18 Dec How to Stop Using Nutrition as Weapon
Diets have been sneaky the past few years and disguised themselves under the name “nutrition.” Now that new years is coming up, I’m hearing about a lot of people’s plans to diet once the holidays are over.
2016 was the first year that I came into my year choosing to let go of diets. I lived as a slave to diets for over twenty years. I let diets tell me what to eat, when to eat, and how I should feel.
But if I’m honest, I also went to diets for hope that I could change, for validation, for comfort. I put my faith in them, then I used them as a weapon when I didn’t live up to their expectations perfectly, all of the time.
Diets are the problem. Not the Solution.
Please hear my heart in this…there’s nothing wrong with eating healthy. In fact, God wants us to care about our bodies, but we’ve put diets and nutrition on a pedestal that they shouldn’t be on.
We’ve used diets as a weapon against our bodies.
Nothing will beat you up mentally like a diet will.
The moment you restrict something, you begin to crave it. Then as soon as you give in to it, you’re beating yourself up because you don’t have any will power.
Evidence is mounting that diets don’t work. Don’t blame yourself for not being able to follow something that is designed for you to fail.
Diets can actually cause physical harm to our bodies. Yo-yo dieting causes problems with our metabolism, when we “fall off the wagon” and binge, we’re eating foods that are probably damaging to our bodies and definitely in quantities that aren’t healthy.
We exercise excessively to “make up” for cheating on our diet, or we throw in the towel and just overeat.
Diets usually end up leading to emotional eating and overeating, and feeling out of control with food.
Sadly, this isn’t something that’s talked about much in the church, but emotional eating and overeating are huge for Christian women especially.
Why do I say that? I call food and diets the “good girl’s drug.”
Maybe you’ve been seen as the “good girl” your whole life. You didn’t use drugs or sleep around, but instead, you went to food. It has become an acceptable addiction.
Deep down you know that your “out of control” eating has created a distance between you and God. You go to food instead of to God when your sad or tired or even happy. I don’t know how many times I celebrated an accomplishment with the misguided belief that I deserved that dessert.
The enemy knows that he may not be able to tempt you to try drugs or cheat on your husband, so he’s more subtle and convinces you that the cheesecake in the fridge will fix all your problems instead.
Take Diets Off the Table
God never intended for diets, or even nutrition, to be our masters.
The Bible says that man’s wisdom is foolishness to God. He has created a way for you to eat and keep your weight stable, that is completely customized to YOU. It is literally as unique as you are. It takes into consideration what you ate yesterday, if you’re sick, and if you’ve been more active.
Diets stop you from listening to your own body.
You see, diets encourage us to rely on outside sources to dictate the needs of our bodies.
We try to follow a strict one-size-fits-all regimen of eating these three foods in these quantities at this time. Wait two hours and then eat these two foods in these quantities at this time. Your body is smarter than that!
When we’re born, we don’t need to be told when and how much to eat. But as we grow older, we lose that ability because we’re constantly bombarded with messages that if we want “the perfect body” then we have to follow this plan perfectly. But that’s a lie that the enemy has fed us.
Diets are rigged to keep you jumping from one to the next.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist or anything like that, but the more research I do on the dieting industry the more I believe that they don’t want you to be successful on the diets they’re promoting.
The weight-loss industry is a $60 billion a year industry. They have a lot at stake in maintaining a customer base if they want to continue making that kind of money.
The efforts of weight loss gimmicks produce hormones that make you feel hungry all the time and cause your metabolism to slow to the point that you need to consume fewer calories per day just to avoid putting on the pounds.
Start getting upset by this industry that spends billions of dollars a year advertising telling you that you’re not good enough so that you’ll buy their products. They want you to trust them instead of trusting yourself. Instead of trusting the body God gave you.
Stop putting your trust in them and put your faith in the Lord instead.
At the end of the day, diets don’t deal with the root of the problem.
If you’re struggling with your weight, it’s probably not because you don’t know which foods are healthy. Because your excess weight isn’t the problem, it’s a symptom of the problem.
So what do we do to counter a culture that is diet-centric?
God made your body SMART. So instead of listening to the newest diet, listen to your body instead.
God created your body to be equipped with hunger and fullness signals.
An amazing thing happens when you start listening to these signals: when you wait until you’re truly hungry to eat, (not ravenous, but truly hungry) then you don’t crave chocolate cake. You crave real foods. Things like fresh off the vine tomatoes and lemon chicken.
We’ve been so out of tune with our bodies that we don’t know what really hunger even feels like anymore.
And I want to let you in on a little secret: the reason why you’re eating until you’re completely stuffed and feel sick is because your fullness signal only works properly when used in tandem with your hunger signal.
When you start to eat from real hunger, don’t be afraid to skip a meal. We’re so conditioned into thinking that we have to have 5 or 6 mini meals or exactly 1500 calories a day that we don’t realize that our body can use the excess weight already on our bodies to offset some of those calories.
And then we’re seeing real weight loss that has nothing to do with dieting and deprivation and everything to do with being mindful and intentional.
When you start eating from your hunger and fullness signals, you begin to respect your body and become more mindful of it.
You will find that certain foods make you feel a specific way.
The other day, my boys and I were out on a mother/son date and I let them order a dessert. About four or five bites in, my older son said, “Mom, I’m full.” and put his fork down. My little son (my sweet tooth) ate a few more and then said, “Mom, I have a headache.”
I was able to use that as a teaching moment to say, “Okay honey, it was probably the sugar the made you have a headache.”
The next day, he asked for piece of candy for breakfast. I reminded him of what happened the day before and he said, “Oh yeah, I don’t think I want this. Can I have some eggs instead?”
I don’t think I have to tell you that I almost fell over. He had overcome his sweet tooth just by being mindful of his body.
Does that mean that he’ll never ask for a piece of candy again? NO! He still does from time to time, but if I feel like he’s overdoing it, I remind him of that day and he makes the decision to put the sweets down.
He doesn’t feel deprived and doesn’t even know what the word diet means, he’s just making an informed choice based on what the body that God gave him is telling him.
When we eat mindfully, we can eat with intention.
Start to pay attention to how particular foods make you feel. After awhile you’ll be able to pinpoint any food sensitivities.
Some common sensitivities include gluten, dairy, peanuts, soy, and corn. Pay attention to the way these foods make you feel and then consider cutting back on those foods not as a diet, but as an experiment to see if it changes the way you feel.
Focus on wellness versus weight loss.
Nutrition is important, but it should be used a tool to make wise decisions, not a weapon to negatively look at our bodies. Jesus said in the book of Matthew “Is not life more important that food?” Does dieting line up with that type of thinking? Definitely not.
When you’re in a dieting state of mind, all you think about is food. You plan what you’re going to eat for the day, you fight against yourself to eat something that’s not on the plan, you feel deprived if you say no and guilty if you say yes.
What if you lived your days focusing on wellness instead of weight loss. Focusing on what you’re going to do today instead of what you’re going to eat today? What if you loved your life so much that you totally forgot about eating? That’s what freedom looks like!
Put it into Action
If you struggle with emotional eating, please know that you’re not alone.
I started dieting at age 9. Nine years old. It wasn’t until I was 30 years old that I decided to break free. I looked all over for a program that would walk me through breaking free from food physically, emotionally and SPIRITUALLY, but I couldn’t find anything.
So after I began walking in victory, I laid out the steps I used to finally experience freedom.
I want to share them with you! It’s a 4 part video series that will jump start you to say goodbye to diets and live (and eat) in the way God intended from the start! It’s called Finally Free and you can check it out HERE!