Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Seven Steps to a Healthy Pantry: Step 1

Step 1: Know Your Motivation

“Limitation freed me.”  I read this phrase on a friend’s blog recently, and I knew I had to borrow it.  Those three words succinctly capture the process of transitioning my food life.  My process began with limitation and will end with freedom.  For more on that, click here.

Now that I’m done philosophizing (I tend to do that, bear with me), let me get down to the nitty-gritty.  This series is about how to transition your pantry from a not-so-healthy state to a healthier one.

Though my own personal story involves much more than pantry food items (and I will at times venture outside of the pantry during this series, just to keep things interesting), I’m starting with the pantry for two reasons:
  1. It’s contained and, therefore, not as overwhelming.
  2. It’s often where most of the worst offenders are found.
So, how do we begin?  I suggest that we start with an inventory. 

No, not an inventory of the pantry. 

That comes later.  I’m talking about an inventory of the heart: your heart, to be precise.  Why are you undertaking this process?

Do you want to lose weight?  Do you want to teach your kids better eating habits?  Do you feel convicted?  Like me, are you sick and now find yourself trying to change your diet in order to feel better and re-claim your health?  Or, is it some combination of these motivating factors?

(I have to insert a note here: this is not a place for guilt.  If you feel guilty at the thought of even glancing in the direction of your true heart motivations, then I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to talk to you about that.  Do you need to confess something (like a misaligned motivation or desire)?  Or, do you need to let go of shame and cut yourself some slack?  Only God knows, and He will show you.)

Whatever your reasons, you need to understand them in order for this to work.  If you don’t know your motivation, then you risk losing your way along the path. 

For example, if you are telling yourself that you want to rid your pantry of high-sugar snacks because you want to honor God with your body, but your real desire is to lose weight, then it will be harder to resist the sugary snack (I promise!) because you’ll find yourself living out of a mixed-up, confused, conflicted place, instead of a place of peace.  When you’re not secure in your conviction to make a change, it’s a lot easier to talk yourself into backsliding or “cheating”.

If you’re in this to lose weight and could care less about being healthy, then great…let’s be real about that.  If you’re examining your pantry because your friends are into this whole ‘clean eating’ thing and you feel like you should be into it too, okay, we can work with that.  What we can’t work with is deception, including self-deception.  Food choices, like all choices, come out of our hearts.  Our hearts need to be in the light first so that we can move forward with clarity (see the Scripture references at the end of this post). 

Once we bring them into the light, revealing what’s really going on in there, we can work on bringing them into alignment with God’s heart for us to be healthy, whole children able to bring Him glory with all parts of our selves, including our physical bodies (for more on aligning ourselves with God, check out Proverbs 3:6 and Romans 12:2).

Let me be clear – this is my theology of eating:
  • God made us in His image: Genesis 1:26-27
  • As such, He wants us to be healthy, inside and out: Romans 12:1-2 (don't worry - we'll dig into what I mean by 'healthy' in the next post)
  • He gave us food to meet that goal: Genesis 1:28 & Genesis 8:20-9:4
  • We need to receive this food as a gift, using it to fulfill God’s intention that we reflect His image and have “life to the full”: John 10:10
  • Part of receiving the gift of food is a call to stewardship of His resources: Genesis 1: 28-30 & Genesis 9:2
In other words, God wants us to experience abundance!  Over the next several steps I will ask you to take things out of your pantry, to say no to things, to limit yourself – but I am not asking you to deprive yourself out of some misguided notion of how to achieve holiness. 

Nothing you do will make God love you more or less.  This is about giving and receiving – giving Him the gift of trust by believing He will provide for you if you let go of your desires and align your eating habits with His desires (health, wholeness, good stewardship of His creation).

So, back to my original point: in order to move forward through this process in a way that will produce lasting results, it's time to take an inventory.  And I do mean now (or the next minute you have a free moment).  Invite the Holy Spirit to illuminate your heart and mind, to bring you into alignment with His wishes, and to show you a clear path forward.

If, as you are examining your heart, you find some not-so-nice things there – motivations that don’t line up with God’s heart – don’t stress (Phil. 4:6).  We serve a loving and forgiving and welcoming God!  He wants to set you free and transform you into His likeness (yes, even down to the very detail of your heart becoming more like His) (1 John 1:9).  Confess the wrong motivation, tell Him you want to repent, and invite Him to realign your heart with His.

I will provide six more steps in the process – some practical and some more ethereal – but the Holy Spirit may reveal something different to you, a new or unique way forward that will fit your family or lifestyle perfectly.  That’s why I say start here, in prayer, searching your heart.  The way forward will be much simpler if you do.

See you at Step Two!  Blessings, Jenny

Here are a few more Scriptures for reference:

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”  Proverbs 4:23, NLV

“Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.”  Psalm 119:36, NIV


  1. You know, I've been thinking a lot about clean eating lately between you and Michelle (my yoga teacher). My motivation has been to start to get rid of the things that are not nutritious and replace them with healthier options. It can be overwhelming and a little directionless and I don't feel like I have a rhythm yet, if that makes any sense. It's something that takes a lot of intention. Looking forward to allowing the Holy Spirit to really show me what direction to take!

  2. I am in the process of doing this. So far, I have been able to achieve a very good balance. But still, chips and such make it to the pantry, because my children and hubby wants some.

    Is it a HIS Grace - no more!

    Praying that as you transition, you are able to see the benefits and give thanks that you can do it with a filled heart.


  3. Food choices come from the heart . . . wow. I know this, but do I really know this. My heart post this week is about our words coming out of our heart. Imagine if we really let Jesus have our whole hearts . . . what sweet and healthy people we would be.

    Your are rocking this series, Jenny.