The Most Grandiose Season of the Year!

Welcome to the most grandiose season of the year!!! No, not Thanksgiving or Christmas: it’s Weight-gain Season!

gluttonyAs the lyrics from the movie Oliver professes, “Food, Glorious Food . . . !” The holiday pig-out season now begins at Halloween and ends with the last Super Bowl party in February. That’s one long temptation for someone suffering from food addiction. So how does someone resist the seduction of food?

My mother always cautioned me if I ever greedily placed too much on my plate, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach!” She was right and since I originally grew up on a run-down NJ farm, whatever I took, I was forced to eat. I vowed someday I’d consume an entire package of chocolate pudding by myself! I did – it was a learning experience. I’m not poor anymore but sometimes my mind taunted me to believe otherwise. All-One-Can-Eat-Buffets are still my worse temptation.

With God’s help I overcame the enticement of food. It feels wonderful to conquer the temptation of overeating, however I know many will suffer through this holiday season. Stay strong!

First, enjoy food! Don’t believe the lie of “good and bad” foods. Once I believed that. So what did I do? Feeling like a “rebellious child” I snuck food secretively in case someone caught and belittled me.

According to God any food is fine in moderation if we remain in control. Don’t become a slave to a deep-fried Twinkie!

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)

How do we remain in control? Strategize. Why not spread much smaller portions of white meat turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans and a sliver of pumpkin pie rather than piling our plate, eating everything? Are we suffering then? No. Have we deprived ourselves of pleasure? No. The first bite of anything always tastes best because fat coats the tongue, taking more to satisfy. Allow our brain to tell us we are sampling fabulous nutrients. Savor it, eat slowly and don’t feel guilty.

If you overeat, ask why you lost control. Is it because you’re angry, feel you “deserve it,” are uncomfortable around family, greedy or simply peer-pressured, etc?  If those reasons apply, it’s more about physiology, strategy and psychology than control, (another post.)

 “For everything in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:16)

Have we created an idol out of food? Remember our Lord actually died for every sin, which means gluttony as well as murder or theft.

“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.”  (Philippians 3:19)

All choices have consequences and whatever we choose, we own. With food however, whatever we choose we wear! Do you love that food enough to wear it? That’s not an exaggeration. We wear it on the inside and it shows on the outside: we’ll have a grey appearance, our energy level will be low; we’ll be overweight and susceptible to illnesses. Were all those chemically, calorie-laden foods worth it? Is it worth the sorrow on your children’s faces when they learn you have diabetes or heart disease?

Now please don’t misunderstand, enjoy your parties and holiday dinners. But consume a variety of more healthier (80%) than non-healthier items. Take smaller portions, chew thoroughly, slow down and relish the flavors. Conquer your desire of addictive foods and enjoy God’s Bounty.

Teamwork!

As the head of our Women’s Ministry at our church, I am required to present a report during our quarterly business meeting. Thankfully our little church is growing. When we arrived two years ago, only a few did most of the work. Some were simply worn out or discouraged and I consistently heard “I just can’t do another thing, Ellie.”

Nor would I ask them to for practical reasons. God wants us to want to, not because we have to!

women-working-as-teamIf God doesn’t equip us to do certain church work, doesn’t that simply cause frustration and discouragement when we try? God doesn’t promise to bless us for activities He didn’t ask us to implement in the first place. Sure it might guilt us to seemingly do the right thing, but it’s not God’s plan. It’s actually a lack of faith to think God wouldn’t send the right person!

When I’ve been asked to run a church activity which I knew I wasn’t equipped for, I’d have no qualms about saying sweetly, “I think I’ll let someone else be blessed by doing that.” God timing is never wrong and He always sent the best person when I’ve stepped aside.

In a church setting, it’s exciting to see possibilities where individuals can reach out to others in need using our member’s diverse talents  (sewing, baking, crocheting or creating fruit/flower baskets.) And if each woman used her personal Spiritual gift of hospitality, helps, administration, Evangelism . . . it would affect the Spiritual growth of the church. Teamwork!

Since I view most things through a nutritional lens, I see a practical nutritional application here as well.

NUTRITIONALLY SPEAKING:

The body needs nutrients working in conjunction with one another to remain healthy. Every vitamin, mineral, amino acid, phytochemical and enzyme in our body has a particular “talent.” God’s gift to us is that it works in conjunction with other nutrients to spark our metabolism to proper action.

Vitamin C should combine with iron for maximum effectiveness. Potassium balances out sodium. Magnesium should combine with vitamin K and D to absorb and regulate calcium. Calcium also processes zinc and if the body doesn’t get enough zinc it can’t process vitamin A. Folic Acid interacts with vitamins B and C to synthesis amino acids and regulate blood flow.In other words: eating well produces a great team! (And some believe this all happened by chance, whew!)

Occasionally I’ll overhear the comment, “Oh, I’m cutting out carbs.” (or fat, red meat, starches, sugars.) Well wouldn’t that be foolish? What happens to a vital nutrient at that point? A metabolic player is benched!

Don’t cut out any one food group. Almost every food is a combination of carbohydrate, fat and protein. A banana begins as a complex starchier carbohydrate and transforms into a simple carbohydrate as it ripens. An avocado is a considered a veggie but is actually a fruit with its pit and is a good source of omega 3 fat. B12 is primarily found in red meat.

Keep your physical vibrancy together by consuming a well-rounded team diet. (Diet simply means what you consume each day.) Love yourself enough to think of your vital organs as separate entities, each continually working non-stop, allowing you to live an invigorated life.

“From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”  (Ephesians 4:16) 

If we respect our LORD as Leader of our team, we’ll always be winners in this life and the next!

 

Don’t Get Caught Up in a Marketing Net!

Caution: the holiday season is quickly approaching and advertisers are trying to lure you into their net.

I recently heard a pastor comparing a fish lured by an enticing fish-hook to humans being ensnared by the temptations of this world. Now being a nutritionist, I view everything through a nutritional lens, so I immediately thought, “hmmm, how true! Another similarity between nutrition and spirituality.”

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:16 (KJV)

How many times have we innocently strolled along the aisles of the local mall when we suddenly get a whiff of cinnamon or popcorn and start salivating? Or walk past th[2]the Food Court and a McDonald’s calls our name? Eating at a restaurant is not wrong. However if we are trying to become healthier and food controls us, then we have a problem.

Although focusing on finding that perfect pair of jeans, we can’t get the thought of those cinnamon pretzel sticks out of our mind, no matter how hard we try! Now we notice that every corner has an Auntie Anne’s, Cinnabon or Wetzel’s Pretzels. Temptation begins to lure us in through its cinnamony, buttery aroma and a feast for the eyes as we observe others pulling apart its flakey bounty. That’s all it takes and we’re hooked! Losing control, we feel like failure and Satan gleefully dances while we suffer.

Why is it that as we attempt to eat healthy, tempting food choices abound everywhere?! Satan wishes to destroy our bodily temple with unhealthy fats, preservatives and chemicals. He cannot read our minds but he sure is attuned to our human nature, having deduced what our weak links have been. It takes Herculean power to resist his hook baited with temptation, but it sure feels great when we do!

Marketing knows what it takes and are counting on that fishhook to lure us in too!  As the world becomes more globally secular through the internet, raunchy sit-coms, music and even commercials, it’s easy even for a strong Christian to be side-tracked nowadays with the many lures of secularism.

So how do we resist the lure of temptation? It’s extremely tough, so we must be prepared. Especially now, if we’re on a healthier dietary plan, we usually gets sidetracked, giving up until January. Never ever give up striving for health! God wants us healthy!

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

Logically, think ahead, in regards to challenges. You already know as you shop for gifts, there are plenty of food trip-ups at the mall so be prepared:

  • Don’t go hungry. Duh.
  • Love cinnamon? Have it on your yogurt, in your coffee or on your whole wheat toast before you go. Your hypothalamus, the little traffic cop in your brain, will regulate and dispel your desire for that nutrient.
  • Bring a snack with you, such as homemade granola, peanut butter on whole grain crackers, 2 Hershey Kisses, grapes, banana or an apple.
  • Shop with a disciplined friend who isn’t a “yes ‘mam” when it comes to being tempted and will keep you in control.
  • Reward yourself with something you want more than food when you overcome temptation! Perhaps a scarf, a book, CD, manicure or other non-food reward.

I promise you, nothing tastes as great as being Victorious ever will!

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:27

Keeping our Brain Young Thru These Food Choices

God gave us a brain for a purpose and we should always aspire to honor God in the way it is used!

 “Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?”  (Job 38: 3)

I love lists and to this day create lists as I head out to the grocery or department store.  Internet lists are also enticing to me. I especially get hooked by those intriguing articles that bait: “The Best Cities for Dog Lovers,” “100 Best Movies in History!” or some such title.

th[7]Anyway, if you enjoy fun facts as much as I do, here is my personal list on “Food Facts to Keep Brain Cells.”

Did you know . . . ?

Prunes, raisins, garlic, blueberries and blackberries contain so far, the highest rated ORAC’s (oxygen radical absorbency capacity) which determine the strongest antioxidant values of any fruit and vegetable tested.

Commercial grape juice and tomato juice surprising contain more antioxidants than the same fresh produce in the produce aisle?

Spinach, blueberries and strawberries improve short term memory! Any antioxidant will protect brain cells but these three actually restore brain receptors.  Strawberries with walnuts on a spinach salad with a little olive oil is really brain food!

Blueberries will help restore balance and coordination. (Which is important since we tend to lose those as we age.)

Green tea versus black tea: Green is higher in one antioxidant (50 cent word alert: epigallocatechin gallate)  but black tea is higher in all-around antioxidant potency. Those pre-packaged mixes contain little if any antioxidants, so brew your own.

Pregnant mothers especially, should be consuming eggs for the brain health of their babies. (As we all should.)  Eggs are one of the few foods that contain the amino acid, choline. And many dieters stay away from eggs mistakenly believing they are fattening.

The brain feeds primarily on glucose derived from complex carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables. Fruits contain more ORAC’s overall than vegetables, although kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts rank very high. Although you will derive quick energy from a Snickers bar, you are consuming empty calories! Not recommended.

Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, milled flaxseed and fish oils keeps your brain cells flexible and fluid.

Eat Fish! Fish oil is amazing! It restores concentration through the brain/blood barrier, speeds up brain waves, calms mental stress and relieves depression. So eat fish, especially the fatty fishth[5] like salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel.  Brain cells are lined with Omega 3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation. Therefore these good fats keep cells fluid, elastic  and fights inflammation. If you absolutely hate fish, then at least take a fish oil supplement such as cod liver oil.

Dark Chocolate boosts antioxidant protective polyphenols properties higher than red wine.

Now Change These Habits:

Quit Smoking! Smoking constricts major blood pathways to the brain which eventually decreases memory and mental capacity. Quit this filthy habit which has no redeeming value and hurts all around you, either through the air they breathe or the pain they’ll suffer when you become incapacitated!

Cut down on sugar! Did you know that high blood sugar stimulates a thickening of the blood vessel walls? No pun intended but think about that! How long do you want to retain your brain cells . . . perhaps just a little longer?

Try reducing colas and caffeinated products which can cause an imbalance in our bodily functions; increasing anxiety, sleep disruptions, higher blood pressure and ages cells. (2 cups of coffee or tea is fine.)

All through life, honor the LORD.

 “So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things . . .” (Ecclesiastes 7:25 

 

A Choice Between Nebuchadnezzar and Jezebel – Oh Goodie

Tomorrow is Election Day. Soon this painfully long spiteful political season will be over. Can I hear an “Amen?”

It seems we only have two possibilities even if several lesser candidates would be a better choice. With 322 million residents in the United States, many are wondering, is this the best we can do? Oh how the public is fretting over this election!

Wake up America! I don’t place my trust in government, I place it in my LORD and Savior. No matter what, God is in control! In Him I will place my trust! As it states in Psalm 118:6, “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” and as Paul stated, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) Although I’d unafraid of dying, I’d rather not nebuchadnezzarbecome Soylent Green. (It’s a futuristic movie where old people become food because the economy fails.)

No matter who wins, every one of our candidates is a flawed one. (Same as us, so let’s not get too judgmental.)

One candidate acts like Nebuchadnezzar and the other as King Ahab’s wife, Jezebel. Don’t know who these people are? Never heard of them? Check out Daniel 4 in the Bible and 1 Kings 16:31; 18:4-19; 19:1, 2; 21:5-25.

In Daniel 4: 28-37, we find Nebuchadnezzar, the pompous King of Assyria who conquered the Israelites. Now he had a huuuuggge ego. One day as he gazed out over his vast kingdom, he pompously proclaimed how impressed he was with this Empire which he had built. Due to Nebuchadnezzar’s incredible arrogance, God immediately drove him from his kingdom. He lived  in madness outside his beautiful Babylonian city living literally as a beast in the field for seven years, until he humbled himself and gave God the glory. God restored him when he gave honor and worship to the One True God. God is in control!

King Ahab’s wicked wife Queen Jezebel on the other hand, let nothing get in her way while winning thejezebels-death crown. Diabolical, she ruled over her weak husband and recklessly destroyed anyone who got in her way, including family members. She lusted after control and would do anything to achieve it. She was determined to destroy all God’s prophets to retain it and worship idols. Power was her idol. In 2 Kings 9: 30-37, she met a gruesome death when members of her own court threw her out of a window and her flesh was eaten by dogs. Again God is in control!

Remember the saying, anyone who doesn’t remember the past is doomed to repeat it? Well here we go again. We should always respect the office and authority but only have one God. These are dark days but I know who rules the future and it is no candidate.

Please vote with a Spiritual lens and trust the Lord.

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  (Joshua 24:15)

 

 

Sittin’ and Waitin’ for Our Master’s Instruction!

cj-posing-jpgEvery Saturday lately, we’ve taken our puppy to Obedience School and though I realize I’m biased, feel he’s the smartest puppy in his class.

Actually I’m not bragging. It’s not a high bar when half the other dogs are more interested in smelling each other’s butt. Some attendees even allowed their pups to free-roam instead of being on a tight leash. I wondered how long they’d remain trained.

My hubby and I are attempting to train our puppy as parents are supposed to teach their children, paraphrasing Proverbs 22:3: “in the way he should go so when he is older he’ll still follow.” Not always easy.

Our “Mr. No-No” has certainly mastered the commands of sit, down, up, stay and wait. At least in public. At home it’s another story. How quickly he forgets “stay” as his pogo stick legs bounce up higher than our kitchen island trying to discover what’s for breakfast or dinner. “Relax,” I scowl. “It’s the same stuff you’ve eaten for 186 days already!!!” We then patiently place him about three feet away and make him stay and wait until we give him the release word to come. It’s called discipline. He’s learning quickly because he is food-oriented. Mmm –  sounds like some of my former patients.

Even as adults, we act like children sometimes. We need to listen to our Master’s Voice. God’s instructions are here for a reason: to teach us self-discipline and to listen while waiting on Him.

Take food for example. How many times have we rewarded ourselves with treats? I washed the breakfast dishes, I deserve a donut! I walked a mile, now where’s that ice cream? I lost five pounds! Let’s celebrate with cookies! No!!! Bad human, bad human!

There are ways to reward our accomplishments other than in food rewards! We could indulge in a luxurious bubble bath, massages, movies, reading on the patio . . . Our pup enjoys a long walk, belly rubs or (endlessly) tossing a toy back and forth  as much as any food treat.

Over-indulge in sugary or high-fat foods and our bodies rebel in intestinal upsets or severe debilitating illnesses such as heart disease or diabetes. Learning to control ourselves around food is liberating. We can enjoy anything in moderation, (1 Corinthians 10:23) without guilt.

“This is what I told them: ‘Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!”  (Jeremiah 7:23) NLT

Our pup’s so grateful for the food I give him daily but he’d eat us out of house and home if boundaries weren’t set. Heavy isn’t healthy. He needs reasonable portion control as much as humans do. So I practice and teach self-discipline. God, for our own good, does the same with us.

The second reason he’s catching on quickly is that it gives him pleasure to please us. He loves to hear “Good Boy!!!” He gets lots of praise when he does the right thing.

Don’t we long to hear praise from God too? We realize our sweet pup can’t be perfect but his heart is in the right place. Certain infractions can be overlooked but a distinct act of rebellion gets an immediate time-out or quick swat.

As humans in the Hands of a Loving God, He realizes we can’t be perfect either. Our Lord understands temptation, weakness and human frailty. Intentional disobedience however, gets a direct reprimand! Just look at Adam and Eve, Saul, Ananias and Sapphira as examples. They knew what was right but intentionally disobeyed.

Don’t!  1 Peter 1:16 commands us “to be holy for I am Holy!” It’s wiser to obey our Master.

 

 

Be as Determined as Caleb in Healthy Ways

I must admit I have favorites in the Bible: Joshua because of his faith, Joseph for his patience and Caleb for his “can-do” spirit. We can learn a lot from these men in respect to our relationship to health too. All three lived mentally, spiritually and physically well-balanced lives.joshua-battle

I have listened to many whiners while counseling: “It’s too hard.” “It’ll take too long!” “My mother-in-law brought dessert and I had to eat it, Ellie.” And on and on. All are simply excuses to avoid healthier living. God commands us to maintain healthier lifestyles (1 Peter 1:16) and Satan wants our destruction; “For everything in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:16)

I admire Caleb for his courage. When faced with a challenge he never ran away, whining it was too hard. Entering the Promised Land with Joshua, he saw conflict and fortified himself with Truth. God would stand with him, not abandon him, giving him strength to endure any conflict. Today God doesn’t abandon us either! (1 Corinthians 10:13)

How many when faced with a health challenge feel defeated? God wants you living a vibrant life, not a diseased one. Are you running from what you know is healthy truth? Self-destructing with chemically-treated, fattening fast food every day is not what God wants for you! Remember that anything is fine in moderation and we live under grace, but consuming a daily unbalanced diet is not holy nor healthy! Think it’s too hard? Hard is enduring cancers, heart disease, diabetes and other debilitating illnesses when you knew it could have been prevented.

Now look at Joseph. God didn’t instantly grant his prayers while imprisoned. Why not? Perhaps God wanted Joseph to grow in grace and maturity before he would handle what God entrusted him with. Maybe God wanted to strengthen his faith. As Joseph patiently endured his trials, he mastered his emotions and actions, eventually becoming second-in-command to Pharaoh. Would he have been ready earlier? No, God’s timing is always perfect.

Today everyone demands instant gratification! I like the quip, “Today’s generation is the only one who will stand in front of a microwave and complain if it’s not fast enough!”

Do you want instant gratification? Would that teach anything? No. The journey is as important as the destination in life. The learning process teaches us to endure, to handle and overcome frustrations. For example, if we always ran to our parents to figure out math questions, we wouldn’t know how to balance a checkbook today, would we?  Challenges strengthen our body, mind and spirit.

Then we have Joshua. He was fearless and faithful. He never caved to temptation or peer pressure when others began worshipping false gods. (Joshua 24:15) He knew God had a plan for everything. He mastered discipline as he trained, wandering patiently alongside Moses 40 years in the desert. When the time came he was a tremendous champion for Israel, leading them into their Promised Land.

Foods can become idols too. Remain disciplined! October is pastor appreciation month. As we ate out with two other couples last week, a luscious peanut butter pie was delivered as a surprise appreciation gift for my pastor husband. Now he loves pies and the pieces were humongous! As we ate our pie, halfway through my husband stopped and asked for a take-home box. He felt no peer pressure to consume it all and enjoyed the rest the following day. I’m proud he honored God.

God and I were pleased. Stand fast also!