How Do I Stop Dieting?

Yesterday was national “Give up Your Resolutions Day.” How discouraging for everyone who started a diet on January 1st, right? I mean, I love diets. I really do. The structure. The plan. The twinge of excitement you get when you believe that this eating program could actually work and be the last diet you’ll ever have to go on. (You know, because it’s going to magically give you a hot body forever and then you’ll never have to deprive yourself again.) {Sigh!}

Am I the only one who thinks like this? Let me tell you the story of the day I was a Vegan. Yes, this red meat lover decided she needed to be vegan for health’s sake. (Okay, that’s a lie. I thought it would make me skinny.)

The Day I was Vegan

I went to the store and purchased all the special foods I needed. Vegetables I’d never seen before and couldn’t spell filled my cart. I bought oils and powders that are still (five years later) hermetically sealed in my pantry because I never figured out what to do with them. I invested hundreds of dollars into my new vegan lifestyle. This would be life changing. Excitement oozed out my pores.

I conned my husband into giving up meat with me. We’d take the whole family along for this joy ride to good health. No more of that nasty meat in our home. We’d save money and get super healthy eating copious amounts of vegetables for protein. This would be awesome.

So I thought. . . until I made dinner.

I tried to follow the recipe precisely. Hey, I’d never used half of these ingredients before. But, I added a little extra of the stuff marked *This helps it taste good. We needed all the help we could get. I served it on little plastic dishes for the kids and put an extra large heap on my husband’s plate and mine. We sat down, prayed for the meal, and the kids dug in.

I waited for their response.

“Hmm . . .it’s not bad.” My oldest son said. Good sign. He’s fairly particular. Things were going great.

My husband picked up his fork and slowly took a bite. I could tell the food lingered in his mouth a bit too long. He hesitated to swallow. Bad sign.

My turn. Deep breath. I put a small amount on my fork and went for it. I almost gagged. My husband started laughing. I started laughing. We told the kids they didn’t have to eat it if they didn’t want to, because Mommy and Daddy couldn’t choke it down.

And, by six o’clock that evening we were officially finished being Vegan.

When will I learn that diets don’t work?

The D Word

Of course, most of us don’t say the “D” word anymore. We talk about “changing our lifestyle” or “making better choices.” The word diet is taboo in this decade. We’re intelligent enough now to know that diets don’t work. So, we fool ourselves into thinking we are doing something that’s a little different.

But are we?

We choose a new “eating plan” and try our hardest to stick to it. And, we’re cruising along for a few weeks until stress happens (or the kids get a boat load of Valentine’s chocolate that sits right in your sight line during that a time of the afternoon where you really need  little pick-me-up). Ugh.

Diet Over.

And, you’re right back where you started.

It’s so frustrating.

Yet, it’s a challenge for us dieters to give up our ways. It’s all we know. It’s the prison cell we are used to. We’ve been following food eating programs for so long that to have complete food freedom is way too overwhelming. Dangerous actually.

How “bad” will things get if I have the freedom to eat whatever I want?

That’s what happens when we “aren’t” on a diet, right? This question wriggles around in the dieter’s brain while she lingers between eating programs.

The struggle roots itself in an inability to trust ourselves to eat in moderation. Without the parameters of a plan, we feel we’ll be out of control. And, control? That’s something we like. It’s something we feel we need. We only know two paradigms—in control and out of control. There is no in between.

There is no grace.

So, how do I stop dieting? The answer is grace.

Grace For Dieters

Now, some of you all only know grace in the Christian sense of the word. But, the same truth applies. We dieters follow a religion. It’s one that tells us what to eat and what not to eat. We know we are “good” and “acceptable” if we follow the rules and that we are bad or “failures” if we cheat.

We like the black and white. To know, objectively, that we are doing well feels good.

We leave out the grace. Our religion doesn’t give us the space to have just one cookie and not feel guilty about it.

Applying grace to our eating, just like applying it to our lives–gives us the chance to be free. If we can embrace it.

How do I stop dieting? I have to apply these principles of grace to eating. Letting go of the “good” and “bad” labels and the prison bars that keep me cycling between freedom and restriction.

Is Moderation Possible?

I know it’s not easy. But, I also know that science backs up this biblical concept. Moderation is key, you’ve read it. You know it. It’s still hard.

So how do you find grace for your food choices each day? You pray for wisdom.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there are great food-related resources out there. There’s truth to the fact that abstaining from foods with a lot of sugar will help you lose your taste for them. If you start eating healthier foods, you’ll start craving healthier foods. I don’t dismiss any of these “dieting” principles.

But, if you’re tired of dieting and sick of throwing your money and energy into the next “food plan” and ready to just live, then let me encourage you to adopt a grace-filled mentality when it comes to food. Surrender any food idolatry at the cross — ask Jesus to come and help you diminish food’s role in your life. Then, ask for grace. Beg for it. Each day. Grace to make good decisions — the same as you’d ask for in parenting or marriage. De-throne food and diets from their all-consuming rule in your life and live free.

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