Mindful Eating: A Faith-Based Approach to Nutrition and Fitness

Mindful Eating: A Faith-Based Approach to Nutrition and Fitness

Mindful Eating: A Faith-Based Approach to Nutrition and Fitness

Hey friends, let's talk food! But not the fancy food blogs with picture-perfect avocado toast and endless smoothie bowls. No, this is a real talk, messy-bun kinda blog for folks like me: the chronically picky eaters, the time-crunched warriors, and those whose faith whispers in their ears while their cravings scream for pizza. I'm talking about mindful eating, with a sprinkle of faith and a whole lot of grace.

Admit it, "mindful eating" often sounds like chanting kale mantras and mastering the art of quinoa. But what about those of us who prefer chicken nuggets to chia seeds and whose kitchens resemble the Bermuda Triangle for lost Tupperware? This is a journey for the rest of us, the food fumblers who want to nourish our bodies and souls without losing our sanity (or our love for Chick-fil-A). It's about understanding our bodies, listening to our cravings, and honoring God's gift of food in every bite. 

So, grab your 100-calorie popcorn and settle in, because we're about to ditch the food guilt and embrace mindful munching, God-guided style. 

Calorie counting without the drama: 

Let's be honest, numbers can be scary. But understanding them doesn't have to be. We'll ditch the demonization and embrace the knowledge of knowing how much fuel our bodies need. Think of it like filling your car's tank – just enough to get you where you're going, without overflowing. And hey, if you need a little extra pep in your step (like those Chick-fil-A waffle fries), that's okay too! Just remember, balance is key.

Now, I'll be honest, I'm not exactly a culinary connoisseur. I'm a picky eater who lives on the go! Exploring new foods with my taste buds is like a cat willing to take a bath.  Cooking is my Kryptonite, and cravings rule my period like a queen bee in a candy store! But guess what? I'm on a mission to prove that even if you are always on the go or a picky eater like me you can rock this mindful eating thing (with a little help from God and Chick-fil-A, of course).

On the days where I am on the go and didn’t plan my food, I try to find low calorie, high protein, healthy alternatives.  My go-to’s are Chick-fil-a - grilled nuggets, fruit cup, diet lemonade or Moe’s - Steak bowl (I usually will eat half for one meal and save the other half for a second meal). If it’s breakfast I like Chick–fil-a Egg White Grill or a Starbucks Turkey bacon and Egg sandwich. 

Faithful feasting: 

Food isn't just fuel, it's a gift from God, a chance to honor our bodies as His temple (even if that temple occasionally craves a slice of red velvet cheesecake). Ecclesiastes 3:13 New Century Version (NCV) says, “God wants all people to eat and drink and be happy in their work, which are gifts from God.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18, "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.".  See food as a gift from God, a chance to honor your body as His temple, and fuel your spirit with every bite. Try a quick prayer before meals, thanking Him for the nourishment on your plate. Savor each bite as an act of gratitude, a delicious hymn of appreciation for your health and His provision.

Taming the Craving Monsters:

We all know them, those pre-period chocolate monsters who threaten to devour our healthy intentions. But before you dive headfirst into a pint of Blue Bell Butter Pecan, hit the pause button. Ask yourself, "am I truly hungry, or just stressed/bored/grieving (insert your own emotional trigger)?".   Wait 10 minutes to see if the craving goes away (try to find something to distract you).  If after 10 minutes the craving is still at the front of your mind, maybe try a healthier alternative.   A handful of berries, a square of dark chocolate, or even a cool whip-and-fruit sundae (hey, I’m not judging!) can satisfy that sweet tooth without derailing your goals.

Positive Self-Talk, Not Self-Sabotage: 

Ditch the "I can't" chatter and embrace the "I don't" or “I choose” mantra. Instead of having a “cheat day”, call it a “treat day”. James Clear wrote an article about the scientific study on the power of “I don’t” vs. “I can’t”,  When you say “I can’t” you feel like you are being punished or restricted and are more likely to rebel, vs. if you say “I don’t” or “I choose”, you feel empowered and positive (Clear, J, 2013). Trust me, the empowered feeling you get from making healthy choices is way sweeter than any donut. You're not depriving yourself, you're choosing self-love and respect.

The 80/20 Rule: Because Life is All About Pizza and Protein Shakes: 

Let's be real, perfection is overrated. So let's aim for something more attainable – 80% of the time, we make healthy choices, and 20% of the time, we enjoy the occasional treat (without guilt!). Think of it like the sprinkles on your already awesome sundae (because yes, those are allowed too!).  LOL, you do not know how many times I have had ice cream for breakfast (don’t judge me). 

And that’s the best part: This mindful eating journey isn't about being perfect, it's about progress. Slip-ups happen, that's just life. We all fall off the healthy-eating wagon sometimes (usually face-first into a plate of nachos).  But instead of letting them define you, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back on track. And when you do slip up, you don’t have to wait for Monday to get here to get back on track, start now!. 

Consistency is king (or queen!), not the flawless execution of some Pinterest-perfect meal plan. Let's ditch the guilt that often weighs heavier than our takeout bags and embrace the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time, nourish your body with whole foods, vibrant fruits, and protein-packed goodness. That leaves 20% for the occasional pizza night, the birthday cake devoured with loved ones, the ice cream shared under a summer sky. These moments aren't failures, they're threads woven into the beautiful tapestry of a balanced life (National Eating Disorders Association, 2023).

When those cravings whisper in your ear- Wait. Breathe. Listen to your body, not the advertising jingle playing on repeat in your mind. Ten minutes, that's all it takes to distinguish true hunger from emotional triggers (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 2023). A quick walk, a chat with a friend, a moment of prayer – sometimes, it's not food we need, but connection, solace, or a simple shift in perspective.

And when you stumble, as we all do? Get back up, love. There's no shame in a half-eaten cookie or a day where takeout won the battle. Grace, not guilt, is our fuel. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Celebrate the small victories, the healthy choices you make each day, the gentle nudges in the direction of nourishment and well-being. And remember, God's grace covers even the extra helping of mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving (Romans 8:1).

So let's step onto this mindful munching journey together, armed with faith, grace, and a healthy dose of laughter. Let's cook meals with gratitude, eat with intention, and savor the gift of food as a blessing from above. Let's talk about our struggles, share our successes, and build a community where faith and nourishment go hand in hand. Because when we approach food with a spirit of love, respect, and joy, we nourish not just our bodies, but our souls as well. And that, boo, is a recipe for a truly blessed life.

Share your own mindful eating tips, struggles, and successes in the comments below! We're all in this together, and there's always room for more at this faith-fueled feast!

Bonus tip: Check out these resources for more mindful munching inspiration:

  • "Eat This Much" app: Personalizes your calorie needs and helps you make healthy meal plans.
  • “My Fitness Pal” app: Track your nutrition, macros, water, fitness, and weight loss goals, including meal planner and food diary. 
  • Sprouts pre-made meals: Perfect for busy days, they pack protein, carbs, and veggies in one delicious package.
  • "The Power of Habit" by Charles Duhigg: Learn how to build healthy eating habits that stick.
Sources
1. Clear, J. “A Scientific Guide to Saying “No”: How to Avoid Temptation and Distraction”. https://buffer.com/resources/a-scientific-guide-to-saying-no-how-to-avoid-temptation-and-distraction/ . 2013. 
2. National Eating Disorders Association. (2023, January 12). 80/20 Rule. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/
3. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (2023, May 25). Emotional eating. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/struggling-with-emotional-eating
4. The Holy Bible, New International Version. (1984). Wheaton, IL: Zondervan.

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