Broken Bread: How to Stop Using Food and Fear to Fill Spiritual Hunger
With the holiday and gathering season fast approaching, CSM was thankful to interview Christian Book Award Winner Tilly Dillehay about a topic many of us struggle with—food. Living in Tennessee with her pastor husband Justin and their three beautiful children, Tilly shares this valuable resource for addressing “fears that drive our eating,” being “healthy without bondage to rules,” and more.
CSpotlight: Gatherings may be different this year, and people have joked about gaining the “COVID 15” during months at home—but for people with a food dependency, these things are not so funny. How does your book help work through this?
Tilly: I start the book talking about two opposite extremes when it comes to food: asceticism and gluttony. Asceticism is what you find in diet culture, a kind of mindless, tasteless approach to food that throws out enjoyment in favor of calorie or nutrient counting. Many people get thrown from that extreme, which works against the grain of human nature. We were designed to enjoy food for all it does: it gives us nutrients, yes, but it also gives us pleasure, culture, community. So when we ignore these other purposes of food, we set ourselves up for swinging into gluttony. These lonely months at home have highlighted both those extremes for many of us. And the solution is the same post-COVID as it was before: learning to sit down and eat with full attention and thanksgiving to God, from whom all blessings flow. He’s a God who overwhelmingly blesses his children, AND He’s a God who calls us to self-control. He’s both.
CSpotlight: Your use of humor in some of your chapters is refreshing yet doesn’t diminish the seriousness of the subject. What do you hope readers see through that humor?
Tilly: I hope that people can remember how fun food is, and how ridiculous we look when we take it too seriously. I think we should be more ready to accept our food like children, to see it and really notice it the way children do. Everything is new and a little silly to a child: Why on earth are watermelons so red they stain your shirt? Isn’t it funny that beans cause flatulence? Isn’t it nice that God makes hot food steamy so you can SEE it’s hot and not burn your tongue? This is the kind of thing, with our diets and our penchant for expensive ingredients, or even with our mindless gluttony, that we can no longer experience. God didn’t make onions for us to not notice how great they smell when they’re getting brown on a stovetop. And he didn’t design the food experience to be enjoyed with a stone-straight face.
CSpotlight: What does the Bible say about our bodies and our relationship with food?
Tilly: One of the most countercultural statements in scripture at this moment in time is probably Matthew 15:11: “…it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” So it’s important for us to remember in all this talk about “eating clean,” that the world currently equates a certain way of eating with righteousness. As Christians, we don’t have that option. Scripture has made it clear that freedom of conscience is to reign in our homes and churches around matters like food and drink. But we also know that our bodies belong to God, and that we can adorn the gospel by the way we conduct ourselves at the table. 1 Corinthians 10:31 comes to mind: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”