I often wonder about the ways our church collectively defines abuse of the body, as enshrined in various policies and legislative decisions. It’s very much a rules-based or topic-based approach, as opposed to a principle-based one. We seem to focus on alcohol a lot. Particularly for priesthood holders, as far as policy dictates, this is a big no-no.
It’s reasonable to say that these policies are based on respect for ourselves, our bodies, our spirits, our families, good stewardship so on and so forth. Without getting into the details of what we think about these policies, I’d like to throw another bodily-abuse in there for discussion. Food. Or more specifically, over consumption of food, and in particular today, sugar.
We talk about over-consumption of alcohol and its subsequent abuses as one of the factors in avoiding it all together. Personally, and within my cultural context, I can easily and happily enjoy one glass of red wine without feeling the need to polish off the entire bottle. Sugar, however, is a total different story.
I cannot eat one square of chocolate without wanting to demolish the whole block (particularly if it’s not dark chocolate). I cannot open a packet of lollies and just have a couple. I cannot bake a tray of biscuits and only have one. I polish off the lot. The entire tray. In one day.
Sugar is an addictive substance. Sugar puts me in a foul mood. Mood swings. Appetite fluctuations. General inflammation inside my body. It messes up hormones and enzymes that impact my ability to be healthy. It makes me over-eat. I experience an overall decrease in my general well-being. I get physically ill from too much. I get a daily afternoon slump where my brain can’t operate without another hit. Sugar has been my drug of choice. (I’m not just talking about the refined stuff either. I reason with myself that honey is okay, ‘just one teaspoon’. That’s not even thinking about the hidden sugars in sauces and breads).
Sugar is literally destroying our bodies – many would argue as much as alcohol is – and the ‘sugar-free’ movement is growing. Coinciding with Lent, I’m breaking up with sugar (and blogging about it here). This abuse of my body, wonderfully and wondrously created, cannot continue.
At church (including standard Sundays, church activities etc), we almost never talk about over-consumption of processed foods and sugars that lead to the abuse of our bodies – or physical health at all for that matter. It’s all about no alcohol. We’re more than happy to judge on alcohol consumption, but I’ve never heard anyone say, “put down that muffin!” at a pot-luck, or be outraged at a cheesecake on the table as though it were a bottle of whiskey.
To be clear, for me, being a good steward of my body is as much about what I eat and how much I move as it is about watching my alcohol consumption (and I am imperfect at both).
In our priesthood call guidance documents, one is caused to consider “Does the person avoid using alcohol, tobacco, and other addicting substances?”
I think some positive movements have been made by the inclusion of ‘Responsible Choices’ and ‘Sacredness of Creation’ in our Enduring Principles that help direct us to think more broadly about health and the choices we make about what (and how much) we put into our bodies.
Do we need a no-sugar policy? Or should we advocate a more principle-based approach to the kind of decision making that applies to many aspects of healthy living (including food and alcohol)?
What are your thoughts on stewardship of the body?