Our theme for this month: “A New Year, A New Beginning”
Our Bible verse for today: “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” Proverbs 23:20-21 (NIV)
Our thought for today: “Learn to eat less.”
“Hi, my name is Jim and I’m a glutton.” It’s true. If there was a recovery group called “Gluttons Anonymous” I would be a charter member. I love food. I love it too much. Eating is one of the pleasures of life and I’m very, very good at it. My tendency towards gluttony is something I have had to battle my entire life.
Food is a gift from God and it is meant to be enjoyed. As we learned yesterday, the primary function of food is to provide fuel for our body, but God also made food tasty and He gave us taste buds so that we can enjoy it. But as is true of all of God’s gifts, we are to use food responsibly and in the right proportions. It’s when we abuse and misuse the gift that it becomes a problem. In our day most of us eat too much. Why do we eat too much? It’s complicated. There are many factors that fold into it but the two primary reasons are conditioning and chemistry. We’ll think about conditioning today and chemistry tomorrow.
We’re conditioned in our society to consume large quantities of food. It has been a subtle conditioning that has occurred slowly over decades. The average portion of any serving of food or drink is much larger today than it was thirty years ago. This is the result of an intentional strategy by manufacturers and marketers designed to get us to consume more and more of their products. Thirty years ago, the average serving size of a Coca-Cola at McDonalds was 12 ounces, and you got one serving for your money. Today the average serving is 32 ounces and you can have as many free refills as you want. Thirty years ago, the average person consumed a regular sized single cheeseburger and a small order of fries. Today it’s rare for anyone to purchase a burger smaller than a quarter pounder; often it is a half-pounder, and the fries are extra-large.
To maintain a healthy weight the average-sized American adult should consume approximately 2000 calories per day. However, in many sit-down restaurants today a single dinner plate with sides and desert can consist of a full-day’s calorie intake (and often more than that). So, you’re getting your entire calorie intake for the day in that single meal! (When I eat in such places I often ask for a take-home box to be brought with the meal. Then I immediately take half the food off of the plate and put it in the box to take home.)
A simple rule-of-thumb when it comes to maintaining a good diet is to train yourself to eat small portions of reasonably healthy food. However, that’s easier said than done. To help gain control over portion size, and to begin conditioning yourself to eat less, pre-packaged meals can be helpful. Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, all produce complete meals in the proper serving sizes, and these can be helpful as we train ourselves to stop overeating. At first you will probably find the smaller portions problematic, in that it won’t seem to be enough food to satisfy you. But that’s only because you’re used to eating so much more. After a couple of weeks your body will begin to adjust to the new portion size, your stomach will begin to shrink back to its normal size, and you will find yourself increasingly satisfied with the smaller, more appropriate portions.
The biggest reason we overeat is because we have been conditioned to do so by manufacturers and marketers. But chemistry is also a factor. We’ll think about that tomorrow.