Before today, I could not have told you where that phrase came from even though I have quoted it to myself and to others over the years. I would have thought it originated in America since we are not known for being the most healthy culture when it comes to our views of food.
It surprised me to find on several websites this quote “thou shouldst eat to live; not live to eat” credited to Socrates. My personal conclusion for a long time has been that it is a human condition that influences our misuse of food and not a cultural condition.
If we want to see real change in our eating habits, we probably need to answer the question why do we live to eat?
I am not saying this is the answer to all America’s health problems and views of food. However, answering this question for myself has given me freedom in my life from being an emotional eater. Freedom doesn’t mean that I am not disciplined in my eating because to my friends how I eat may not look like freedom. I know though for me that it is directly related to freedom.
True freedom doesn’t come without discipline. Ironically, freedom comes from overcoming the reasons behind why we are indulging. Because our indulging is bondage. It appears to be freedom, but in reality, it is bondage because we are a slave to our emotions.
There are a slew of other benefits of eating to live we could talk about, and those I have known and enjoyed for years. Recently, those reasons were not enough to motivate me to eat to live. I had to find the root cause of where my healthy eating habits got derailed to get back on track.
What did I find as the cause? My eating habits were (and are) a result of my human condition.
Looking back, I describe this time of emotional eating as a spiritual winter, feeling cold and numb because of life’s pain that has come over the last 5 years. My response to that spiritual winter was emotional eating.
I had never been an emotional eater before that point in my life. I had always had plenty of will power to be disciplined in my eating and remember people saying that to me regularly. During that winter season, I used food to fill the emptiness I was feeling instead of putting my full hope in God.
I won’t describe in detail how I have moved beyond that winter into what I describe now as my spiritual spring. I will tell you that it has been a spiritual journey and wasn’t about motivation, discipline, or education. All the things we think will make us healthier eaters.
We can find many different ways to fill the emptiness besides food. Because of this, I have to continue to focus on God’s truth and seek Him through the pain that life brings. Psalm 25:4-5 says “Show me the right path, O Lord, point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in You.”
It is amazing to be on the other side of that season. To see God’s faithfulness, His grace, His love in my life. My response to all that is to encourage you to seek God in areas of your life where you need to put your hope in Him. Because, He is the one who saves us and all day long we can put our hope in Him.