The confession, spoken in her sweet little three-year-old voice, was almost too much for this mama. My daughter and I were saying her bedtime prayers, and when it came time to yield something to God, we talked about our stomachs. I volunteered that the Super Bowl had offered all kinds of foods and temptations, and I had eaten too much. My tummy hurt. She then offered her own admission: she had eaten too much sugar.
In her defense, she hadn’t really eaten that much sugar. The treats had all been sugar-free, and my friend and I had intentionally filled the table with fruits and veggies that would nourish our families. But in my little one’s mind, she recognized that she had eaten to excess.
It was a bittersweet moment.
On the one hand, I want my children to recognize which foods energize them and how much is enough. On the other, I want to guard against developing a food fixation, especially because I know firsthand how addictive and hopeless it can be. But I also know that Jesus can set us free!
So how do we raise our children to love God more than food… but still enjoy His good gifts moderately and guilt-free?
How to Break Food’s Generational Stronghold
Here are a few ideas I’ve been mulling over since the weekend:
Nurture a love and hunger for God. Our children need to hear again and again that God loves them and wants to be with them. Let’s stir up a hunger for His Word and His presence by opening our Bibles at breakfast and praying together at bedtime, speaking of Him in the car and everywhere we go.
Affirm the goodness of food as a gift from our Father. Every meal is a chance to turn our hearts to God in worship, as we recognize Him as the Giver of good gifts and the provider of everything we need. We can enjoy food without letting it gain mastery over us.
Model a healthy relationship with food. As we release food to its proper role in our lives, we can live out for our kids what it looks like to make healthy food choices, to stop when we’re full, and to seek comfort in Jesus, not food.
Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the responsibility of guiding my daughters toward food freedom. I don’t have this all figured out, and I’m desperately asking God for wisdom. But I believe He will be faithful to answer our prayers, break generational strongholds, and guide us as we raise our children to love and desire Him alone.
As we folded our hands and bowed our heads over the last part of our prayer, I led my daughter in a prayer of dedication: “Dear God, I give you my stomach. It is not mine but Yours. Help me eat what makes me healthy and stop when I’ve had enough. And help me desire You more than any sweet treat. Amen.”
And as I tucked her into bed, I whispered to her the promises of a new day under the loving gaze of a good Father. His mercies are new every morning and there is no guilt or condemnation for His children. Great is His love and faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Those are the things I’d whisper to you, sweet friend, as you begin your week and your day. Regardless of what the weekend held for you, no matter how you’ve been doing so far this week, (or even so far today!), this hour is a new start, a fresh beginning. Forget what is behind and lean into the victory that lies ahead for us in Christ Jesus. Great is His faithfulness.
Do you have a creative or fun idea for how to teach kids a healthy and biblical view of food? I’d love to hear! Comment below and let us know.
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