the work He’s called me to do. As with all blessings from the Lord, He requires me to be a good steward.
What does it mean to be a good steward? It involves having a relationship with Jesus and allowing Him to speak into all areas of my life. Some areas include the principles of Jesus’ teachings like living in moderation, being anxious for nothing, making sure nothing becomes an idol, and seeking wisdom. I also think, “food is good gift from a good God”, as stated by Asheritah Ciuciu in her book, “Full”, is an important concept to remember. It’s also about finding the right balance, and not allowing either gluttony or deprivation, to control me.
Thursday is Thanksgiving, once again. I am going to be surrounded by family and friends, enjoying each other’s company while feasting and expressing gratefulness. This Thanksgiving, I want to reclaim the phrase that embodied callousness. Instead, my cry for Thanksgiving is, “Let them eat pie” without judgment and condemnation. “Let them eat pie” without calculating how much exercise I will need to work off the whipped cream. “Let them eat pie” with a reasonable portion that satisfies and is accompanied by laughter and good conversation. Finally, “Let them eat pie” with God’s blessings without making the pie the idol!