Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Week 35

Break free.

What does freedom with food look like for you?  For me, freedom is not being controlled by foods and thus being able to go places and do things while feeling great!  I want to continue to be able to enjoy 7 mile hikes through the mountains as the boys and I did in the Colorado Rockies on one of our homeschooling trips.  I do not want to be addicted to or tied down to any food(s).  I do not want to 'need' a food substance so badly in the morning that I can't function until I get my fix.  I do not want to 'need' any food during the day so badly that I will be distracted until I get my fix or will get really crabby without it.  I don't want to have stashes of food that I eat in secret.  I want to spend my money on yummy, delicious foods God has created for my body rather than on over-the-counter or prescription medications.  I want to feel my best so that I can enjoy the beautiful outdoor world God has created around me - the flowers, the sunrises, the stars ... beaches, rivers, mountains. 

Break free - break your food addictions.  This is the hardest challenge but it so important.  I think part of the problem is that food addictions are so subtle and are not recognized.  I know this was the case for me.  I was eating the typical American diet and thinking that I was unlucky to be having health problems and not feeling well.  Having a cup of coffee so you can function in the morning, having a soda or energy drink to pick you up during the day, eating a candy bar to lift your mood, or stopping at Sonic for dinner are seen as great ways in our culture to make it through our busy days.  These things are not recognized as food addictions, but they are.  Do the 'food addiction test'; if you can't go a week without the item in question without serious withdrawal symptoms or cravings, then you are likely addicted to that food item/ingredient.  

For me it was sugar, which is put into almost all processed foods.  But it was also all of the processed foods I was eating that contain just the right amount of fat/salt/sugar - engineered in precise quantities - to make me crave them.  It took many years and God's grace opening my eyes for me to realize that the food I was eating was affecting how I felt.  Acknowledging a food addiction is the first step to success as I discussed in the Week 32 Challenge 

The purpose of the weekly challenges on this blog is to gently guide you away from the typical American diet, and into a plan of eating foods created by God.  If you are not ready for today's challenge, go back through the challenges and work to make these things habits so you can succeed when starting to break free from your food addictions.  I know you may be thinking - who is she to tell me what I can eat?  But it is not what I think is best; it is following God's plan for our nourishment.  I am following the plan that God has laid out for us to the best of my ability. 

Consider Matthew 7:13-14:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

This verse applies to our eternal life with God but we must follow God's way in all matters.  One cannot believe in God in his heart and live in habitual sin - stealing, killing, cheating, etc.  Why do we think our choices in food are any different?  If we know and see the effects of fast-food, man-altered processed foods, on people's health why do we think it is o.k to eat them?

Wide and broad is the road of food that leads to poor health, excess weight, and diminished quality of life.  Don't be a victim of your food.  It is sad that the people who have the most options with food typically make the worst choices.  The poor, indigenous peoples of the world, unless without food and starving, typically eat real foods from God because they don't have access to man-altered, processed foods, and thus they enjoy better health than most Americans.  Why is this so hard?  Because man-altered, processed foods are manufactured to make you crave them, to make you desire them, to deceive you and trap you.

So this week, start to break your addictions.  I say 'start' because I know how hard this can be.  I know that you might have a day or two of success, or even a week or two, and then slip back into the typical American diet.  Do give up if this happens, just start over again.  And again, and again until you are successful.  This is a journey.  Keep your eyes on your end goal (hopefully your 100 % approach); plan out your meals; clean out your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer;  and celebrate your successes without beating yourself up and giving up when you stumble off course.

How to accomplish this?  That will vary and you need to decide what works best for you.  I think everyone needs some substitute foods, but you must decide how much transition you need and how quickly you will proceed.  Here are three possibilities:

1.  Cold Turkey.  This is the approach I have used and the only one that works for me.  I don't have good enough willpower to gradually cut down if I plan to quit completely.  If you have tried unsuccessfully in the past to break a food addiction, it may be that you thought you could gradually cut down but that you need to go cold turkey.  I often find those who say they will gradually cut down are not really convicted to completely quit.  This is perhaps a mind-game you play, knowing you don't really plan to conquer your addiction.  Of course, that is part of the addictive power of the food over you.

For my sugar addiction, I know when I go cold turkey that I will have one week of INTENSE cravings that I have to actively fight with prayer and willpower.  After that, I will have another one to two weeks with occasional small cravings, and I must stay alert and prepared.  My chances of not succeeding come at moments of tiredness or weakness (when I am emotionally upset about something for example).  It is crucial that you have a 'replacement' food available in these moments.  Not something that you mindlessly eat (as in the first week), but something that will be a replacement for those tough moments when your willpower is weak.

After about three weeks, the cravings stop completely.  I can easily pass up something with sugar in it.  YEAH!!!  Oh, but if I think I can have just one serving - it starts all over. 

I can't remember the last time I 'cheated'.  It has been several years.  I have been in the cycle too many times and it just is not worth that 3 weeks of fighting cravings to me anymore.  And I can still have sweets, those things I make that are sweetened with fruits, raw honey or maple syrup, so I am not being deprived and thus there is no reason for me to cheat. 

It is wonderful to have victory - to break free.  You too can do this and I promise you will be so filled with joy after accomplishing this goal!

2.  Gradually Cutting Back.  This approach might be needed if you drink large quantities of caffeinated drinks or eat excessive amounts of sugar.  In fact, this might be the safest, healthiest option.  You know that you will experience withdrawal symptoms - those cravings that are so hard to fight.  With these cravings are actual physical affects on your body.  If your addictions are severe, don't completely shock your body by going cold turkey.  This would not be healthy and could even be dangerous if you have other disease problems.  But come up with a concrete plan.  For example, the first week you will strictly limit yourself to half your current consumption.  The second week, cut it in half again.  This gradual reduction is also necessary if you cannot rest adequately when you start to break your addiction.  Your body needs more rest as it 'recovers' and starts to heal.  If you know you will have a massive caffeine headache and you need to be able to think, then you must slowly cut back to minimize your reaction.

3.  Transitioning.  This step is necessary for many people so take advantage of it, especially if you are addicted to multiple things.  For example, if your addiction is to soda, then you are probably addicted to caffeine and sugar.  In this case, you might want to switch from a regular conventional soda (Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, etc.) to a caffeine-free natural soda that contains raw cane sugar. This transition will eliminate the caffeine and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) from your diet, and once you have mastered this you can tackle the sugar addiction by either going cold turkey or transitioning to Izzie sodas.  (Izzie sodas are still a highly concentrated sweet and thus should be an occasional treat, not a daily drink.)

Please remember that it takes more than a strong willpower.  With willpower, you might succeed for awhile but you will probably fall back into your old habits.  It takes a change of heart, a change of perspective, that only God can give you (if you ask Him).  Ask God to change your heart and your perspective.  Ask God to take away your desire for the foods that have you trapped - those foods that man has created to trap you.  Those foods engineered to make you crave them so you will eat more and buy more.

1 Corinthians 10:23-24 says:  "Everything is permissible - but not everything is beneficial.  Everything is permissible - but not everything is constructive."  And then 1 Corinthians 10:31 says:  "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

Are you eating and drinking and living for the glory of God?  If you are addicted to processed food, if you binge on junk food - are you honoring and glorifying God with this addiction?  Make a conscious effort to choose God's foods that will nourish your body and thus glorify God with your food choices.  Start today - and trust God to help you!  Believe God's promises in Matthew 7.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.  Which of you if his son asks for bread will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!"   Matthew 7: 7 - 12

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