Thursday, December 30, 2010

Eating for Your Soul - Listen to Online Intro

Jarah Christensen now has a website.  You can listen to her introduction from the Home page.  Click on "Listen online now" on the left column.

Previous EFYS Posts
My Intro
Program's Intro
Step One

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Eating for Your Soul - Step One

(The following is from Jarah Christensens' "Eating for Your Soul" copyrighted material -- I've paraphrased, summarized, and quoted from her workbook. Writing helps me study and retain info).

Step One: Become self-aware of your physical and spiritual health.

A. Your Body
a. Controlled
b. Professional
c. Chaotic
d. Waste-Not
e. Offend-Not
f. Emotional
B. Your Spirit
C. Homework

A. Your Body: Become self aware of your relationship with food.
What keeps you from listening to your body? What beliefs and habits have you picked up that keep you from hearing your body's cues?

a. Control Eaters -- Every bite is counted, measured, and sometimes recorded. Every meal is a battle. Your body is the enemy and not a teacher. Food is to be conquered, not enjoyed. Generally, you are not overweight. As a result, friends and family admire your work ethic and discipline. This adds fuel to the already raging battle. In rare moments of weakness, you think, "I can eat this brownie because I will burn it off in the gym."

b. Professional Dieter -- Name a diet and you have tried it. You own every book on every fad diet. You often weigh yourself several times a day. Food becomes an obsession. Detailed diets are essential for you because your diet represents control of your life. You crave the compliments, but it is never enough. Your current diet occupies your thoughts from dawn to dusk.

c. Chaotic Eater (Me, btw) -- Multi-tasking has become commonplace in our culture. Often, it is viewed as a necessity to keep up with the kids, husband, and life. You tend to get so busy that eating does not make the "to do" list. Then, your body screams, "I'm hungry!" The cycle then begins: starve, binge, starve, binge, etc. This chaos is not conducive to listening to your body. This leads to unhealthy "grab and go" food rather than food that will last longer and taste better. Food is viewed as a necessary time-sucking evil. (SO me).

d. Waste-Not Eaters -- You find it difficult to throw away food. You eat free samples, not because you are hungry, but because it is free. Your eating patterns are more driven by money than by needs and wants of your body.

e. Offend-Not Eaters -- For some, food is love. In social situations, it is easier to eat with everyone than to refuse. You worry that you may offend the host. You feel awkward to sit with nothing while everyone else eats. You eat even when you are not hungry because you fear man (I think this is in reference to our Doctrine and Covenants Chapter 3: Verse 7).

f. Emotional Eater (Me, also) -- Sitting on the couch crying into a tub of ice cream is extreme emotional eating. Usually, emotional eating takes the form of grabbing little bites as you pass through the kitchen because "you deserve it." (Hello!) You keep a drawer of goodies at a job you hate to reward yourself for "hanging in there." (Uh huh). You feed emotional hunger with food. You yearn for something better in your life: a better job, more helpful kids, a different marriage, etc. We numb these feelings with food. Food temporarily fills the void to get through the next few minutes.

-- These eating habits make it hard to listen to your body's needs.
-- Now that you've i.d.'ed what type of eater you are, Jarah says:
Don't go into the diet mode and start making yourself stop these habits right this very moment. This is what a diet program would have you do, and this is what your mind wants to do. It wants to be told how and when to make drastic changes. You are not being asked to do anything about this just yet. For now, just be self-aware.


"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein

What keeps you coming back for more physical and emotional beatings that diets bring? It's the misconception or the idea that you just need more willpower. A common phrase you hear is "If you can just get better willpower, you can lick anything." Yet, it seems our willpower is constantly failing us. We will be addressing why this is in a later chapter. For now, you just need to observe how much this comes into your mind and in conversations around you.

Another reason you might keep going back to diets is because you think that you need to be punished with diets to be redeemed for your food choices of the past. This kind of thinking is what keeps you from coming to Heavenly Father (your higher power) for help. You believe you deserve the pain of dieting. "It can't be as easy as listening to your body! Where is the redemption in that?" -- Those are half-truths planted in your head by false beliefs being fed to you.

While it is true that your body is where it is because of past choices, the lie is that diets are the redemption. The lie is believing that you have made too many mistakes in the past about your health that painful diets or giving up are the only answers.


A lot of women believe that it is vain to ask for a better, healthier body. However, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf explains Christ is the answer, "The world is not bashful in offering numerous new answers to every problem we face. It's not that these worldly options don't contain elements of truth -- many of them do. Nevertheless, they all fall short of the lasting change we seek in our lives. The gospel of Jesus Christ has the answers to all of our problems."

That is why we are here on this earth living with these bodies: to learn that He is the answer. If you are having a hard time asking for the Lord's help, then you are missing an important lesson and that is the body can teach and remind you of your need for the Savior.
(Prayer/meditation is something I am not in a habit of doing. Asking for help from anyone, earthly or heavenly,is also something I am not in the habit of practicing. I think I'm a bit disconnected.)

Becoming more aware of the reasons why you think willpower is the answer and why it is so hard to come to your Savior for help can assist you in taking steps closer to getting out of the insanity you find yourself in while trying to do it on your own.

Know this: You are not where you are right now because of bad food choices or of a lack of willpower. You are where you are because you chose to use food to cope with life's trials instead of using the Savior, but this can change.

B. Your Spirit: Become aware of your spiritual health
Asking questions is a great way to get honest about your feelings. You don't have to write them down, just ponder.

Do you know or believe with all of your heart that you are a child of God?

Do you ever question the real intents and desires of your heart when it comes to things like visiting teaching, home teaching or callings (church opportunities and responsibilities)? Is it out of duty or love?

Do you trust the Lord and His timetable when it comes to the changes you seek?

Do you feel you have the right or feel worthy enough to receive personal revelation for yourself everyday?

Do you ever find yourself thinking, "Why should I repent of something that I know I'm just going to do again tomorrow? (Amen to that!)

Do fears of others' opinions hold you back from being yourself?

Does the past haunt you to the point where you don't feel you are worthy to have a personal relationship with the Savior?

Do you fear that the Lord will ask too much of you?

How do you feel about your prayers and scripture studies? Do you feel you should, need, or want to read and pray everyday?

"Your thoughts, feelings and beliefs are actually the roots of your behaviors." (AA 12 Step)

C. Homework

1. IDENTIFY WHAT KIND OF EATER YOU ARE. You will be doing nothing about this information now. Do not let this turn into a "shame on you" process. For now, you are just becoming self-aware. The action steps will come later.

2. LIKEN THE SCRIPTURES. Jesus asked others many questions. Apply these questions to your desire to change. Please no Sunday school answers; get really honest.

*"What seek ye?" (John 1:38)
*"Woman, why weepest thou?" (John 20:13)

Previous EFYS Posts
My Intro
Jarah's Intro

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Eating for Your Soul - Program's Intro

There's a major thing I left out from yesterday's intro post. This program deals a lot with your soul and is based on our LDS Christian belief system (this is not an LDS-supported program, but the facilitator is LDS). Our physical well-being isn't only physical but also mental and spiritual.

Jarah and I are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint (LDS). The meetings and program do reference to the Bible, The Book of Mormon and doctrine, although non-members are welcome to attend and do. Being a former atheist, I tried to visualize going through the program with a different belief system, and you can. The goal is to connect to your spiritual/essence side and to be true to that. As my father says, "Take what you can and leave the rest."

Introduction Class to "Eating for Your Soul"

Jarah talks about being at war with food and your body. I liked what she said about our bodies are frustrated, too, and that it has " a thing or two to tell" us. Some of them are:
*"It knows exactly how to keep you healthy, but it has to fight the rules that you are forcing on it.
*"It sends signs and signals all day long that seem to just get ignored.
*"It no longer trusts you ... It holds on to food and stores it for later starving periods. It won't let go of it until it has a reason to trust you again."

She goes on to tell us why we need to listen to our body:
*"The body has no hidden agenda.
*"The body knows how to take care of itself perfectly: Everyday, three or more times a day, your body sends you many signals. Like the Spirit, it is subtle and waiting for you to respond and just like the Spirit, the more you practice listening to your body's promptings, the easier it is to hear them.
*"Listening to your body can be a spiritual experience: ...learning to listen to their body has brought more than just peace about their body; it has brought peace into all aspects of their lives.
*"Your body knows best because it was made by the best." -- I'll paraphrase: many religions talk about the body being the temple of God and to not defile it. Jarah goes on to say we aren't just supposed to keep our "temple" clean, we are supposed to use them and learn from them. (Temples are a big thing in the LDS religion; we go there for additional spiritual learning and ordinance work.). Anyway, we learn by listening.

"The body is a gift given to us to learn from, not to be ignored and conquered."
You have been taught that you need to control your body with willpower and to stop giving in to food cravings. These ideas have brought separation between you and your body.

(I'm skipping over a lot - sorry - but here is what I've hi-lighted for myself).

*When you are in this separation state, it's hard to see what is really going on.
*Weight or the excess is not the real problem but only the symptom to the real problem.
*Throwing diets and exercise (unrealistic programs) at your body is not getting to the root of the real problem, and the weight will just keep coming back. That is what this program is about: getting to the roots.

(Jarah uses the analogy of a weed for weight loss. Diets and exercise are like pulling the leaves of the weed. The weight - weed -- will just keep coming back unless you get to the root).

*Another reason why diets don't work is the good vs. bad food concept that diets bring.
*Doctrine and Covenants 59:18-20 Food is to be used "...both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; ...for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul."
*Do we see food as a tool for torture? As something we crave but can't or shouldn't eat?

How do we get to the roots?
"In each step of the program, you will be addressing the body and spirit. We have these separated in the beginning steps because this is what has happened. The goal of the program is tho harmonize your physical and spiritual needs through the Atonement of Christ. With each step, the body and spirit will come together so you can learn to eat for your soul."

(I like this part -- it's from a leader of our church):
Boyd K. Packer said this regarding out body and spiritual health:
"There are spiritual disorders and spiritual diseases that can cause intense suffering. The body and the spirit of man are bound together. Often, very often, when there are disorders, it is very difficult to tell which is which. There are also rules of spiritual health, simple rules that cannot be ignored, for if they are we will reap sorrow by and by."

What is the Spirit's job in all of this?
The Spirit will help you find the root of the problem, separate the truths and lies about food and know how to properly take care of the body. It will give hope where hope has been lost.

Jarah adds this heartfelt plea:
"This is a cry out to the hopeless: You may be here because someone dragged you here or you told someone you would come, but deep down in your heart you have given up hope for a healthy body. When you do try to get healthy with diets or exercise, it's because you don't want others to think you have given up. You don't try to lose weight for yourself, you do it for someone else (your kids, your grandchildren, or your husband), but this won't do. You need to do it for you. ... [if] you have willingness and desire, [that's] good enough for now. We can work with that."

How does the program work?
"It is a 10 week process. The first 3 steps are about learning to get rid of the thoughts and actions that keep you at war with your body and food. The next 4 steps are about exploration. You need to figure out your body's needs and wants. The last 3 steps are about maintenance.

Each step has a body and a spirit section with homework. At each meeting you will receive the next step. The meetings are a very important part of the program. You will find strength and support in the group."

(Jarah also emails daily thoughts/reminders to support the lesson we are working on that week).

From me: Here's the kicker that may make you exclaim, "What?! Why am I even here?"
Jarah clearly states that this is NOT a weight loss program, although some do experience weight loss. Members and facilitators have many backgrounds of eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia, binge eating.
"We are offering the ability to learn how to find peace in your body in a world that wants you to be at war with your body. We are offering the chance to love food again without guilt. We are offering the ability to learn that your body can be a great teacher for you... However, keep in mind that the key to all problems comes down to one answer, and that is the Lord."

She ends with:
"Yet no matter what the source of difficulty and no matter how you begin to obtain relief -- through a qualified professional therapist, doctor, priesthood leader, friend, concerned parent, or loved one -- no matter how you begin, those solutions will never provide a complete answer. The final healing comes through faith in Jesus Christ and His teachings, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit." -- Richard G. Scott of the Twelve

Next post on EFYS - Step 1

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Eating for Your Soul - My Intro

Last September, I began attending classes/meetings titled "Eating for Your Soul." I wasn't quite ready for it, but I jumped aboard and am glad I did. This is a program founded by Jarah Christensen; it is her passion as she puts it. It's fairly new, in fact I was part of the guinea-pig group where the workbook was still under construction and paperwork for the "Not for Profit" title was being applied for.

One of the things that struck me was the "not for profit" part. Jarah isn't selling anything -- no prepackaged foods, no vitamins, no membership fees, no clothing lines, no workout videos, etc. This is truly her passion that began with personal family reasons of her own, and it has developed into much more. I'm just happy to be along for the ride.

We abuse our bodies with diets and unrealistic exercise programs. During a meeting, Jarah said one of her ultimate goals is for us to no longer desire to abuse our body.

This is a Ten-Step program with full intent to repeat the steps. In other words (my words), I'm not going to "get it" and be ready to fully apply the steps in ten weeks. These are life-changing, habit-breaking steps. I can go through another set of steps with the support of meetings and facilitators -- for free, although donations are requested to help offset costs to run the program.

I liken "Eating for Your Soul" to the AA and OA 12-Step programs where you meet, share without cross-talk, learn about the next step, and it is donation-based. There are differences, though, and I can point those out as I go along. I've been through O.A. when I lived in Illinois, but I haven't been to meetings since I moved here in Utah.

I want to use blogging as a way to study the material as I share what I am learning. I'll write some of the things that apply to me at the moment or really touches my heart, etc. Her work is copyrighted material, so I hope to not infringe on that at the same time. Not too many people visit my blog, anyway. :) And everyone who does are honest, awesome people, right? Right. I'm sure what I write won't do her program justice. I wish I could take you all to the meetings so you can experience and learn about it yourselves.

Next post: Jarah's intro to "Eating for Your Soul."