What to Eat…What Not to Eat…That is the Question!
I think one of the ‘easiest’ traps to fall into when desiring to loose weight is to start putting foods into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories. I know there was a point in my life when I would not eat certain foods, (or even entire food groups) because I heard something about how they make you gain weight… (Example: I stopped eating popcorn because I heard it was bad…now I think really?!? It is a perfectly healthy source of whole grain, and a yummy healthy snack as long as it isn’t smothered in butter!)
There are so many ‘rules’ out there for eating, and we’ve all heard them…Don’t eat past 7 pm, don’t eat carbs after lunch, don’t eat carbs in general, don’t mix certain food groups at meals…I’ve EVEN heard don’t eat fruit because it has too much sugar! (Now this just proves these ‘rules’ are silly, who has ever became fat from eating fruit!?!)
Unfortunately, I think so many people, (especially young girls/women) fall prey to these rules and restrictions and before they know it, (whether realizing it or not) end up developing an ‘unhealthy’ relationship with food. I know this to be true because of my own personal past.
My Personal Journey With Placing Rules on Food
It all began my sophomore year of high school (before I knew anything about nutrition, fitness, etc.) when I started working at a bagel shop, and I got to eat as many bagels as I wanted. I found myself eating bagels for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner without a second thought (up until that point I pretty much ate whatever I wanted)….and so the weight gain began.(Note: I was never heavy, just uncomfortable with how I looked/felt.)
In addition, it just so happened that my ‘gym’ class at school was no longer required, so I stopped doing any and all physical activity. After a few weeks of working at the bagel shop I remember wondering why my jeans were getting tighter with each passing day, and feeling horrible about myself, (not to mention, totally out of control of what was happening to my body!)
This ‘out of control’ feeling led me to search for anything that I could do to feel ‘in control’ again. I remember one of the first things I heard was that bread makes you fat…and so the ‘rules’ began…NO BREAD, then I heard carbohydrates in general were bad…and so I decided…NO CARBS! (To think I cut out an entire food group out of my diet…ah!!! As you can see I have the personality of doing something ALL THE WAY or not at all.)
And so the rules and restrictions of diets continued… until I started noticing there were contradictions in many of these theories, which led me to start to study ‘scientific based’ articles on how the body works, how it uses food to work efficiently, and how exercise effects what and how we need to eat. (I also signed up for an ‘optional’ aerobics class which was where I first learned that exercise can be fun!) And so, the weight started coming off!
Lost the weight…But Not the ‘Sluggish Metabolism’ and Restriction Mindset
Despite my weight loss however, I started to realize that after all that ‘dieting’ I couldn’t simply eat what I wanted anymore without gaining the weight back! The problem was (I clearly see now) that I was that I had harmed my metabolism through diets, AND I was only doing ‘aerobic’ style exercise, and therefore had very little muscle mass. I didn’t realize it then, but I was lacking the ‘metabolism torching’ power of muscle in my body! I began doing more research on exercise, and started to come across many articles on the many benefits of weight training as a woman (which will be one of my next posts!)
So, I started to weight train, and before I knew it, I started to feel hungry all of the time! (Perfectly natural I now know, considering your body is trying to build new muscle, which takes energy~aka calories). Which led me to part II of unhealthy eating… Restricting calories while weight training!!! I was doing all kinds of new exercise, while trying to stay on a ‘low calorie’ to stay ‘skinny’ despite my body begging for the energy it so desperately wanted and needed to build new muscle! It didn’t take me long to learn that this was not healthy when I was feeling fatigued, stressed, and tired all of the time!
Time For a New Mindset!
Everything finally started to change when I finally started to pray (you think I would of done this sooner… Nope, we sometimes have to learn the hard way first!) I came to the Lord and asked Him to help me, and show me what to I needed to treat my body right. I wanted to glorify Him with this amazing body that He gave me to take care of!
And so the pursuit of true ‘BALANCED’ healthy living began about a little over a year ago for me. I am in no way perfect now, and I know I will be forever learning (and even continue to read scientific based research on the way the body works). However, the one thing that made all of the difference was giving it all to the Lord…and letting Him teach me how to take care of my body. (After all, He created it!)
When I finally got off the ‘control’ wagon and gave Him control was when I saw the most dramatic and beautiful changes in my weight, health, and life in general! (I no longer restrict foods, go hungry, or feel stressed about my body or ‘following rules’…How freeing!)
So…How Do You Know What to Eat to Lose/Maintain Weight For Life!?
One of the most marvelous things that the Lord has been teaching me about eating is how to listen to my body. This is an on-going process like I said, but I pray every day that He would help me listen to what my body needs, (i.e.: does it need a rest day, does it need more carbohydrates, am I satisfied and ‘done’ eating even when I still have food on my plate?)
In addition to listening to my own body, I have been praying that the Lord would lead me to information, products, and knowledge on how to treat my body the best that I can! And ohhh my He is a good teacher when we listen! :) I learn so much everyday and it’s amazing how my body has ‘thanked’ me for treating it right!
One of the things I began to research that really changed my mindset on food is how to eat when you are truly hungry, and listening to what your body needs to properly fuel it. (Now how much better does that sound than dieting, counting, and restricting!?) I recently was led to this article on “Intuitive Eating”, (Click Here To Read) and felt an instant connection with this concept! Who would of ever guessed that our bodies ‘true hunger signals’ were the best source of knowing what we needed all along! ;)
I don’t think this ‘intuitive eating’ mindset can happen overnight, especially if you are like me and have to combat many years of eating according to plans, calories, and food groups (although with the Lord all things are possible!) However, I think it’s a revolutionary way to start to fuel our bodies with what they actually need, and I know I will be asking the Lord to add this to the on-going ‘renewal’ of my mind when it comes to food, eating, and life! :)
Don’t Know Where to Start?!
Do you eat when you’re truly hungry? Here are a few tips to help you start eating intuitively:
Other resources I found to be helpful on intuitive eating: