One of the most surprising chapters in Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat for Health book is the one on hunger. It starts out with a description of an eating regimen we can all relate to. This guy has an old-school healthy breakfast of a bagel and some flavored yogurt but by mid-morning he needs coffee because he feels listless with a mild headache. He goes on through the day always needing a little pick me up between meals to stave off these feelings. His meals are perfect Standard American Diet food (yogurt, white bread, creamy salad dressing, and pasta). At the end of the day, we realize this guy has been eating sugar all day but it looks like healthy food.
These queasy feelings, headaches, and listlessness are what Dr. Fuhrman calls “toxic” hunger. After digestion the body goes into detox, removing any unhealthy substances we might have eaten with our food, like sugar or caffeine. It can make us feel sick and we habitually regard these detox feelings as hunger pangs. True hunger, however, does not make us feel sick like this. True hunger is a sensation in our throat, increased salivation, and an increase in taste so that food actually tastes better when we are hungry.
If every time we feel toxic hunger we throw more stimulants, sugar, salt, and fats into our mouths, we will never have much success on any diet. We feel sick if we don’t eat the food we are addicted to and so cutting down on portion size and counting calories becomes an overhwhelming battle of willpower in the midst of sick feelings. How can we ever win such a battle? It seems impossible.
A little knowledge is a powerful tool. I recommend Dr. Fuhrman’s book to really understand toxic hunger and what causes it. The book also reveals that hunger is only satisfied when it meets four requirements: volume (eating enough to feel full), nutrients (with an emphasis on the micronutrients found in vegetables), enough calories, and breaking all addictions so that we do not mistake detox feelings for hunger feelings and do not go looking for a quick sugar/salt/caffeine fix.
We all hunger in another way, too. We hunger to make some sense of this world and in seeking answers we are often brought to a spiritual place. Science has revealed an unseen world of atoms, neutrons, and powerful sources of energy. Seeking the unseen world of energy by surrounding ourselves with energy sources like crystals and pyramid-shaped objects, or placing objects in patterns of energy can be spiritually fulfilling for us. Imagining peace and filling our minds with good thoughts helps us to feel more in control and in tune with our world.
Toxic spiritual hunger occurs when humans who are made to praise and worship God put too much faith into things like energy patterns, crystals, and rituals and not in the creator of these things, that is, our God, the God of Abraham and the father of Jesus Christ. It is a simple additional thought, the next step so to speak, easily obtained with a little knowledge gained in scripture reading. True spiritual hunger is going one step further, getting out of the boat, and walking on water. Standing on the promises of God and not just the things God has created.
In the movie Monuments Men one of the actors goes into a soliloquy about art being a part of who we are, a part of our historical story, and an important part of our culture. Of course all of this is true but it seemed so meager to me when I understand art as a glorification of God who gifted men and women with talent and how those average men and women practiced their incredible god-given talent for the love and edification of others for the purpose of knowing God better and loving Him more. It is a simple additional thought that perhaps the script writer decided he couldn’t write and so he stopped short of saying the truth: that art glorifies God.
I often see toxic spiritual hunger at work in our world, this practice of stopping short of praising God, and just praising men, or worshipping God’s creation rather than God himself. Just a small faith in the promises of God and Christ’s offer of redemption can cause powerful ripples of transformation in us and in those around us if only we would take that first step. It is like in the movie when the Monuments Men courageously walk through darkness into a bright light. At first it is too bright to see, almost blinding. It is like that when we first hear the story of Jesus and all that he did, we cannot believe it. It is too beautiful, too bright to really believe (virgin birth, miracles, raised from the dead and walking around for days!). But then the eyes of the Monument Men adjust to the light and they begin to see all the treasures, the glorious works of art in front of them. These precious works God has given us through the talents of men to praise His holy name.
A small faith is just like that. We begin to hope that we can overcome those things that drag us down, that somehow God will truly enlighten us and heal us as a people. We begin to walk in that small faith of ours, we take our first step, and then our “spirit eyes” adjust and we see that the real energy is not in what is created, though there is that, but the really powerful energy is in our own faith in God’s very presence in and around us, in others, and in his powerful word. God himself has created a great work of art in us. And just like Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Raphael, and others, God is faithful to finish it. So we must have hope and take that first step.
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.–Jesus Christ, Matthew 17:20