And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. John 8:32

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How To Choose Boundaries

I’ve had a few questions lately about how to choose boundaries, so today I’d like to give some ideas that might help. If any of you want to share how you came up with your own boundaries, that would be great also. Please share your ideas in the comments section. I’ll be giving ideas for three different types of boundaries:

1. A set number of meals or snacks – example: three meals and one snack.

This may be a good boundary for you if . . .

• You like to eat meals with your family. Even if you’re not hungry, you’ll be able to sit down with them and eat a little bit.

• You like structure, order, and routine. This way you can plan out your meals and snacks and know when you can eat.

• You have a hard time telling when you’re hungry and when you’re full. With the meals/snacks boundaries, you’ll look at what’s available to eat before your meal and determine what a healthy amount is. Anything you eat above and beyond that amount would be something you would journal about.

• You tend to rationalize hunger i.e. tell yourself you’re hungry when you’re really not.

• You like to know when you can eat next.

2. Eating when hungry and stopping when full.

This may be a good boundary for you if . . .

• You have a hectic life and don’t have time for scheduled meals.

• You feel like it’s easier to control your eating if you eat only when hungry.

• You’re traveling and feel like nibbling all the time just because you’re on vacation.

• Would tend to use three meals and a snack as an opportunity to eat as much as you wanted at those meals and snacks and wouldn’t have a tendency to do that with hunger only boundaries.

3. Diets

This may be a good boundary for you if . . .

• You're faithfully doing one of the other boundaries and not losing weight even though you want to lose weight (and actually need to lose weight for your health).

Note: If you decide to go on a diet, you should be training yourself to follow one of the other boundaries while on your diet. For example, if you’re going to Weight Watchers and your lifetime boundaries are three meals and one snack a day, you would divide your points for the day between those four eating occasions. For example: 4 points for breakfast, 8 points for lunch, 8 points for supper, 3 points for snack. Then you would truth journal each time you ate more than your allowed points for each eating occasion.

One thing to remember with all the boundaries is that it’s impossible to find a set of boundaries that will be easy to follow if you’re an emotional eater. One set of boundaries may be more suited to your lifestyle and personality than another, but it still won’t keep you from eating when you’re stressed, bored, annoyed, etc.

What boundaries do is provide a structure to keep us from eating emotionally. You might say they keep us from eating whenever we feel like eating, because we feel like eating too often! Boundaries also provide a framework to know when to truth journal.

If you truth journal whenever you break your boundaries, the truth will start working its way into your heart, and there will come a time when you won’t feel like eating outside your boundaries. This doesn’t happen overnight, though. I just counted the number of lie/truth charts I have in a file for blog ideas and there were 17 of them – and I know I didn’t save all my charts!

If you’d like to read more about boundaries, look at the category headings on the left side of this blog and click on the link for boundaries. There are a couple of posts on rules and another one called “Not Even One Bite” that might provide helpful insight, as well.


Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post but I'd still like to comment. I really appreciate the idea of setting boundaries. It is easy to read a book and feel like that author's perspective is the only way but you can know in your heart that it will not work for you. I think that is the beauty of freedom in Christ. There are no set in stone rules about eating. There is only the guiding by the Holy Spirit. Even though I like the idea of intuitive eating/eat-when-hungry, I do much better eating a set number of meals per day. After struggling with trying to follow intuitive eating I feel a burden lifted by just eating a certain number of meals per day. Finding your articles here about the various kinds of boundaries has really helped me accept the fact that not all eating plans have to be the same...even if they are presented to us by Christians. As I visit various intuitive eating forums I notice a lot of people continuing to struggle with eating. I think it is because people are trying to follow a set of boundaries that really don't fit into their lives or personalities. Instead, they should take what they can learn from intuitive eating and let God guide them to a natural eating pattern and accept that this eating pattern may be different from what's in the book. I think we struggle the most when we try to follow a path or plan that God has not given to us.

Unknown said...

Thanks for taking the time to comment, Anon. I agree with you - different sets of boundaries work better for different people. I'm glad you're finding out what works best for you.