Healthy Lifestyle As Idolatry

I grew up loving sugary treats. There was a time in my life when I ate a cinnamon roll coated in icing daily. I had ice cream for “breakfast dessert.” I wasn’t too concerned about healthy eating or what sugar was doing to my body.

But in grade 7, my unhealthy habits began to catch up to me. Rather than being a slim pole bean, I started gaining weight. I didn’t think much of the weight, until a friend brought it up at a sleepover. “Lara, you’re starting to get a belly.” 

She probably didn’t mean anything by it, but after that day I became obsessed with looking at my stomach in the mirror. Is it bigger? Is it any smaller? 

I tried exercising some in the evenings, but it never seemed to make a difference. Eventually I gave up and started wearing loose clothing that kept my belly covered.

In grade 11, I changed my habits. I started eating clean (no processed foods or sugar) and exercising daily for an hour. One day when I lifted up my shirt to look at my belly, I found it flat. No longer slightly bulged or rounded, but flat, with some muscle beginning to show.

After struggling with feeling “fat” throughout most of high school, you would think this would have come as a relief to me. It didn’t. Instead, it led to further anxiety. What if I lose this?

 I restricted my diet more and exercised more as a guardrail; if I could stay extra healthy, then if I messed up it wouldn’t be as bad. If I ever had an unhealthy meal or ate something as small as a cookie, you would find me later that night either in a panic attack or dripping in sweat from an intense cardio workout. I was terrified of losing my precious flat stomach.

Though I told people I lived a healthy lifestyle in order to tame my anxiety and to make me feel better, that wasn’t my true motivation. I was motivated by idolatry. Any motive or desire left unchecked, whether godly or vain, can become an idol--something more important than loving and obeying God.

What about you? Has your healthy lifestyle become an idol?

Read the rest of this article on Women Encouraged.

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