Feeding Kids: How Cleaning Up Your Act Can Make Things Even Worse

Jan 7, 2009 by

Your kids eating too many hotdogs? Too much fast food and sugar? Too many fried foods and all manner of junk? It will take a lot of will power, but it’s a new year—time to get rid of all those bad habits.

Or not.

Jesus told a parable about the dangers of self-reformation.  A man manages to get rid of the evil spirit that is living in him. The man gets all cleaned up: he does a perfect job of saying no to all those evil ways.  But he stays empty. He doesn’t fill up the void with something better to replace the evil spirit, so the spirit moves back in to that nice swept, empty space. And seven of his even more wicked friends move in with him.

“The last state of that man is worse than the first,” as Jesus points out.

Nature abhors a vacuum and so do stomachs. Good habits are the best servants to help you defeat the bad habits that are now your master. It’s almost impossible to get rid of a bad habit, but it may be possible to squeeze it out with a new good one or two.  An ounce of replacement is worth a pound of deprivation.

“Habit is driven out by habit,” educational reformer Charlotte Mason quotes Thomas à Kempis: “The fundamental law of education.”

A recent Harvard study, reported in Michael Glassner’s Gospel of Food: Why We Should Stop Worrying and Enjoy What We Eat, confirms that, healthwise, you actually get more mileage out of increasing the number of healthy foods you eat than cutting out unhealthy ones.

So, leave no place for the devil, but open wide the doors for God.  Don’t leave the dirt bare for weeds to grow, plant it full of flowers and vegetables.

“The best cure for a bad lunch is a good lunch,” as one lunchmeat ad declares.

So take the pressure off yourself: don’t try to get rid of your bad habits. Let them coexist until you have so many good ones that you forget about the bad. Don’t try to quit eating junky foods. Try starting to eat more and more good ones and you will naturally stop eating so many bad ones.

Give up trying to avoid losses, and focus on making some gains. Don’t just sit there and resist, get busy doing something better.

Related Post:

Dinner Table Pharisees and Born Again Vegetable Lovers

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 7 January 2009 / All rights reserved

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Anna Migeon
Anna Migeon

Jill, Thanks for your comment! I used to be pretty mystified by that parable. Now I always think of it as applying to depriving ourselves of whatever we are trying to avoid, which is tough, vs. replacing the bad with better. Dieting (and other life changes) is so often deprivation, based on will power. When we still are longing for whatever we are trying to give up, failure is often the result. Dealing with the affections seems to work better. I wonder if you might enjoy reading this post of mine: Dinner Table Pharisees and Born Again Vegetable Lovers: http://sacredappetite.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/dinner-table-pharisees-and-born-again-vegetable-lovers/


Simply but well put! I hadn't thought of that parable in terms of habit training but you are so right.


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