I think, no I know, that the main reason people hesitate to follow a dietary change is because of the D-word: Diets. Too many people have tried and failed with diets. Instead of realizing the problem was the diet and not them, they begin to feel discouraged and defeated.
Most, if not all, of the fad diets out there today are surrounded by principles of starvation–they malnourish a person’s body in order to achieve a desired physical appearance. This leaves the dieter needing more nutrients but feeling as though they need to ignore their hunger.
Diets don’t work for me. I seem to be able to sacrifice for a season and then I get tired of sacrificing. I hit my goal weight and then slowly slip back into old habits. The weight creeps back on and I feel like a failure. Like I said, diets don’t work for me.
Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave
This is unfortunate for many reasons, but the first being the spiritual distraction this creates. A culture focused on the physical appearance makes it difficult to concentrate more on the underlying spiritual issues, which are actually the most important to address.
So I’m not on a diet. I’m on a journey with Jesus to learn the fine art of self-discipline for the purpose of holiness. (Lysa TerKeurst)
Diets are dangerous mostly because they put too much emphasis on the external appearance while allowing the heart to be neglected.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.” Matthew 23:27
Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Diets are dangerous because they ignore underlying physical and spiritual disease at the cost of getting thin.
Getting healthy isn’t just about losing weight. It’s not limited to adjusting our diet and hoping for good physical results. It’s about recalibrating our souls so that we want to change–spiritually, physically, and mentally. And the battle really is in all three areas. (Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave)
If two people are both addicted to sugary treats but only one appears obese, they are both putting food before God. This is more than an issue of food–is God first in our lives? If not, than being thin will provide no eternal benefits.
Secondly, it puts too much emphasis on the external appearance at the cost of internal physical health. Skinny people get cancer, heart disease, arthritis, compromised immune systems, etc.
Internal fat poses risk to people who don’t appear to have risk factors from the outside. 45 percent of women and 60 percent of men studied with normal BMI’s were found to have excessive levels of internal fat. The study also showed that people who maintain healthy eating habits but are not active are most likely to have excessive internal fat, as well as people with sugary diets.
Unfortunately, there is an overabundance of dietary misinformation that continues to deceive even devoted Christians. So in order to overcome the false dietary dictocrats, I think we must first address two of the elephants in the diet room:
Dietary Information from the World of Registered Dieticians
Government and hospital nutritionists, who are primarily dietitians, seem more interested in the cosmetic aspects of food than in its nutritional quality.
~Dr. Abram Hoffer, Putting It All Together: The New Orthomolecular Nutrition
The American Dietetic Association received $3.2 million in 1995 from Coca-Cola, M&M’s/Mars, McDonald’s, Sara Lee, the Sugar Association, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, “and its publications and practitioners often reflect bias in favor of these entities.”
That says a lot right there. But Dr. Mercola explains it even further:
Dieticians’ formal education includes formal training by Coca Cola company on how safe their ingredients are. The program teaches that sugar, fluoride, artificial colors, and chemical sweeteners have been “carefully examined for their effects on children’s health, growth, and development” and that dieticians can ease parents’ concerns over these ingredients. Dieticians receive Continuing Education credits for participating in this training.
(Dr. Mercola’s article details the problems with those ingredients for those who are interested in finding out more.)
“The medical profession too often confuses nutrition with dietetics. It does not concern itself sufficiently with the possibility that inadequate nutrition leads to health problems.” Dr. Abram Hoffer, Putting It All Together: The New Orthomolecular Medicine
This information should serve as a reminder that dietary information put out by biased organizations and individuals will only keep us unhealthy.
Diets–Counting Points and/or Calories, Meal Shakes, Low-Fat
Even though an average weight loss of only 5 pounds is reported for participants on plans that involve counting points or calories, a few people actually lose more than that. Then the deception begins. Believing that the healthiest thing to do is to get skinny, these people continue on this dangerous eating plan that includes refined, processed, dead foods. They then often begin experiencing a snowball of health problems all while getting thinner:
- Insulin problems that could lead to Type 2 diabetes as a result of the program’s emphasis on carbs and de-emphasis on good fats;
- Problems like appendicitis, hormone buildup, constipation, and the hundreds of other health problems caused by a lack of dietary fiber;
- Hardening of the arteries leading to high blood pressure and/or heart disease as a result of processed foods high in refined salt and vegetable oils;
- Cancer resulting from intake of refined carbohydrates, lack of dietary fiber, and lack of living foods full of antioxidants and phytonutrients like fresh vegetables and fruit.
All to get skinny?! Granted, being a healthy weight can be an indicator of overall health, but that is often no longer the case. Diets like these cause a person to starve their bodies of proper nourishment, which is essentially the same thing the Standard American Diet does anyway.
Additionally, low-fat diets starve the brain of necessary fats that are essential for maintaining good mental health. For children and adults, this can lead to depression, anxiety, irritability, and eventually Alzheimer’s. The brain is made up largely of cholesterol and (good) fats, so without those things, the brain atrophies!
It is especially dangerous for women who are pregnant or will become pregnant as a developing baby’s brain needs good fats in order to properly develop.
The fact remains that if food comes in premade in a box or a can, whether in the form of solid food or meal shakes, it is still too far away from its natural state to maintain health.
(For a more thorough analysis of the Weight Watchers diet and its health implications, check out this great article: http://www.fathead-movie.com/index.php/2010/01/29/weight-watchers/.)
Besides–Have you ever READ the ingredients’ labels on “diet” foods? Bars, shakes, and boxed meals are full of many different forms of sugar (including high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners), as well as chemical preservatives and refined grains. How can this be construed as health food?!
What really needs to happen rather than taking on a diet is going through the following steps:
1. Addressing and overcoming the emotional and spiritual issues that surfaced as dietary habits;
2. Discovering God’s natural plan for our lives as far as food (eating the foods He made for us, not the ones Man makes), activity (exercise), and worship go; and
3. Striving to bring glory to God by honoring Him with our bodies and, in turn, shining His light to others.
When we discover the underlying spiritual issues that manifest as food-related physical issues, we can move on to the dietary lifestyle:
Eat God’s Living Foods and Avoid Man’s Dead Foods
That’s it. Back in the days when this was the only choice, women passed down information on how to get the best sourdough culture for their bread, how to store fruits and vegetables for the winter (without extremely high heat treatment or freezers of course), how to separate fresh milk into curds and whey for longer “shelf” life, and so on.
In just the last 50 years, we have lost thousands of years worth of information and traditions. We kill every living nutrient in foods so they’ll last on the shelves for ages. And dietitians tell patients in the medical world how to make “good” choices of those dead, boxed foods.
Amidst all this misinformation, a select few people are rising up and believing in God’s original purposes for our dietary lives. We are believing that in God’s inherent wisdom, He has created foods that can not only sustain life but can nourish it. Our eyes have also been opened to the damage that is being done to His wonderful creation by money-hungry food companies, all for the sake of profit.
My family is not more careful to eat food the way God created it out of fear of disease; it is done out of reverence and awe for the amazing way God has created things. And because we don’t feel the desire to bring on unnecessary illness for the sake of temporary pleasures.
And we do it as an act of gratitude for the care He has put into this creation. Think about it: He does not design a single piece of fruit or blade of grass without intricate, detailed knowledge.
Once a person embarks on this path, the beauty of it becomes so clear. In that clarity, the way towards following our Creator becomes so much easier to follow.
Yes, eating healthy and exercising get our bodies into better shape, but we are never supposed to get the satisfaction our souls desire from our looks. Our looks are temporary; if we hitch our souls to this fleeting pursuit, we’ll quickly become disillusioned. The only true satisfaction we can seek is the satisfaction of being obedient to the Lord.
Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave
So the next time you look at a food and try to decide whether it’s good for you or not, just ask yourself if it was made BY God FOR us as food and if it is in the form/state in which He designed us to consume it. For instance–when the cream that naturally occurs in milk is taken off, is that how we are meant to consume it? Or does God have a purpose in putting that cream in there to help our body absorb the nutrients better? (Yes, that is proven to be the case with milk.)
And fresh raw milk from the farm or pasteurized, homogenized from the store? (Read my article on Milk here.)
Or should we choose that fruit fresh (or frozen from fresh without anything added to it) or that shelf-stable pasteurized, canned fruit?
Margarine or butter?
Isn’t it nice not to have to keep up on all the latest diet “info” and just simplify things?!