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Archive for February 12th, 2011

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: “What in the world does joyful faith have to do with diet soda?”  Absolutely nothing – yet I’m going to tie them together in the post anyway, because that’s how I roll.  I’m not good at compartmentalizing.  I believe our body, mind, spirit, and relationships are all connected, and I believe God juxtaposed this week’s daily scripture readings from Romans with the following articles on strokes and diet soda for a reason.  So here goes…

Diet Soda Tied to Stroke Risk
In the February 10 issue of the Idaho Press Tribune, two articles were printed about strokes right next to each other.  The first article mentioned that strokes are rising dramatically among young and middle-aged Americans.  “The sharpest increase – 51% – was among men 15 through 34.”  Right below that article was a report on a study done in the New York area that found a higher risk for stroke and heart attack among those who drink diet soda every day versus those who drink no soda at all.   Hmmm.  Do you think these two reports could be connected?  Could it be that the rise in strokes among young people is due to the preference for diet soda among young people in our culture?  (I can refer to this age group as “young people” because I have, sadly, outgrown this age bracket.)

We all assume that the ingredients in our foods must be safe because they’re regulated by the FDA, right?  Sort of.  Much of the testing on new chemicals is done voluntarily by food manufacturers, and they’re only required to test the safety of that one ingredient.  Less testing is done on the safety of the chemical cocktails we drink when all these chemicals are combined in something like diet soda. The ingredients in Diet Coke are: carbonated water, caramel color, aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate, natural flavors, citric acid, caffeine.  The only thing that sounds natural are the “natural flavors” – whatever those are.  The original formula of Coca Cola contained small amounts of cocaine, which is “natural” – hence the name Coca Cola – so I think we can agree that just because something is found in nature, doesn’t always mean it’s good for you.  If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve probably guessed that we don’t consume diet soda or other food-like substances that are developed in a lab.

So What Does This Have To Do With Faith?
This week I’ve been reading Paul’s letter to the Romans about weak and strong faith as they relate to personal food decisions.  Romans 14 says, “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.  One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.  The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. ”  While Paul was addressing specific food issues of his time, I think the spirit of Paul’s words still applies to food choices today.

Each of us is on his or her own personal journey in regards to what foods we feel are acceptable.  Your journey is different from mine.  While I will continue to share what I’ve learned – like the link between diet soda and strokes – I do not pass judgment on those who are not on my same journey.  So don’t hide your Diet Coke when I walk by because I’m not going to look down on you for drinking it.  If you offer me something to eat and I refuse, please don’t assume it’s because I am judging it as evil – I may simply not be hungry.  When I am a guest in someone’s home, I gladly eat what is offered to me, whether it fits into my food preferences or not.  When we’re at a party where other children are drinking pop and my kids ask for some, I give them a choice between a half can of pop or dessert (my daughter will choose the pop).  We eat natural foods most of the time, but I would never want my preferences to be a burden to someone else (with the exception of gluten, which is a medical issue – but even then, I prefer to bring a gluten free substitute with me rather than impose on someone else).

So I hope this random post helps to illustrate that even though I write passionately about food issues from time to time, I value relationships with others over food preferences.  God accepts us all wherever we are on our food journey, according to Romans, so we also need to accept one another.  If you’re interested in more articles on dangerous chemicals in food, check out this post.  If you’d like to join me in daily Bible reading, we’re in Matthew, Romans, and Proverbs this week.  Feel free to jump in and share what God’s teaching you!  The Daily Bible Reading Schedule is always posted on the Faith tab above.  (See, I told you I’d tie all this together!)  🙂

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