After giving birth to my daughter, old eating disorder issues began to emerge in my life once again, causing alternate desires to starve or binge and purge. Thankfully, knowing beforehand the potential that existed for this, I was prepared and had an action plan firmly in place to be used at a moment’s notice.
Part of that plan included digging out the book that initially showed me the pathway to recovery back in 2002 — The Weigh Down Diet.
For ten years prior I had tried every possible way to overcome anorexia and bulimia. I had read book after book and had seen numerous counselors. Despite their incredible counseling skills, nothing ever really helped. Of course, some of that was my own resistance to being helped, but another part was just not finding the critical point to my recovery process.
The Weight Down Diet was the key to the wall I had, up to that point, been unable to find a way around.
Although the book is geared towards those who struggle with overeating and obesity, the concepts in it were the answer I was looking for. It was as if someone had finally handed me the secret to living a normal life.
After reading through the book once, I read through it a second time, and then a third. I read it, I applied it, and I have never been the same since. The concepts in Gwen Shamblin’s book are simple — almost too simple it seems: God made our bodies to run on fuel, a.k.a., food.
He designed us with a stomach to hold a certain amount of food, which gives us the energy we need to live life every day.
“There are no safe or unsafe foods, no good foods or bad foods,” Shamblin states. “Instead, the unhealthy habit is to eat beyond full. It is when we eat more than we need for living life on a daily basis that we begin to pack on the extra weight.”
In other words, we need to learn to pay close attention to the body signals God created us to have in order to function in a healthy manner. We need to retrain our minds and mouths to practice eating when hungry and stopping when full. This was a foreign concept to me, this idea of eating any food there was, only within reason.
As an anorexic, one M&M equaled an immediate weight gain of at least one pound.
To be told that it wasn’t the type of foods that I ate that would cause me to gain unnecessary weight, but the amount, was a new way of thinking for me. Because I also struggled with bulimia on occasion, I tried to stay completely away from fattening foods because of the occasional compulsion to binge.
It was an all or nothing approach, similar to what dieters take. In fact, there wasn’t much difference between me and my friends who dieted regularly to get rid of weight; we were all attempting to control food. In so doing, food became the constant obsession. “What can I eat today? Have I used up all my fat grams? I can’t eat carbs because it’s not a part of my diet that I’m on.” No matter how you looked at it — anorexia or the latest fad diet — food still had a firm grip on all of us.
Instead, as The Weight Down Diet teaches that it is our job to get a grip on food. Instead of being consumed with what we can and cannot eat, it is simply a manner of learning self-control when we do eat. If we follow this pattern of eating, Gwen promises, we will find a slender and healthy weight, a weight that our bodies were uniquely
designed to be.
As an anorexic I had to re-learn what hungry was, and as an occasional bulimic I had to re-learn what full was. I also had to learn the difference between head hunger and stomach hunger. Shamblin helped me do so in her book.
Gradually I began to find a healthy lifestyle with my eating habits. I even began, slowly but surely, to incorporate originally “unsafe” foods like chocolate and carbohydrates. I ate them, but I ate only as much as my stomach told me I needed.
How shocked I was to add “fat” foods to my diet but still maintain a slim weight. It was working! I was eating when I was hungry and giving my body the fuel it needed to live. I was stopping when I was full, not giving it extra fuel to turn into fat. I also wasn’t eating when I was head hungry but not stomach hungry, giving my body more unnecessary fuel to turn into fat. I gave my body what I needed, it burned it up, I ate again to the point of comfortably full, and the cycle continued.
My sugar levels remained stable as a result of my body always having the right amount of fuel. I didn’t dip dangerously low in my weight, and neither did I soar in my weight after a month of binging. Instead, I hovered near a healthy weight that my doctor was happy to see me at, which, at the same time, was slim enough that I didn’t go into an anorexic panic. Shamblin has written a book that addresses the physical, spiritual, mental, and even emotional dimensions of eating disorder behavior.
She provides great spiritual insight in how to find freedom. Although the book was originally written for those struggling with over-eating and obesity, its basic principles are also foundational for those who under-eat and/or purge after eating for the purpose of maintaining a thin body.
The Weigh Down Diet is written from a Christian perspective, but even if you are not a person who claims Christianity, the concepts can still be life-changing.
This will be the 6th time I have read through this book in six years. As always, I find it a refreshing and motivational encouragement to take care of my body the way God originally intended for it to be taken care of.
This is not to say that I don’t struggle with the old ED mentality on a daily basis, but it is to say that reviewing the truths in this book help me fight the battle on a daily basis and go to bed each night saying, “Today I lived in victory!”
Pic of the Day: Chilled Man Tea Infuser