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    Balanced Eating

    Excerpted from
    Look Great, Feel Great: 12 Keys to Enjoying a Healthy Life Now
    By Joyce Meyer

    After God created Adam and Eve, He gave them some very simple dining instructions. "You may freely eat of every tree in the garden," He said in Genesis 2:16.

    Did He say, "You may freely eat of every Krispy Kreme on the street"? No. Did He say, "You may freely eat of ever)' chip in the bag"? No. He did not tell them to freely eat fast food, frozen pizza, or even low-fat cookies.

    God told Adam and Eve to eat from the garden, and we'd do well to stick to His advice. We've been inundated with an overwhelming amount of bad diet information from past decades, which has clouded the very simple truths of healthy eating: eat the foods that come from God, in as close a state as possible to how God made them, and you can't go wrong. Only when we get corrupted by the foods made by men in laboratories and factories do we get in trouble. Our bodies were not designed to get their nutrition in these forms. As I'll explain in this chapter, our bodies still don't know what to do with these processed foods.

    Once when I was teaching on the subject of food, I asked the congregation to repeat after me, "I am free to eat!" You should have seen the fear cross many faces. So often people struggle with weight, live in bondage to food and food cravings, and believe for years that they are most certainly not free to eat! Quite the opposite; for them, meals come with all the rules and trepidation of military school. But as you know, when anyone's spirit is oppressed by too many rules and directives, it longs for freedom. It rebels!

    That is one reason why so many diets fail. They are all about restrictions. And the human spirit is designed for freedom. Which is why "I am free to eat!" is such a powerful message, and such an unsettling one for some people. They want to believe it, but they have had the opposite message driven into them for too long.

    YOU ARE FREE TO EAT! Believe it. In this chapter you will learn why. You will unlearn all the unhelpful things you have been taught about diet, and you are going to begin a joyful, easy, guilt-free routine of freely eating the good foods God has put on earth for you. No calorie-counting, no tracked servings of this or that food group, no worried glances at the nutritional information on the back of packages.

    The Low-Fat Catastrophe

    Here we are, scarred veterans of the Low-Fat Wars of the eighties and nineties. You remember this era. I know I do! All the smart nutritionists told us that fat was the enemy. They told us that if we could just cut the fat in our diet we would lose weight. Soon hordes of low-fat products appeared on store shelves to help us: low-fat cookies, low-fat ice cream, low-fat cheese and chips and frozen dinners.

    And we obeyed. We cut the butter, the oil, the meat and the mayo. We ate every low-fat product known to man. And you know what happened?

    We got fatter. The percentage of obese Americans doubled in those two decades from fifteen percent to thirty percent. The percentage of overweight children tripled. Women now eat 335 more calories per day than they did thirty years ago.

    How can this be? How can we have cut fat and gained weight? (And blown our rates of heart disease and diabetes through the roof?)

    The answer is that when nutritionists told us to cut fat, they simply did not know what they were talking about. The whole notion that fat made us fat came from the knowledge that, ounce for ounce, fat has more than twice as many calories as protein or carbohydrates. So replace the fat with an equal weight of something else, and we eat less calories, right?

    Well, technically, yes. When low-fat diet proponents studied people in the lab, prepared their meals and measured every calorie they consumed, replacing grams of fat with grams of carbs worked just fine. The people lost weight. No matter that they were starving, distracted, and grumpy. That wasn't part of the study. The message went out far and wide: low-fat, high-carb is your ticket to health and weight-loss! Fat is a dirty word!

    And we listened. The percentage of calories we get from fat has dropped from thirty-seven percent to thirty-two, while the percentage of calories we get from carbohydrates has risen from forty-five percent to fifty-two.

    Unfortunately, things got more complicated when real people started trying this diet. Sure, a gram of carbohydrates has fewer calories than a gram of fat, but it turns out that doesn't help much, because the gram of fat is much better at making you feel full. The carbohydrate just makes you want more.

    Remember when we compared your food to fuel for a grill? Sugar (which the body converts to glucose) is the lighter fluid that burns fast and hot, while fat is the briquette that burns long and slow. Carbohydrates are types of sugar molecules. When these sugar molecules are by themselves they taste sweet, like sugar or honey, but sometimes they stick together in long chains. Starches, such as flour, corn, or potato, are simply long chains of sugar molecules. They don't taste sweet on our tongue because they are too big to fit onto our sugar taste buds, but the body breaks them down into sugar molecules almost instantly. Machines can do it, too: corn is a starch that doesn't taste very sweet, and corn syrup is the exact same stuff broken down into little bits.

    No matter what type of carbohydrate you put in your body-french fries or bread or cotton candy-it gets dumped into the blood as glucose for energy. If your muscles happen to be in use that moment, they'll have plenty of energy. (This is why athletes like to eat carbohydrates before competing.) If not, well, your body can always convert all that glucose to fat and store it.

    Either way, eating a big load of pasta or cake causes your blood sugar level to soar. And your body responds by making tons of insulin, that hormone that makes the muscle cells or fat cells open up to receive the sugar. But having so much insulin in your blood means that your body is a little too effective at storing the sugar somewhere and you swing from very high blood sugar levels to very low ones.

    Low blood sugar is also known as hypoglycemia. And you know the feeling of low blood sugar: hunger. You feel hungry, your concentration drops, you get grumpy and weak and low in energy. All you can think about is food.

    So you eat. And if what you eat is mostly carbohydrates, then your blood sugar soars again, you make a lot more insulin, and the whole process repeats itself. (Until, of course, your pancreas gets so exhausted from making all the insulin that it breaks down and you get diabetes.)

    Many of us spent a good deal of the low-fat eighties and nineties on this blood-sugar roller coaster, soaring on surges of carbohydrates and crashing in hunger two hours later. Snacking on a baked potato-with sugary, low-fat dressing-then looking up from our desks an hour later thinking, "I can't believe I'm hungry again." So we wound up snacking constantly, consuming more calories per day than ever before, even though less of the calories were in the form of fat. And we gained weight.

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