Behind the Latest Diet Trends
Is keto a fad diet or a low-carb healthy eating plan? Well really, it depends on who you ask. Talk with people who have changed their lives following this eating style and have been adhering to it religiously for 3 years. They will tell you it is a healthy eating plan. But, for the majority, it is just another diet trend.
If you are not working with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, how do you know if any ‘rave’ diet plan is the right one for you? What constitutes a healthy eating plan?
To some, healthcare professionals sound like a broken record with their consistent talk about ‘healthy lifestyles,’ ‘moderation,’ and ‘sustainable eating patterns’. And unfortunately, these vague terms can leave eager individuals feeling confused about what that really looks like. If we are honest, these concepts don’t give off a sexy vibe or the promise of immediate results as many trending diets claim.
Healthy Eating is Personal
So, how are you to decipher what is the best way to eat for your body? Well, James would recommend we start by asking the God of the universe. He’s the Creator of all things good, including our taste buds.
“If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and he will gladly tell you, for he is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask him; he will not resent it. But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to tell you, for a doubtful mind will be as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6
Here is something you should know – creating a healthy eating and lifestyle plan will require some evaluation and execution. It might, no it will feel hard at times. But, you know you are on the right track if the small but strategic steps you are taking are creating a lifestyle that nourishes your body and soul.
Resist the urge to follow a diet or eating style that feels like torture and demands all your energy so you have little left to invest in the people and causes you love most.
These are a few questions to ask yourself as you evaluate whether the latest diet trend is one worth pursuing:
1. Am I looking for a diet to heal my broken relationship with food?
Self-imposed food restrictions, diet rules, and meticulously kept food logs will not heal your relationship with food. These are temporary ways we try to regain control over an area that feels out of control.
You have to commit to doing the internal work emotionally, mentally and spiritually in order to change the way you relate to food. There is absolutely a benefit to changing food behaviors and our environment, but transformation begins by surrendering control and renewing our mind (Romans 12:2).
2. Can my family participate in this eating plan with me?
No one wants to make two meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – that sounds exhausting! When considering an eating plan, ask yourself whether this diet would be suitable for all of your family members. What about your pre-teen daughter who is beginning to become body conscious? Or your athletic teen who needs fuel for practice and games?
Can you continue to expose your toddler to a wide variety of foods to combat picky eating while following this specific food plan? Meals happen 3-5 times per day, every day, so choosing an eating plan that works for everyone will save you time, money, and hassle.
It really is possible to construct an eating plan that fits your entire family. While your family members may have slightly different food preferences, the idea is to create an eating plan that works for everyone, maybe with a few modifications here and there.
The research behind family dinners will keep you diligently gathering your favorite people around the kitchen table for a warm meal and quality connection. In fact, family meals increase the consumption of healthful foods, reduces risks for eating disorders, fends off risky behaviors like doing drugs, and may even lead to improved grades in the classroom!
3. What do I believe about my body right now, and do I expect this diet to change that?
Your body is good! It’s beautiful, wonderful and complex. It is good to care for what God has created – that’s called stewardship. But it is harmful to tell ourselves lies that we must conform to a body image or standard in order to ‘be good.’ Your health and weight are not moral issues.
You don’t have to follow an eating pattern for two weeks in a row to ‘be good.’ You aren’t ‘bad’ when you eat dessert when you are not hungry. That is shame talk. Shame says I am not good enough as I am right now and I have to make myself into a better version to be loved, accepted and valued. That’s not truth.
Truth says you are amazing (Psalm 139:14)! Truth says you can do nothing to earn love- you don’t need to. Knowing your position as Beloved allows you to accept the fullness of love and then give it in return.
We are commanded to love God and love our neighbor as we love ourself (Mark 12:29-31). It begins with a love relationship with our Creator. Then, this very scripture reminds us that we can only love people really well when we love ourselves – all of us – body, soul, and spirit.
It is good to pursue wellness through whole food meals, movement, and healthy food behaviors. We should consider the consequences of poor lifestyle choices. It is good to cook with our kids and model smart food choices. But, regardless of whether you do any of this or not, you are valuable.
4. Are diets ever good or beneficial for me?
In my experience, many individuals don’t know what it looks like to set up boundaries with food. When I establish a play area boundary for my children to keep them out of the road, it’s not to punish or deprive. It is so that they can enjoy life and thrive.
The focus of setting some personal boundaries or guidelines with food isn’t about demonizing certain foods. Instead, personal boundaries help identify how we want to engage with food and behaviors we know will be life-giving in the long run. The purpose is not to shame or punish our body into submission. That isn’t the heart of God for His children.
Food combining, keto, vegan, … Are you feeling lost in the rules, deprived by the restrictions, and confused by the research? Your Heavenly Father most wants to see you walking in the freedom He has given you.
Whatever form of eating plan you choose, it should feel right for your body. Some people aren’t entirely sure what this is and that is okay. Most of us are still learning what this looks like! It’s the perfect time to ask more questions and listen to your body. Reach out to a Registered Dietitian or a trusted healthcare practitioner. They might be exactly what you need to create a realistic eating and healthy living plan in line with your values, lifestyle, and health goals.
So, What’s the Play Call?
It’s not about arriving. It’s about becoming. Decide to walk through the process and ask God to refine you, speak truth into dark places, and renew your relationship with food.
Let’s not pretend – discipline and commitment are necessary to move towards any goal in life, including health and wellness. But I guarantee if you are looking for solutions to improve your weight, health, and energy, diets will leave you feeling half-empty – and they work for less than 10% of individuals anyway.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)