From Eating for My Weight to Eating for My Health

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
7/26/2010 2:07 PM   :  105 comments   :  27,686 Views

By Julie Bream of Peanut Butter Fingers (JL2726)

We live in a world where the latest way to lose five pounds changes every 1.5 seconds. When I was growing up, everyone was all about eating low-fat or fat-free foods. When I entered college, the low-carb craze was in full swing.

I can remember the week I tried living on a diet fueled by meat and cheese and very little carbs. I was living in my sorority house at the time and was surrounded by women who were constantly talking about feeling fat or feeling guilty after indulging in a brownie. I read a lot about the low-carb diets and followed the intro phase, which limited my daily carbohydrate consumption to 20 grams.

After a week of feeling lethargic and defeated, I told my then-boyfriend that I'd rather have a little extra "me" to love, rather than feel the way I did while trying to maintain a low-carb lifestyle.

Sure low-carb living works for many, but I found my greatest success and happiness in living a life fueled by a variety of healthy foods, rich in vitamins, nutrients and, yes, even carbs.

When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2008, I began reading a lot about the importance of a healthy diet in cancer prevention. It was then that I truly began eating for my health, rather than eating to maintain or lose weight.

My mom's diagnosis was a bit of a wake-up call for me. I realized that my body doesn't care how thin I am. My body functions best on a healthy diet, rich in fresh produce, whole grains and healthy fats.

When I began incorporating vitamin-rich foods into my daily diet, something unexpected happened. My new healthy lifestyle was not only helping my body better fight sickness and disease, but I began to feel more energized. I actually dropped a few pounds when I stopped eating packaged frozen “healthy meals" and avoiding carb-heavy foods.

That's right: Eating foods rich in whole grains, like whole wheat pasta, honey wheat bread, barley, and oatmeal in place of Lean Cuisines and Lean Pockets did not cause me to gain weight. Welcoming colorful vegetables and flavorful nut butters into my meals left me feeling satisfied and alive!

When I re-prioritized my eating from eating for my weight to eating for my health, I wanted to fuel my body with real, nutrient-rich food and feel happy eating all different kinds of foods… including carbs and fats! Feeling like I couldn't eat carbohydrates only made me want them even more. To me, when something becomes off-limits, my desire for the "forbidden fruit" only increases.

No food should be completely off limits. Sure, some foods should be reserved for a special treat every now and then, but banished forever? Nah.

For me, the biggest part about living a healthy lifestyle is recognizing that healthy living is not black and white. Striving to be “mostly healthy” is a great goal. Balance your indulgences by fueling your life with healthy food and fitness most of the time, but understand that treats are part of living a healthy life. Be sure to take time to relax and enjoy an ice cream cone every once in a while!



Julie maintains the healthy-living and fitness blog Peanut Butter Fingers, which follows her daily life, fueled by healthy foods and an active lifestyle. A full-time writer and editor, Julie strives to balance a 40-hour work-week with daily workouts, creating healthy home-cooked meals and planning her wedding.

Do you focus on health or weight? At what point in your journey did you notice the shift?

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Comments

  • PTREINER
    105
    The title says it all! - 12/13/2011   3:28:15 PM
  • BULGEBATTLER
    104
    Amen to the new diet regime every 1.5 seconds. This journey is like wading through the swamp while avoiding the alligators. I realize what looks like a safe island is often still in the middle of the swamp. Eating a "healthy" diet can be enjoyable and pleasurable and helps replace the pleasure (read instant gratification) I got from my unhealthy eating habits. - 4/29/2011   12:53:06 PM
  • PIXIESTIX6669
    103
    Great blog! I totally agree...and recently read to avoid any "diets" that exclude entire food groups..they're bogus...good fats, carbs, proteins...all important for balanced nutrition...you're stunning btw! - 4/29/2011   12:05:48 AM
  • 102
    I appreciated your comments on the low-carb diet. I recently tried it again (will I ever learn?) and got the same results - lethargic and depressed. I switched back to a healthy BALANCED diet and feel 200% better. - 3/8/2011   9:16:07 AM
  • 101
    Actually, when I realized I had almost added all the weight back that I lost 4 yrs. ago, I decided that it was imperative that I focus on HEALTHY choices to make a turn around for the long haul! I do not want to be up & down with weight. I want to make daily habits and choices that I will stick with to make a difference for all the years ahead of me, if God allows. - 10/3/2010   4:01:53 AM
  • 100
    I knew a long time that I wanted to eat for health and not just to lose weight. I also don't think everything should be avoided but eaten in moderation. Of course those things that cause higher blood sugars and blood pressures should only be eaten on special days or events. Like I said in moderation and eating with wisdom like we do or should do everything in life. Thanks for the Blog! - 8/19/2010   1:04:58 AM
  • JRLEGOLAS
    99
    Thank you for the inspiration! - 8/11/2010   8:10:23 AM
  • 98
    I found this blog to be inspirational. To eat healthy, for our health rather than to just lose weight. It has to be a lifestyle change. I think its the only way to go. - 8/8/2010   1:06:25 PM
  • JESS_BLUEY
    97
    Isn't it great to be able to eat delicious, healthy food? It tastes great and there is no guilt attached either! - 8/5/2010   11:26:36 AM
  • OLDERNBETTER1
    96
    I totally agree with this blog! This approach is how I was able to lose 22 pounds, and feel healthy and energetic. I didn't get sick when everyone else was getting the flu or colds. I have incorporated eating the varying colors of the food spectrum and notice that when I arrange my meals this way they are visually appealing to me. It makes me want to eat healthily. I recently joined a health club and have started strength training for the first time in my life, and feel excited about my progress. I encourage everyone to think more about a healthy life rather than dieting. - 8/4/2010   10:37:46 AM
  • 95
    Very good blog - 7/31/2010   11:52:58 AM
  • 94

    Great Blog. I have been there also, all the different diets!!! too much of that not enough of this. I finally got it . REAL FOOD. not packaged, not fake but just real food in moderations. and yes I can eat ice cream and have my chocolate. - 7/29/2010   9:31:07 AM
  • NURSE2HEALTH
    93
    Thank you so much for sharing this! With the kind of work I do as a nurse and using motivational interviewing skills I share this to people every day!
    When you become healthier, the weight is secondary. I feel wonderful! - 7/28/2010   9:57:45 PM
  • 92
    You took the words right out of my mouth...THANK YOU!!

    Sandy :) - 7/28/2010   7:33:57 PM
  • 91
    You are a ROCK STAR! Thanks for the sane, rational, intelligent advice! I'm so sick of all these fad diets - it horrifies me what people are willing to do to their bodies! - 7/28/2010   4:53:22 PM
  • 90
    My wake-up call was being told I had pre-diabetes and was glucose intolerant. - 7/28/2010   12:41:31 PM
  • MOMMAPEARLS62
    89
    Excellent post. I so agree and this post was so worth the read. - 7/28/2010   11:15:22 AM
  • 88
    Great blog! In my previous weight loss episodes, I was definitely eating for weight loss instead of health. I focused on the number on the scale and health was an after-thought or by-product of the process, but did not even factor in my goals. Now, I am approaching my health holistically, including changing my food choices as well as physical activity. My mom is one who has fallen to the low-carb craze. And yes, it works for a while, but she never had the energy to work out and always gained the weight back. I love carbs! I love how comforting and satisfying whole grains and fiber-rich foods are. I love how they fuel my body for long runs. - 7/28/2010   10:58:32 AM
  • 87
    When I found out about my type 2 diabetes I started eating for my health. Your blog is great! - 7/28/2010   7:08:17 AM
  • 86
    Great Blog!!! Rules to live by! - 7/28/2010   6:47:06 AM
  • 85
    I recently decided to eat for health too, and not just for weight loss. It is amazing how that shift gives you peace and fuels you. the last time i was tempted to take a coke, i just thought of all it would be doing to my insides, and i stopped. i am not overly concerned with my weight now, and that has been a major shift for me. Great blog!! - 7/28/2010   5:15:21 AM
  • 84
    Many of the foods you mentioned ARE carb heavy - they're just not "bad carb" foods. Fresh veggies and whole grains are all wonderfully carbo loaded foods and we should all get as much as possible into our diets! Great perspective and wonderful testimony. : ) - 7/27/2010   8:59:13 PM
  • 83
    Very interesting and nicely written blog. Everyone should read it.
    Best of wishes on the upcoming wedding! - 7/27/2010   8:10:50 PM
  • 82
    My shift from eating for my health instead of eating for my weight has been a slow one. Sometimes I bounce between the two, but I really enjoy reading healthy blogs for inspiration and PBF is one of my favorites! So I think it's really neat to see a blog from Julie here. - 7/27/2010   5:15:53 PM
  • 81
    I eat for health and can completely relate to what Julie was describing. I am a vegan and eat a huge variety of foods and feel great for it. My mom eats for weight loss but sees no results--she eats prepackaged, processed foods and skips meals, taking vitamins instead of eating proper foods--and she always complains of being tired, sick, lethargic, etc. Go figure, right? - 7/27/2010   5:10:53 PM
  • LITTLEGIRLSMOM1
    80
    Everybody is different. I know that when I restrict myself from anything then I am doomed to fail. However, I have done challenges for a month or so. I believe in the "everything in moderation" sologan. - 7/27/2010   3:33:35 PM
  • 79
    There have been times in my life when I was smaller, but more unhealthy. It is possible to be skinny fat, which is not healthy. My body composition and nutrition is much more important than my pants size or the number on the scale. Thanks for writing such an intelligent blog. - 7/27/2010   3:32:13 PM
  • 78
    I am definately a work in progress. However, I totally believe that if I work on a way to eat healthy most of the time, I will constantly improve as my habits continue to change.

    I have made many changes in the 2 years and 8 months I have been on this journey, and all of the small changes are becoming my lifestyle.

    Good healthy foods, fun exercise, and a treat on occasion are great tools to both be healthier and to lose weight along the way.

    Progress not perfection is my model, and I have, for the most part, done away with the guilt that diets had made a regular part of my life.

    I feel as though I am healing all of the wounds that had also become a part of my person because I bought into the latest diet, the idea that what I ate and what I weighed defined whom I was.

    By learning to love and respect myself, I am becoming more positive about my abilities and my life. One day at a time, and change one habit at a time.

    I love to read a blog like this that affirms all that I have learned, and have come to accept as my truth.

    Thank you and God Bless. - 7/27/2010   12:59:58 PM
  • 77
    She is so right and I give her credit for how creative she is with her foods. That is so awesome! - 7/27/2010   12:33:11 PM
  • 76
    I am focusing on health but need to lose weight to obtain optimum health. I drink plenty of water and try to eat fresh whole foods first, however, not afraid to treat myself either. I don't follow fad diets because if one work there would no longer be a 50+ billion dollar a year industry! Small changes lead to big lifetime changes! M - 7/27/2010   12:19:27 PM
  • 75
    Healthy old age - 7/27/2010   11:21:26 AM
  • 74
    Right now, for me, weight is health. At 100 pounds over a healthy weight, it's not about how I look (although, yeah, I'd like to look better), it's how I feel. I have sleep apnea and hypertension which I'm hoping will go away as I lose weight. I'm also hoping that it will be easier to exercise as I have less weight to lug around. - 7/27/2010   11:11:57 AM
  • JEWELSMG
    73
    I focus on health. The change came for me when I started to learn about how to properly fuel my body and the right foods to eat. It also changed as I learned more about Fad diets and the falsehood which characterises the diet buisness. Today I eat to fuel my body and my workouts - 7/27/2010   10:29:01 AM
  • 72
    Great article! I could have written it myself. Over the past year, I've watched both my parents suffer from back pain, high cholesterol & other ailments, that they believe are just part of "getting older", then with my dear friend battling cancer, I have started taking my lifestyle seriously! Studing nutrition & how to help my friend live with cancer & hopefully, keeping it in remission, has REALLY been informative. I don't want to suggest she do anything, that I'm not willing to do. So, even though I had been eating pretty healthful foods, I've gotten even more conscience of what goes in my mouth! - 7/27/2010   10:19:52 AM
  • 71
    Cheers to your success!! - 7/27/2010   9:51:42 AM
  • 70
    With your mother having had Breast Cancer, you certainly are smart to change your diet and lose weight now, as you are at higher risk. Cancer runs in families. - 7/27/2010   9:41:33 AM
  • 69
    When I first started my weight loss journey, I ate for my weight. However, as I became healthier and started eating healthier foods, my focus shifted and these days, I eat for my health instead of my weight.

    I've noticed that my body seems to thrive on lots of leafy green veggies. the more I eat, the better I feel. One thing I've learned on my journey is that as long as I am eating right, I really don't have to worry about my weight. Any weight loss I have is nothing more than a byproduct of my healthy lifestyle.

    So, the healthier I eat, the better I do feel. Great blog ! thanks !

    - 7/27/2010   9:39:16 AM
  • 68
    Great! I Agree, & did the same thing myself a few years ago. I always struggled a bit with my weight & thought I was doing okay eating all my processes frozen meals & snacks too, but not nearly enough fresh fruits & veggies. I'm more concerned with overall healthy foods now. I read a few Jillian Michaels
    books . She strongly advocates less processed foods. I eat
    more fruits, veggies, & whole grains. My weight is pretty
    stable & I feel better. Especially as I age this is more important then ever. Congratulations on your wedding too! - 7/27/2010   9:34:48 AM
  • SUNSET09
    67
    Initially, it's weight and then, while you're creating a life change, it's health as you eat right and lose that weight! You've done a great job! Keep up the good work! - 7/27/2010   9:29:15 AM
  • 66
    Congratulation on your weight loss. you look Bootiful... - 7/27/2010   9:13:01 AM
  • 65
    Awesome ~ Go YOU!! - 7/27/2010   9:10:01 AM
  • 64
    I couldn't agree more! :) - 7/27/2010   8:31:59 AM
  • LIFESTOOQUICK
    63
    Great article! Your blog has been one of my favorites for awhile now :) - 7/27/2010   8:30:09 AM
  • ARIANORCHID
    62
    Julie, thanks for sharing this great article. I hope your Mom is doing well and I take this opportunity to wish you all the very best on your wedding day. - 7/27/2010   8:00:13 AM
  • 61
    I have never really concentrated on eating to be healthy. Even when I was a weight watcher it didn't click for me (and I'm a lifetime member.) It wasn't until I started gaining my weight back again and then found Spark People. Thank heavens I found it early in my climb and had only 22 lbs. to lose. Since being on Spark People's lifestyle plan (yes, I'd heard of such a way of life before, endorsed such ideas, yet I'd never put it into action.

    Now I'm 15 lbs. light after 3 1/2 months...and over 6 weeks of that time I've spent on my buns due to an injury I sustained in a fall down some stairs.

    I now concentrate on my health: sleep, nutrition, and exercise. As a result, my weight loss. But also my hair and skin are better, my stress lower, my confidence higher, and I generally have more energy. Thanks Spark People for giving me the tools and the information to make -- this time -- slow and lasting changes. - 7/27/2010   7:51:29 AM
  • DENI_ZEN
    60
    Julie, congrats on a well-written, fascinating article! I hope your mom is doing well. And you are gorgeous, real proof of what healthy eating can do :) I struggled with my weight until health became more of a priority than weight loss, which has been a welcome by-product! Hope to hear more from you here. - 7/27/2010   7:34:12 AM
  • 59
    Awesome perspective on the "Healthy Lifestyle". I loved your comment about eating for my health and not my weight, the difference I made when I started Sparks over one year ago was I told people I had started a new healthy lifestyle and I quickly corrected anyone who said the word diet. I explained that a diet was temporary and my new lifestyle was permanent. Your blog reflects my views perfectly. Thanks! - 7/27/2010   6:51:36 AM
  • 58
    Thank you for a great insight into the way too many think about food in relation to diet. I totally agree with the difference in feeling when you eat a variety of foods and do not ban certain foods. Thank you. - 7/27/2010   6:30:09 AM
  • 57
    Congrats for taking the wake up call when you are still healthy! - 7/27/2010   6:18:54 AM
  • JS1971
    56
    Awesome article. That is exactly how I feel, plus I want my kids to be healthy too. - 7/27/2010   5:57:13 AM

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