Weekly Newsletter: Bad Diets
Many people — including myself — go through yo-yo dieting. We lose weight, only to gain the same weight back plus more. We cut calories and increase exercise, only to find that when we quit the exercise and return to our normal eating habits, our bodies crave the foods we shunned. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to change our eating habits. Eat right, chew thoroughly — and slowly — and allow ourselves to enjoy pleasure foods in moderation.
Bad diets can also occur in religion. For example, the practice of fasting, if not done in moderation, can be harmful to our health. Obsessing over attendance at religious gatherings can leave us addicted to religion, and distracted and distant from our daily lives. Being overly zealous in our quest for peace can leave us restless and ill at ease.
A healthy spiritual diet allows us to use our natural abilities to their fullest, but also allows us to explore new practices. We approach this with moderation, balancing our needs against the demands of those new experiences. Remember, too, that spiritual desserts are not bad if taken in moderation. And, we each define what those spiritual desserts are for ourselves.
When we become involved in religious beliefs that major on the lesser issues such as outward appearance versus an inner experience, we may find ourselves “dieting” from practices that may actually be healthy. For instance, in my youth, the church I attended taught that dancing could be vulgar. Their solution was to ban all forms of dancing.
After I left that religious group, I allowed myself to decide if I agreed with their assessment. Country line dancing was popular at that time so I took some lessons. For the first time in my life, I enjoyed the thrill of my body moving in time to the rhythm of the music. Dancing did not feel morally wrong. Joy, peace, exercise, and even love and laughter were a part of my experience.
Many people who leave a religious organization—especially one that is restrictive—explore the forbidden fruits. Some things, like dancing, we may find enjoyable and even an aid on our spiritual journey. Other things such as drugs or excess drinking could prove destructive. Moderation and a balanced spiritual diet are keys to making our way in a world unrestricted by religion, and remember to keep any healthy practices from the past as part of your present spiritual diet.
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Our purpose is to help individuals to heal who have been injured by religion or the religious. We welcome your comments and questions.