I think the hardest part about eating a healthy diet, is being constantly surrounded by unhealthy food. And I think one of the hardest parts about being a Christian, is being constantly surrounded by people who aren’t. But neither of these things can be avoided completely, unless you decide to become a hermit…which isn’t really realistic (although I often think about how easy life would be as a hermit).
As I mentioned in my last post, no longer living by myself has been really tempting me to give up on this whole “healthy” lifestyle. But don’t worry, I’m not done with it yet! Today we’re going to look at some ways I’m going to use to resist the temptation to slip back into my old ways of stuffing my face with junk. Maybe they’ll help you as well.
Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife
In Genesis 39 Joseph is the slave of a man named Potiphar. God made Joseph prosper in this position and Potiphar loved it so he pretty much gave Joseph free reign of everything. Genesis says that Potiphar only had to think about what he wanted to eat, and Joseph took care of the rest.
Oh, one more thing…Joseph was ripped and devilishly good looking. I like to imagine he looked something like Ryan Gosling (who by the way is clearly ripped because he doesn’t waste his time on cereal) but you can insert any dashingly handsome man in your imagination version of this story.
Bottom line, Joseph looked good…and Potiphar’s wife noticed. She was not silent about it, either. The bible says day after day she tried to get him to sleep with her. But he managed to resist.
Focus on How Far You’ve Come
When Joseph turns down Potiphar’s wife, he tells her about all of the things he’s accomplished and uses that as a reason to not give in to the temptation. Joseph worked hard to get where he was and with a little help from God, he managed to go from puny slave to top dog in Potiphar’s household. He wasn’t about to waste all that hard work for one hook up with a married lady.
Are those juicy hot dogs at the gas station rolling around in their own grease calling your name? Is that giant chocolate cake someone brought to work for everyone just dying for you to take a bite? Stop thinking about how good it will taste and start thinking about how you’ll be done eating it in a measly five minutes and then you’ll feel like you’ve taken a giant step backward for the rest of the day.
Think about how great you feel physically and mentally when you don’t eat junk. If you’ve given up eating junk and you don’t feel at least 20% better physically and mentally…then you’re doing it wrong! If I eat something with tons of sugar, or gluten, I am definitely feeling it the next day. It’s almost like a hangover…and it sucks! So whenever I get the urge to eat something gross, I try to focus on how great I feel without that junk in my life and how, if I do give in to the temptation, I’ll be regretting it when I’m trying to function like a normal human the next day.
Okay, I don’t have a cool bible story to back this one up but, it works for me so…it should work for you! If you’re in a situation where you know you’ll be tempted by junky processed foods, plan what you’re going to do ahead of time so you will handle the situation in the best possible way.
Some things that have worked especially well for me have been:
- Eating a meal before you go somewhere
- Bringing your own food
- Reading menus ahead of time
Eating before you go somewhere
I usually eat a meal right before I leave for a party or some sort of gathering, that way I’m not totally starving when I get there and just stuff my face with everything I see. Most of the time, I’ll still eat a little bit there, but the fact that I’m not super hungry definitely helps me to cut back on the cake.
Bringing your own food
Maybe you’re going to a party where you know there will be tons of treats. Offer to bring a dish and make it a healthier treat. You could bring a bowl of fruit or make your own dessert that you know doesn’t contain any processed junk. There are tons of great recipes that are gluten and processed sugar free that won’t spike your blood sugar over the roof.
I mentioned last week about how I brought snacks on my bike trip. I knew I would be tempted to eat some junk when I was away from my own kitchen, so I gave myself a treat by bringing some healthier options that I still wouldn’t eat on a daily basis.
Reading menus ahead of time
Most restaurants offer some pretty healthy options but sometimes you come across a few who haven’t caught on to America’s health craze yet. When you’re going out to eat, it’s always a good idea to get a feel for the menu. If you find the restaurant doesn’t really offer anything appealing, maybe suggest a different one.
It’s easy to convince people to switch if you act like the restaurant you want to go to is the best one ever. So…you better pick a good one. Most of the time, people aren’t married to one restaurant…unless it’s their favorite one and they’ve been dying to go for the past year and haven’t gotten the chance. Then maybe you should get new friends. (just kidding.)
And finally…everyone’s favorite:
WAIT. Remember earlier when I talked about Joseph being tempted by Potiphar’s wife? I would never suggest that he give in to that. I’m talking about food and food only at this point. Don’t go hooking up with a married lady and blame it on me.
In the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, Joseph had to end up running away because she just wouldn’t let up. However, it would be pretty rude if you just dipped out on your friend’s birthday party because they didn’t have a vegetable tray.
If you’re stressing out about what you should be eating that it’s stopping you from enjoying life, chill out and remember that a healthy diet isn’t everything. Eat a cookie every now and then (unless you actually can’t tolerate gluten…then eat a gluten free cookie or a coconut macaroon…coconut macaroons are delicious), go out for ice cream when it starts to get warm, get a beer with your friends while you watch your favorite sports team lose to the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime (too soon?).
Yeah, it’s not the healthiest thing to do…but neither is feeling guilty and stressed out about what you should be eating. In fact, if you waste all your willpower on resisting unhealthy foods, you might not have enough willpower for other areas of your life…like resisting hooking up with a married lady! Check out this article about how willpower is limited resource.
One study was done where two groups of people were given numbers to remember. One group was given a two digit number and one a seven digit number. Then they were presented with either fruit or cake. The group with the seven digit number was twice as likely to choose cake over fruit. Scientists think that the stress on your brain while you’re trying to remember the number weakens your willpower. There are some other studies referenced in the article that further explore this idea. It’s pretty interesting.
So basically, trying to eat healthily constantly could be making it harder for you to eat healthily constantly.
Let yourself slip every once in a while (when it comes to food). And when you do eat something that isn’t the most nutritious, use that as a reason to make your next meal one of the most nutritious ones you’ve eaten. Do not use it as an excuse to make your next meal (and the next one and the next one and the next one) even less nutritious.
It’s all about finding a good balance between physical and spiritual health. If you’re unhappy with your diet, yourself, and constantly worrying about it, your physical health will suffer too…no matter how strict you are on your diet.
What else? Do you have any suggestions for how you handle the temptation to eat something that’s a little bit less than nutritious? Let me know in the comments!