Once I hit the last few weeks of pregnancy this is how I ended almost everyday.
"Can we get a milkshake? Let’s make some cookies? I’m going to get some brownies!"
It didn’t help that I was in my third trimester during the most food-filled time of the year, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Yup, a pregnant girl’s dream. What wasn’t so dreamy was trying to kick the habit of ending everyday with a sugar-fest. That’s a new mom’s nightmare. At least for me it was. Personally, it wasn’t just about losing the baby weight and getting back in the skinny jeans, it was a health factor. I’ve always been big on eating healthy and staying in shape but until I got pregnant I didn’t know what it felt like to not eat healthy. & I'm not talking about eating double portions because I was hungry, I mean consuming mass amounts of sweets, and junk food that should have no place in anyone’s diet. So once I had given birth to my daughter and suddenly had no baby belly to cover up my real belly I was confronted with the root of the issue.
After realizing that my sugar addiction was getting out of control and making my baby weight that much harder to drop I decided to re-evaluate some things. I started working out, drinking more water and looking for healthy alternatives to sugary snacks. I started feeling so much better. That cloudy fog began to lift and my energy was restored but I was still finding myself endlessly snacking on cookies and cake every so often. This lead to frustration. I couldn’t kick the habit and didn’t understand why. Then it dawned on me:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and...
That’s what I was missing, self-control. I thought to myself, “maybe I should stop looking at this as an up hill battle to gain health and lose weight, but instead a way to practice cultivating a fruit of the spirit.” I still struggle with keeping myself away from the junk food but now I have much more understanding of why. During this process God allowed me to learn a lot about the food we eat and how it affects our bodies. I began doing research and looking into what comprises a healthy diet. I was shocked to find out that sugar has a hugely negative affect on the body. Here is some of the useful information I found.
Losing baby weight (or any other weight) is mainly about diet not so much exercise because you cannot work off a poor diet. Sugar is a silent killer; many health professionals compare sugar to drugs because:
- When sugar is consumed it releases dopamine in your brain, which makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. This makes your brain think that what you ate was nutritionally good and you’ll want to eat it again.
- Sugar is highly addictive.
- This sugar addiction can lead to powerful cravings, which basically feel like hunger pains. That is why a pregnant women craving a bowl ice cream feels like she cannot function until her craving is satisfied. It’s hard for your brain to differentiate between a craving and actual hunger.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are loads of studies, books, documentaries and medical journals that go into great detail about the lethal affects of sugar and other processed ingredients that are in common snacks and desserts. The more I looked into this the more I realized that pregnancy could be an opportunity to re-evaluate personal health instead of succumbing to every craving and then dealing with the horrible affects. But even knowing all of this information did not make it any easier for me to actually change. I had to look deeper into this as a spiritual matter. I stumbled upon verses such as
Philippians 3:19 “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly and they glory in their shame...”
Matthew 4:4 “Man shall not live by bread alone..."
and I began feeling conviction about my lack of self control when it came to eating. Reading these verses prompted me to ask myself (before going into the kitchen) are you really hungry, or do you just want to eat? More and more it felt like my flesh was trying to overpower the decision I had already made up in my mind. This is really the Christian struggle against sin; we have to learn to deny our flesh. I thought about how in the Bible when people wanted to get closer to God they fasted. Moses, Paul, David even Jesus practiced the ultimate test of self-control through fasting. The more I looked into the spiritual connection between self-control and food consumption the more I saw how much the bible comments on this subject. In James we are instructed to tame our tongues, but we are also shown how difficult it is.
"For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:7-8)
Even though this passage speaks more to the way we use our mouth to communicate, it can also be applied to the other functions of the mouth. We speak, kiss, sing, and eat with our mouth. From the mouth comes a multitudes of sin; greed, blasphemy, corrupt communication (Ephesians 4:29), lying, cursing, adultery. Taming our tongue, in essence our mouth, and the sins that come forth by way of it takes the diligence of seeking God’s word and allowing it to permeate our disposition toward sin. For me, self control played a huge role in taking back my health after pregnancy. I was able to look at kicking my sugar addiction in conjunction with cultivating the spiritual fruit of self control. Pregnancy can be exhausting and losing baby weight is a true challenge but it can be used as a time to practice and implement self control. Not only will this help our physical health but it will also strengthen our spiritual health. Weather you just had a baby, are about to give birth, or your children are all grown up I encourage you to evaluate your health to see if this area of your life is bearing fruit, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31
TIPS FOR JUMPSTARTING YOUR HEALTH JOURNEY:
- Make small goals. It’s really difficult to stop a bad diet cold turkey but trying something practical like drinking more water or starting your morning with a piece of fruit is much more reasonable. After a while you can start building those small goals into bigger changes.
- Ask the Lord to help you gain more self control in this area.
- Find a friend. If I’m trying to start eating more vegetables or drink more water it’s a lot easier to have someone doing it with me. Even a friend in a different state can help. Online groups, forums, Instagram whatever works.
REMEMBER, TAKE IT ONE DAY AT A TIME, PRAY FOR STRENGTH, AND GROW.
3 John 1:2 ESV
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
Philippians 4:13 ESV
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.