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


  1. Oh I love this post!! This year I am focusing on the real me more..I'm definatly an emotioinal eater although I can relate to the controled eater too. Hmm time to do my homework!!

  2. I have to say as a doctor interested in psychiatry these books fascinate me!

    I also have to say that what I call the "Is it working test," is the most important thing. How you get to the calories in versus calories out deficit doesn't matter as long as you get there. Honestly, my bottom line knowledge is this. You must create healthy habits. The doing it is the most important thing. The understanding it is meaningless. Doing it creates habits and that it that. After you have been doing it for a while, sit back and think about it all and everything you are trying to understand now will be much clearer. That's the best I got :-)

  3. Brenda - I'm glad you got something out of it. I can find bits and pieces of me in all the different types of eaters although I relate the most to chaotic and emotional.

    Dr. J - That's the best ya got? Well, it's pretty good! I like the "Is it working? test." Fad diets do not work for me. Counting calories, measuring, etc. does not work. Preparing "my" meal and my family's different meal didn't work for me. Obsessing about food doesn't work.

    Creating healthy habits and maintaining those habits are the ultimate goals. Just do it.

    Knowledge is power, though, not meaningless. It's meaningless if it's not followed by action.
    Understanding and listening to what my body wants is very meaningful.

  4. Years ago a lady at work who had weight issues asked me if I had eaten the holy cruller or something like that. It was her intro to a bible (faith) based weight loss idea. I was not excited about it.

    I kind of like what Dr. J said when he wrote the understanding is meaningless. I spent years trying to understand when if I had done rather than waited to do by trying to understand I would have been better off. Now I have the faith that I needed.

  5. Janell- When I was an atheist, I was turned off by most anything religious. I'm still gun-shy. That's why I mentioned in the second intro that this program can still, for the most part, be followed with your own belief system. "Take what you can from it and leave the rest." If I were still an atheist, I would have probably replaced God with "nature/energy" -- something like that.

    The approach of this program is to detox from dieting. There is action/doing in EFYS (later steps). So many fad diets/programs have the approach of "do all of this now." People spend endless hours counting calories, measuring, recording, going to weigh-ins, doing excruciating exercise regiments, etc. and then give up after a few weeks and feel awful about themselves. Defeated. Too much, too soon.

    Jarah's program focuses on intuitive eating, listening to your body, knowing when it's had enough and knowing what it wants. That's the understanding part.

  6. Lovely thought-provoking post. How are you doing? We are fairly well purged of the difficult foods and stocked with the nice foods and I hit Zumba today, so it's progress :)

  7. If listening to your body gets you to eat fewer calories and be more active, great. Time will give us the results of the is it working test.