Hungry to Feel Clean

Have you ever noticed how food can make you feel dirty?


I recently joined a “Fall 5-Day Clean Eating Support Club” on Facebook. 5 days? I can do that. I felt like I needed to get back on track. I had been slipping into old habits. The result wasn’t just that my clothes were getting tight, but that I felt…well…gross. That’s funny if you think about it. It makes sense that healthy eating would feel good to my body, but why does it also feel clean to my soul?

What should I do when I’m hungry to feel clean?


I became obsessed with my weight in my late teens. No sooner did I quit growing taller, than I my not-so-healthy appetite began to make me grow wider. I came home from being a counselor at summer camp with nice round cheeks. Both kinds.  My parents began pushing the salad towards me when I asked for more bread. Then my boyfriend called me “butterball.” That was the moment I decided to take action.

I began making up rules for myself. Easy ones at first:

  • no snacks after dinner.
  • only one sweet per day (that was a big step for a southern girl who put sugar on her frosted flakes).
  • drink 8 glasses of water a day.

That helped a little, but I always broke my own rules by the end of the week. The weekend was the worst. I pretty much binged until Sunday. Then I felt gross and planned to start a new diet on Monday, this time with stricter rules. I wanted to be thin, but even more I wanted to feel clean. I thought about food all the time. What I could eat. What I shouldn’t eat. What I planned to eat. What I wanted to eat. What I craved and then hated myself for craving.

The Law Works Wrath

During that time I found out first hand that “the law works wrath.” Romans 4:15. Now to be clear, these rules weren’t God’s law, they were my own. And they weren’t bad rules. No, they were reasonably good rules for a beginner dieter.

The problem wasn’t the rule, it was me. My inability to keep my own rules baffled me. Food had never been a problem for me before I began dieting. Now it was all I thought about. What’s up with that?

I felt good about myself when I could keep my rules. I hated myself when I failed. I would punish myself by making stricter rules. At one point I was only eating one meal every two days with diet pills to help. My law had brought me nothing but my own wrath against myself.

During this time God was working in my life, bringing me to personally embrace the faith I had been raised in. For the first time a Bible verse made sense to me. Paul wrote:

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15

I got that. It perfectly described my yo-yo dieting. It turned out my unruly appetite was just one manifestation of sin in my life. That was a new thought for me.

It was also the bad news that led to the best news: where sin is found, there’s only one solution. I needed a Savior. The following summer he found me.

Grace is a Person

I wish I could say that when I came to Jesus I instantly had no more problems with eating, dieting, or food. Not true. But I did begin to learn that grace is a Person, not a principle. I was not alone in my struggle against this area of sin and temptation.

I gained the Freshman 15 (really 25) my first semester at college. When I returned to campus after Christmas break, I knew something had to change. I planned to limit dessert to once a week, but I was leery of turning that into a new law and waking up the monster inside. On my way to the dining hall I cried out in desperate weakness, Jesus, they’re having my favorite cake for dessert tonight and I will eat 5 pieces if you don’t stop me. Help!

Of all things, they ran out of cake just as I came through the line. The next night I called out to him for help again. God has unusual methods–that evening a cute guy sat down next to me. I wasn’t about to binge in front of him.

Step by step, meal by meal, Jesus showed me that he really wanted to save me. More than that he really wanted to be with me. That’s because I was clean. He had made me clean.

Now he wasn’t going to leave my side.

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