Balance . . .part two. . food

Truth be told . . .I'm not a nutritionist. . .nor am I as good in this area that some of you seem to think that I am (judging by inquiring emails) .. .nor .. am I pretending to have advice that would apply to every difficulty in regards to healthy eating. I have not had to struggle with the deep pain that some of you have faced with food your only comfort. I don't understand the steps that lead so many people to eating disorders . . .so this post is not going to answer any of those questions.

I wondered what kind of pictures to put up for today's post and I didn't have to look very hard to find pictures of food. With the connection to Mennonite Girls Can Cook there are more food pictures at my fingertips than I'll ever know what to do with.

It's an interesting culture we live in isn't it? We have such an abundance of food in our North American stores and diet books and programs are selling like hot cakes . . .and yet the food bank is needing donations like never before. I've taken to adding a food bank coupon at the checkout to my grocery bill because I know there are families in our community that are not eating healthy nutritious foods.

So how do we balance the food available to us with the truth and lies about what our body really needs. We all have struggles with self control in one area or another and food is just another example of something that we all need. We just can't say . ."well. . .I'll just not ever eat again." Because we need to eat. . .we need to learn how to eat in a way that benefits us and does not cause us harm. Losing weight is only half the challenge isn't it? Keeping the weight off is where the struggle often lies.

So . .what do I say to people who ask for hints or advice asking .. . "how do you make all that rich and delicious looking food and not gain lots of weight?"

First of all . ..let's face it. . .our genes play a large part of how easy or how hard keeping our weight at a healthy level really is.

My mom was relatively slim until she reached about 50.

Several years ago I tried on her silver wedding anniversary dress on our own silver wedding anniversary and was shocked to find it wasn't too big at all. She was 45 when she wore that dress. From what I can tell . . she began to gain a bit of weight when she became a grammie. . .(oddly). I have found that in the last few years the weight that had been easy for me to keep off or at least was easy to lose now takes a bit more attention.

My dad always maintained a healthy weight but he ended up having a quadruple bypass surgery after he retired so I don't put a lot of hope in that area either. My mom died of a massive heart attack when she was 72. I've pretty much realized that my genes may look good on the outside . . .

but my blood vessels may look entirely different on the inside . .

where it really matters most.

Culturally we see food as an important part of most social events. . .at least that is the way I often see it. I rarely bake such delectable things unless I know we are having company which seems to be a fairly regular occurrence. Sometimes I invite people over just because I want to make a pie. Often I offer to bring the dessert when we are invited out because I enjoy the process of baking.

So . ..what do we do here in the bungalow to keep our weight under control?

I didn't get sick at all over Christmas. That was good.

I had a fantastic appetite. That was bad.

We were invited out to friends for dinner and we invited friends and family in for dinner parties since the bungalow was especially festive this year. That was good.

Somewhere in the visiting. . genes jeans started to feel snug. That was bad.

When I finally put away the Christmas decorations and located the bathroom scale in the garage. . the truth of the good appetite and the good health over Christmas was staring up at me. I weighed myself one morning and went to find my glasses. ..unhappy with what I saw on the dial. That was bad.

I consulted with my beloved to find out if his jeans were also feeling snug . .. and he too admitted that the New Years Cookie Big Fry likely pushed the envelope a wee bit.

About ten years ago I joined a Weigh Down group where I learned the basic premise of eating when I was hungry and stopping when I was full satisfied. It became a way of life for me. When I say eating until full I really mean until my body is satisfied from hunger. It was hard at first to stop when I first felt satisfied but with a conscious effort to pay attention to the tight feeling in my tummy. . .I learned to have self control over . . .indulging beyond what my body needed to maintain a healthy weight.

I began to see that there was so much more freedom in eating only until my body felt satisfied and then stopping . ..thereby allowing me to eat again when my body felt hungry again without any guilt.

It sounds so simple doesn't it? I know that what is simple in theory can be hard when put into practice. We want our food. . .just like we want to shop . .or we want to be lazy or we want to be self centered with our time. . .or we want more money . . .or we want. . .or we want.

See a pattern here? We want. In our culture. .we are led to believe that we are entitled to have what we want. Having what we want in the area of food is not always a healthy decision.

Trying to find the balance between enjoying the wonderful foods that God has given us to eat and the struggle to not over indulge becomes a struggle for me personally between right and wrong. When I overeat I have overindulged and that is never what God intends for me in any area of my life. God gives us rules for our own benefit for our marriages and we can easily see why he warns us not to commit adultery. Maybe seeing the obvious disaster that adultery can lead to. . .helps us to see that he does not want us to be gluttonous because he created us to enjoy a healthy life and he wants us to love Him more than we love our food.

Am I making any sense?

Keeping in mind the reasons I should not overindulge . . .during the next few weeks I'll be paying closer attention to my body signals.

  1. I'll be eating a little slower. I find that eating a quick bite nearly always leads to over eating.
  2. I'll be eating both healthy foods and treat foods but only when I'm hungry.
  3. I'll be fueling my body with meals that are both nutritious and delicious and save both money and the temptation to overindulge by staying away from fast food restaurants.
  4. I'll be paying closer attention to the signs my body naturally provides me while I'm looking for my satisfied signal . .which is usually a slight tightness in my tummy and often (and I know this sounds ridiculous). .but I have a little burp . . .(hey it works for babies and I even cover my mouth).
  5. I'll enjoy the feeling of hunger while making meals . .anticipating the meal ahead ( it is a blessing to have a good appetite) . . .instead of grabbing something to snack on while cooking.
  6. I'll put my fork down as soon as I know that my body is satisfied from hunger .. . knowing that in a few hours I'll have the opportunity to eat again with a clear conscience and not feel the guilt of over indulgence.

Now I know some of you will be rolling your eyes. . . and I understand that I am very much treading into very sensitive and personal areas.

Some of you will feel terribly discouraged since you have more than a few Christmas pounds to lose . . but I trust some of you will feel inspired to begin to see food as God intended it is for our enjoyment and as fuel to keep our bodies healthy.

Why don't you just start today to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied and stop feeling guilty? I would love for you to feel the freedom of this boundary of eating when hungry and stopping when satisfied. God loves you no matter where you find yourself today. I pray that you believe that.

I'm off for my walk this morning. The reason I walk is not so that I can eat more food. . .

I walk because maybe. .

just maybe it will help with the genetic part of me that I can't so easily see on the inside.

Since my treadmill is back from it's Christmas vacation ..

I'm back to enjoying my brisk uphill two mile walk. . . .three to five times a week.

This exercise in writing down my thoughts is for me to pause and think about the things that matter most in balancing areas in my own life. Thank you for coming along.

The rest of the week . ..I'll keep the topic lighter .. and next week I'll tackle another area in my life that needs balance.

Today is a grammie day .. .woo hoo.

All for now . . .


  1. Lovella, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I discovered your blog about a week ago when I was searching recipes for focaccia pizza bread. Your blog is a gift--really, the photos, the tone, the mood that it conveys is like a meditation--I'm a fan! I'm getting into cooking again, I like your idea of hospitality, not entertaining. I get intimidated about having people over, house not clean enough, etc., but you have gotten me inspired! Have a great day.

  2. Great advice Lovella! I'm on this journey with you. Although I must admit I did a little drooling over all the photos of delicious looking desserts!! grin

  3. Well said, Lovella. And good, balanced advice, avoiding the trendy diets that only work for a time.
    I smiled with Betty, the pictures were most tempting- but I haven't had breakfast yet.

  4. Hi Lovella - thanks so much for your inspiration. I've just discovered your blog, and am really enjoying your openness in sharing your life and your thoughts. I tried to discover how to link to the Daily Bible reading, but got totally lost - any quick tips? Thanks in advance.

  5. As I've promissed myself, I went to the bible reading for the day before I read your post - thanks for this!
    I too have written about balance - so hard to achieve, but so necessary, isn't it? My dad, slim all his life, a non-smoker and fit has had two bypass operations. The genes (and the jeans) must be paid attention!

  6. ..............meant to say that I had dinner at ABC in Abbotsford last night. Now there's a place with comfort food!

  7. Peg . ..I'll glady give you some tips to add it to your site.
    Go to the Copyright sign at the bottom of the Bible reading portion for today. .and click on that and then look for the webmaster tools and copy and paste the part they give you for the "read the Bible in a year" into your gadgets in your layout. Look for the gadget that says add third party html.
    If this still doesn't work . me and I'll try to help you further.

  8. Lovella, I clearly remember when my mom did the weigh down workshop. Stop eating when you are satisfied take smaller portions, and if there is still food left on you plate it doesn't matter. These things have stuck with me over the years and I still try to live by them. Sometimes its harder, like at christmastime but I always go back to them. I can't say I've ever struggled with my weight but getting rid of "baby weight" was not easy. I finally joined a gym last year and did 2-3 classes a week and that helped tremendously! I love getting out of the house for that hour and doing something that is really good for me. Thanks for your post and for reminding me that loving food is not in anyway a bad thing. All in moderation right?!!!

  9. Very thoughtfully written post, Lovella. There's plenty of good advice here and I hope to follow it and get back on the right path one day. ;>

  10. I eat way to much but in she shower... no way.

    I really did like your thought on adding a little to your reciept to help those in need. Since I am a major coupon junkie... I try to make this work to the advantage of the local storehouse.

  11. Thanks for the help, Lovella - that worked!!

  12. Well, all makes sense! Sometimes it is easier said than done...but the good part of any discipline is that every day is a new day...and we carry on even if we failed the day before.

    More walking...a wee 'less eating''s all good. Thanks for spurring us on.

  13. A thoughtful post, as usual, Lovella. Thank you.

    I found I began to gain after menopause. I also have a minor disability and find it difficult to be on my feet for the time it takes to make a full meal, so I often end up eating in stages.

    This I think leads to over-eating. I'm going to try harder to put my whole meal in front of me before I eat, although not sure how much I can really modify that.

    I also find it difficult to eat breakfast. I'm just not hungry! But I have read that breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and thus it's so very important.



  14. I try to follow those guidelines as well. Eat when hungry -stop when full plus eat slowly so that you learn to recognize what "full" feels like. It's hard when you want to taste something and you realy aren't hungry - but the good thing about this plan is that you can eat it later when you are truly hungry. I find that you enjoy it more then anyway and you don't feel the regret of eating too much.

    I know of a free, online program called "The Lord's Table" for those who seriously struggle with seeking comfort in food - it has an eating plan including fasting - or you can follow the same principle of "eat when hungry stop when full."

  15. I read every word. I agreed with it all. Disciplined eating became a way of life for me many years ago. I am a grandma and I do find it more difficult to keep the weight off than earlier in my life, but it is all the more important to me. I realize how much of a struggle it is for many, and I have a real place in my heart for that. I appreciate what you shared, although the pictures in between the profound words did cause me a bit of stress. Great and needed post.

  16. I don't know if that will ever stop...the journey about eating and balancing our food.
    Thanks for all your good advice...but the pictures made it so appetizing that now...I'm beginning to wonder which end to start with.
    New Years is always a time to think about building better goals for ourselves. I know that I'm doing the same measures around food...
    Keep it green with vegetables, fruit and meat.

  17. This little series of yours is very inspiring and encouraging. Thank you for taking the time and trouble to put it all into words to share with the rest of us.

  18. I know this post took a lot of thought to put together - but it is a good exercise for any one of us to do ... asking ourselves about our eating habits - the good and the bad and setting realistic goals. You have given some good advice about balance ... eating healthy and enjoying some treats ... but all in moderation... knowing when to stop. I think just learning to put less in our plates or sharing a meal when going out to eat (esp. in the US - the servings are very big.) Putting less in my plate allows me more room for the salad and/or veggies, lets me figure out if I'm still hungry when I'mdone and eliminates the problem with wasting food. Isn't all of life about discipline!?

  19. Ah yes! It was the rage...the Weigh Down Work Shop. I sure agree...the principles for eating Gwen gave in that series, that you highlighted do work. It does make a person stop and think, and not just wolf it down....but really enjoy the food.
    God's word instructs us to live a diciplined life, that is part of our life long journey. I too remember in that study that she encouraged us to pick up the Word and fill our souls instead of running to the fridge to fill our stomachs.
    At our age it is good to be reminded to take care of ourselves. Thanks for the reminder to live a healthy life style in all areas of my life. Kathy

  20. Thanks for the reminder Lovella. I too did that workshop and learned so much that the weight loss was a bonus.
    As one who has struggled with weight most of her life, I'm the first to admit that it is not easy. Especially when you love food and cooking. Unfortunately, my genes do not help to keep me in my skinny jeans!
    I've found that when my focus is on satisfying my spiritual hunger first, the physical discipline is easier to handle. Moderating your food intake is way more appealing that cutting out those comfort foods altogether.
    Keep up the great posts Lovella. You have a wonderful way of saying things that need to be heard.

  21. I look forward to reading your blog everyday! Exercising is so good and I like the idea of eating only till you feel satisfied - but more importantly, what are we eating? Your lovely pictures tell the story of the real problem - all have extremely high fat content which is a direct cause of the heart disease that you speak of! I know this sounds a bit harsh but believe me, I have loved this food as much as anyone! However with heart disease in my own family I have had to become educated in this area and when you do the research and realize that healthy women are to only have 45 - 60 grams of fat a day (way less if you are at risk) it changes what you eat, including how you cook. Butter, whipped cream, lard, are so unhealthy, even in moderation. It would be wonderful if MGCC could do a section on healthy heart foods:) Having said that, I have used some of the MGCC recipes that worked for me and were wonderful!

  22. Hi Lovella,

    A really good tip I read about (I can't remember where) was to thank God for your food before you eat anything! I also always ask Him to bless me and make me healthy through eating that food (saying Grace really). It really makes me stop and be mindful of what I am doing. Another tip is to always sit when you eat. Don't walk, drive or do anything other than sit when you eat. And enjoy your food! This is important.


  23. I remember my Dad telling me that as a child, if he and his brothers burped at the table they were considered full and were excused. That was a time when they didn't have enough to eat and it was a way of keeping 3 boys polite at the table. At the beginning of this week I had resolved to begin to lose the weight that has crept up on me over the last 12 years. Thank you for reminding me of my own reasons for becoming healthier this year as I will be turning 50 in August.

  24. Hi "other" anonymous

    Butter and animal fats are not unhealthy. They have essential acids and proteins in full that we do not get from other foods.

    I am overweight (but I'm also 68 and with a physical disability that affects how much I can move and exercise). I have a cholesterol level over 480 (12-14 in Canadian measurement) and no cardiovascular disease.

    I enjoyed a delicious egg this morning, poached lightly in a brushing of olive oil. Then whole wheat toast with peanut butter, and 5 per cent cream in my coffee.

    I think if you read the non-industry funded research you will find animal fats are no more unhealthy than anything else -- eaten in moderation. They don't cause heart disease. They don't' even raise one's risk as do stress, alcohol and tobacco, lack of exercise. Animal fats are essential for us ommnivores. They also make our food delicious.

    I think we can have one or two of those delicious desserts, red meat, butter, cream, once or twice a week if we have a real problem. Possibly more if we don't. The problem arises when a majority of our calories is sugar wrapped in fat.


  25. Such a great post! i've gone by the eat when you're hungry idea for many years and it's been very helpful. For my body, I just have to make sure that when I do eat it is very healthy and balanced (always a combo of whole-grains, protein, veg or fruit) and I do have to eat often (afternoon snack and before bed snack). and there are times when I can fit some dessert into those spaces. :) Am trying now to work the sugar back out to a bare minimum after eating just a bit more sugar than normal during the holidays.

  26. Dear Lovella,

    Thank you for your kind advice, about your eating habits. I don't know if you remember me, but, I'm the lady that asked you how you kept your "youthful figure", as I was so impressed.

    I recently discovered "green smoothies" and they are absolutely changing my life, for the better, Thank God. It's a slow transition, but, then I wouldn't like it any other way.

    If you are interested this is a good place to start.

    Kindest regards.

  27. Kindest regards,
    thank you for the comment. I do remember you since you always sign your comments the same way. I'd be so interested to know who you are and where you are from as I feel a little out of the loop from my end. Thank you,


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