They say that faith moves mountains, but does it also move those extra pounds? A recent trend called "initiatives based on faith" argues that only belief in God is needed to lose weight. However, it's best to be informed. Don't let these unusual claims fool you.
Gwen Shamblin's program is one of the leaders in this field. She's a doctor and nutritionist from Tennessee who founded The Weigh Down Workshop in 1986. She later worked at a university and in the State Health Department.
The program portrays food as a temptation and teaches people how to overcome it. The faith you put into controlling your food intake is the same faith that will allow you to obtain a better figure "without giving up certain foods." "The typical diet doesn't work because it's based on rules imposed by man and not by God," explains Shamblin.
She further adds: "diets always focus on food, the amount of fat, or what you can or can't consume. In this program we tackle the strength of an individual so that he/she learns to eat only that which satisfies his/her hunger. In other words, he/she must consume only what is necessary for the needs of the body, similar to the pilgrims and those who participated in the Exodus from Egypt."
Through workshops, this program brings people closer to food by focusing on control and trust. Therefore, people eat everything they want but in moderate quantities.
However, opponents to this trend counter-argue that good health cannot be based simply on a "nutritional" interpretation of the Bible. "Beyond questions of faith, to incorporate the word of God into the arduous journey many people undertake to lose weight only adds more anguish to the process. The results are just simply more frustration," explains diet expert, Larry Brown.
Although this trend has been around for more than 20 years, it only gained public notice recently after the story of Maggie and Andy Sorrells. This couple, from Tennessee, like the founder of the program, was overweight--weighing 1,000 pounds between the two of them. They claimed to have lost half the weight thanks to this "divine" program. By telling their story to the media, they managed to make this program visible to the public's eye. Although it doesn't enjoy a popularity like that of Weight Watchers, it still has an enormous potential to attract people from communities of faith who would do anything to lose weight.
And that's what Shamblin is aiming for. She has formed relationships with different churches to try to promote her program in their services.
Faced with this unusual offer, the best tools to help you decide for yourself are reliable information and being aware. Because, as Brown says, the use of religion could just be a clever technique to convince you to do something that has nothing to do with the belief you profess, but rather with the desire to be healthy and feel good. The specialist emphasizes that having faith can help, but the solution doesn't lie in that alone.
These programs target middle-aged women, especially those who are discouraged because of consistent failures in their attempts to overcome overweight or obesity. Until now the initiative has managed to attract more followers in the states of Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, the land of milk and honey and fried dishes where some say much more than faith is needed to lose weight.
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