The following article by Diane Winston entitled, “Get right with God and get skinny, too” was published in USA Today. Below are excerpts from that article.
Milkshakes, Cheeseburgers and candy bars — Gwen Shamblin never met a calorie she didn’t like. Dieting depressed her and led to binging. Feeling guilty made her hungry for M&Ms and Haagen-Dazs. Just when she thought she was forever fated to wear large sizes. Shamblin made two discoveries thin people ate less and God could help her eat less, too.
Over the past decade, Shamblin, a registered dietitian in Nashville, Tenn., has refined her insights and shared them with like-minded overeaters. As a result, Weigh Down Workshops are in 10,000 churches nationwide, and when The Weigh Down Diet was published last spring, 200,000 copies were sold within TWO months of its release…
…And women who go to Christian diet groups are no different. According to Shamblin, fat isn’t a feminist issue, a biological problem, a psychological complex or even a health risk. Rather, it’s a symptom of spiritual hunger. She says: You either have a relationship with food or something else on this Earth, or you have a relationship with God.
So … get right with God and get skinny as an added benefit.
Gwen likens her method to the Israelites journeying to the Promised Land says Suzanne Woolard, a workshop member from Grapevine. Texas, who wants to lose 20-plus pounds. “We have desert buddies who walk with us through temptation and Scripture and audiotapes to study during the week. At meetings we have lots of testimony and we talk about the Bible readings that inspired us.”
Much of the diet group’s success lies in addressing a central need of its followers: how to reconcile the temptations of French fries and hamburgers with the teachings of today’s fitness-oriented, therapeutic culture. But the solution — calling upon one’s faith rather than calling out for Domino’s — turns a mundane problem into an opportunity for spiritual growth…
…Gwen Shamblin touched a nerve, and her success isn’t built solely on either shedding pounds or finding God. Her book and workshops speak to profound changes In American religion. A new regimen is emphasizing community and commitment. Institutions that want to keep their constituencies may soon realize it’s time to diet.