Healthy Soul Swaps
What if I told you that you had to give up your favorite foods indefinitely? Would it help if you knew there were even better foods you could eat instead?
When I found out I was intolerant to gluten a few years ago, I had no idea what I was supposed to eat. At the time of my diagnosis, I was eating cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and some kind of bread, pasta, or pizza with dinner. I still had to eat, but I needed to make some radical changes to my diet and find food that not only worked for my body, but that tasted good too! Eliminating harmful practices is easier when there’s something better to take its place.
When I did the (AIP) autoimmune paleo protocol, I dreaded giving up eggs, nuts and seeds. This chart from Amy Meyer’s 35 Gut-Healthy Recipes made me feel much better about my success. I no longer mourned what I needed to take out, but saw an even bigger list of foods I could add in. I saw opportunity! A new way of life! I can do this!
Controlling diet is one way to stay healthy, but even more important than paying attention to what goes into my mouth is what comes out of it (Matthew 15:11). Snapping at my daughter with unrestrained frustration is more destructive than eating a gluten-filled donut. Gluten may trigger an autoimmune response, but anger floods the body with stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, causing inflammation in the body and bitterness in my soul.
As I read through Ephesians 4, I realized that the Bible has a map for healthy swaps too. Just as a carrot is a more nutrient-dense, nourishing source of energy than a fluffy chemical-laced Cheeto, there are more substantial substitutes for sin. But living a life of love is not as simple as throwing away the processed food and making a trip to Earth Fare.
We can only get the fruit of the Spirit from the Lord. His habits are not for sale. Jesus purchased our right to approach the throne of grace by His work on the cross. He doesn’t ask for our money, but He does ask for our sin. God's economy doesn't always make sense to my world-stained mind, but that's grace for ya! It's okay to give up our old passions, because what Jesus has to offer is greater than we can imagine.
He doesn’t leave us in the dark to guess how to move forward, His gives us clear instructions through His Word, and empowers us with His Spirit. We can do this! There are many other examples in the Bible, but let’s head to Ephesians 4:23-26 for an outline of healthy spiritual swaps (fruits in bold):
“…to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24).
- Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another (v. 25)
- Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil (v. 26-27).
- Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need (v. 28).
- Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (v. 29).
- And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (v. 30).
What is damaging (or clearly not beneficial) in your body and spirit today? Is it something on the chart above? Point it out, pray it up, then swap it out. It’s important not just to discard the sin, but to replace it with the fruit of forgiveness.
Twenty years ago, I repented of a shameful act. I only just recently realized that I never received forgiveness. I was still living under the law, trying to do the right things but never feeling free. As you turn away from evil, turn towards the forgiving face of the Lord, and go in health.
Whenever you’re feeling like a certain food isn’t making you feel good, seek out a better solution. Your body is worth it! Whenever you’re feeling like something is off in your spirit, take it captive in prayer and ask the Lord to replace it. You’re worth it! Jesus certainly thinks so. He wrote a whole book to tell you so. Read His Words and hold them in your heart for when you need a healthy spiritual swap.
Reflect and Respond:
What is one thing you can swap out in your life today?
Do you have any other food swaps or spiritual swaps you have found useful for your health?