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According to Eating Disorder Hope, eating disorders are affecting our lives on a daily basis, with 10 million females and 1 million males in the U.S. suffering from an eating disorder at any given time. With particular reference to overeating, Eating Disorder Hope confirms that 2.8% of adults in the U.S. suffer from a binge eating disorder and just 43% of them try to get treatment.
Obsessed as we are with our weight, we might be inclined to believe that there’s nothing to worry about if our body mass index (BMI) is healthy. However, a reading of body mass index on its own isn’t enough to be taken as a solid indication of good health. Overeaters who also suffer from bulimia, for example, manage to keep their weight on a par with their height. But they cannot be considered healthy just because they’re not overweight.
Why do we overeat?
An interesting article published recently by CNN considers the notion that food is the new tobacco, with food advertisements replacing the evils of tobacco advertisements from more than 50 years ago. The tactics used in these advertisements fuel the argument that there are physiological, psychological, emotional, cultural and social reasons for why we overeat.
When we don’t eat regularly – at least every three or four hours – our bodies become stressed. By the time we do eat, we’re so hungry that we can’t stop eating. The portions we consume are far beyond what is really necessary and we eat so fast that our bodies don’t have the time to enjoy the experience, thus the trigger that sets the digestive process in motion, telling our brain that we are full, is delayed. This is why we end up eating more than we need to and why at the end of the meal we feel so full that we’re actually uncomfortable.
Psychological and Emotional
Some of us eat when we’re bored, when we’re trying to put off doing another task and when we’re stressed, angry or frustrated. Emotional ties can become difficult to break when we start turning to food for comfort. When we feel sad or lonely, we eat, using our stomachs to make ourselves feel better.
Cultural and Social
At Christmas, and during other celebratory periods, we give ourselves free license to eat as much as we want as a way of celebrating. We ignore our bodies when they tell us we are full because… well, it’s Christmas! When we’re offered more food at someone’s house, we sometimes feel the social pressure of having to accept, even if we’re no longer hungry, for fear of causing offense.
How can we combat the issue?
As with most things in life, solutions that offer a holistic approach to dealing with the problems we face are always the most effective. If we are strong in body, mind and soul, we will be better equipped at keeping our overeating tendencies at bay.
It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do, regular is what makes the difference. Go out for a walk, sign up to the gym, practice yoga. Whatever you choose to do, the key lies in being consistent. Just also be aware of the tendency to overeat after your workout too.
Balance your diet
Eating healthily doesn’t mean giving up on enjoying your food. A classic mistake is to go on a diet that doesn’t allow you to eat any of the things you like, thus making you crave what you can’t have. The best idea in the long term is to make sure your daily diet includes a little of everything; meaning you can’t stay on your “refined carbs and sugar only” diet, but you can enjoy a few fries every now and then. Just make sure your daily food intake is a thorough balance of all minerals and nutrients.
Reduce stress levels
Slow down, take time out to do things you enjoy, travel, relax and, most importantly, make sure you get plenty of sleep. Sometimes we even overeat just because we’re tired.
Open your heart
Many people overeat as a way of dealing with emotional traumas. One of the best ways of rectifying an unhealthy relationship with food is to open your heart to the love that surrounds you. Even if you find it hard to socialize with family and friends, you can start taking care of a pet. Animals are known for their unconditional, limitless supply of love, turning into excellent companions who help us to see that food isn’t the only option available to us.
As yoga has gained in popularity, there’s also plenty of chatter in Christian circles about all the reasons why Christians shouldn’t participate in the practice. As a religious art, yoga is definitely something for Christians to avoid. By practicing it appropriately, however, it’s possible to enjoy all the benefits of yoga while deepening your connection with God.
Benefits of Yoga
There’s plenty of information about the physical benefits of yoga, including:
- Better strength and flexibility
- Improved posture, which can reduce muscle aches and lead to a leaner appearance
- Improved mood
- Raised heart rate
- Lowered blood sugar
- Enhanced balance
- A foundation for a healthy lifestyle
With all these clear health benefits, yoga is an activity that many Christians should enjoy more often! In addition to the physical benefits, yoga practice can increase relaxation, reduce stress, and create a better sense of mind and body connection that can improve many people’s awareness of their body. Improved mood, greater physical strength and flexibility, and better awareness of what’s going on within your body? How can you lose?
The practice of yoga is linked with mindfulness and meditation. In fact, there’s plenty of study on the spiritual laws of yoga. These principles seem, at first, in direct opposition to Christian awareness–but at a deeper level, they link perfectly with what we’re taught through the Bible.
The law of karma states that each action causes a reaction: that is, that the actions we choose create responses. Consider 1 John 4:19, which states, “We love because he first loved us.” God’s action creates a response in us every day. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit causes us to respond, whether through the hardening of our hearts as Pharoah hardened his in Egypt or through opening our hearts in response.
The law of detachment states that it’s unnecessary for us to force things to go our way–that is, that things are coming together to work for our good without unnecessary effort on our part. This is supported through Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'” Or look at Romans 8:28: “For we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him.” This isn’t anything that we can cause or create, and detaching ourselves from it makes it easier to rest secure in the knowledge that God will take care of whatever we need.
The law of Dharma states that everyone has a purpose in life that they have been called to accomplish. The Bible is filled with information about the Christian’s purpose and how each individual is an important member of the body of Christ. Each person is given a specific set of gifts and talents that they are called to use for the good of the body of Christ in a way that no one else can. Meditating on that purpose through yoga is an excellent way to focus on the task ahead. Clearing the mind through yoga also opens it to God’s message and a better understanding of what He is calling the individual to do next.
Yoga for Christians
For Christians who are still on the fence about performing yoga, there are several steps that can make it more religiously appropriate for the path they choose to walk. For example, it’s possible to:
- Choose DVDs that focus on the physical aspects of yoga, without religious overtones. There are also some yoga programs that are created specifically for Christians.
- Turn off or turn down the volume on an existing yoga DVD to avoid those messages.
- Meditate, not on the “universe” or on the self, but on the word of God. Choose a Bible verse to focus on throughout your yoga practice each day.
Though yoga’s origins may have been filled with spiritual overtones that aren’t in keeping with Christian practices, it has been repurposed and adapted for use by Christians across the world. For those looking for a mindful exercise program that allows them to connect with their bodies, improve strength and flexibility, and reduce stress, yoga is an excellent practice that can be adapted for their use. Looking for more information on the practice of yoga? Contact us today to learn more.