Do you feel like you are frequently starting a new diet or “food lifestyle” regiment? You can stick with it for a while, but then eventually, life happens and you fall into a near binge eating phase. Then you pull yourself back up and start a new regiment or challenge?
This cycle feels like a terrible hamster wheel that is inevitable, but it isn’t!
There is a better way, and if you’ve been around the blog for a while, you know what I’m going to say. It starts with the heart.
At the end of the day, your diet decision is a personal choice (and hopefully you’ve consulted a qualified nutritionist), but consider these 5 rules going forward.
Note: A totally legitimate reason to change your diet to a set of rules is autoimmune disease or health concerns. I’m speaking more to the person struggling with a cycle of new diet challenge / throwing caution to the wind.
Rule #1: Check Your Heart
If you have been trying to change your diet, chances are you’re trying to fix a problem. Whether it’s overeating, emotional eating, or stress eating, there is a heart issue.
It can take time, but if you’ve struggled for a long time with any kind of eating problem, you likely won’t create long lasting change JUST by trying to stick to a set of rules.
Long lasting change requires deep introspection and prayer. It means pulling out the problem by the roots, rather than just trying really hard to get different results.
Don’t blame yourself or be angry with yourself for not being able to just buckle down and make changes. Some people might be able to do that, but they might not be dealing with the emotional root that you have.
Some examples might be…
- Stuffing Emotions
- Wanting Control
- Not Valuing Yourself
Don’t allow guilt or shame to distract you from the real issue at hand. God loves you and wants to help with the root of the problem, we need only to surrender it to Him. It’s easy for someone (in this case me) to say, but harder when you’re done reading this post and then try to do it.
If there is a deep emotional root involved, it might be wise to seek guidance from a trusted mentor.
If you’ve tried and tried to make changes, but fall when an emotion like fear or anxiety is triggered, don’t give up and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Bring that emotion before the Lord diligently, give it time, seek wisdom, and not only will your symptom (eating habits) change, but you will have grown and matured as a Christ follower.
Rule #2: Watch Your Language
“I’m so bad, I’m cheating on my diet.” “I was bad and had that cookie.” “I was good today; I ate all my greens.” Have you heard any of these phrases before? Have you said them before? I’ve said them. Avoid using language loaded with shame in regards to your decisions. The problem is that food isn’t moral; it is more or less nutritious.
Your identity and value don’t come from your food choices. You can make good and bad choices depending on where you are at, but it doesn’t define you.
You are not a good person because you only eat kale and you are not a bad person because you never eat kale. (If kale was morality, I would be damned.)
Food is more or less nutritious to your body but doesn’t define the worth of your soul.
“You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” – C.S Lewis
(Arguably this was Lewis, some people debate who said this, but people will debate anything.)
Bottom line with this one: You are what you eat…but you aren’t.
Rule #3: Educate Yourself
Before you run off to grab a sleeve of Oreos because a food isn’t moral, remember, it is more or less nutritious to your body. A body that was a gift and should be treated with honor and stewardship.
The internet is (sometimes) a wonderful place and has lots of resources. Educate yourself on nutrition. I strongly advocate for functional nutrition and bio-individuality, but I’ll expand on that at another time.
Some basic things
everyone most people can agree on…
- Processed food is bad for you
- People need vegetables
- Water is a necessity
- Sugar is bad for you (and can be addictive)
- Sleep is important! (That might not seem like a diet thing, but it is)
I’ll expand more on this in the future, but there’s merit in researching. Don’t become obsessed and give up hope because the vegans and the paleos can’t both be right. Eat real food and make wise choices.
Rule #4: Practice Self-Control
You might need to address a heart issue, but chances are, you might also need to practice discipline and self-control.
Willpower and discipline are muscles that you can grow with exercise. If you continue to grow your discipline muscle, what was once hard will become easy.
Self-control is a little different; it’s a fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23). Meaning that it is a natural fruit when you are seeking Christ and abiding in the spirit.
Seek both and know that it becomes easier with persistence.
Rule #5: Don’t Compare
I have a whole post that discusses comparing when it comes to exercise, but what about when it comes to diet?
It is easy to want to do diets and challenges because it “adds to your awesome points.” There’s nothing wrong with loving a challenge, but doing it to be superior to those who don’t is a problem; a problem I’ve struggled with before.
On the other hand, you can be around someone talking about this great diet they’re following and how it’s been changing their lives, and something funny happens. Being happy for our friend completely alludes us, as we obsess in our heads with, “Maybe I should do that. So-and-so must think I’m pretty unhealthy. Oh my gosh, am I eating bread while she’s telling me this?! Put the bread down…put the bread down.”
Comparison takes someone else’s good news and makes it about us. It robs us of the opportunity to be happy for the positive changes in someone else’s life.
Their diet could absolutely be an answer to prayer and something you need to adopt for yourself, but if you find that you usually respond to someone else (in your head) with, “Well, what about me?” You are probably dealing with comparison.
Comparison leaves us superior or less valuable than our fellow man, and we can’t sincerely love them from either place.
The cycle of extreme dieting and emotional eating is difficult to break. The issue runs deeper than the surface and can be fueled by negative language. It is important to “know thyself” and do your own research, and at the end of the day, it is when you are secure with who you are in Christ that you can stop comparing and truly love the people around you.