Solomon, who is regarded as the wisest man in the Bible, said it best: “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.”
Food is a love language for me (and many others). I grew up with grandmothers who put extra gravy on my rice because they loved me. My mother cooks THE BEST macaroni and cheese (in all its cheesy, buttery glory) on Thanksgiving and Christmas for the family, because she loves us. So, naturally, when I began to find different ways to express my love, I started cooking. At first, for others: my family, friends, even my dog. Then, eventually, just myself. My definition of “me time” was cooking a new meal and 9 times out of 10, the recipe called for more butter than I care to admit here, loads of salt, and more than one persons daily allowance of carbs, cholesterol and guilt.
Yes, I admit brownies and chocolate cake can make (very) me happy, but is that really the type of joy Solomon was talking about? If it is, how come I feel so guilty after my third brownie or slice of cake? Joy and guilt do not mix.
God created food for two purposes: 1)to give us the energy necessary to carry out His will, and 2) to give us joy. But satan has taken food and turned it into a temptation. He tempts us daily to overindulge, dishonor our bodies (our temples), depend on food and, eventually, shortchange our destinies. Im guilty of turning to food after a bad day to “make me feel better,” after a good day to “celebrate,” and occupy my time and mind when I’m lonely or bored. I did not realize this was problem until I found that I depended on food more than I depended on God. If He is the BREAD of LIFE, why was I eating so much bread?!…and chocolate…and cheese…and, well, you get the picture.
At 25, I have high cholesterol and other health issues because of my poor choices with food. I’ve spent way too much time fighting the battle between temporary satisfaction and longterm health and wellness.Of course, when I read what Solomon said, I exclaimed “See, eating is supposed to make you happy!” That only subdued my guilt long enough to enjoy that second cupcake. Then I was back to feeling guilty… and fat. I would beat myself up about the weight I gained but I would still go back to eating the things that contributed to the pounds. What it has taken me a long time to understand is that happiness and joy are not equal. Happiness is the result of happenings (eating a cupcake) whereas joy is longlasting even after the event is over.
It’s a struggle teaching my body to crave healthier foods. At first, salads did not make me happy or joyful. In fact, there were times where my stomach screamed at me for choosing sugar free this, low fat that. But the more persistent I am, the less I crave the bad stuff. I still enjoy an occasional cupcake but my relationship with sweets and processed foods is completely different now. After a week of eating healthy and clean, I can have a “cheat meal” and not feel guilt but instead I feel joy afterwards. That’s what Solomon meant.