Is Thinness Next to Godliness?

Written by Carol Showalter

Carol Showalter, founder of the first faith-based diet program, challenges the notion that thinness is next to godliness in the newly revised edition of her best-selling book, 3D: Diet, Discipline and Discipleship. Here are some excerpts.

What does food have to do with faith?

God has always used the area of food to teach His people about themselves and about Him. The Garden of Eden is our first introduction to the individual wanting to do “his/her” own thing when it came to eating! “I want what I want when I want it” is the cry that came out of the garden and is still the cry of most of us when it comes to food.

The manna from heaven was provided by God to show His people that He did care about their hunger, and that He would indeed take care of them. But soon the manna didn’t satisfy (does that sound familiar?). Then, of course, throughout the life of Jesus many of His miracles centered around food – the feeding of the 5,000, the wedding feast at Cana and others. His teaching often occurred around the table – with Martha and Mary, with Zaccheus, and of course with His disciples. The bread and the wine of communion represent Jesus’ very life being given to us. And, at the end of life, we have all been invited to the banquet table with him. Food is woven in and out of the Bible with great significance, and it is woven in and out of our lives today in much the same way.

Food, like everything else, needs to come under the Lordship of Christ, and we need to walk towards that goal. The whole area of food brings out rebellion, fear, and anxiousness, and it reveals a lot about who we are inside (which is exactly what happened in the Bible!).

God cares about what’s inside

As I was working on the updated version of the bestseller, 3D, lying beneath the surface was the fact that I still had to battle my weight. I wondered if knowing this would be a disappointment to the reader of the book.

“Lord, how can I revise the 3D book when I still struggle with my weight so much?” – I often asked that question of the Lord during my quiet time. I was encouraged when I read, in the front my journal, that Teresa of Avila had recommended that her sisters write whatever God was saying to them “interiorly.”

These were the words that seemed to come to my heart:

It isn’t your weight that has any ability or disability to glorify Me. It is you, My child. You, wrapped up with My love and My wonder. You, the recipient of My mercy, My compassion, and My understanding. I do not think the way you think. Your talk about weight is foreign to Me. Do you really believe all thin people glorify Me? You know better. No, no, my child, you are missing the picture. My will is all you need to be concerned about. And you have to discern that daily for your life.

God desires wholeness over thinness

Perhaps the problem with the whole weight loss/God concept is that we all want it to be a success story (our idea of a success story). If we love God enough, we will eat properly. If we love God enough, we will be thin. If we memorize our Scripture verses, we will be free from the temptations of the flesh. We want a method that will make us win. A method to stay thin, a method to keep out of depression, a method to manage our time properly.

We are striving for the wrong things. Wholeness in body, mind and spirit is what we need to strive for. And one without the other makes us off balance. Certainly, there is a lot of attention focused on the body these days. And there is no shortage of thin people in the world – in many cases too thin, as anorexia still wields great power over girls and women between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five. And diet programs diet products collect literally billions of dollars from men, women and children seeking to lose weight.

Never have so many people been in counseling, taking medications for depression and anxieties, or been involved with therapy groups. The mind is in trouble and people are seeking help everywhere they can get it.

It’s the spirit that is lagging behind the trends of today, allowing the cart to pull the horse.

3D began a trend – one of matching up body, mind, and spirit. It’s still a proven combination for wholeness.

About 3D: Diet, Discipline and Discipleship

As a 34-year-old pastor’s wife in New York, Carol Showalter decided to end her cycle of yo-yo dieting and defeat.

So in 1972, she quit the national diet program she was involved in and rallied together nine women from her church to form their own support group, 3D – for Diet, Discipline and Discipleship. It was the first faith-based weight loss program.

Today, over 100,000 people and 5,000 churches have gone through the 12-week program that includes accountability, prayer, devotions, as well as the nutritional plan of the American Dietetic and Diabetic Association.

Not a program to make people thin, 3D is rather a holistic approach that brings health and spirituality together. In diet-crazed world, 3D offers a refreshing approach that doesn’t excuse weight problems, but rather attempts to put weight struggles into balance.

“What one weighs is insignificant in the bigger picture of life,” says Carol. “However, this is a good place to start to learn some wonderful lessons in life – forgiveness, acceptance, pride, self-worth. It is freeing to know and love one’s self, regardless of the number on the scale, with the help of God.”

The revised edition of Carol’s best-selling book, 3D: Diet, Discipline and Discipleship, offers the complete food plan, exercise information, recipes and guide to starting the 12-week program.

~Adapted from “Diet, Discipline and Discipleship” by Carol Showalter. Copyright © 2002 by Paraclete Press. Used with permission.

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