Down Diet: No Way to Health
Down Diet and Workshop is a program with a Christian base that
was developed by Gwen Shamblin. Gwen is a registered dietitian with
a master's degree in food and nutrition. I chose to critique this
program because my church is using this workshop at this time.
Weigh Down Workshop is given at a cost of $103.00. This includes the classes,
a workbook and a binder of 12 audiocassettes, along with 17 lessons. Videotapes
are used in the classes. The Weigh Down book has also been used alone for 6-week
classes. In this case the main cost involved is the price of the book. This program
is being used in many churches in this and other countries.
spoke with a counselor from the Weigh Down organization and the results of that
conversation are as follows:
main philosophy behind the Weigh Down Diet is to take the focus off of food and
core of the program is taking full responsibility for your own actions and not
blaming background, upbringing, genes, or circumstances for weight problems, but
squarely face the fact that your weight is a result of eating too much food -
Down teaches that the body is the temple of the Lord and we should not do anything
to hurt or abuse it.
content of the food doesn't matter all foods are OK because God put all food here
for us to enjoy.
are no longer under the food laws and can eat all foods. The idea is to eat all
regular foods but cut the amount down.
theory put forth in this program is that the stomach is the size of a fist so
that is about the amount of food that should be eaten at one sitting and that
all people need that same amount of food.
body should be given a variety of foods and needs to be listened to and given
what it is asking for.
water, diet sodas, and artificially sweetened teas is emphasized, but it is not
important to consume several glasses of water a day.
between true physical hunger and head hunger or emotional hunger is an important
point in the Weigh Down program.
signal to stop eating is when you are "pleasantly full." You are to
train yourself to eat between the boundaries of true hunger and satisfaction (not
stuffed); your body will automatically crave those things that it needs to be
program teaches that exercise is not necessary and that there is no need for it
unless you enjoy it and really want to exercise.
main benefits of the program are seen to be:
renewed sense of spiritual well being as one draws closer to God by living within
His original plan for eating.
sense of "control" - I am in control of the food, it no longer controls
to eat any kind of food I want within the boundaries of hungry and slightly full.
are my comments on the points made by the counselor during our conversation:
main philosophy behind the program is good. It is good to have the focus on
God and not on worrying about the food you eat. It is simple then to look at those
foods that God has actually created and eat those in preference to man made non-foods.
These are the foods that were created for us and are physiologically compatible
with the human body and conducive to creating and maintaining health, quality
of life, and longevity.
responsibility is a significant issue in all areas of life as well as the
nutritional arena. It is an important part of any program. It is very cut and
dried to tell everyone that their weight problem is caused only by over eating.
Denying the possibility that there can be other factors other than eating too
much involved concerning weight problems is unfortunate. In some cases obesity
can be caused by a physiological problem. Genetics and body build could influence
to some degree, what your optimum weight is. Not everyone is destined to be a
size 6 or 8. Could it be that weight problems could come from eating the wrong
foods? The personal responsibility is side stepped in this program when it comes
to being responsible for what you eat.
is a point well taken that the body is the temple of God and we should
not do anything to harm it. Our bodies and our lives are precious gifts for which
we have been given a personal responsibility, and we should care for and nurture
these. We have also been given a mind and we should engage that organ in determining
if something is harmful or healthful to the body. Many of the foods advocated
in this plan are detrimental to the body. This is contradictory to the goal of
not hurting or abusing the "temple."
bodies were created to require various enzymes, vitamins, and minerals to
function properly. The foods God created will satisfy those requirements. Fresh,
whole, unprocessed, or minimally processed foods are best. By contrast, the concoctions
that are man made or foods that have been adulterated by man lack the proper nutritional
content to maintain life and/or contain substances that are toxic and disruptive
to our health and our bodies. The content of our food does matter and there is
harm being done to the temple if we eat a diet of empty and harmful foods.
is true that we are not under the food laws. We have free will to choose
what and how we will eat. We can choose to eat for health or to eat "everything".
We are not free to choose the results of our choices. Natural physical laws were
put in place during creation and they will always apply. If you eat a diet of
poor nutritional content you will reap the results of that choice. Likewise if
you choose to eat in a manner that properly nourishes your body.
amount of food one needs to eat is not totally determined by the size of one's
stomach. Metabolism, activity level, individual differences in physiology all
come into play, as does the type of food being eaten. It would seem that some
guilt could be caused by this idea if a person needed more than the recommended
fist sized amount of food. This idea is contradicted in the Weigh Down book by
the statement that harm is done to the body when it is denied the kinds and amounts
of food that it wants.
the body a wide variety of foods is a good idea. The best would be to have
that wide variety chosen from healthful, nutrient dense foods and not from empty,
chemical laden, processed foods. The content of what you eat does matter and can
make the difference between health and disease, life and death.
like the concept of listening to our bodies. We were created with a built in sense
of what our bodies need and what we should eat. However, this intuition has been
highly distorted for many of us by diets high in foods (or non-foods), such as
sugar, that trick our bodies into telling us that is what it needs. It takes some
retraining of our taste buds and our bodies signaling system, by eating healthful
foods and experiencing the results of that, before we can fully depend on our
innate ability to determine what our body needs.
the use of diet drinks and artificially sweetened teas is not health promoting
advice. Aspartame is a substance that is a neuro toxin, and has caused a whole
host of problems for people consuming it: headaches, memory problems, joint pain,
weight gain, and brain tumors to name a few. The advice concerning water consumption
is misleading. Our bodies are made up of a great percentage of water and we need
water for life. It helps flush toxins from our bodies, aids in weight loss, and
is necessary for hydration.
to distinguish between emotional, spiritual, or psychological hunger and physiological
hunger is important. There are many reasons we eat when we are not really physically
hungry and Weigh Down does talk about anxiety, depression, anger, fear, etc. in
relation to eating. What this program does not address is the hunger caused when
the body is being fed empty foods and is crying out for nutrients; something it
can really use to rebuild it's cells. Cutting your portions of "regular food"
will never satisfy that type of hunger, and eating whatever you want to eat may
play into one of the things this program is trying to prevent.eating to deal with
concept of eating only when you are truly, physically hungry and stopping
when you are pleasantly full is a good one. It is not healthy to stuff yourself
until you can hold no more or to eat instead of dealing with underlying emotional
/ psychological problems.
is necessary if weight is going to be lost as fat and not lean body mass.
I don't think many people really want to lose bone, muscle, and organ tissue,
but rather want to lose the fat. The idea that exercise is not important is an
unhealthy idea, because exercise will help with losing weight as fat, will raise
the metabolism, and increase lean tissue mass. Dissuading exercise contributes
to discouraging beneficial life style changes in the lives of the participants.
not believe eating the SAD, even less of it, is God's original plan for eating.
To encourage focus on God and spiritual growth the following could be implemented
into a program:
understanding of the intricate, complex way God created our bodies and the fact
that they can be healthy and are self healing if given the proper fuel.
concept that God has provided for the need that he created in our bodies by giving
us foods that will supply the nutrients (fuel) our bodies require for proper function
look at what those foods are and the effects of the fresh whole foods as opposed
to the effects of consuming over processed adulterated foods routinely included
in the SAD.
responsibility to care for this "temple" includes what we put into our
bodies and understanding whether it is harmful to our body or if it nourishes
and rebuilds it.
freedom to eat what we want would better serve us if exercised within the boundaries
of eating those foods that God provided for us. The truly healthful foods. This
is not to say that eating something outside of this is not OK occasionally. It
is to say that as a lifestyle the foods we eat should be chosen from the realm
of fresh, whole foods rather than the typical foods found in the SAD. Food loses
its control when we eat properly and our bodies respond to receiving the needed
nutrients. We feel and see the changes and our bodies begin to want those foods
that will truly build and regenerate our bodies and our health.
emphasis of Weigh Down Dietis on weight and eating less and it totally
disregards the issue of health. If a healthy lifestyle and healthful eating were
addressed first, the weight issues would, in many cases, resolve. People would
be healthy and would lose weight as a bonus. This is where my emphasis would be
-- health and fitness first.
are a few direct quotes from the book The Weigh Down Diet and some thoughts
that came to mind as I read them.
health is more related to when you eat and how much you eat than what you eat,
since most meal selections are so similar in chemical and nutrient content."
do not see a nutrient similarity between a breakfast of a donut and coffee and
one of a fruit smoothie, or whole grains. What you eat is just as important, or
more important than when and how much you eat.
organic means chemical free to you, think again. All foods are chemicals. God
made your body (without your having to worry about it!) to detect and rid itself
of harmful chemicals that are a part of the normal dietary process" -- "So
if you like foods advertised as being "organic," fine. Just do not count
on their being better for you -- just more expensive."
has been proven that organic foods have a higher nutrient content than conventionally
grown foods. Fresh whole foods contain chemicals.naturally occurring chemicals
that our bodies can use. This is entirely different than adding man made chemicals
to foods or spraying with pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides. These things
are foreign, and harmful to our bodies.
body does not know if it ate honey, unrefined sugar from the sugar cane plant,
refined table sugar, or bread because all the units are converted to glucose in
the liver then dumped into the bloodstream to be used by the body cells."
sugars contain vitamins, minerals, and enzymes and some - such as sucrose, do
not. Our bodies know the difference. Sucrose will rob our bodies of the vitamins,
minerals, and enzymes it does not contain so that is can be metabolized.
propose that we are not what we eat, but that health is adversely affected when
we deny the body the kinds and amounts of food it wants."
we eat empty foods with little or no nutrient content, our bodies will not be
able to build cells properly. Sooner or later there will be a break down in health.
There is a myriad of research that shows what we eat has a direct relationship
to health and disease.
liver is a large (silent, thank goodness) organ that converts Fritos, M&Ms,
Doritos and dip, and Twinkies into usable substances that are sent into the regular
liver is not going to make usable substances out of something that has none to
begin with. These foods can be extremely harmful to our livers. If this were true
we could eat Twinkies and Ice Cream all the time and it wouldn't make any difference.
more I have read of this book the more I am appalled at the total lack of understanding
of nutrition, the needs of the human body, and foods that can cause or contribute
to disease or those that can heal. I have found it to be contradictory in many
of its statements and ideas.
testimonials indicate that people are losing weight on this plan. My question
is how is it impacting their health and what kind of health problems are they
going to eventually develop as a result of eating this way? It is inevitable that
there will be a day when health problems will come. As a whole I believe this
program is a great disservice to those participating in the Weigh Down Workshops.
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