I have tried numerous ways of dieting, trying to loose weight but I never knew that there was such a Spiritual Diet. You would probably say that I don't need to diet anymore, but I was a young woman praying fervently to wake up at least 10 pounds thinner. Well, we all know that we have to follow the correct way to eat to be able to obtain what we want, like (no sugar, wheat or flour, and weighing and measuring all the food according to the plan from Food Addicts Anonymous. Then we have to find the motivation and fulfillment not to involve with binge eating.
One thing I know for sure, that there are lots of ways to lose weight, but only one way to ensure success. That is to engage all aspects of your being in the process: mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. These seven books offer enough choices that anyone with an ounce of willingness can, one day at a time, transform his or her life. Some are more detailed and prescriptive than others, but all encourage you to address your whole self, from how you take care of your body to how you feed your soul.
Gay Norton Edelman is senior editor at Family Circle magazine. She has written scores of magazine articles, but her favorite subjects continue to be spirituality, psychology, self-help, and balanced living.
Unleash your creative self.
Julia Cameron, author of The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size (Tarcher/Penguin), has been a creativity coach and artist for more than 30 years. Along the way, she discovered that as people learned to express themselves, their body weight normalized. The first part of "The Writing Diet" lays out sensible tools for right-sizing your body (walking, journaling, not getting too "hungry, angry, lonely, or tired"--HALT, for short). Part two offers a smart, succinct list of weight-loss pitfalls (night eating, food as sedative, genes, trauma) and ways to address each. Grounded in a deep humanist spirituality, informed by the world of 12-step, and filled with real-life anecdotes, Cameron covers personal weight-loss turf from inside (soul work) to outside (body work).
Best-of-book tip: Grab a notebook every morning (no excuses!) and write three pages. "Simply move your hand across the page and write whatever thought comes into your head," says Cameron. Complain, whine, blather on. Don't get arty or even worry about spelling or grammar. These "morning pages" will move you through emotions, prioritize your day, and remind you what you really need.
Gay tries it: I've actually been doing morning pages since I read Cameron's bestseller, The Artist's Way. Especially when I first started giving up the overeating, it was a way to vent emotions I would otherwise have stuffed down with the food. Powerful!
Cherish your food.
Sound science meets grounded holistic spirituality in Forget fad diets and fad food.
Jordan Rubin exhorts readers of Perfect Weight: Change Your Diet, Change Your Life, Change Your World (Siloam) to eschew "Frankenfood" in favor of eating "what God created for food" and "foods in a healthy form for the body." Rubin and co-author Dr. Bernard Bulwere offer strong opinions on earth-friendly eating and go into deep, sometimes controversial detail about "don't-touch" and "must-have" foods and supplements. The authors cover a lot of ground: specific food recommendations, a 16-week eating plan, directions for "cleansing your digestive system," physical fitness regimens, and a step-by-step stress-busting exercise. Rubin, a Christian author who wrote The Maker's Diet, provides simple inspiration, too: Check out section three, where more than a dozen women and men briefly share their weight-loss success stories.
Best-of-book tip: Dump intensely processed foods, including artificial sweeteners--some of the worst additives that are also the most widely consumed, says Rubin. Eat simple, seasonable foods. Drink water to flush out unavoidable food additives. Gay tries it: Simple foods do work best for me. I learned the hard way that sorbitol and malitol cause digestive trouble. Aspartame gives me a headache. Saccharine? Even though it has no calories, it makes me crave sweets that do. I take Rubin's advice, avoid the faux stuff, which makes natural sweetness of fruits and vegetables that much more enjoyable. (Celestial Arts). Health researchers Deborah Kesten and Larry Scherwitz took a hard look at the American obesity epidemic to come up with this tested "whole-person" approach. They lay out seven main problems (food fretting, task snacking, emotional eating, fast foodism, solo dining, unappetizing atmosphere, and sensory disregard). Then they offer solutions that are both practical and soul satisfying--from meditation to visualization to the importance of fresh whole foods to specific fun physical exercises. Filled with first-person anecdotes and study references, "The Enlightened Diet" will continue to be a resource even after you've found your right weight. Best-of-book tip: Enjoy your food completely. Relish it! "When you take time to experience your food through all five senses," say the authors, "and to regard the mystery of life inherent in both food and yourself, you're more likely to be truly nourished, and less likely to overeat." In short, slow down and be fully present as you eat. Gay tries it: It seemed counterintuitive at first to focus more on food when you want it to have less dominance in your life, but then I realized they're talking about eating mindfully. Taking time to appreciate my meals--not only with my senses, but by taking smaller bites and chewing thoroughly--has made me feel fuller and happier when I'm done. Plus, I realized that better-spiced food is more satisfying, so I'm bulking up my spice cabinet (instead of my body!).
Believe you can change.
Dr. Dean Ornish, the acknowledged maven of the healthy eating movement has a new book, The Spectrum: A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel Better, Live longer, Lose Weight, Gain Health (Ballantine Books), which digs deep into the science of tailoring a healthy lifestyle for yourself. (There are even 100 tasty-sounding low-on-the-food-chain recipes.) What's spiritual about all this? Ornish's emphasis on dealing with, and building on, what is, including your genetics. Plus, he's such an advocate of meditation that the book comes with a CD of quiet music to support inner work.
Best-of-book tip: Don't ever, ever let that nagging saboteur inside you tell you you're hopeless. You can do it! "If we're just victims of our bad genes, bad karma, bad fat, or bad luck, then there's not much we can do about it, other than to suffer our destiny," says Ornish. "But to the degree that we realize that we can do something about it, then we're free to change our fortunes."
Gay tries it: Holding tight to habits and thoughts that will bring me grace has served me well, especially when I weighed 254 pounds and the ugly little voice in my head was telling me I was the one obese person on the planet for whom weight loss was impossible. Once the weight was off, I learned that my life keeps getting better and better if I keep myself open to growth, one day at a time.
Drop the negative, embrace the positive.
In Slim for Life: The Ultimate Health and Detox Plan (Plume) Dr. Gillian McKeith takes you through a full diagnostic of your eating habits, including how your inner life intersects with your eating. Then you create a plan. "I want to teach you how to harness energy and make your goals happen," says McKeith, who offers specifics on what to eat and when--all lushly laid out with four-color photos. But she doesn't drop you there. She has you make a written commitment to yourself to exercise, and even offers a detox plan. And the piece de resistance: Her "SOS Emergency Plan"--a holistic way to jump-start your flagging enthusiasm for a new health regimen, complete with gentle breathing exercises, mantras, safe comfort foods, and seven important philosophical life points to remember.
Best-of-book tip: Keep your attitude positive by choosing good thoughts and imagining success. "Give out good energy and you will attract good energy," says McKeith. "When you are feeling happy and thinking positively, you will be more prone to making the right healthy food choices."
Gay tries it: When I first started paying attention to my thoughts, I was shocked at how much complaining was going on. Slowly but surely I'm learning to switch to affirming words. One thing that always works is reminding myself, over and over, what I am grateful for. Filled with gratitude, I'm not as tempted to do things I shouldn't.
Do what you need to do, in moderation.
Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous: A Nutritionist's Guide to Living Well While Living It Up (Chronicle Books) by Esther Blum is a sassy, sexy, irreverent take on how women can live reasonably as well healthfully. A registered dietician, Blum spares no dietary or lifestyle detail. She also prescribes knowing yourself and gradually changing what you ingest accordingly, never forgetting that joy is as important to peace of mind as perfect numbers on the scale. For women who absolutely need a bit of chocolate now and then, but are also willing to eat their greens, this is the ideal book. Another smart, joyful feature: a chapter on ways to upgrade blue-mood foods (mac and cheese, anyone?) so they'll soothe without abandoning good nutrition.
Best-of-book tip: Start where you are. What are you truly willing to do for yourself today? That's where your efforts should go. "Personally, I believe it's essential to eat a healthful diet," says Blum, "but if that's not a reality for you right now, it's better to be honest with yourself. Make slow and gradual changes rather than drastic, impermanent ones."
Gay tries it: A chronic yo-yo dieter, I didn't make real change until I stopped pretending I could just plunge into what scared me to death or felt totally impossible. Today, 14 years after I took off the last of the 100 pounds, I still work to make sure I don't set myself up for failure with unrealistic expectations. Just for today, I listen to my gut, find the willingness there, and do the next right thing.
Ask for help.
Seven years ago Chantel Hobbs made a phenomenal life change: 29 years old and nearly 350 pounds, she decided to take charge of her weight by changing her thinking. Two hundred pounds lighter, she took what she learned and wrote Never Say Diet: Make Five Decisions and Break the Fat Habit for Good (Waterbook Press). Early in the book, Hobbs shares her personal journey in detail--the humiliations, the revelations, the night she realized she was not living up to "the life God intended for me." Central to her program are the five decisions: Be truthful; be forgiving; be committed; be interested; surrender. The second half of the book gets down to business--a comprehensive regimen that includes illustrated exercises, foods to avoid, and ways to plan meals. A special bonus is a thoughtful chapter, "5 Ways to Get Your Family Fit," in which she lays out strategies based on the truism that no one, especially kids, can achieve healthy living alone. Best-of-book tip: Invite the help of a power greater than yourself, and success is assured. "God guaranteed me the victory if I did the work," says Hobbs, "and He has given me the strength when I didn't have much left." Surrender to your greater good, keep taking positive actions as best you can, and you'll find your healthy weight and a whole lot more. Gay tries it: The more I let go and let God, as they say in the 12-step programs, the better my health, my relationships, and my life become. Reliance on divine goodness and strength means every day can feel like a miracle, as long as I suit up, show up, put one foot in front of the other, and let God's love flow through me.