Boundaries That Promote Peace by Lisa Johnson, RD

In my last blog I shared about pursuing peace as the foundation of a healthy lifestyle, peace with yourself being high on the list of priorities. I truly believe apart from that, every other effort to be healthy is in vain. I, like many others, wrestled with eating disorders when I was young(er). Honestly, it began in my early teen years and lasted into my 30’s. My 30’s and 40’s were decades of healing and freedom for me from the burdens that weighed upon me for so long. Honestly, since coming through all of that, the idea of tracking calories and monitoring my intake seemed too restrictive. Restriction did not lead me to freedom, so I found very little therapeutic value in it. However, I have come to realize that boundaries do not have to be viewed as restrictive, but rather as safe borders within which we can live freely and enjoy peace.

The problem with viewing boundaries as restrictive is that they seem punitive. Somehow, denying ourselves equates to punishment and that causes us to rebel. Perhaps food was used as a method of reward or punishment in your childhood. If so, you probably have some disordered eating today. But that is ok, because you can begin to think differently now about yourself and your foods. First, you can forgive those who hurt you because they really didn’t know any better, and unforgiveness is stealing your peace. Second, you can place a high value on your life regardless of your very subjective imperfections, and third you can begin to honor yourself through a healthy lifestyle which includes PROTECTIVE BOUNDARIES that promote PEACE. It may help to visualize a fortified city. Within the walls, there is freedom and protection. On the other side, life becomes much more threatening.

Recently, I have rediscovered the joy of living within healthy boundaries with my foods as well. I went back to school over a year ago, and have since noticed mindless eating and excessive calories creeping in. I really don’t have room for waste in my life. We have a total of 5 family members pursuing paid educations! I cannot waste time, money, focus, energy or peace; and to be honest boundaryless eating wastes all five! So, I decided to take my own advice and reset my boundaries using My Fitness Pal. The results have been very rewarding!

I plugged all my profile data in including numbers of days I usually exercise, and I managed to average the number of calories per day recommend for me to lose just a bit of weight each week. I did not concern myself with ratios of carbohydrate, fats, and proteins. I only followed the calorie guidelines. I even enjoyed pasta and chocolate (but, with portion control). I did exercise 5 days a week and drink plenty of water. And, I only ate out once weekly. My weight loss was double that projected, so I have a little more flexibility moving forward.

Because using My Fitness Pal allows you to choose specific units to track, I was also able to see that my fiber is too low at about 16gm a day, and my calcium was low as well. So, now I can make targeted changes to increase fiber and calcium because I gathered data from which to honestly assess my lifestyle. Notice I said assess, not judge and condemn.

Overall, I have been happier, more energetic, and more motivated in my exercise as well as other areas of my life where I desire positive change. I feel stronger and more resilient on the inside. And, I have peace because I know I am managing my life and food budget more prudently.

If you have been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately, like something needs to change, but you are not sure what or how. If you lack peace. I encourage you to take a week or two to collect honest lifestyle data using a tool like My Fitness Pal, then work with your dietitian to target some positive, goal-oriented

changes that allow you to still eat your favorite foods but within healthy boundaries. Remember, boundaries are part of knowing yourself, loving yourself, and becoming all you were created to be.


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