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Let’s Get A New Perspective on Healthy Eating
If you want to change the way you eat, it will help to view food through a different lens. Soulful healthy eating is a lifestyle, a practice, not a trend or a fad. Developing a lifestyle or practice starts with small, step changes that are routinely enacted.
Sometimes it takes a health crisis to shock us into a lifestyle shift. Sometimes it takes is someone to introduce us to a new way of thinking about food.
Then it takes someone to show you how to commit and develop the practice of simple and soulful healthy eating.
That’s where I come in.
The Practice of Soulful Healthy Eating
Soulful healthy eating regards food as a gift from God, which you use to nourish and nurture your body. The practice of soulful healthy eating places food in a sacred context.
If you want to change your eating habits that have long-term results, focus your attention on cultivating a lifestyle of healthy eating.
The weight reduction industry offers products and programs that result in temporary solutions with no long-term change. Without harnessing motivation for healthy eating from a spiritual perspective, the transformation will be a continual struggle.
Elijah’s Example of Soulful Healthy Eating
Pulpits, for the most part, remain silent when it comes to the role of food and its impact on the church. Much of the faith-based community remain complacent regarding eating as a spiritual discipline. A glance at the potluck table at your church probably offers a tell-tale sign.
The Bible is replete with examples of God using food to sustain and fulfill lives.
In I Kings 19, Elijah finishes sacred work for God. A ferocious battle with the prophets of Baal leaves Elijah physically depleted. The guy is spent.
God realized that Elijah needed food, water, and rest so that he could finish his divine assignment. We learn here the importance of attending to and investing in your body.
Use the prophet Elijah as a template on how to fill your plate.
You need nutritious food to strengthen your body to complete the sacred tasks set before you. What you choose to eat and drink could have a profound effect on your ability or inability to serve others.
There, I said what no one wants to hear.
You Can Do This!
Maybe your family and friends trivialize the need for healthy eating and living? You’ve probably heard conversations swathed in banter like, “If there isn’t a health problem, then why change?
Over the years, people recovering from food addiction and disordered eating tell me that church buffets evoke triggers Food triggers that could potentially send them spiraling out of food sobriety and recovery.
What do they do?
Before entering the fellowship hall, they devise ways to avoid potential obstacles and pitfalls in their food recovery.
For too long, you’ve followed the culture and participated in eating trends, weight loss challenges, gym memberships, and supplement marketing schemes. Yet, with small, gradual changes in your eating plan and food habits, you could cultivate a lifestyle of healthy eating that has long-term success.
Here it is. The practice made simple— as it should be.
This soulful healthy eating plan relies on food created by God. Restructuring your food plan and reforming eating habits takes time, so be gentle on yourself.
As you get started, you may want to consider asking a friend or a health-wellness coach for some measure of accountability and structure.
Eat Mostly Plants
Dr. David Katz, a practicing physician and researcher at Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, affirms that “If you focus on real food, nutrients tend to take care of themselves.”
For most of us, budgets often dictate whether or not you fill your grocery cart with organic or conventional produce. The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) list of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen can help you decide what to buy organically.
In order to avoid fruit and vegetable boredom, learn to try different varieties of your favorites. Move beyond the typical orange carrots and try carrots that are white, burgundy, and yellow.
Experiment with your greens and take a risk. There are a handful of kale cynics out there who regard kale as a fad food. Kale is no newcomer to the veggie scene. Salad lovers have gotten smarter about how to fill salad bowls.
Mill Your Own Grain (or buy bread that you need to refrigerate)
For centuries, people regarded bread as the “staff of life.” That’s no longer the attitude held by most Americans. We’ve developed “carbophobia,” a term coined by food journalist Michael Pollan.
And rightly so.
Since the onset of industrialized milling, research shows that refined grains are responsible for many of our worst health problems.
Wrongly accused, bread/flour are not the real villains. The actual food villains are the highly processed refined flavorless bags of flour that line the shelves of supermarkets.
A simple solution is to mill your own grain.
To grind your grains, you need electricity and a handful of spunk. Grinding grain at home is quicker than reheating last night’s leftovers in a microwave.
Mills are easier to operate than most kitchen appliances and gadgets. With a press of a button, you have a powerhouse of powdered nutrition within seconds.
Cut Out Processed Foods
The New York Times reports that
“the engineering behind hyper-processed food makes it virtually addictive. A 2009 study by the Scripps Research Institute indicates that overconsumption of fast food “triggers addiction-like neuroaddictive responses” in the brain, making it harder to trigger the release of dopamine. In other words, the more fast food we eat, the more we need to give us pleasure; thus the report suggests that the same mechanisms underlie drug addiction and obesity.
Eating is a joyful event that you should look forward to and not dread. But, processed foods, diets, bathroom scales, food replacement programs cast a dark shadow over food’s intended purpose, which is to nourish and enjoy.
“The average American consumes 70% of their calories daily in pre-made, packaged processed foods.” Avoid refined and processed foods (flour, sugar, bread, etc.), preservatives, color additives, stabilizers, emulsifiers, and fat replacers.
Every time you choose highly processed factory and laboratory fabricated foods over real foods, you invite an imposter into your body that can compromise your health.
Use Plant-Based Sweeteners
Eliminate white sugar and any sugar produced in a lab. If you want to sweeten food occasionally then use honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, or dates. A safe benchmark when it comes to sweeteners is to use what is derived from nature.
- Pure Maple syrup
- Coconut sugar
- Blackstrap molasses
The bottom line is that refined sugar does not make us healthier.
Select Your Protein Carefully
Certified grass-fed or free-range is best.
Whenever possible, establish a relationship with a local beef producer/farmer.
If direct access to a local farmer is not practical, look for a trusted third party verification (via the label) on the package such as American Grassfed Approved or the Food Alliance. The American Grass-fed Association provides a list of producers/farmers by-state.
Find supermarket chains that sell “organic grass-fed” beef.
Look for On-line services that sell beef from small ranchers/farmers, divided into manageable orders, and delivered to your home in vacuum-sealed cuts, like ButcherBox.
Practice Responsible and Mindful Eating
Mindful eating means to be actively engaged in the moment. One way to practice mindful eating is to stay in tune with the signals your body sends to grab your attention.
Distraction hijacks our attention. Cell phone notifications seduce us like the enchanting Siren song.
Distracted and hurried eating prevents the “I am full” signal (which can take at least 20 minutes) to travel from the stomach to the brain before reaching for a second helping.
It’s the same with our eating. Too often, we eat facing a screen rather than a person.
Busy moms multitask while eating with one arm while holding a baby with the other and probably doing something like closing a cabinet with her foot. A distraction-free meal means sitting down to savor the meal’s textures, colors, flavors, and aroma with every bite.
Remove “Diet” From Your Vocabulary
Healthy eating is not synonymous with diet/dieting. Diets encompass calorie-counting, bathroom scales, restrictive eating, regimented exercise programs, and long-term weight-loss products.
Tim Church, who is an obesity researcher and professor of preventive medicine claims that “If you can’t eat a certain way for the rest of your life, that diet is an exercise in futility.”
The lifestyle approach to soulful healthy eating requires consuming a wide variety of whole, real foods. Once you discover that healthful food is a tool for nourishment and pleasure, it is easier to make better food choices.
Practice Rabid Label Reading
You can’t rely on food companies to (voluntarily) disclose that their FDA approved products contain ingredients linked to heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, infertility, and a host of other medical conditions.
Label reading is an acquired skill. It takes practice.
Once you become a label reading sleuth, the easier it is to choose the right foods.
A New Mindset
Now it’s time to shift your way of thinking about food in order to move forward. You now have a framework and a new perspective on food.
You will face obstacles, but you have what it takes to persevere.