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Playing Russian Roulette with Diet Plans

“The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly. ”  (Proverbs 15:14)

Sometimes gaining experience can be humbling. When I first started out as a nutritionist nearly thirty years ago, I trusted what the experts told me. I encouraged my patients to follow some crazy recommendations of the times, like skipping eggs, potatoes and butter. When I began researching God’s Plan I learned better.

Most dieters don’t get diets right the first time either. So they’ll attempt different plans, jumping from one diet to the next, hoping for the best. They follow blindly without understanding physiology or why they crave food.  By doing so, they are playing Russian roulette with their body.

How many of us have made fools of ourselves by following one crazy diet plan after another? Some blogging sites exhort: cut out a food group, give up bananas, sweet potatoes or legumes. Eat more fat, give up fat, eat tons of protein, cut out all carbs . . . so how are we to know what’s truth and what’s not? By understanding Truth and the process of metabolism makes it less frightening.

Think of it this way: God could have designed us to be energized by solar power, oil or hydro energy. But He chose food as the source of our bodily power. How much more fun is it to consume food rather than oil?  God gave us a gift! When we receive a cherished gift we honor it, right? Then why do we trash God’s Heavenly gift?

Is it any wonder why we feel so discouraged mentally and physically after following unhealthy diets with artificial preservatives, dyes and even chemicals? This creates changes in brain chemistry. We weren’t meant to run on junk food because it interferes with healthy physiology. These harm our bodily functions while  the devil dances gleefully as we give in to foods that produce diabetes, heart disease and even cancers.

I read and follow dietitians, doctors and other nutritionists who practice what they preach while avoiding those who profess myths like “lose 10 pounds in a week!!!” All diet plans will cause weight loss but not all diets are healthy and some are downright unsafe!

Therefore I recommend analyzing yourself first.

Know yourself.  Are you a creature of habit? Does watching a movie mean sitting down with a big bowl of popcorn every time? Habits are difficult to break but it can be done. Create strategies before you go to a food function, like: have a glass of water with lemon to keep your hands busy, sit with your back to the food, memorize motivating Scripture verses or visualize gooey cheese coursing through your veins. By conquering your temptations, you’ll feel victorious!

Why do you eat? Do you eat for enjoyment, guilt, comfort, curiosity, peer pressure, boredom?  Think before eating. Ask yourself if you are really hungry or simply provoked by a feeling? If it’s a feeling, do something else: Read, take a walk, play with the kids, bike, dance, drink water – anything other than eat unless you are truly hungry; then eat a small nutritionally healthy snack. Create an alternative list and post it on the fridge.

Are you motivated enough? To stay motivated, one needs positive reinforcement. Read God’s Word for strength. Our Lord overcame everything, even hunger and peer pressure and he remained strong in his goal. Read positive devotional or autobiographies of inspirational champions who have overcome obstacles. If they did it, why not you?

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  (1 Corinthians 10:31)

 

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The Most Grandiose Season of the Year!

Welcome to the most grandiose season of the year!!! No, not Thanksgiving or Christmas: it’s Weight-gain Season!

gluttonyAs the lyrics from the movie Oliver professes, “Food, Glorious Food . . . !” The holiday pig-out season now begins at Halloween and ends with the last Super Bowl party in February. That’s one long temptation for someone suffering from food addiction. So how does someone resist the seduction of food?

My mother always cautioned me if I ever greedily placed too much on my plate, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach!” She was right and since I originally grew up on a run-down NJ farm, whatever I took, I was forced to eat. I vowed someday I’d consume an entire package of chocolate pudding by myself! I did – it was a learning experience. I’m not poor anymore but sometimes my mind taunted me to believe otherwise. All-One-Can-Eat-Buffets are still my worse temptation.

With God’s help I overcame the enticement of food. It feels wonderful to conquer the temptation of overeating, however I know many will suffer through this holiday season. Stay strong!

First, enjoy food! Don’t believe the lie of “good and bad” foods. Once I believed that. So what did I do? Feeling like a “rebellious child” I snuck food secretively in case someone caught and belittled me.

According to God any food is fine in moderation if we remain in control. Don’t become a slave to a deep-fried Twinkie!

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)

How do we remain in control? Strategize. Why not spread much smaller portions of white meat turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans and a sliver of pumpkin pie rather than piling our plate, eating everything? Are we suffering then? No. Have we deprived ourselves of pleasure? No. The first bite of anything always tastes best because fat coats the tongue, taking more to satisfy. Allow our brain to tell us we are sampling fabulous nutrients. Savor it, eat slowly and don’t feel guilty.

If you overeat, ask why you lost control. Is it because you’re angry, feel you “deserve it,” are uncomfortable around family, greedy or simply peer-pressured, etc?  If those reasons apply, it’s more about physiology, strategy and psychology than control, (another post.)

 “For everything in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:16)

Have we created an idol out of food? Remember our Lord actually died for every sin, which means gluttony as well as murder or theft.

“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.”  (Philippians 3:19)

All choices have consequences and whatever we choose, we own. With food however, whatever we choose we wear! Do you love that food enough to wear it? That’s not an exaggeration. We wear it on the inside and it shows on the outside: we’ll have a grey appearance, our energy level will be low; we’ll be overweight and susceptible to illnesses. Were all those chemically, calorie-laden foods worth it? Is it worth the sorrow on your children’s faces when they learn you have diabetes or heart disease?

Now please don’t misunderstand, enjoy your parties and holiday dinners. But consume a variety of more healthier (80%) than non-healthier items. Take smaller portions, chew thoroughly, slow down and relish the flavors. Conquer your desire of addictive foods and enjoy God’s Bounty.

Learning to Overcome Food Addictions

By now you probably realize that food, being a bunch of chemicals, is addictive. Chemicals change our neurological and metabolic functions; sometimes without us even being aware of that fact. Food addiction is similar to every other addiction because it alters our brain neurotransmitters and body chemistry. As one patient described it to me, “it’s like a switch went off in my brain. I couldn’t stop.”woman stuffing fast food

Some believe food addiction is even worse than drugs, alcohol and smoking because we can’t get away from food – it’s always there, staring us in the face. It’s at work in the vending machine, on television commercials, magazines, along the roads we travel on. If we are having a stressful morning, it is so easy to reach for the donuts in the break room. Angry? Those pretzels are therapeutically crunchy!!! Lonely? We might find ourselves craving the comforting chemical found in chocolate, called phenylethylamine. Food chemically changes our moods.

It is a fact that food acts as a soothing drug when we are emotionally stressed. There is hope however. I have discovered the more I turned down donuts, processed, fast food and placed more wholesome foods into my system, the less I desired junk food. Today it doesn’t tempt me to stroll past a table covered in sugary snacks. If you also begin to select mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein, you’ll also discover a desire for more nutritionally healthy choices!

Let’s get real: self-medicating with food, drugs or alcohol does make the pain go away, but only for a short time. It changes our chemical make-up, providing pleasure, relaxing us. That’s a hard habit to give up. I urge you to reach out for God’s strength to get you through those hard times. Sadly however, many turn directly from instead of to God when hardship hits. You might even question God. Why doesn’t He give me more strength to overcome? Why would He allow me to be so weak?

“He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.”  (Psalm 107:20)

God does care deeply, it breaks His heart when He sees suffering. But He allows us, just as He has since Adam, free choice: loving obedience, apathy or self-destruction. God gave us free will. God wants us to choose what is best but in His love, He did not create puppets and will not force us to do what He wants us to do. Free Will! But actions have consequences. Choosing to consume chemically-laden, processed foods will ultimately produce physiologically destructive results.

I understand personal choice. As much as I wanted my patients to become healthier, they had to want it more than I wanted it for them! I watched as they chose a more healthier lifestyle . . . or destruction. It was either victorious or painful to watch but it had to be their choice. Change starts from within the individual.

Most people probably don’t understand the intricate, complicated processes of physiology but we do see the result of positive or detrimental choices. Isn’t this similar to how we see Jesus at work in a new believer’s life? We see the results of positive choices as well.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Please choose wisely.