Food & Freedom

Written by Aileen McKernan (Charlottesville, Virginia, USA)

Aileen McKernan, Jesus lover, Physical Therapist, and Certified Health Coach, owns JointFit, a women’s faith based fitness company that exists to empower women to overcome food and self-esteem issues. She loves trail running, taking photos, and cooking for her friends and family.

June 7, 2022

Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

I am going to have a big old bowl of carbs after my long run today.
And I shall enjoy every bite of it.
For much too much of my life, I had demonized food and food groups in an attempt to lose weight and feel good about myself.
Most recently with the Keto diet about a year ago.
After maintaining stable weight for 3 years on a well-rounded “flexitarian” diet, I found myself gaining it uncontrollably after increasing my mileage on the trails.
Desperate, I succumbed to ill advice from peers. 

“Keto is good for your heart, good for your body, good for endurance athletes”, they said. 

Sure, I lost weight.
I looked good and started to receive complements.
But I felt terrible and my performance began to tank.
I subsequently suffered a devastating race error which led to injuries I am only emerging from  more than one year later. 

My propensity to go to great lengths to lose weight can be traced to how my self-esteem is closely tied to the way I look.
This is certainly not the first time I have had to fight myself.
Coming from a dysfunctional family,  I became anorexic at age 12 after struggling to cope mentally and emotionally.
The beast may have laid it’s fetters on me, but it has no match for the love of God in Christ Jesus. 

“Eat well. Feel well. Run well.” 

These are the words I live by today.
Not by calorie counts, fad diets or appearances that will fade with time.
I remind myself that appearances are no real measure of the worth of the heart of a person.

I remind myself that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who loves me and is above all (Psalm 139:14).

Demonizing food is dysfunctional.
It is a symptom of underlying illness of thoughts and beliefs.
We like to reduce our lives to eat this and/or eat that.
We like to camp in our comfortable borders and pass judgements on people and camps that do not conform to our acceptable standards.
Races. Socio-economic classes. Political Parties. Vaccination status.
But this or that thinking creates barriers and walls in our already hypersensitive society and makes it increasingly difficult to have civil discussions openly. 

This is religiosity at its worst and what Jesus came to demolish.
Bigotry is in our hearts. We are born that way.
We’re not innocent creatures who got messed up along the way.
Nope, our hard wiring is off to begin with.
That’s why we need grace.
That’s why we need the Love of God, that’s why we need restoration and reconciliation.
That’s why we need Jesus.
Once we have Him we can be free from demonization, from this or that thinking.
We can bridge the gap between camps, take people off the hook just like Jesus did when He was on the cross and cried out,

“Forgive them Father for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Freedom is harder than religion because in freedom we have to learn to trust God to lead and guide us.
Our meals, our routines, our well worn grooves of living and being get shaken up, disturbed, scrambled, rearranged, and if we allow it leads us to greater peace.
It is not for everybody but it is available to all!
There is no greater grace than to be no longer chained to camps that choke and destroy the real life that is in us.
This is the life of loving one another.

I am going to have a big old bowl of carbs this evening balanced with shrimp and scallops for my protein and farm fresh kale for my greens.
I’ll probably have some chocolate for dessert too.

If you’re in the neighborhood I’d be happy to share and we can talk about whatever.

Prayer and Reflection:

  • In Christ we have the freedom to choose what is right for our lives.
    Is there something that is causing you to be slave to?
  • How is your diet in relation with your walk with God currently?

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