God always intended food to be fuel for the body. He also meant for it to be a source of pleasure; that’s why He made food to taste good. As usual, the good God intended has been corrupted by the practice of people. This happened from the very beginning. In the garden, Eve looked at the fruit she knew she wasn’t supposed to eat and saw that it looked good, was good for food, and made one wise (Genesis 3:6). The first two were legitimate food reasons. The third was a nonfood reason. All of these reasons, of course, were trumped by God’s declaring this tree and its fruit off-limits.
Food today isn’t forbidden by God, but that doesn’t stop people from choosing food for nonfood reasons. Now, people don’t necessarily eat to become wise, but they eat for comfort, to relieve stress, to temporarily overcome boredom, because it’s pleasurable, as a form of rebellion, and in the name of convenience. The more nonfood reasons people have to eat, the more they eat. The more they eat, the larger they become. The larger they become, the more dissatisfied they are and the harder it is to experience and maintain a sense of personal happiness.
I encourage readers to utilize an easy-to-find tool in order to eat more healthfully. This tool is the U.S. government’s food pyramid found at www.MyPyramid.gov. The pyramid is a dietary guideline for all ages and activity levels. It also outlines the daily recommended amounts you should consume in different food categories. You can print up a daily meal planner sheet that helps you track what and how much you’re eating.
The bottom line for healthier eating, which you’ll find in my books or through the pyramid, is to eat more grains (with whole grains being the best), more fruits and vegetables (with darker vegetables being best – just think peppers and broccoli as opposed to celery), more lean sources of dairy and protein, and less oils and fats (with more of the good sources of fat like olive oil and flaxseed oil and less of the saturated and partially hydrogenated fats). With all of the healthy eating going on, there isn’t much room left for things like processed foods, packaged convenience or snack foods, junk food, or “discretionary calories” like cookies, cakes, pies and the like. Having these items occasionally is realistic. Eating them consistently, daily, is not realistic for healthy living.
God designed your body to use the food you eat as fuel to power your body’s functions. If you consistently put lousy gas in the tank of your car, it wouldn’t run properly. it may still get you down the road, but you’ll experience pings, burps, smoke, hesitations, and lack of power. It will gum up your engine parts and increase the amount of pollution in the air. Do this long enough, and you could find yourself calling a town truck on the side of the road. It’s the same way with your body. An occasional treat is not going to cause you problems, but if you live on a diet of high-calorie, high-caffeine, low-nutrient foods, your ability to physically perform will be compromised.
I’ve just gone over to the tip of the iceberg (or the pyramid) of healthy eating. I encourage you to pick up a copy of one of my books that contain information on healthy eating (The Body God Designed). Each of these books takes you on a journey of discovery for healthier living and gives you the tools you need to make better choices. Right now, I want to acknowledge what you really know to be true, that you need to commit to eating more healthfully. It really does make a difference in how you feel.
Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 35 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.
It is important not only to eat healthy foods but to eat them in the proper proportion. As a unique individual, you have an amount of calories needed each day and a weight range that is healthy and right for you. I wholeheartedly encourage you to visit with your primary care physician or gynecologist, if you have not done so already, and determine what a healthy weight looks like for you.
Different women have different body types and frames, so two women of the same height arrive at different healthy weights. Many women are as cyclical with their weight as they are with their periods. They lose and gain the same ten to fifteen to twenty pounds over and over again. When the weight is off, they’re happy. When the weight is on, they’re miserable.
Because of the nature of yo-yo dieting, the tendency over time is for the weight to come back on, stay on, and increase. As you work with your doctor to find your healthy weight, come up with a plan to not only achieve that weight but also maintain it over time.
Additionally, how you feel and the health of your body depends not only on what you eat but also what else you put into your body. If you are a smoker, I urge you to quit. Pumping nicotine into your system and smoke into your lungs is not good for you. The evidence of the damage done, apart from the dangers of lung cancer, is compelling. Smoking is an age accelerant, as its toxicity contributes to a more rapid decline of the body and overall health. If you smoke, you need to stop. This is also a conversation for you to have with your physician.
Be aware of the preservatives, additives, and hormones used in the foods you eat and drinks you consume. Many women have sensitivities and allergic reactions to these substances. Whenever possible, choose organic-type produce and foods. There are medical tests you can take that can help identify if your body is experiencing an ongoing allergic reaction to foods and other substances. If you suspect you are allergic to a certain food, eliminate it from your diet for a period of time and track your symptoms. When your body is under constant assault because of a sensitivity or allergic response, it will affect how you feel.
Be aware of the amount of alcohol you consume. As a chemical dependency professional, as well as a licensed counselor, I’ve seen the hard alcohol causes. If you have a problem with alcohol, don’t drink at all. If you don’t have a problem with alcohol, make sure to drink moderately. Not only do you need to be aware of the alcohol you are consuming, you need to also be aware of the extra calories in that alcohol. The more you drink, the more you impact the amount of calories consumed each day.
Lastly, be aware of the type and quantity of drugs you take. These include, of course, over-the-counter, prescription, and illicit drugs. If you are concerned about what you’re taking and how much, consider having a chemical dependency assessment done. These assessments factor in both legal and illegal substances and evaluate your level of dependency and abuse. If you’re worried or if family and friends have expressed their concern, if your use has interfered with your job or with social and family functions, I urge you to seek professional advice and assessment.
Please be aware that use and misuse of drugs is one strategy women use to self-medicate their feelings of anger. Because the anger is suppressed and not dealt with, it doesn’t go away. Because the anger doesn’t go away, the need for self-medicating doesn’t go away, and use can change to abuse.
If you or a loved one is struggling with body image or other dependency issues, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help. Call 1-888-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone will be in touch with you soon.
Few things bring as much comfort as homemade bread, especially when it’s hot out of the oven and slathered with sweet cream butter. It’s warm; it’s soft; it’s delicious. I attended a charity event, and one of the items up for bid in the silent auction part was called Delivered Comfort—homemade bread delivered to your house every week for two months. It was a very popular item. People would walk along the tables, reading all of the cards and descriptions of items to bid on, and when they’d come to this one, there was almost a universal sigh. “Oh, fresh hot bread every week!” You could hear the longing in their voices.
I kept track of this silent auction item because it intrigued me. Watching this particular bid sheet, I kept seeing the same bidder number. As other bidders outbid her, this bidder kept upping the ante. Finally, the bidder signed up for the “guaranteed bid”, which meant she would pay any higher price, thus guaranteeing herself the winning bid. It was her way of saying, “The bread is mine!”
Aren’t you like that about your comfort food? You tend to get grouchy if anyone tries to interfere with it. You need that food. It’s your reward. It helps you feel good. You use it to cope. It brings you back to your happy place. It’s your comfort.
In an increasingly uncomfortable world, comfort food takes on new importance. You’ve dealt with the ignorant and mindless eating, but comfort food isn’t ignorant or mindless. You know precisely what you’re after when you eat it and give it your complete and undivided attention. You don’t just eat it; you revel in it.
It is no accident that comfort food tends to be high in carbohydrates from grains and sugars. You’re after a certain outcome where this food is concerned, and without really knowing the science of it, you stumbled upon starchy, sugary food to achieve that feeling. Your unscientific trial and error with the pantry produces a very scientific result. Foods high in carbohydrates cause your body to have an increased supply of substance called serotonin.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, which is a fancy way of saying it provides a pathway for nerves to talk to each other. When your nerves are communicating with each other through serotonin, you feel relaxed and calm. If you have a lot of serotonin, you can feel drowsy. After that really big pasta meal on Sunday afternoon, what do you want to do? Why, take a nap! That’s serotonin at work.
One of the precursors of serotonin is tryptophan. If your body has tryptophan, it can make serotonin. Turkey has a large amount of tryptophan. After a big Thanksgiving meal, you sign, stretch, feel extremely content, then curl up on the sofa and snooze. This is your body on tryptophan.
Comfort food is physical, and it is emotional. It is snuggly, cuddly, feel-good food. The world can be harsh, stark, and edgy, so it’s no surprise you like your feel-good food. Even if you’re increasing your fruits and vegetables each day, this type of food can be difficult to give up, because if you give it up, you think you’re giving up comfort itself.
It’s not enough to add fruits and vegetables to your diet. It’s not enough to give up snacking. You need to come clean about your comfort food.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are ready to get the help you need to regain your health and to reach the end of the tunnel, call us at 1-888-771-5166 today.
People who succeed at weight loss recognize the deceit of diets and no longer choose to be victimized by one of the most unregulated industries on record. We now know that women who focus on TV ads about dieting, or diet products, eat nearly twice as much as those who watch ads about other consumer products. What is your first line of defense if you are one of these victims? Change the channel. It can be your first step toward taking control of your new life.
An obsession with dieting has never worked and it never will. Diets hurt you mentally and physically. You lose the weight; you gain it back. You feel good about yourself for a moment, and then you feel terrible. Diets are a cruel joke of bait and switch. You’ve been conned into thinking you are buying one thing and end up stuck with something else. Have you ever thought of this? If diets worked, everyone would be thin. Diets are a kind of Russian roulette. And the game can be deadly. Yet somehow, we figure the odds are in our favor, so we pay our money and take our chances. We think, Well, maybe this one will work. We’re seduced by full-age, four-color promises, paid celebrity testimonials, newspaper and glamour magazine advertisements, and European “miracle” stories of instant fat removal. There is no end to the deceit. Nor is there a lack of the vulnerable who’ll do anything to be thin and therefore be loved, admired, and accepted.
Both the initial and ultimate false premise of a diet is that food is the culprit. Food is not the problem, and therefore dieting is not the cure. The antidote to dieting is to learn and live an authentic, balanced, healthy life. When we clean up the chaos on the inside, then, and only then, will we be free to address our external challenges.
You may be asking, “what is the formula for success that can put me among the two percent who succeed in losing weight permanently?” The good news is there is no formula. There is not a set of rules for you to follow. Guidelines and action plans? Yes, but no formulas.
People who lose weight permanently learn that weight loss comes through personal freedom and a lack of rules. Rules kill; freedom gives birth to personal growth. Rules immobilize; freedom allows people to be who they are designed to be and gives hope to last a lifetime. People who are overweight do not have defects in their personalities. Instead, they choose to live with pain, and food has been a way to cope with that pain.
What emotional toxins are you living with? What pain, fear, hurt, frustration, or abuse have become so much a part of your inner world that you have difficulty differentiating it from life itself?
Our team at The Center • A Place of HOPE can help you or a loved one address the internal issues that might be manifesting themselves in weight gain. If you believe you or someone you love is in need of recovery support, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.