For better or worse our bodies are remarkably adaptive. When we abuse our bodies, through over-eating or restriction, our body adapts to the “new normal” we inflict upon it. These adaptations are not good, but they need to be accounted for if we are going to transition our body back to a healthy relationship with food
The material presented in this section is an adaption of chapter 10 from Gregory Jantz in Hope, Help, & Healing for Eating Disorders (p. 143-159). If you find this material helpful, it is highly recommended that you read this chapter from Dr. Jantz book and consult with a nutritionist who can help you personalize these recommendations for your body.
1. Rebuilding Digestion:
An unhealthy relationship with food results in an unhealthy “gastrointestinal ecosystem.” Dairy products with added probiotics, eating foods high in fiber, and whole grains can help restore your gastrointestinal ecosystem. Unless you give attention to this step, then beginning to eat in a healthy manner can be upsetting enough to your stomach that you revert back to the unhealthy patterns you were used to for relief.
2. Nutritional Rehabilitation:
An unhealthy relationship with food results in an assortment of malnutrition issues. For those who have been over-restricting, then getting your potassium, zinc, B vitamins, and amino acids back in balance is the first priority (in that order). These impact your appetite, energy levels, and sleep cycle. A nutritionist can help you develop a plan to get you back to optimal nutritional health: vitamin A, biotin, folic acid, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin D; each of which play unique roles in optimal energy levels, cognitive clarity, and body functioning.
3. Healthy Choices:
Getting your gastrointestinal ecosystem reset and your nutritional levels back to normal make it much easier to have a healthy relationship with food. When our body is reacting to unhealthy food choices it has a hard time accepting healthy food choices. We interpret our body’s resistance as “healthy just doesn’t work for me.” Treat your body well and healthy will work. Here are twelve choices suggested by Dr. Jantz; some of these will be treated in more depth in the next section.
- Eat a variety of foods, even if in very small amounts (helps to break strict “food rules” mentality).
- Eat frequently to keep blood sugar balanced.
- Balance the food you eat with physical activity (key word “balance”).
- When making food choices, include plenty of variety (helps ensure nutritional balance).
- Eat breakfast every day.
- Make food choices that are low in fat and cholesterol (foods with high propensity to comfort eating).
- Make food choices that are moderate in sugar content (avoid hyper-charging your body).
- Make food choices that are moderate in salt content.
- If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation (lowers your impulse control).
- Be intentional about your meal environment (helps avert irritable bowel syndrome).
- Listen to your body’s signals.
- Slow down to eat (its takes 20 minutes for your body’s hunger-satiety mechanism to trigger).
4. Avoid Hypoglycemia:
The rise and fall of blood sugar levels are key elements of temptations towards an unhealthy relationship with food. The more you do to maintain balanced blood sugar levels the less intense your temptation towards disordered eating will be; not to say it will become non-existent, but a major physiological trigger will be eliminated. One of the primary impacts of the “healthy choices” list above is that it mitigates any negative impact from hypoglycemia in your struggle with food.
Read Matthew 26:41. Notice that Jesus ties the strength of temptation to the condition of the body; in this case fatigue. In the preceding hours, the disciples had traveled, secured a place to hold a ceremony, prepared an elaborate meal, eaten a meal high in carbohydrates with wine, and then walked to a dark-quite place to pray. When they repeatedly fell asleep, Jesus’ response was, “Your spirit is indeed willing, but your flesh is weak.” There is comfort in knowing God is patient with our weakness, but we should also apply wisdom and avoid creating physical challenges that will heighten our temptation. That is what this section has been all about.