Wednesday, September 19, 2007

One thing at a Time

The other day a friend gave me a book on nutrition that she found extremely helpful. After a pretty intense battle with depression this past year, and a scary experience tying to wean myself off my prescribed medication without consulting my doctor first (not recommended AT ALL), which triggered a setback, I felt desperate for something that I could implement in everyday life that might help in addition to all the other things that I’d tried. I knew many people who found that improving their diet improved their mood overall so I eagerly cracked open the book.

The author had a whole section on brain chemistry and how our food choices affect it. At first I was horrified by her report on sugar, caffeine, and other foods that I gravitate toward. Apparently women with eating disorders (including those who battled them in the past as I did) had tweaked brain cells too. Another strike against me! As I read on I saw that I didn’t eat nearly enough protein or vegetables and had enough preservatives running through my bloodstream to keep a package of low-fat turkey eatable through the winter at least. My family ate fast food on occasion (apparently we don’t even want to know what’s in it), the French vanilla creamer that sweetened my coffee each morning was loaded with life-zapping chemicals, and I baked with white flour. I was lucky to be alive! Talk about depressing!

But hope awaited me in the next chapter. One could repair the damage done and feel better for life. At first I only felt more overwhelmed as I viewed lists of good fats, all the foods that contain hidden sugar, and what I should and should NEVER eat. Then I stopped. How could I possibly expect to make all these changes at once? For one, my family would be very unhappy with me if we suddenly went sugar, caffeine, and pleasure-food free. Secondly, I didn’t have half of the suggested foods in my cupboard, and finally, I didn’t really need to do everything suggested. So I started with a few things:

1) Eat more protein (my parents were very happy to hear this—they have been bugging me about it for years), veggies, and fruit
2) Eat less sugar
3) Cut back on coffee refills
4) Cut out foods that I absolutely know are garbage
5) Make a list of healthy foods to buy during our next grocery shopping trip

And you know what, even with these small changes I feel better. Now I am actually looking forward to trying one more tip from the book, then another.

My new health craze reminded me that, when God points us toward a path to change, He doesn’t always expect us to dive in head first immediately. True lasting change takes time. When we try to do it all at once we only become overwhelmed and discouraged. And what happens? We usually give up? However, when we take needed change a step at a time we have time to see that change work for our good. Then we are anxious to try even more.

Is there an area where you see a need to make some changes? What small steps can you take this week?


Anonymous said...

Yeah, change is tough, but it CAN be done! And you're off to an EXCELLENT start! Way to go! ;-)


WAM said...

Not sure if I am really allowed here since I am not a girl. One thing however, is that I think its great that you are taking the steps to change your life for the better. You can only do it one step at a time, one day at a time, and with the Savior, that makes it even easier.

For me, it has been a long road of change- all of it for the better. Right now, its learning to not drink strong drinks of any kind-such as drinks with caffein in them (coffee, black tea) and soda that has caffein in them. Cutting down on the Sugar is also hard. One thing, my body fat ratio has dropped from where it was to a far better ratio, and that is a good step forward.

Best of wishes on your adventure!