It's a true joy to get through the holiday season enjoying food and drink and company without putting on too much weight.
If that sounds impossible, it's not. It does take (joy does) planning and discipline.
But it's one of the things Christ was about: There are too many examples of His discipline to list. A key: simplicity. Simplicity and discipline make for health and true happiness (which is different than titillating the taste buds).
When we see the word "discipline" we might also see the word "disciple."
Follow Him. His fingerprints are on every minute of life. We need only see that and make the correct choices and determinations.
The parties and feasts of Christmas and New Year's can be totally enjoyed -- more fully than ever -- by simply controlling what you eat and the amounts of it -- indulging, sure, savoring, but not to the point of gorging and gluttony. Eat anything that really enhances joy, but don't overdo it to the point where it robs you of the joy the next day (and week). The fullest joy is what tastes great while you're eating it (brings pleasure then) and also after (the next day -- instead of regret; that's devil's food, that's the devil's pleasure).
We need not fear the holiday season for weight gain if we simply think ahead and control ourselves, if we drink a couple glasses of water before every party or dinner (or snack), if we pray instead of gorging (prayer will stop that), and if we avoid salt and dairy products when possible.
It's simple and it keeps weight gain under control, a guiltless holiday: simply watching the salt and dairy.
Start there (later --in the New Year -- start limiting refined sugar. But take one thing, one goal, and one meal at a time). Nothing tastes better than good food with the "flavor" of self-control. Nothing tastes better than lean.
Discipline is a key to happiness.
This being the Christmas season, I'll share a personal story from my most recent book, The God of Healing:
It started one day in 1999 when I put myself on a scale for the first time in years and was shocked to see that I weighed in at more than two hundred pounds. I'd never considered myself "fat." Growing up, I was painfully thin. Throughout my youth, you could count my ribs. My mother used to try to fatten us up with raw egg in milkshakes. When I graduated from college I was about five-feet-ten-inches but weighed just 135.
Years went by, and then more years, soon a couple decades. I noticed a slight paunch but never weighed myself and gave it little thought. Meanwhile, my metabolism had slowed (as occurs with age), and I was eating anything I had the yen for, including ice cream and red meat in whatever volume I fancied. Reese's peanut butter ice cream cups!
It was in this fashion, through simple gluttony and neglect, that I was suddenly on the brink of obesity.
Stepping off the scale, and upset, I sat myself on the edge of our bed and called for the Holy Spirit to help me lose pounds.
Immediately I felt infused with knowledge that came not in words but an "instant knowing" to do this: get rid of salt from my diet; limit portions; and drink as much water as I could.
I did as I was "told" (eliminating virtually all salt, and drinking the water), and in short order I was down to 190, and then 180, and soon 165 pounds, where I stayed for years. You see, when you ingest salt, it tells your body to retain water to dilute the salt, and your weight bolts up (water weighs eight pounds a gallon); when you don't ingest sodium, and drink plenty of water, it tells the body not to worry: that there is plenty of water available and so the body can release fluid, causing bloating and weight to drop. Counter-intuitive though it is, drinking much water causes us to hold less of it! It also causes us to feel more full and as a result we eat less.
Even if you've done damage, even if your lifestyle has been negligent -- even if you are bed-ridden or obese, and have diabetes -- you can reverse it with God, slowly but with certainty.
This meant watching every food label for "sodium" content. Besides getting rid of most salt, I cut down on red meat, greatly reduced dairy products (no more ice cream), and all but eliminated fried food. I also increased the level of daily exercise. I had been swimming most days, and now really went at it. There was also yard work and with that healthy perspiration (which gets rid of excess water and impurities).
Years later, when I put on a few too many pounds -- bolting up to 175 -- I went back at it, this time not only more closely watching salt and dairy ridding most white sugar and totally banishing high-fructose syrup, as well as more closely watching salt. Salt, fat, and sugar. Even cereal can be loaded with sodium. It was astonishing how at times I put on three or more pounds overnight by simply eating something that had salt or dairy in it. Meanwhile, I had been drinking canned iced tea that I thought was healthy without noting that the level of high-fructose in a tall can was comparable to seventeen teaspoons of sugar. By now focusing on sugar and white flour, I dropped to the "ideal weight" for my height of 153.
Do I still eat meat? Yes, two or three times a week. Dark green vegetables? Many. Fish? Several times a week. I also fast. Everything in moderation. I drink red wine.
Although the pounds fluctuate, especially when I go to a restaurant (gained a few pounds traveling to Washington D.C. last week), and although it's still a struggle to keep the pounds off (metabolism slows with age, doggone it!), I'm about forty-five or fifty pounds (twenty-five percent) less than I was when first I went to the Holy Spirit sixteen years ago.
Where I used to have a supply of antacids on hand (always next to the bed), they were no longer necessary. For now: just watch sodium. Just watch dairy. The Holy Spirit will help you when you start helping yourself and will fashion a diet based on your unique body.
-- Michael H. Brown
[resources: The God of Healing]