This is a blog I originally wrote for my job at Trinity Medical Associates – for the wellness blog of Vital Signs
Never say “diet”. Think of healthy eating and regular exercise as a new lifestyle that you adhere to for the rest of your life. It is a journey toward becoming well and staying well. It is not a short-term diet or fix. When you are stressed, angry, depressed, bored or anxious, don’t self-medicate with food. Carbs have been found to be as addictive as drugs, like cocaine, and you can become out of control with your eating and make yourself sick. (Highly processed carbohydrates, like breads, chips, cookies, crackers etc. alter brain activity in ways that make us crave them even more).
Find something new as your “go-to medication” like prayer, calling a friend, going out for a walk, playing a game etc. Also, ask yourself why you are stressed, anxious, bored, etc. Consider things you can do to alleviate the root cause of these emotions (i.e. forgiving someone, asking forgiveness from someone, going to counseling). Avoid “closet-eating” or sneaking food – eating is part of living in community and we need accountability with our eating habits. Don’t use others’ poor eating behaviors to allow yourself to eat poorly, succumbing to peer pressure. Instead, set a good example
Both quality AND quantity of food are important – putting highly processed, high carb foods into your body is like putting very poor quality gas into your car and then expecting it to run well or for a long time. Stop when you are satisfied, not when you’re full. Learn what “full” feels like – you should never feel bloated or uncomfortable after eating. Eat frequently, every 3 to 4 hours, or 4 to 5 times a day. Hunger leads to poor eating practices. Frequent eating helps you control your blood sugar and manage your appetite. If you feel hungry and it’s not time to eat yet, try drinking a full 8 oz of water first to see if you are really just thirsty. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water (the best option) or unsweetened beverages, because thirst is sometimes confused with hunger and extra fluids can help take the edge off your appetite. It is ok to drink tea or coffee sweetened with Splenda or stevia, just don’t overdo the caffeine. Do NOT drink juice, sweet tea, regular soda, or sugary electrolyte/energy drinks.
Start the day with a breakfast with protein. This is an important step to get your metabolism going and to help you perform better at work or with exercise. Include protein and healthy fat to improve your satisfaction/feeling satiated. Weigh yourself regularly – about once a week – to keep track of how you’re doing but don’t obsess about the number. You may try following your waist circumference too – it is often a better indicator of health status and weight loss.
A planned “splurge” once in a while is ok, like on a special occasion. Just don’t let it become an increasingly frequent habit. You’ll probably find that when you splurge, you’ll feel physically bad anyway once you’ve gotten used to eating healthy. When eating out, remember that you are the customer – don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions (i.e. double veggie sides, sandwiches served on a big lettuce leaf instead of on bread).
Allow yourself to fail – it’s a guaranteed certainty. Every healthy person has failed at some point along the way. Just get back on track and continue on. Learn to forgive setbacks and refuse to beat yourself up. With this outlook, and using lessons learned along the way, you will keep these setbacks from getting you completely derailed.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:14
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect Romans 12:2
And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6