Note: This is a guest post by Loretta Rigney, who just recently embraced a Christian minimalist lifestyle after losing over 100 lbs in 2020. She works in the public sector as Deputy Commission of the Schenectady County Board of Elections, and she and her husband Tom host a weekly Praise and Worship Night at their home.
A Wake-Up Call from God
It was two words that really got my attention. They were on page two of Christian Minimalism: Simple Steps for Abundant Living and in italics, for emphasis: “intentionally consume”. The next sentence read:
Minimalists strive to avoid mindless consumption and only buy and keep the things that they need or add value to their life.Becca Ehrlich, Christian Minimalism: Simple Steps for Abundant Living
I kept focusing on the words consume and consumption and suddenly the revelation hit me– consuming also refers to eating!
I’m a food addict working on my recovery. I think a lot about eating. I have great difficulty not eating certain foods or stopping eating once I start. I used to have a large cookbook collection, and at one time you could find up to five kinds of mustard in my refrigerator. I’m “famous” for my cashew snack mix that is made with six sticks of butter and cups of sugar in various forms.
I once asked my husband to pick up some cheese from the store, not because I really had a need for it, but because not having it in the house made me anxious. I was definitely not living out what Matthew says in the Bible:
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.Matthew 6:31-33
I used to hide my empty frozen coffee cups so my daughter wouldn’t lecture me on the amount of sugar I was drinking; she smelled it on my breath anyway when I kissed her cheek. Food can consume me rather than the other way around.
Minimalism and Food Consumption
In 2020 I minimized my body by 100 lbs. As I got closer to my goal weight, I became very interested in the concept of minimalism, partly because I finally had the energy needed to start decluttering my material possessions and partly because God was giving me a new way to deal with food addiction.
When I finally made the connection between minimalism and my food consumption, I began to look at things differently. I downsized my cookbook collection by more than half and continue to purge as my interests in cooking and cuisines change. I stopped stocking up on groceries and food-related items such as storage bags, because at one time, I was actually concerned about a potential “sandwich bag emergency”, although I can’t describe to you what would constitute an emergency involving sandwich bags.
I stopped buying things like spice blends and specialty condiments just because they “sounded good”. My freezer, refrigerator, and cabinets are no longer packed full and overflowing onto the counter and the top of the refrigerator. We have the food we need to make healthy meals for the week and that’s pretty much it. Yes, I usually have cheese in the house, but not in the quantities of the past– and it doesn’t disappear as quickly as it used to.
My husband Tom (who lost 70 lbs and also struggles with food addiction) and I go out for dinner about once per week for “date night.” We agree not to order appetizers or desserts, and we ask for bread not to be brought to the table. It keeps us from overindulging and it drastically decreases the bill.
If you came to my house for a cup of tea or coffee, I wouldn’t be able to offer you a cookie or piece of cake to go with it. I just don’t have it. My daughter comes home from college and goes looking through the kitchen before exclaiming “There’s nothing unhealthy in this house to eat!” It’s a great compliment.
Still on the Journey
I’m still learning and transforming my mind when it comes to food. I sometimes eat unhealthy things– and too much of them– but I’m improving. I focus more time and energy on non-food-related joys and activities. I’m more intentional in what I consume in terms of both eating and purchasing.
The Lord also gives me opportunities, such as with this guest post, to share my story with others who may be struggling with the same issues. My prayer is that you also find God’s guidance in potentially unexpected places. I pray that God will give you new strategies to overcome life’s challenges and find peace in focusing on the things that matter most.