Food, Habits, and Desire

I'm reading You Are What You Love in Sunday School. I missed Sunday School yesterday, but I read the chapter. The author is talking about how our desires can go astray, and how we can fix that.

He uses his own experiences with food to illustrate his point. He describes how, over a period of years, he came to understand and believe in the value of healthy foods — and how that didn't keep him from wanting fast food burgers.

Instead, he worked against his desires by developing the habit of eating wholesome food and avoiding unwholesome food, not matter what he wanted.

Over time, he developed a desire for wholesome food. This, he says, is the key: practice those habits until they change your wants, and you will end up automatically doing what you really want — the things that are good for you, the things that lead to positive outcomes for you.

The author is assuming that these things are about devotion to God and cooperation with God's plans for us, and I agree.

But I also have been in a few conversations about wholesome eating. My family, brought up on wholesome food as I understood it back in the day and never having eaten the Standard American Diet, still has to work a bit at eating right. #1 son says he doesn't like vegetables, but he eats them because they'e good for him. He also says that when he eats sweets and treats over Christmas, he finds himself craving them. He has to resist until he gets past those cravings and back to his usual "No sweet tooth" state.

Then we all discussed the concept of a sweet tooth. I cop to it — I like sweets, and the amount of sweets I eat has to do with access. If it's in my house or available in a restaurant, I'll eat dessert.

I won't go out and get sweets, usually, but if it's handy I will eat it. I never go get myself a doughnut at the local bakery, but when the kids are home, I'll always go with them and will cheerfully eat those doughnuts. #1 daughter and #2 son are the same. The others aren't driven by availability, but they'll eat doughnuts if other people are doing the same.

Our desires are mostly changed by our habits. We want to be healthy, to feed our kids healthy foods, to enjoy the higher level of energy and wellness we know we get when we feast on salads instead.

But it's easy to go astray.

I'm finally getting back on track after a couple of months of holidays and hospitality. I don't feel as energetic now as I did before, and I have been driven by cravings and convenience to eat things that don't support my best and deepest desires. I've lost just one pound in January. I'm ready to return to healthy eating and more activity.

I know it won't be easy. But we can retrain our desires and we can certainly retrain our habits. I know this from experience.