So I’d been through the Made to Crave study. Those ideas of identifying my triggers for eating, being empowered and determined about what I would eat were floating around in my head. They were good things to think about, but I couldn’t seem to get any of the thoughts to translate into action.
For almost 8 months these ideas rattled around in my head. I read about goal setting. I researched the fad diets. I wanted to lose weight. But I kept on with the same habits that I had before, thinking that losing weight was just too hard. I can’t do it.
And then came September…
Every so often the church that I attend participates in a Daniel fast together. Fasting is a spiritual discipline that strips away something that consumes you to allow you to focus on God. A Daniel fast, in particular, is modeled after Daniel in the Bible. You know, Daniel in the lions’ den? He tells the king he doesn’t want the rich foods that royalty eat; he just wants vegetables and water. So a Daniel fast strips away all animal products, all sweeteners and leavening, and basically leaves you with fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes to eat.
I’d tried to participate in Daniel fasts before, but I’d never been successful. My desire for foods I couldn’t have always won out. But when the Daniel fast was announced to begin in September 2013, I felt strongly that I should participate. I went into it with an attitude of not wanting to spend a lot of energy on what I could and couldn’t eat (like times in the past) but wanting to understand, really understand, what it meant to depend on God.
The first couple of days were horrible. I was a Mountain Dew addict. Yep, I probably drank 20 oz. of Mountain Dew every day! But I quit cold turkey when the fast started. Talk about a caffeine headache. No fun. I was hungry, but I was bound and determined to keep my vow to God that I would not eat certain foods.
It was during that fast that the Made to Crave concepts began to take root and cause change. I would find myself thinking about food, desperately wanting something chocolate or salty and crunchy. Mmmm, potato chips. But I thought about the triggers Lysa talks about in Made to Crave. Why was I craving that food? What was going on at the moment? Am I stressed? Tired? Bored? Or am I really hungry? Through the process of constantly evaluating why I wanted food, I began to identify what I felt like when I was stressed or bored. And I began to identify what true hunger was. It’s sad that I had fed myself so much that I didn’t even know when I was hungry, but there it was.
For 21 days, I lived on nuts, fresh veggies and hummus, and fruit. No sugar. No pop (as we in Oklahoma say). No meat. No dairy. No junk food. I didn’t cheat at all, and I began to feel empowered that yes, I can make healthy choices! At the end of those 21 days without consciously trying to, I found that I had lost 10 pounds. Joy! I was doing a happy dance all over my house!
When the fast was over, I added back in meat and dairy, but interestingly, my palate (or was it my attitude toward food?) had changed, and I found myself craving the things I’d been living on for the past 3 weeks. I went to our state fair shortly after the fast ended and decided to have my favorite fair treat–a corn dog. Holy cow, it tasted amazing! But it made me feel sick, honestly. That was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back, and I knew I was done with those foods. Change had finally begun.
So am I advocating fasting as a weight loss method? Not necessarily. In fact, people who think they will lose weight if they just quit eating are doing themselves more harm than good. When calories are cut too quickly, the body goes into “starvation mode.” It doesn’t know when it will get more fuel, so it hangs on to what it has. And if you have diabetes or other medical conditions, you need to eat regularly. What the Daniel fast did for me was shift my focus from the food to why I wanted the food. Taking away what I shouldn’t have helped me to do the hard work of figuring out the power that food had over me. Then, I was forced to learn more constructive ways to deal with stress and boredom. Food, my go to fix, was not an option during the fast. The key to getting my chubby caboose on the weight loss wagon was putting myself in a position where I couldn’t deal with stress, fatigue and boredom as I had in the past, and where hunger couldn’t be satisfied with fat and sugar.
If you’d like more information on the Daniel fast, check out this link.
How do you usually deal with stress and boredom?
Are you a stress eater?
What would you do if you couldn’t eat whenever you are bored or stressed?