20 July 2019  |

Dear Aunt Sevvy, 

I love food. The more I eat it, the more I love it. My favorite things are junk food, soda, meats, and heavy dairy. Since I joined the Adventist Church I’ve realized that this kind of diet is unhealthy for me. Being around so many vegan people has inspired me to change. So I switched to a vegan diet. The problem is, I can’t seem to sustain it. I’ll start out eating healthy for a couple weeks and then I cheat. I’ll go out to eat with friends, or there will be a potluck at work, or I just get hungry in the evenings and salad doesn’t seem like enough! But when I “fall off the wagon” I’ll eat an entire pepperoni pizza and three large french fries with a liter of Pepsi. How can I stop this binging?

Sad Overeater

Dear Sad,

Well done for making the commitment to eating healthier! That is an important first step and you are well on your way. 

The good news is, you aren’t alone! Studies tell us that a sudden and dramatic change in diet is not usually sustainable. Any drastic life change is difficult to maintain in the long term. You’ve attempted to go straight from eating whatever you want to a vegan diet, which is hard to do well, even for those totally dedicated to it.

The key is to make smaller changes, over a long period of time. It takes about 90 days for a person to form a new habit, or get used to changes like this. So maybe start by cutting out soda. Choose juice or water. Give it 3–6 months and when you feel like you’re ready, cut back to having meat only twice a week for another 3–6 months. Keep making these small changes, one at a time. Be nice to yourself. This isn’t easy. 

During the journey, enjoy yourself by attending a vegetarian cooking class, experimenting with new foods, and doing some online research. Cooking vegetarian and/or vegan can be rich, delicious, and widely varied but most people who have never eaten that way don’t know how to do it. 

Celebrate every small victory. If you cut out soda, celebrate your 1-week and 1-month anniversary of being better to your body by making healthier drink choices. Well done you!

When you slip up, and you will because you are human, it’s okay. Drinking soda 1 day a week is better than drinking soda 7 days a week. Don’t give up or beat yourself up. Just resolve again the next day to continue doing better. 

A small theological note here. Some Adventists, in their zeal for the health message, they have made it into a salvational issue. It is not. Many Adventists eat meat, and many eat dairy. The Bible condemns neither. Everyone has to find the right balance for them in their own health journey. I hope your new Adventist friends are not putting pressure on you, because it is not a requirement for being an Adventist, nor for God.

By the way, if dieting and binge eating is a long-time pattern for you, there are professionals who specialize in helping people with eating disorders.

Blessings to you as you work toward better overall health!

Aunt Sevvy

You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—always without real names. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.

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