Has Food and Weight Loss Become Your Idol?
Gluttony, overeating or drinking to excess, is mentioned in the Bible as being something to avoid (Proverbs 23:20-21). Gluttony can lead to health risks and become a drain on our finances, and the love of food and drink can all too easily become an idol in our lives. Anything that takes the place of God or becomes our number-one focus is, by definition, an idol and thus a sin against God (Exodus 20:3-6). Proverbs 23:2 exhorts us to “put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony,” an admonition to restrain our appetites.
So what does that say about our society today? How many of the things that occupy our time, money, thoughts and attention have taken the place where God is supposed to be?
The answer to this questions may be found by analyzing Google’s search data. Each month, there are an estimated 88 billion Google searches, of which millions relate specifically to losing weight. By understanding how Americans seek out information about fitness, we can glean insights into how Americans approach their health and well-being.
For the keyword “How To Lose Weight”, the first chart attached shows the U.S. search volume for the top 10 related keywords:
Do you notice anything unusual? More than 50% of the keywords (6 out of 10) refer to losing weight “fast” or “quick”. On a positive note, 110K searches for “how to lose weight healthy” indicates many Americans are not searching for that quick fix, but a more sustainable, healthier weight loss method. For the keyword “weight loss”, the next chart attached shows the U.S. search volume for the top 10 related keywords:
Like in the previous chart, more than 50% of the keywords (6 out of 10) use the word “fast” or “quick”, or relate to losing weight quickly.
While “fast” or “quick” results may be desirable in the short term, in the long term, sustainable diet and exercise modification leads to lasting weight loss and improved health.
In the New Testament, Paul tells followers of Jesus Christ that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and as such we are to take care of our bodies and keep them as healthy as we can. Since being obese leads to multiple health risks, we need to realize that as much as it is up to us in our choice and amount of food, drink, and exercise, we should strive to avoid becoming overweight.
A down side of this subject of obesity and weight loss is when we take it to the opposite extreme and become obsessed with our body image. Again, when something becomes the major focus of life and it isn’t God, it is sin. So to constantly obsess about exercise, diet, and weight loss means we’ve allowed our bodies to become the center of our lives. While the effects can be better for our health than being gluttonous and overweight, the result is still the same—our bodies have become an idol in our lives. An obsession with weight loss can easily tip over into anorexia or bulimia which also has a negative impact on our health.
The bottom line is that the Lord wants His children to take excellent care of their bodies since they are the residence of the Holy Spirit. A strong, healthy body helps us stay in shape so we can better serve God each day and thus bring glory and honor to Him, our principal reason for living. Eating and being healthy is not a quick fix but an overall lifestyle change. The Lord wants us to keep our focus on Him and not fall into obsessing about weight gain, weight loss, or food and drink, any of which can become an idol in our lives.