God Does Not Care If I Have a Twinkie

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I work at a North Omaha Area Health, a free clinic run by two RNs, which free health screenings for everything from HIV to diabetes.  We work in the 3 zip codes that have the largest STD rates in the country. In an effort to promote health we offer a diet class through a program called the North Omaha Academy of Healthy Living which integrates spirituality into health behaviors. We offer free 8 week classes in several locations.

We integrate spirituality by identifying decision points about eating and use prayer and meditation to improve health decisions. We do this in a very practical real world way.

For example, we recommend that people spend time in prayer or meditation in the morning and then plan what they will eat through the rest of the day. This period of quieting the brain and using this space to make better health decisions works. People are better eaters when they plan. After each meal people are asked to quietly consider what they just ate and write it down.

We also recommend that if a person gets hungry during the day and are reaching for a Snicker’s bar, they quiet themselves with more prayer and meditation and listen. They should then ask if they really want to eat anything.  If so, then they should eat-even if it is the Twinkie. We are not worried about over eating as much as encouraging conscious food decisions.

At the end of the day, we ask people to spend more time in quiet. After this period of quiet they should review what they ate during.  WITHOUT guilt they should assess how they did and ask what they learned.

In offering this method we explicitly state we do not support one denomination or religion but expressly state that the use of prayer and meditation can be used to make better health decisions.

his program makes use of many well-known and researched weight loss strategies. The only thing new is the addition spirituality. It is like combining biofeedback and My Fitness Pal. And it works.  he average participants lose 6 pounds in our 8-week class. A pilot study we just completed showed that participants keep off the weight for up to 6 months.

One participant, who was skeptical, said that “God does not care if I eat a Twinkie.” She tried the method and is 10 pounds lighter.

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About Author

Mark Darby, RN
Mark Darby, RN

Mark Darby is currently an FNP student and program director of North Omaha Academy of Healthy Living. He also practices at North Omaha Area Health (NOAH), a free health education and screening clinic in Omaha. He is the author of several books about nursing including Pharaoh's Midwives: A Retelling of the Nurse Midwives in Exodus, and writes about spirituality and wellness. His website is www.mdarby.com

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