Author’s Note: Team Meridian continues it’s exciting launch with Kyani, a wonderfully powerful health product and financial opportunity. The skeleton of my personal website is up where you can learn more: www.Kyani.info. If you or a loved one struggle with diabetes, arthritis or insomnia, or love an autistic child, do not miss learning about this break-through product! If you live in the Washington, DC area, please take note as we will be having special live meetings here on September 28 and 30. Details are at www.Kyani.info where you’ll also be able to learn more about how this supports our missionaries through Meridian author Larry Barkdull’s efforts.
As you may know, these articles are based on my own personal and continual struggles to control my weight and eating habits. For me, like Visiting Teaching, dishes, and laundry, managing my food issues is never “done”. My compulsions are ever-present reminders that the natural man inside of me is very much alive and in need of constant taming. Of course, I’m not alone, and that’s a comfort.
This past summer was especially difficult with a daughter’s wedding and much of August spent living out of a suitcase for the Utah wedding and open house. Lots of stress. celebration food and events – before, during and after the actual wedding day, followed by lots of company once we returned home for the Virginia open house (with more celebration food). This left me in a sorry state for the writer of a health column. September 1 found me “hoovering” — as in the vacuum — meaning that I was consuming everything in sight at the moment it appeared no matter the time of the day or what I’d eaten in the previous hour. My son Cooper said to me more than once, “Mom – what would your readers think?” My reply, “That I’m human!” was heartfelt and honest. My last article “Let Us Then be Up and Doing” that appeared on Labor Day was a true battle-cry, written by me and for me.
Well, easier said than done. Although things settled down somewhat and I regained some control after September 1, I still found that I was eating far more than I’d planned each day. Often it was food of questionable nutritional value, and eaten in a rush while walking around, in the car, or standing in front of the refrigerator or cupboards, in secret and alone. Was this compulsion to continually eat driven by stress, a deep-rooted psychological need, or just plain old bad habits and procrastination? As I pondered those questions, I just continued to eat!
Nevertheless, with the love He has for each of us, our Heavenly Father manifested the best quick-fix for me in .. of all places, the Saturday Evening Adult session of Stake Conference. I hope it will be meaningful for you too.
Our Stake Presidency was being reorganized and Elder Paul K. Sybrowsky of the First Quorum of the Seventy was our visiting General Authority. He had us turn to John 6:1-14, where the Savior feeds the 5,000. “While this is a story of a miracle, it’s also a story of the importance of reverence – of preparation, and the importance of each individual soul …” he said. “The Savior wanted them to be ready for this experience, so he provided a place where they would be comfortable … “
As we turned and read the passage sentence by sentence together, a flood light went on and scales were lifted from my own eyes. How could I have missed these thoughts and these verses before? It was as if I’d never read these words! While he opened up these scriptures for the importance of the Savior’s way of teaching and the value of each individual, I knew that I had found my answer for managing my own personal, current eating dilemma.
For ease and review, I have paraphrased it as follows:
“Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples … When Jesus lifted up his eyes, he saw a great company come unto him and said ‘Whence shall we buy food, that these may eat?’ One of his disciples saith unto him ‘A lad hath five barley loaves and two small fish’ …And Jesus said, ‘make the men sit down.’ Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, . …and the disciples distributed to them that were set down. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.’ (John 6:1-14)
One after the other, my own situation and the solutions presented themselves!
1) We Function Best After a Real Meal
The first and obvious principle, of course, is that none of us does well when we’re physically hungry. Now, we may well have eaten, but if it’s empty calories of junk food that do not nourish the body, we’re still hungry!
The Savior clearly wanted to feed them physically as well as spiritually. A good teacher knows that we’re better able to concentrate on a spiritual message when we’re physically comfortable How true that is for each of us! We just do better after we’ve sat down and had a nutritious meal that our bodies will recognize and accept as a genuine feeding.
It brings to mind Brigham Young counsel to the members of the Church sent to rescue the Willie handcart company: “Prayer is good, but when baked potatoes and pudding and milk are needed, prayer will not supply their place on this occasion; give every duty its proper time and place. …”
It is interesting to note that what was available from and provided by the lad were nutritious foods, barley loaves and fish – whole grains and protein! It was not cupcakes, chips and soda or doughnuts, or sweets. This is counsel to us as well that we need food that truly nourishes our physical needs, not things that create a desire for more synthetic foods.
2) Prepare a Pleasant Place
Elder Sybrowsky pointed out that most of the terrain in the area where this miracle took place is rocky. Then carefully, and no doubt going way out of his way, the Savior found this place of “much grass” that would be pleasant and much more comfortable than the rocky ground to sit on. He prepared a nice place to receive the miracle to come!
For us, how much more enjoyable it is for us to eat in a pleasant place, where the dishes match and the table is cleared off. How little effort is required to add a candle, some music, or a little centerpiece – even when we’re alone. Eating is one of the delights of mortal life, meant to be openly enjoyed in every way. Eating in a pleasant environment is truly preparing for the digestive miracle to come as our bodies absorb the food and apply the nutrients.
3) Sit Down
This was the big one for me – and definitely the biggest culprit of my problems. The physical act of just sitting down to eat a prepared meal, and giving up the mindless grazing on everything in sight eliminates thousands of calories, bites-licks-tastes-nibbles, extended standing in front of the refrigerator or at-the-sink binges, etc.
How much overeating we will avoid by simply declaring to ourselves that we do NOT eat while standing up, except at special social occasions.
Decide on your safe eating locations (dining room table, kitchen table, a place at lunch, etc.) and stick to it! Make sure they include a chair at a table! Put up signs if necessary that declare these other, non-safe areas as “non-eating zones.”
4) Let Leftovers Remain Leftovers
Verse 12 says “when they were filled” he asked the disciples to gather up the leftovers.
That means … they STOPPED eating, even though more food was available. They left food uneaten … This is a BIGGIE that keeps US big!
How often do we just keep eating when we’re full? It takes at least 10 minutes after eating for the body to register it’s full, so it’s easy to 1) extend the pleasant experience of eating tasty food, 2) to eat to just socialize with or eating companions, 3) I find that often continue eating as a way of procrastinating what needs to be done next or 4) Other odd compulsory habits.
For example, in a weird way, for many of us there’s a strange, nonsensical need to “finish” things off, rather than let them remain either on the table, and then to be packaged as leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer for later — as if these things will not be available to enjoy or use later. We may even have a false Depression-era mentality or desire to avoid waste.
So, how do you know when you’re full? And how do you stop eating when you are? What’s a good guideline for how much time it takes to get full and how long it should take?
My quick answer is to 1) Serve food from the stove in portions so it’s not on the table,
2) stop when you’re full, quickly scraping the food away or 3) sprinkling a generous amount salt and pepper on it so that you’ll stop eating.
Dr. Patricia Raymond. M.D. says:
Unlike what the food-service industry has taught us otherwise, the total volume of a meal should be about the amount you can comfortably hold in two cupped hands. What’s the result of those nonetheless heaped plates? Sixty-six percent of us are overweight or obese. We need to learn when to say when. We need to feel when we’re satiated. What is satiety (suh-TIE-uh-tee)? Here’s the definition:
Satiety: The state of being satiated or glutted; fullness of gratification, either of the appetite or of any sensual desire; fullness beyond desire; an excess of gratification which excites wearisomeness or loathing; repletion; satiation. —Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary
A filled-up stomach triggers the release of brain chemicals, making your hunger disappear. Normally, you should feel satiety about 10 minutes after you’re full—not a big help if you wolfed down that entire pizza in record speed. If you just ignore the sensation and keep eating, you will become uncomfortably stuffed.
Fortunately, there are some tricks to cue your body to the feeling of satiety. For example, distractions play a role: Are you eating in front of your TV or computer. If so, you may have missed your cue.
In addition, in 2003, a small University of Florida study found that if you’re obese, your feeling of satiety may be delayed by four to nine minutes—and you can do some serious damage to your calorie counts in that extra time.
I left the Stake Conference marveling at our Heavenly Father’s ability to provide us with not only inspiration and courage, but direct answers and specific guidance.
This week has been much better for me. I have made little printed signs my non-eating zones. I am feeling better physically and emotionally. My cravings for sweets have greatly diminished and once again, I’m at least on the path, walking on the sidewalk rather than in the middle of the highway getting hit by every car and truck.