"Eating with joy means accepting food as God's gift …. It means choosing food … that affirms a flourishing life for the land, for the animals and for the people that bring us our food. It means eating food with others in ways that lead to our mutual health and flourishing. And it means embracing our creativity as people made in the image of the Creator God to prepare food in ways that celebrate God's gift while bringing enjoyment to all our senses."
So writes Rachel Marie Stone in her debut book, Eat With Joy: Redeeming God's Gift of Food (InterVarsity Press)—but Stone hasn't always eaten with joy. For 10 years she struggled with an eating disorder "only slightly more dramatic than the eating disorder that most North Americans have." Today, however, she's a joyful wife, mother, gardener, meal-maker, and writer—often about food.
Writer LaVonne Neff corresponded with Stone about connecting with God, his creation, and his people through the way we eat.
You've written that your decade-long fear of food was tied to your theology. What changed your attitude?
For many Americans, food is connected to morality. Menus describe chocolate desserts as "sinful," and labels describe healthier choices as "guilt-free." People speak of being "bad" when they've broken their chosen dietary rules and "good" when they haven't. I believed that keeping my weight down and my intake "pure" was crucial to keeping the rest of my life ordered and in check. I believed this meant not caring about food—or pleasure—very much, that apathy toward food, except as healthy fuel for the tank, was what pleased God. ...