EP 94: INTUITIVE EATING FROM A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE - A CONVERSATION WITH 5 NON-DIET PROFESSIONALS + MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS

Today we want to have a conversation about Intuitive Eating from a Christian perspective. We’re here with some great fellow non-diet professionals, and we’ll introduce them in a second, but we’re so excited for the chance to talk about this. We get questions from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all of the time about how our approach to food fits with our doctrine and principles of our faith. We are 5 non-diet professionals and also active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and we have a lot of thoughts on this. 

What we want to do today is help you understand how an Intuitive Eating, non-diet, all-foods-fit, weight-neutral approach can fit into the Word of Wisdom, doctrines of the gospel and Christian values.

We also welcome people of other faiths to this conversation. We will be using language unique to our faith in this episode, but we think there’s a lot of value in this conversation for Christians of all denominations and we invite you listening to replace our language with yours if that feels more helpful or relevant to you.

Here is who’s joining us today!E - invite everyone to introduce themselves (in this order)

Devrie Pettit, MS RDN from Happily Fed

Julie Newbry, NASM from The Intuitive Trainer

Miki Eberhart, RD from Nutrition by Miki

What is the WoW and what is it not?

As defined on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website: “A health law from the Lord for our physical and spiritual protection.” Specifically, to avoid alcoholic drinks, tobacco, tea and coffee, and anything harmful to our bodies or addictive in nature. We’re also encouraged to enjoy fruits, vegetables, a moderate amount of meat, and grains.

As for what it’s not, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll always be healthy if you live by this set of guidelines. It’s not a comprehensive list, and it’s not an excuse to be obsessive. We are given some promised blessings from living the WoW, including freedom from harmful addictions, a healthier body, a more alert mind, greater capacity to receive guidance from the Holy Ghost, and a greater ability to serve the Lord. (Click here for more on the Word of Wisdom.)

The Word of Wisdom is such a unique health code because while it does have some specifics, it also is quite general and open to our own interpretations which is where we may fall into certain traps.  Seriously, how good is #3 on that list?! (An excuse to be obsessive.) 

How do IE principles work within the Word of Wisdom? Do we need a list of rules with food or were we designed to be able to think, reason and make wise decisions for ourselves?

This is a great quote from Joseph Smith:  “I teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.”

How can HAES principles apply to what we believe about being faithful stewards over our bodies? For anyone unfamiliar with Health at Every Size, it is a book by Linda Bacon and a set of principles to help celebrate body diversity, honor differences in size, age, race, ethnicity, genger, disability/ability, sexual orientation, religion, class, and other human attributes. HAES challenges scientific and cultural assumptions about weight and size and values body knowledge + lived experiences. HAES teaches principles of compassionate self-care, like finding joy in moving one’s body and being physically active, and eating in a flexible + attuned way that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite, while respecting the social conditions that frame eating options.

There is a lot in there (taken from the HAES website), but how can we apply HAES principles to what we as Christians and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe about being faithful stewards over our bodies?

The word stewardship means the job of taking care of something. 

Stewardship does not mean control.

What are the risks of food and weight preoccupation on your relationship with God? You may risk not developing your talents, sharing your gifts and meeting the full measure of your creation/reaching your potential.

Love this quote given by Brigham Young speaking specifically about the WoW: 

“Be careful of your bodies; be prudent in laying out your energies, for when you are old you will need the strength and power you are now wasting.” 

Satan likes to distract us from things that are important. Are food and weight one of his tools? 

One of my favorite things to bring up with women who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is how Satan, HE WHO HAS NO BODY(!!!), can make us feel so horrible about our own. What an incredible tool! And how foolish that we fall for it. He can use it to thwart our minds from being used in other, much more productive ways. (Miki) I had one client at one point who didn’t even want to leave her house or go to church functions because she felt so horrible about how her body looked. Satan: 1 Us: 0  Not today Satan! Not today.

How is diet culture hijacking our values? The idea of the Law of Moses being a list of rules. Perhaps that’s what we all need at some point in our life. But then Christ came and called the people to a higher way of thinking, being and living. He calls us to greater trust, faith, discernment, wisdom, temperance, self-mastery, etc. He doesn’t want us to check things off a list or follow a set of rules. He wants our whole hearts, not a heart set on how we look or how we eat. He wants us to reason, learn, grow and become bigger than our fears.

Julie: Something that was so helpful to me when I was scared to let go of tracking my macros and do Intuitive Eating was this realization that God created our bodies and it didn’t make sense that he would leave us alone in how to take care of them. Adam and Eve didn’t have magazines and gurus telling them how many calories or macros to eat; and even now his children around the world are managing to eat the foods that are around them and have those hunger fullness cues to guide them. It’s a luxury to be able to “cut out foods” when so many just eat what grows in their area and what fits in their budget.

When we trust that God created our bodies with the intrinsic cues necessary to feed us we can slowly start to let go of the rules we think we have to use. Gentle nutrition of course can play a role, but it’s not meant to be as complicated as social media makes it out to be.

Let’s talk about the word “moderation”... This is a common way for people to justify restriction, saying we should have “moderation in all things.”

That phrase “moderation in all things” is often misunderstood to be scriptural, but it’s not. Jesus never said that, nor did any of the prophets or apostles. It’s actually from the Greek poet Hesiod and the Roman dramatist Plautus. But it seems to have taken deep root as a scriptural idea and unfortunately seems to do some harm when it comes to our relationship with food. Not to say there’s nothing about the concept of moderation in scriptures - there is - but we must be careful how we think about it and use it in relation to food.

D&C 59:16-20 

16 Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth;

17 Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for braiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards;

18 Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;

19 Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.

20 And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.

Miki: Interesting how the chapter before, D&C 58:27-29, the Lord says:

26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is acompelled in all things, the same is a bslothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

27 Verily I say, men should be aanxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

28 For the power is in them, wherein they are aagents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their breward.

 We highly recommend this talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland called “To Young Women.”

“I mention adult women because, sisters, you are our greatest examples and resource for these young women. And if you are obsessing over being a size 2, you won’t be very surprised when your daughter or the Mia Maid in your class does the same and makes herself physically ill trying to accomplish it. We should all be as fit as we can be—that’s good Word of Wisdom doctrine. That means eating right and exercising and helping our bodies function at their optimum strength. We could probably all do better in that regard. But I speak here of optimum health; there is no universal optimum size.”

Emily also references this talk by Jean A. Stevens called “Fear Not, I Am With Thee.”

“The gospel “is not weight; it is wings.”

Check out Devrie + Julie’s ebook,Food + Faith: How Intuitive Eating Aligns with the Word of Wisdom. You can use the code PODCAST to take 20% off this great resource - it’s the perfect accompaniment to this podcast episode!

Stephanie Webb