Tacoma Christian Counselor
Part 2 of a 2-Part Series on Losing and Managing Weight
According to the World Health Organization, as of 2014, approximately 39% of adults worldwide are overweight and 13% are obese. The global incidence of obesity has more than doubled in the last 35 years! In fact, most people live in countries where being overweight or obese is more lethal than being underweight. Past statistics offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that, at that time, 20.5% of 12- to 19-year-old youths in the U.S. are severely overweight. Besides looking and feeling less attractive, people who are carrying around too much weight have a major health risk. Heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and some cancers are among the preventable diseases associated with obesity.
It’s not surprising that at any time over half of the adults in our country are attempting to shed unwanted pounds. In Part I of this article, I shared 12 tips for achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight that I have personally used in my own life and seen applied successfully by others in my practice. This concluding segment reveals an additional 11 lifestyle strategies for taking it off and keeping it off.
13) Use Small Plates, Bowls, And Cups
This is another psychological aid that helps with portion control and satisfaction. A small but full-looking plate fosters a sense of “I’m having enough” better than a large plate that seems half empty.
14) Be Prepared.
Try not to be caught off guard by hunger or unhealthy food choices. Keep healthy snacks in your home, office, car, locker, and gym bag to make positive choices as likely as possible. When dining out, call ahead or look online to make a conscientious menu selection before you even get there. Eat ahead of time or bring your own food when you know you’re going to be confronted with food in which you choose not to indulge.
15) Dish Up Food, Rather Than Eat Out of the Bag or Container.
Part of eating intentionally is deciding in advance what and how much you are going to eat instead of letting pure desire be the driver of your bus. If you have a tendency to eat fast like I do, your brain may not register satisfaction or fullness before you have overeaten. And with some people and some “pseudo-foods,” there is no real satiation point. It is very helpful to decide what a reasonable portion is and put it on a plate or napkin, or in a bowl or cup. Avoid eating out of the bag, carton, or other food container where you might lose sight of just how much you’ve consumed.
16) Eat Mindfully.
Eating is not only among the most fundamental in the hierarchy of needs (see Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs), but munching on something tasty is a very sensual activity, involving taste, sight, smell, hearing, and touch. Sharing a tasty meal with good company is one of the spices of life! Distraction diminishes the pleasure that eating has to offer or causes you to miss it altogether. Whether alone or with others, to get the maximum enjoyment from eating, turn off the TV, put down the book, stow the electronics, and pay attention to the experience of eating great food!
17) Anticipate Suffering.
I’m not going to lie – losing pounds and managing a healthy weight involves moments of suffering. If you’re going to stay the course, you will often say “no” to food you’d prefer to go ahead and eat. Saying “no” to things that aren’t good for us is part of the disciplined, fasted Christian life we are called to. However, in doing so, you are also saying “yes” to looking good, feeling good, and potentially living a longer, higher quality of life. If you aren’t surprised by the discomfort of delayed gratification and going without, then you can be more ready with strategies to cope with it victoriously.
18) Be Active.
Walk, run, bike, swim, garden, lift weights, play tennis, hike, ski, join a gym, use a workout video, take the stairs, park in the rear of the parking lot – find ways to increase your physical fitness.
19) Take Care of Your Other Needs.
Sometimes eating too much food or the wrong kinds of food is a self-medication or distraction from suffering “want” in other areas of our lives – physical, emotional, relational, or spiritual. When we have persistent unmet needs, we can be drawn to masking the pangs of need with the temporary pleasure of eating. Well-being demands a balance between giving of ourselves, task-orientation, and proper self-care.
20) Establish Support and Accountability.
There is no doubt about it, change is hard! It can be exceedingly helpful to have a mentor, partner, or group to support you and hold you accountable while you work toward your weight-loss goal or adoption of permanent healthy eating habits.
21) Abstain if it’s Warranted.
Many people have food “triggers” – that is particular food items or types of food that tend to always set off a title wave of cravings and binge-eating. When tiredness, stress, and negative emotions are high, vulnerability to overeating and unhealthy food choices may also be high. If either is the case, it is often far easier to not take the first bite than to stop having started. Most food items are not by themselves necessary to life and this is especially true for most binge foods. Therefore, it may be prudent to abstain for a season until some control is regained or even forever. There is no food, no matter how tasty, that is worth a life of misery.
22) When You Blow It, Begin Again with The Next Meal.
Your best chance of keeping momentum in the right direction when you make a poor eating choice is to get back on the horse immediately after falling. No more starting over on Monday, the first of the year, after vacation, or when the holidays are over. Return to healthy eating immediately at the next meal. If you will do this, you are less likely to beat yourself up, experience significant weight gain, or lose heart.
Rather than eat my sprouts alone, it would be better for me to share a pizza with some friends. – Steven Bratman, author of Health Food Junkies
23) Retain Some Flexibility.
Few people, if any, eat perfectly, and insisting on doing so is often a set-up for failure. It is also not very fun to be in the company of rigid eaters. When you are a guest, be a blessing to your hostess. If foods are offered that you normally would shy away from, make the best selections possible and get back on track with your next meal.
How Christian Counseling Can Help You Lose or Manage Your Weight
It isn’t always easy to maintain a healthy body weight in our modern culture. Television, magazines, and billboards tempt us with visions of mouth-watering delectables at every turn, while restaurants and markets make those foods more available to us at all hours of the day and night like no other time in history. Many people are increasingly busy, yet sedentary and physically out of shape. Trauma, stress, socio-economics, and a host of other factors can help shape a destructive relationship with food that undermines health and well-being. If you are struggling in this area, you are not alone, nor should you be alone. Christian counseling provides guidance and support at times when frustration and despair are heavy.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov;
World Health Organization: www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/;
Calorie Control Council: http://caloriecontrol.org/trends-and-statistics/
“Delish Salad,” Courtesy of Amy Selleck, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Human Needs by Maslow,” courtesy of Dimitar Nikolov, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Good Intentions,” courtesy of Matthias Ripp, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)
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