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About Hope

Hope Egan has written a variety of books, including "Holy Cow! What the Bible Says about Eating Meat and What the Bible Says About Healthy Living Cookbook: Simple and Tasty Recipes Featuring God's Ingredients.  She has also written for magazines and websites, such as Faith & Fitness Magazine, and  A full-time Realtor, Hope loves spending time with her husband, their son and their cat (Fireball) in their Rockville, Virginia home. 

The following is adapted from the "Our Stories" section of her cookbook.  

Most my childhood memories revolve around food: Chasing after ice cream truck's bells. Snooping for Pop-Tarts in the pantry. Eating pizza topped with crushed potato chips at school. Was this normal?

In 1990 I visited my mom in a 12-Step treatment center for food addiction.  There I learned about compulsive eating--the kind that cripples the mind, body and soul. I immediately understood that this wasn't just Mom's problem, it was mine too. 

Since God was the foundation for 12-step recovery programs, I avoided addressing my issue. God? Didn't He have anything better to do than keep me from eating another Matt's choclate chip cookie?  I always thought that He disappeared after freeing the slaves from Egypt and parting the Red Sea. Seeking God for help was not an option I seriously considered. 

My preoccupation with food continued until a car accident meant that I couldn't exercise. Because of my fear of packing on the pounds, I decided to go to Overeaters Anonymous (OA).

Still skeptical (but now desperate), I attended my first OA meeting and learned more about food addiction. How, for example, could someone like my mom eat so much "healthy" food but still have an unhealthy relationship with it? I learned that food idolatry is an internal issue--both emotional and spiritual--that affects many people, regardless of what they look like or what food they eat. 

What really struck me at these OA meetings, though, was the emphasis on God and how "normal" the God-focused OA people seemed to be. In spite of their stories about how God had changed their lives, I decided to be my own "higher power".  Not surprisingly, my life got worse.  

One evening, after a particularly gut-wrenching phone conversation with my mom, I broke down and sobbed. Why was I always so mean to her? I needed serious help, so I begged God to restore my life to sanity. (Besides my crazy eating, I had virutally no success with family or romantic relationships.)

After taking that leap of faith, my food obsession began to ease, and I abstained from eating sugar for longer than I ever had. While my food choices improved, my relationships with others and my knowledge of God were still poor. 

Having been raised in a secular Jewish home, I assumed it was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who I sought. But I eventually wondered about Jesus. After all, in spite of living in a predominanatly Christian culture, I didn't really know anything about this supposed messiah. I was curious, so I did some reading. My research made me think that Jesus might not be such a bad guy after all. After trying to "turn my life over to God" for three years--but still not really knowing Him--I visited a small Christian faith community. I was fascinated to learn about the God of Abraham from the Bible's perspective. Familiar stories about Adam and Eve, Joseph, and Moses were actually woven together as part of God's bigger story. I even learned the answer to questions that had nagged me since childhood: "Then what happened? Where did He go?" I was excited to learn that God's story continued to unfold, and that He was alive and well, working in people's lives, thousands of years later. 

By this time, I loved being part of a faith community that took God so seriously. But what about Jesus?

The Christian teachings about life were so compelling that I began to think maybe Jesus was The One. If Jesus inspired such wisdom about relationships, marriage, dating and sex, I couldn't help myself: I became a committed follower of Jesus.

Oy! What was a nice Jewish girl like me doing following Jesus?

It seemed odd, but as I became more committed, the food compulsions eased even more, and my relationships improved. Then, just when my life's bumps were starting to smooth out, I discovered that I had candida, a systemic yeast infection that infiltrates the entire bloodstream. The treatment? A super strict diet. 

It's easier to list what I could eat on the candida diet than what I couldn't: vegtables, nuts, seeds, beans, certain whole grains, fish, and chicken. How could I survive without sugar, dairy, wheat, yeast or processed foods?

I cried for days when I learned that I'd have to fix three meals a day--from scratch--for at least three months!  The thought of cooking every meal sounded awful. How to even start? At that point, my cooking repertoire was limited to eggs, pancakes, and boxed mac and cheese. I typically relied on salad bars, frozen dinners, and occasional pizza delivery to sustain me. Thankfully, several books taught me to prepare three meals a day, even though I could barely boil water when I began.

In spite of the trauma, candida turned out to be a gift.  Not only did I learn how to cook, but I looked better and felt healthier that ever. By the time I was healed, I enjoyed home cooking more than eating out, but did I wonder, "Do I have to eat healthy forever?" More importantly, what did God think about all this?

By this point I had fully committed my life to the God of the Bible and sought His guidance in all areas of life. So what, exactly, did He think about my food? From my experience, it seemed like eating rich desserts and avoiding fruits and vegtables was the norm for Christians.  And pork--something the Bible seemed to frown on--was usually served on religious holidays like Christmas and Easter. 

What was I missing?

Thankfully, I wasn't the only one to ask these questions.  In the last twenty years, dozens of fascinating books have been written about God, the Bible and food. Among others, I read Dr. Rex Russell's groundbreaking book, What the Bible Says about Healthy Living, which answered many of my questions.

Of course God cares about what we eat! He intelligently designed our bodies, our digestive systems, our immune systems. And He intelligently designed our food: all types of plants and animals that perfectly match our bodies' nutritional needs.

 I met many other people who struggled with food choices, so I began speaking about this topic at churches and women's events, which is how I met Amy Cataldo.  She was raised eating and cooking "God's way" and wanted to teach others how. 

Within a few months, we started a cooking club where we shared our experience and excitement about God's design for eating. Each month we created recipes to cook together, enjoyed a fellowship meal, and each participant left with recipes to use at home.  (Those recipes were the beginning of the What the Bible Says about Health Eatin Cookbook.)  

During those fellowship meals, the topic of meat often came up. Trying to explain my perspective, without stirring up controversy, I created an 8-page paper called "Why I Don't Eat Pork," which I shared with curious ladies in our group and which was the beginning of me writing Holy Cow! What the Bible Says about Eating Meat. (You can read more about that part of the story here.)

Over the years since then God has led me on a wild food and faith ride. Prayers and blessings to you and your journey!