Why diet?

Confession: Sometimes it feels like the majority of adult female life consists of torturing myself back into the correct shape after forgetting myself for, you know, six hours.

One of the things I’ve realized about myself in the past few years is that I come from a long line of Eves addicted to food. And the other is that for me, eating assists both my grief and my celebration. Double whammy. Worse still, the less time I have to think about my own care, the less mindfully I eat.

(You might wonder which way this goes. Sadly, I am not one of those women who wastes away.)

I have spent time this year undoing the lazy patterns into which I slipped last year, through a combination of stress, busyness, and an overdose of toddlers. I’ve found some interesting writings on food addiction (which I can strongly identify with – not to minimize the intensity of the struggle for women who fight a bigger battle). Glenn Livingston writes about our lizard brains in some really helpful ways, and about returning to “rules” instead of “guidelines.” And I’ve discovered that how well I am taking care of myself in the food department is nearly always enmeshed with how well I am taking care of myself in other ways.

Though I do not like the idea of a “diet,” the truth is that we all have one, whether we choose it intentionally it or not, and it does me good to think of mine (and modify it) occasionally.




the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats

I have realized that because of my age, culture, and genetics, I am not the kind of person who will ever again be able to eat whatever I want wherever I want whenever I want and be healthy and feel good. But I also like food, and I think it’s meant to be enjoyed with freedom and gratitude, not with shame, and I don’t like cutting out food groups or food styles (even ones that would commonly be labelled unhealthy), or in general doing anything radical in the culinary department if I can help it.

I have to live in this world and eat at its table, contaminated or no, and so far the Lord has extended his mercy in allowing me to do so without severe reaction.

However. From time to time, I realize I need to get in charge of bad habits, remember how to deny myself, and reinforce my independence from constant calories. Despite the snark in my opening statement, I prefer to focus on the health of my choices rather than on a specific shape or poundage. (Such a lovely, light word, poundage.)

My ordinary diet of normal living, which I regularly return to and keep when I can, is what I call the “One” diet.

1 egg
1 piece of fruit

1 item, usually a great salad

1 serving
1 dessert

1 cup of coffee
1 treat, 100 calories or less

It looks Spartan, but it includes all my favorite things and allows flexibility. I love it as a rule of thumb.

I tend to veer from side to side of the ditch – eating strictly and eating indulgently. Occasionally I know I’m not in charge of myself and then I do something sterner: liquids + dinner, for a few days or a week. I would not recommend it for longer than the latter.

While avoiding rich drinks, I find this a good time to enjoy a Brisk tea (70 calories a can), an Italian soda with homemade fruit-and-honey syrup, a cup of milk, a cup of coffee, and plenty of water. I also like broth: chicken or beef, warmed in a mug.

I don’t starve, by a long shot. I feel pretty comfortable and happy, and I enjoy my dinner for sure. I suppose it is a modified fast, and it helps me feel like I’m the boss of me, and that I can do without.

Do you have to get in charge of yourself sometimes? How do you do it?

This is a vulnerable topic. Anyone who beats up on me for it, or who shames any confessor in the comment section, will first be buried alive in raw vegetables and then dug up and force fed dry toast for a month.

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4 years ago

Thanks, I needed this! I was just thinking this morning that I should make a fresh effort in taking charge of myself & my bad eating habits! I especially use food when I’m feeling discouraged & I know it will only make me feel worse when it adds poundage (that “lovely, light word”- I like the way you worded that!). I must also get on a regular schedule of walking- it has a way of helping my moods.

4 years ago

I have been thinking a lot about food addictions as well, and I’m really grateful for what you’ve written here. I find myself agreeing with the “cannot eat whatever whenever” line. I used to beat myself up over the “why can’t I just eat moderately?” I do great on very drastic diets: I did maple syrup and lemon juice for a whole week once upon a time. But then, I come off the diet and eat bags and bags of Doritos. I’m either indulgent or starving. My book club has gently dubbed me “tending toward addictions” in life– almost every aspect. So, we’ve concluded that instead of restrictions, I need to go indulgently into things I very much enjoy: with all mind, spirit and body intact. I’m very happiest eating delicious looking and tasting food and I’ve found that it’s so healthy as well. It’s when my body and mind separate that I indulge in very bad food for me.

I’m reading a very interesting book right now titled “Joy Starts Here”, and it has brought so much challenge and thought, that I have restarted the book to read at a slower pace and do some of the suggested studies and projects. A couple quotes: “God has designed us to attach to the people that feed us…. When the person who fees us is not emotionally available, we automatically bond to the strongest remaining source of pleasure, which is the food. We bond with the food that comforts us rather than the one who fees us.” “God wants to feed us and meant for feeding to bond us to the feeder. The first sin mentioned in the Bible was choosing the food over the feeder… in this book, we will learn how to use food to restore a bond with the God who feeds us…” “BEEPS are the Behaviors, Events, Experiences, People or Substances that the brain uses to regulate pain, pleasure and emotion when it is unable to regulate internal distress… BEEPS include (but are not limited to) performance for approval, codependency, food, sex and drugs including alcohol.”

The main author of the book calls himself a neurotheologian, and it has me searching out this God who created our brain, hard-wired for connection with Him. And asking all the whys of my pseudo-joys, and the hows of reconnecting with my feeder.

4 years ago
Reply to  Renita

I really like these thoughts, and the book sounds well worth checking out. Thank you, sister. ❤️

Wanna B. Writer
4 years ago

I’m a WW girl, except when I’m busy… or stressed… or tired… which equates to very little time actually following their program. ???? But when I can make it happen, I really like it. I find the empowerment of make good choices as gratifying as the shed pounds. Cheers to all who are willing to take on this unwieldy part of their life!!

Wanna B. Writer
4 years ago

I should clarify that I use the WW app. That is why I can stop and start so freely. With 3 small children and 20 minutes to town I cannot fit the meetings into my life. Though it is a very good program, it is also expensive (in my opinion), and I may discontinue it soon now that I am familiar with their plan.

4 years ago

I read and appreciated your post because I am just getting serious about losing some weight I gained before – and after (horrors) – our May baby. I didn’t comment because nobody had yet, and you know how we are about going first in line, heh heh. Maybe there are comments by now–I didn’t refresh the page. But what I want to say is, even if I am first, that I missed the threat at the end until just now and that was delicious–thank you. I will say that being heavier than I ever have been in my non-pregnant life has at least given me more understanding and sympathy toward those who weigh more than me. One other time I wanted to lose weight eating only from about 7am to 1 or 2pm worked well for me, but it works best with no cheating on the off hours. I only had one toddler to feed in the evening, then, and I wasn’t trying to breastfeed, so I don’t think that will work well now.

4 years ago

I like what you had to say. For me, carbs in general and sugar in particular are my addiction. I have found that cutting out desserts and being mindful of other carbs (not overdoing and trying to choose the healthiest forms) helps with my weight control, and is healthy to do even when nursing. I agree with you on not knocking out whole food groups, even those labeled unhealthy. Therefore, when cutting out desserts, I might have one dessert a week, or some other pre-determined number, and then keep it to one small portion. I think that helps to ward off the binges, where one eats half a cake or several bags of Doritoes. Also, if I am weak in many areas of caring for myself, I don’t start getting back into shape with the hardest one. If the hardest one is food, maybe having devotions regularly again and flossing regularly is the place to start. Or wherever else I might be falling off the healthy self-care wagon. Blessings to all who are trying to be healthy, trying to treat both our bodies and souls the way God intended, without squeezing ourselves into molds that He never designed us to fit into. Sarah

4 years ago

You are wise.

I like this.

But I like you even better. 🙂

My favorite part is your closing comments. Oh……….the agony. I promise I won’t say anything negative about this post.

I identify so much with your words about busyness/stress/tiredness and how that affects diet. I am still currently in that bowed over and weighed-down stage. It’s not fun.

I like what you’ve said here…because it’s so true. I can make a few small changes to begin to take charge of what is happening. I don’t have to be a victim of my own bad patterns.

Thanks for sharing. You’ve inspired me. love you!

4 years ago
Reply to  Shaunda

I like you too. ❤️

4 years ago

I have been trying intermittent fasting as a way of getting control of my eating, and it has helped me! I like your “one” diet idea.

4 years ago

Shari I like what you wrote here and oh how I can relate. I desperately need to lose weight. Actually I had started this year with faithful water drinking, walking and watching what I ate. Somehow it all went out the window when summer started and it was too hot to walk and ice cream looked too good. ( Who can resist ice cream in the summer?)
So now after reading your post I’m inspired to try again but Shari, I just realized! The holidays are just around the corner!

4 years ago
Reply to  Regina S

Hahaha. I love your honesty!

Rachel S
4 years ago

Yep. I dont know why we let the train runaway before we decide its time to regain charge. At least I do that. I have gained and lost the same 30 lbs so many times. For the last 5 weeks, Ive been intermittently fasting. Im caustiously optimistic I may have found a successful approach that will become a lifetime tool!

4 years ago

Yay for not criticizing anyone! And I love your salad picture on this post!

4 years ago

Sally Clarkson says that’s why she walks – so she can eat more… I like the way she thinks!!!????

4 years ago

” Eves addicted to food”. That really resonated with me, because you can keep a healthy weight and still be addicted to food, and I sometimes wonder what to do with that. For the last 5 Years and through three of seven pregnancies, the tool that worked for me was the Trim Healthy Mama plan done my way. Probably my favorite thing about it is permission to eat all the good fats that I have always thought were healthy anyway. 🙂 I also like that it includes all the food groups. When I am near or at my goal weight I follow it very loosely, but so far when I decide I need to lose 5 or 10 lb, I can eat THM and lose the weight. Another simple help for me is when I remember to eat mindfully and enjoy a smaller portion more rather than eating mindlessly and not feeling satisfied.

4 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Suggestion: let’s help each other out when it comes to bringing food to events, picnics, fellowship meals, etc. It’s extra hard to keep control when healthy options are so limited and the dessert table is brimming and overflowing with the best that chocolate has to offer!

4 years ago

I always diet with someone. They don’t have to do the same diet but then we are accountable to each other. This month if I cheat I will be cleaning my friends house. I can assure you there will be no cheating.

4 years ago
Reply to  Sonya

This is great! It made me laugh. Because having to clean my friend’s house would be quite the incentive for me not to cheat and I never thought of something like that. So good. 🙂

4 years ago

Thanks for talking about this. It is helpful to know that I’m not the only one who has to be careful about what I eat. I’ve been pretty depressed about how badly I have to deprive myself in order to just keep my higher then ideal weight from getting even worse. It helps to know that I’m not the only one who has to be careful. Somehow deprivation doesn’t seem as bad if I’m not the only one. Living in a house with growing boys and a husband who can eat unbelievably large amounts of food without ever gaining a pound makes it easy for me to feel sorry for myself.

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