I was scanning my collection of Instagram posts the other day, and I realized that a lot of my photos are of food. Maybe a few too many. I chalk it up to the fact that I’m much more likely to snap a shot of what’s for dinner than I am to attempt a selfie. (Seriously, those things are crazy hard.)
As I was thinking about the past year, I also realized that much of my time has centered around food—whether meal planning, grocery shopping, or cooking. In December, 2013, I worked with my doctor to make some pretty drastic changes to my diet, cutting out grains and starches, sugar, and dairy.
So now I’m officially that friend who you probably don’t want to meet for dinner. You know the ones—they have to modify every part of every dish on the menu. And the poor servers—they hate my kind. I really don’t blame them.
In the spirit of being real—I did want to eat my own arm for the first few weeks on this new plan, but that all leveled out as we figured out what I could actually have. And, what started as a journey toward better physical health quickly grew into something much more holistic.
Due to my crazy restrictions, there’s no way I can eat processed food. So, as much as I’d like to pop a meal in the microwave some nights, it just ain’t happening. Instead, each week, I plan our meals, trying to save any adventurous new recipes for those nights when we have more time. And each night usually involves quite a bit of prep as I make dinner. So my cutting board, knife, and I are now fast friends. (Well, except for the hiccup we had on Christmas Eve that involved my knife, my left thumb, and more than a few tears.)
Those minutes spent slicing and chopping each day have become incredibly therapeutic. It forces me to slow down, giving me space to think and to pray. Plus, I get to work with my hands to make something I know my guy and I will both enjoy.
I’ve also gained a deep appreciation for God’s creativity. He made so many cool foods. I mean, have you had rutabagas recently? Crazy good.
While I’ve enjoyed my newfound love for all things veggie, it hasn’t been without its downsides. Not long after I made the switch, I was surprised to find I felt super lonely. I didn’t realize how isolating my eating plan would be until I couldn’t go to certain restaurants or enjoy food at parties with friends. It’s hard to feel connected when you’re the one in the corner with her bag of nuts and water.
It’s so ingrained in us to “break bread” together—to come together over food. And that’s not a bad thing. There’s something powerful about sharing a meal or a drink with friends that unites us and draws us closer together. I remember complaining to my guy about not being able to enjoy these things when it dawned on me—as much as I was craving fries and frozen yogurt, I was craving community more.
So, I started to look for new ways to connect with others—and I found tons of opportunities. One of my friends and I now grab tea together and go for walks as we catch up on each other’s lives. I schedule lunch or dinner dates with other friends at restaurants I know I can eat at. And yes, every couple of weeks, I can enjoy something off diet, so we make that a social event, too.
It’s forced me to be more intentional in creating space for community in our lives. And it’s forced me to face the connection between food and emotions head on. I can’t grab that bowl of ice cream when I’m having a hard day. So guess what I do? I complain to God about not being able to eat ice cream. Yeah, super mature, I know. But He uses these prayers, gently showing me that I can bring my burdens to Him—where they belong.
For years, I lived with this idea that the physical self is pretty compartmentalized, not having a huge effect on the mind or spirit. And I couldn’t have been more wrong. I realize now that God intended for these things to be integrated, for us to honor Him with all of our being.
So humbled by the way He designed each of us. And even more grateful that He doesn’t leave us to walk through this life on our own. Our God knows what He’s doing, friends. He can use something as simple as an eating plan to bring us closer to Him.