Why Jesus Would Eat McDonalds & Healthy Eating Doesn’t Make You Righteous
Tiffany Haug, MS, RDN, EDOC
Wanna know what makes me sick?
Clean eating promulgated as spirituality.
I’m an eating disorder dietitian that has recovered from my own eating disorder.
I also happen to be a Christian.
And a pastor’s daughter who loves my dad dearly.
However, despite my soft spot for pastors, few things make me dislike a spiritual leader more than when they start to preach on healthy eating as a way of living more in God’s will.
What pastors need to know is that statistically, around 8% of their congregation currently has or has had an eating disorder—not to mention far more than that 8% who struggle with disordered eating. Many people with eating disorder histories who also happen to be religious already have a ton of unfounded guilt with what it means to be a religious person who also struggles with something as physical as food and the body—and grappling what this means about our relationship with God.
Because of this, it’s incredibly damaging when our spiritual leaders begin to give us guidance on how to manage our food and exercise in order to live more in alliance of God's will.
First off, there is a lack of understanding by pastors that their opinion of healthy eating has absolutely zero percent to do with what true healthy eating means. True healthy eating considers social, emotional, psychological, and physical health—and that can’t be measured by the nutrition label on a food or the minimalism of ingredients.
Second, it is out of their scope and expertise to make recommendations about how their congregation should eat, especially since statistically there will be more than a handful of those in their audience currently actively struggling from an eating disorder.
One catastrophic example of a pastor giving diet advice is the book The Daniel Plan. This book is an eating plan based on a story in the Bible where a character named Daniel fasted in only fruits and vegetables, because he didn’t want to eat the meats and other foods being sacrificed to idols. In this passage, the outcome is that Daniel’s superiors take notice that he looks extremely healthy despite only eating fruits and vegetables. The miracle in this story is literally in the despite—because someone surviving off of just fruits and vegetables should actually not at all look healthy because fruits and veggies alone do not provide enough energy, nutrition, or fuel. What’s totally gross about this book is that it takes a story about a miracle and completely turns it on its head to spread this message—that because Daniel looked so healthy from just eating a primarily plant-based diet, that's what we should do too.
You know why?
‘Cause if you are someone who values the words of the Bible, joy and flexibility with eating is what the Bible #legit teaches:
Ecclesiastes 9:7: Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.
If Jesus walked the earth today, I betcha he would be an uber flexible eater. If I invited Jesus to chill at McDonald's and enjoy a burger with me, he would hands-down be toted up for that. You know why? Because as a lover of people, he would value the time spent with me eating a burger. He would not be fretting whether a burger from McDonald's was the most nutrient dense meal he could possibly eat in that moment or not.
So go eat your food, and enjoy it too.
Because God loves you, and that has nothing to do with your food choices.
Tiffany Haug, MS, RDN, EDOC is a Master's level Dietitian in San Diego who specializes in helping individuals with Eating Disorders make peace with food and their bodies. Tiffany knows that working through recovery can be incredibly hard. Being herself recovered for almost a decade, she is incredibly honored to now be able to give back by supporting her clients along this challenging, but so-very-worth-it journey. In addition to being an Eating Disorder Dietitian, Tiffany serves as the Education Chair for the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (IAEDP) San Diego Chapter and works as a Pediatric Dietitian at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego. Learn more about Tiffany here.