7 Strategies To Healthy Eating And Dieting For Guys
If you're a fan of channels like the Travel Channel, Food Network, or the Cooking Channel, chances are you've caught a few episodes of “Man v Food,” with Casey Webb as the current host. For those unfamiliar with the show, the premise involves the host traveling throughout America in search of the most delicious dishes and ultimate eating challenges. I remember some of the challenges from the previous host, Adam Richman, which included a 72 oz. steak, a 4 lb. burrito, and 15 dozen oysters. Crazy! It's pretty impressive that both hosts have been able to successfully conquer these challenges.
As men, it's important to know which foods are beneficial for our health. We can’t all go around eating everything in front of us, accepting every food challenge that’s out there like we see on TV. When we think of good eating habits, we have to understand that sometimes it’s not about the food itself. A lot of the food listed on “healthy eating” lists, are also found in the Man v Food challenges. Often times, our issue is bigger – literally. For many of us, the real “food challenge” is showing restraint, and eating proper portions. In this article, we’re going to look at how a spiritual perspective might be the key to better eating habits, and overall health.
The Book of Proverbs has some interesting things to say in this regard. In Proverbs 24:13 the Bible says:
“My son, eat honey because [it is] good, and the honeycomb [which is] sweet to your taste…”
Then, in Proverbs 25:16 the Bible says this about honey:
“Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit.”
That’s pretty gross and graphic! Still, look at what the Bible says about honey again in Proverbs 25:27:
“[It is] not good to eat much honey; so to seek one's own glory [is not] glory.”
In the Bible, honey is a good thing. It’s a luxury. It’s sweet-tasting, and is the treat above all treats. Based on Proverbs 25:16, it’s good when you find honey because it tastes good. But then the scriptures make a distinction. Just because honey is good and sweet, doesn’t mean you need to eat it all. Gluttony is not glorious in the eyes of God. The Bible encourages people to enjoy the sweet and good things of life, but with wise moderation. Proverbs 25:16 says, “Eat only as much as you NEED.” Later in that same group of proverbs, the Bible explains why we need to practice moderation. Eating too much honey is a sign of self-seeking. In other words, to eat for more than “need” is a sign of a selfish and greedy heart, which can be a problem when it comes to serving the LORD.
According to the Bible, our eating habits can be a reflection of our spiritual temperature. If we are eating excessively just because something is good, and indulging past the point of “need,” it could be because we are focused on self, living selfishly. Looking at that gross stuff in Proverbs 25:16, that kind of selfish gratification can have some nasty consequences – spiritually and physically. The Bible shows that God wants us to enjoy the good things that He provides, but with restraint and with sense. We need to keep our minds on the bigger picture.
Do we NEED to eat ALL the honey? Do we NEED to eat a 4 lb. burrito? Do we NEED to eat dessert after every meal? Is it possible that our eating habits, and the health issues that come from them, are signs that our hearts are more selfish than we think? Maybe we’ve fallen into the trap of thinking of ourselves as entitled kings, rather than humble servants. Hmm…
A few years ago, the US Department of Health & Human Services conducted research and discovered that heart disease, stroke, and diabetes are closely linked to the diets and nutrition of men. According to the CDC, heart disease is the primary cause of male deaths. Strokes came in at #5, and diabetes at #6.
When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and diet, there is a plethora of information available. However, men face unique challenges and considerations in their journey toward better health, specifically through diet. So, let’s explore a man's perspective on these topics, through the filter of those points of wisdom from the Proverbs.
1. Breaking Stereotypes: The Importance of Prioritizing Health
When we were kids, we were often taught to be tough. Deal with whatever that comes your way. Sometimes this can lead to us forgetting to take care of ourselves. It's really important for us to challenge these stereotypes and make our health a priority, especially when it comes to eating well. Remember this stereotype as a kid: Eating more was a sign of us becoming “big boys.” It gets engrained in our minds from a young age that over-indulgence is to be celebrated. Looking at the current health conditions of men these days, is that true? We need to think about how the volume of food we eat affects our health in the short AND long term. If the LORD has given us certain jobs to do for His glory, but we disqualify ourselves from them, or the joy of them, just because we eat too much, that seems stupid, right?
2. Understanding Nutritional Needs: Tailoring Diets for Men
It's important to note that men and women have different nutritional requirements due to biological differences, regardless of how they “identify” themselves (yeah, we said it). Men need more calories than women, simply because of the differences in skeletal and muscle structure. Men need different variations of vitamins and minerals compared to women; and as we age, that fluctuates. Protein and fiber requirements change, and so forth. To maintain a healthy and balanced diet, it's important for us to focus on consuming nutrient-rich foods such, tailored to our individual NEEDS; not just “wants” that we call “needs,” based on generic propaganda. The Bible shows that men and women serve the LORD alike; but men and women serve differently. Our eating habits should consider whether or not they are helpful or hindering to the ways we’ve been called to serve the LORD as men. Do our strategies to healthy eating and diet reflect our specific needs as guys?
3. Muscle Building & Protein Intake: Separating Fact/Fiction
A lot of people engage in physical activities such as weightlifting and sports. Building muscles has become a priority for many. However, it's not necessary to aim for a bodybuilder physique. It's important to have a realistic perspective on being in shape with a purpose. What purpose has God called you to, and what kind of body-type is helpful for that service? Google will give you access to tons of information, but it's important to remember that not everything you read online is specific to you. To achieve sustainable muscle growth and overall health for YOUR particular calling, it's crucial to understand the role of protein in muscle development, and dispel common myths. Like honey, protein is a good thing, so long as we’re getting the amounts that we need. Otherwise, the thing that was supposed to be good for us, can be a hindrance.
4. The Reality of “Manly” Diets: Avoiding Extreme Trends
There are many diets out there that are marketed toward men, and promise quick results. For example, the Carnivore diet. This diet involves only eating foods that were once living creatures that walked, swarmed, or flew. That’s a weird way to put it, right? While this diet may initially lead to weight loss, it is not a healthy option in the long term. In fact, consuming only protein can have negative effects on the body. With these types of approaches, we really have to check our motives. Are we making decisions based on the things we need to do to fulfill the LORD’s calling in our life, or are we trying to gratify some hidden selfish ambition? You’ll find in the scriptures that, when God calls us to serve Him, it doesn’t require our participation in “trends,” extreme or otherwise.
5. Incorporating Mindful Eating: Addressing Emotional & Binge Eating
We probably all have done this, and if you say you haven’t, find your local pastor and confess your sin. Emotional eating and binge eating is a lot more common than you think. This is where the scriptures help a lot! Who is our Help in time of need? Do we go to the Bread of life for comfort, or to Milk Jar Cookies for comfort? Would we rather be nourished by the Word in our time of trouble, or McDonald’s? If we understand that over-indulgence doesn’t solve problems (especially spiritually-rooted ones), and has a higher potential to cause new ones, this can lead to a healthier relationship with food AND with the LORD.
6. Navigating Social Pressures: Staying Committed To Healthy Habits
When it comes to what we eat, there are plenty of things that can impact our choices. Whether it's a special occasion with loved ones, a cultural tradition, or even a work event, it can be tough to stick to a healthy diet at all times. But with a little planning and preparation, we can find ways to make good choices no matter what life throws our way. Don’t get roped into the idea of, “Just eat it. It’s free food!” Remember, are we eating for need, or for want? Are we taking because of need, or looking to gratify ourselves?
7. Seeking Professional Guidance: Consulting Nutrition Experts & Spiritual Accountability
I get it my dude; as men, we just don’t like asking for help. But I want you to know that there are plenty of real experts out there who are ready and willing to assist you. Nutrition specialists, dietitians, and healthcare professionals are just a few of the many professionals who can provide you with personalized advice and nutrition plans that are tailored to your unique needs. Additionally, there are probably more dudes out there that are looking for the same spiritual accountability as you, than you realize. Since our eating habits can be motivated by our spiritual condition, sometimes another set of spiritually-discerning eyes can help. Don’t reject the help the LORD might provide through fellowship.
Taking care of our bodies through proper nutrition is a fundamental aspect of our physical well-being. It’s also a fundamental aspect of stewardship. How are we taking care of the bodies God fashioned for us so that we can serve Him? By adopting a balanced and sustainable approach toward nutrition, we can achieve positive changes in our lives because of the satisfaction we gain from approaching this issue with a spiritual perspective. Prioritizing our health with the motives to serve the LORD’s purposes, is a sure way to gain the peace of God, and the physical benefits that can come with our obedience to Him. And, it’s a whole lot cheaper than eating everything in sight!