“Their god is Their Stomach” a Practical Guide to Thanksgiving Eating


Sorry, but what better verse for the holiday season than this?

“whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things”  (Philippians 3:19)

Last week I discussed the challenging Spiritual and mental aspects of facing Thanksgiving. Now it’s time to overcome that physical gluttony that comes along with it.

It is common knowledge that between Halloween and New Year’s most people gain ten pounds. Now string that out to the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day, not to mention the play-off games and we pile on additional poundage! Thinking back in spring, when one’s clothes don’t fit anymore, it’s one of those “well, it seemed like a good idea at the time” moments.

When is enough, enough? Why do our good intentions go by the wayside as we lose control at Thanksgiving, gorging ourselves on sweet potato casserole and pecan pie? Thanksgiving leftovers are great!

But realize this day you’ll automatically consume more than usual. Today is special. What can someone eat and not feel deprived?  It’s all about choices.

First consume nutrients.

Turkey is a lean protein with approximately 340 calories for 6 ounces. Formed with B vitamins and an enormous amount of minerals including selenium. Turkey makes us happier. Cut a serving into small pieces, eat slowly and enjoy!

Want stuffing or mashed potatoes and gravy? Enjoy smaller portions: 1/4 cup of stuffing is 90 calories, 1/4 cup mashed potatoes is 75, a  drizzle of gravy over both is about 65. A 1/8 cup of sweet potatoes (without tons of brown sugar and marshmallows) are 40.

Your plate is already getting full!

Now you need veggies. Select broccoli or green beans (not the 225 calorie casserole!) at 25 calories per 1/2 cup or an entire 1 1/2 cup of garden salad at 50 calories and a drizzle of  1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil and apple cider or balsamic vinegar with herbs at 60 calories.

Cranberry sauce is surprisingly high in calories. A sliver,  1/4 inch thick has 100 calories. Your choice: Is it worth it or would you rather have dessert? You’re in control of your decisions. Feel empowered yet?

A dinner roll has 110 calories, but sop up the gravy instead of buttering it, and you’ll save 60 calories towards dessert. Again consciously make the choice, “this or that.”

Without dessert, the caloric count above could total 1,000 calories, depending on your choices and drink selections.  Don’t be discouraged. Normally one would consume 1200 to 2,000 calories daily depending on their weight or whether they are cutting down purposely for health reasons.  It’s a special day. What God doesn’t want to see is you losing control!

Now there are several incorporating factors that can instill discipline on Thanksgiving.

  1.  “Smoosh” out your selections so mentally it seems as if there’s more on your plate than you really have and no one will ask, “Is that all you’re eating?”
  2. Previously find a measuring cup and visualize sizes before spooning out selections.
  3. Make this holiday a social occasion and not an eating occasion. Enjoy fellowship and stretch out the meal. It takes twenty minutes for one’s brain to recognize it’s full.
  4. Sit with your back to the food if your family serves buffet style or when done, remove your plate (or yourself) so you aren’t tempted.
  5. Drink only water with lemon with your meal and save even more calories! A 5 ounce glass of red wine is 120 calories.
  6. Take a walk after dinner. The fresh air will invigorate you and burn calories.

Wait to eat dessert.  Choose pumpkin pie over apple today. A 1/8 serving of apple pie is about 410 calories, pumpkin is 180 and with a dab or whipped cream increases 65 calories.

Enjoy family, don’t stress and please count your blessings!  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Dealing With Thanksgiving/Holiday Diet Saboteurs

What happens when the very people who are supposed to bring us joy, cause undo stress which you can’t express?  Those feelings get stuffed deep inside and covered with a smile because after all, we’re supposed to be “gracious” Christians. You think: There goes my resolve, so why bother?!! If they don’t support me, who will? and discouragement sets in.

saboteur photoHow one avoids the holiday saboteurs is a real-life obstacle course! Depending on your personality, this festive season is challenging. How does one gracefully avoid hurt feelings, be true to yourself and not cave to peer pressure?  “Of course you should eat – you’re so thin now, you look gaunt!”

Recognize peer pressure  It’s not only for high schoolers. Do these examples sound familiar?

Scenario #1:  Your spouse brought home donuts or cooked something fattening because, “Well, you’re doing so well, I wanted to do something nice, okay???”

“Why’d they do that?” you ask.

  1. Could be scared. The thinner you get, ‘spouse‘ might think they’re not measuring up and you’ll find someone else.  They don’t like the seductive looks others give you.  So now what? Communicate. Reassure them that you made a lifetime commitment for a long, healthier life with them. Ask if they’ll support you.  Freeze the goodies for “one at a time, once a week.” Continue on.
  2. They’re competitive and you’re demonstrating more disciple than them.  Confirm that you’re a team. Create goals and exercise together as support partners. Celebrate victories with non-food items.
  3. They’re a jerk who wants you to stay frumpy and unhealthy because it makes them look better by comparison. In that case, stand your ground! No one lives inside your body but you and your first responsibility is to God.
  4. Kiss, Say, “. . . next time just bring home jewelry instead.”    :)

Scenario # 2: Your co-worker brings in her favorite Christmas goodie for lunch.

  1. Stay away from the break room until January 2nd.  This is one season it’s okay to eat at your desk or walk outside during lunch.
  2. Bring something sweet, like fruit tipped with bittersweet chocolate for dessert. Have something to look forward to.  Eating isn’t wrong, it’s being controlled by food that is.

Scenario #3:  Your new neighbor stopped by, bringing Christmas gift cookies to share with you over coffee.

  1. Sit down and socialize. Thank her for her kindness and let her know you were hoping to get to know her better.
  2. Place one/two cookies on two plates and leave the rest on the counter.
  3. Since they are a gift, she won’t ask for another. Sit with your back away from the food, eat very slowly, savoring every bite and talk, talk, talk!
  4. Later, place leftovers in a solid container.

Scenario #4:  At a family gathering, Grandma made your favorite double fudge brownies  just for you! Now what?

If you’re a people pleaser you might think it’s a no-win situation; you’ve got to eat it or hurt Grandma’s feelings. (After-all you love Grandma with her future inheritance.) There’s always a way out while sticking to your principles. 1 Corinthians 10:13.

  1. Thank her. Have a tasteful sliver. If possible, explain that since you are currently so full, ask if you can take most home with you.
  2. Generously share with guests. Cut up portions for them to take home as well.
  3. At home, cut into smaller bites and freeze for later. Call Grandma the next day and let her know how much better it tasted because you could fully enjoy it.

Most importantly, visualize other potential scenarios and create personal strategies for success and remain disciplined!

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

(Yes, it’s a reblog but bears repeating.)

Food Can Never Satisfy a Hungry Heart

thKK2DOI13“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”  (Psalm 107:9)

I love the holidays, especially now that we live in beautiful northeast Ohio, where Christmas lights are strung across real pine trees instead of around cactus.  This year will be truly joyful for we are sharing Thanksgiving with family for the first time in 25 years! I cannot express how much we are looking forward to that day.

For some however, the holidays can be a painful, not happy time. Some have lost loved ones and feel an emptiness within. Others might harbor long-held hidden resentments against family members.  A few find themselves lonely in a crowd, feeling like the black sheep of the family. When that occurs, one might find themselves consuming more food in an effort to unconsciously squelch that inner pain. If one is trying to regain a healthy lifestyle, this could be truly defeating.

Food chemically fills a vacuum. However, no food item will ever fill the void within a lonely, hurting heart. Recognize that certain nutrient cravings are acquired through the brain’s hypothalamus. Nutrients changes physiology. For example, chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a neurotransmitter that pacifies the pain, acting as an amphetamine, which numbs and makes one feel better. Comfort foods such as mashed potatoes and mac and cheese provide feelings of comfort and security. Others foods such as popcorn bring back memories of a more joyful childhood and who wouldn’t want to find shelter there?

But if you stuff personal resentments within your heart and place a smile on your face, thinking no one’s the wiser, you’re wrong. Because God knows. He sees your broken soul and the anguish within your heart. If a family get-together is tough to endure, realize that Jesus knows your pain. He knew what it was like to feel rejected. He understood family conflict for even his brothers and sisters didn’t honor or believe he was the Christ until his Resurrection.

“For even his own brothers did not believe in him.”  (John 7:5)

Ever feel like an outcast?  Do you find yourself competing in a “can you top this” moment because your cousin got an executive promotion and raise and you flip burgers at a fast food place?  Word to the wise:  “God doesn’t care!” He looks at your heart, not your wallet or position in life. He shows no favoritism.  (Romans 2:11) God wants you to strive to be the best you can be with the talents He gave you. You have worth because you ARE. God created you as a loved being and only wants the best for you.

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”  (Ephesians 1:4)

I realize it is easy to flippantly say, “pray for others and try to view them through God’s eyes,” but if you harbor resentment in your soul you are only hurting yourself. Let others see Christ shine through you this season. If necessary, visualize Jesus sitting at the table and smiling at you for HE is your Guest of Honor at your table. Please don’t self-destruct simply because someone else is unkind. Only our LORD’S opinion is important.

God can fill the void within your empty soul.  Strive to honor Him in all you do this Christmas Season for we truly have been given the best Thanksgiving Fellowship of all, a relationship with Jesus Christ!

Next: Practical Ways to Avoid Saboteurs

Answering the Three Quote Throw-Down

Thank you Dan of  https://hurdlestohappiness.wordpress.com/ for including me in this intriguing challenge: find three quotes which have meant something in your life. It’s not exactly the challenge of choosing the best quotes but finding the time to write the blogs that is an obstacle.  I’ll need to modify this dare to meet those expectations and therefore hope you don’t mind if I combine all 3 days into one. I highly recommend Dan’s amazing and thought-provoking blog, so check it out!

th5V20CXXWMy first quote is from someone everyone admires,  Albert Einstein, who famously stated: “Everyone’s a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will grow up its whole life believing it’s stupid.”

TRUTH: We live as we perceive. What we have been told by our family, teachers, classmates, good or bad, sets the stage for what we believe about ourselves in later years. It cannot be dismissed because it made us who we are.

I believe we never truly outgrow our childhood . . . a fragrance, favorite recipe, television show or a song immediately transports us back into that nostalgic memory.  Unfortunately memories can mold and sometimes overpower our lives.

Do not make someone else’s untrue judgment a self-fulfilling prophesy. Strive to be better  Develop those beneficial talents and personality traits you own and dismiss those hurtful opinions of others.

My second is another quote in our progression toward sound mental health: we must let go of the past:

A wise man once stated,He has not escaped, who drags his chains behind him.”   I’m not sure who quoted this but it has been attributed to an old French proverb.

If we carry excess mental baggage, we will never break loose from the constraints that chain us to the past. It is important to address why we act as they do, because until we recognize the reasons why we form certain habits, we’ll never start getting better!

Begin to renew your spirit through positive actions and reinforcement! Our dear Lord has already gone through everything in life. He understands how we feel. Lay your burden at His feet and find comfort there.

My third quotation is from Ephesians 4:32  “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Forgiving someone is never easy but forgiving ourselves is sometimes even harder! Learn to forgive yourself and recognize we all make mistakes.

If someone bumped into you in a theater and professed their embarrassment over the action, we would most likely say, “Oh it’s nothing, don’t worry about it.” However, when we make a mistake, it is the end of the world!! “What a stupid thing to do.” “I can’t believe I said that!”

Why are we so hard on ourselves? Are you seeking perfection? Don’t! We are not Christ. To attempt to be perfect only sets us up for discouragement, frustration and failure.

Jesus however, epitomizes the template of how we should strive to live our lives. Common sense tells us we can emulate but never actually accomplish perfection as He did, for we were all born with a sinful, flawed nature. By insinuating that we should be perfect, we are upholding a false belief that we are gods.

Strive for excellence, not perfection. Be the best you know how to be and cherish the life God gave you.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

I open this challenge up to ALL of my followers.  What memorable quotes have meant the most to you?  Answer below:

Combating the Common Cold with Common Sense Choices

thOW2HVFS5Winter is just around the corner and with it comes the cold and flu season.  Not fun, so how do we build up a resistance to the common cold, or even worse, the flu?

“Dear friend, I pray that you may prosper in every way and be in good health physically just as you are spiritually.” (3 John 1:2)

First, build a strong immune system with exercise. Get out into the fresh air and walk. Not only does this release healthy endorphins but it raises your body’s resistance to infection and gets one closer to God while strolling through His beautiful world.

Secondly, find ways to relax and reduce stress. Stress will actually make you sick. Stress releases toxins throughout your body and changes body pH into a dangerous acidic environment. Therefore find ways to reduce stress with exercise again or with tranquil music, reading, bubble baths, massage therapy or any relaxing hobby that you enjoy.

Then of course there is food.  As Hippocrates stated sometime around 400 B.C., “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.”  Start eating better now!

Colds and flu are viral infections. When one has a cold, the throat, lungs and lining of the nose become inflamed. Anything that will make your nose run will open up your bronchial passages. Hot, spicy foods like cayenne pepper, horseradish. salsa or spicy oriental food should be on the menu as a perfect decongestant.

Garlic is my favorite healthy food. It contains antibiotic, antifungal, antibacterial, anti-carcinogen properties among others. In fact, it has at least 25  germ-destroying properties that combat infections!  Now that’s what I call a Super Food!

Homemade chicken soup has been a staple for fighting a cold since Noah’s time.  I always make mine spicy with lots of garlic and red pepper. The hot, savory broth loosens phlegm and of course the garlic is amazing for strengthening the immune system. Chicken soup also contains cysteine, an amino acid that helps thin mucus and relieves congestion.

Any tangy tomato sauce loaded with garlic and chili pepper will clear out your sinuses, acting as natural decongestants. Perhaps Shrimp Diablo should be calling your name tonight?

Foods with zinc will combat viral infections and shorten colds if taken early enough. Good sources of zinc are shrimp, oyster and other seafood, lean red meat pork and lamb, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ and beans.  Warning:  Don’t over imbibe on zinc. Various studies have shown that too much zinc is harmful but here’s where expert findings vary. Some say as much as 40mg over a long time is detrimental, while others declare 100 mg would be too much. I say, use common sense. 60 mg. seems like a reasonable compromise.

Consume foods which are high in vitamin C.  Of course everyone knows about the orange, but red peppers actually have more vitamin C than an orange. A nice spicy pepper steak might be just what the doctor orders.  Other foods high in vitamin C include:  Cantaloupe, mango, grapefruit, broccoli and cauliflower.

Get plenty of fluids. Of course it should be obvious that fluids move dangerous toxins out of your system faster, so whenever you pass the faucet, grab a glass. If 8 glasses of purified water is tough for you, consume herbal or green tea, or consume a good quality orange, grape, cranberry or other juice with pure seltzer water. Avoid caffeinated drinks due to dehydration factors.

Avoid sugary foods. Sugar lowers the immune system and that’s certainly not what you’d like right now. The only sugar you should consider are fruits with lots of nutrients.

Remain healthy this season!

Debunking the Debunkers of Supplement Myths

Experts on nutrition wrote an article recently proclaiming that most supplements are not as beneficial as you believe. They decreed that we receive all the vitamins and minerals we need through our daily diet. True, in a perfect world. When I grew up on a dairy farm, we obtained our beneficial nutrients from a fresh garden and livestock. th3LFKKNLW

In today’s world however, in our over-processed soil with chemicals, it’s not always true. When produce is purchased at the grocery, stored in the fridge for weeks, you aren’t receiving the same active benefits as something fresh-picked from the field.

These experts advocated that supplements are a waste of money. Also true, if misused. But there was no clarification or detail within this piece. I’m filing this under a “little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

I felt compelled to expound on their partial claims:

Claim: A multi-vitamin is unnecessary but vitamin D is essential so the body can absorb calcium.

True, especially in the rainy areas of the country where sunlight isn’t prevalent. But beware: this article never addressed how much to take! Caution: D is a fat soluble vitamin and too much festers in the fat cells. AND the provided stock photo showed at least seven vitamin D pills in a hand! The average reader might believe the more vitamin D the merrier . . . not so!

Simply popping a vitamin D capsule doesn’t activate all its properties. It requires a physiological conversion in the liver and kidneys before it is totally utilized. That is why eating as cleanly as possibly is essential to total health.

Claim: Skip probiotics. Consume yogurt and other fermented foods instead.

Yes unless you are taking an antibiotic which kills ALL bacteria, good as well as bad. This would leave the body open to infection or other illnesses. Fermentation assists in the digestibility of foods in the gut, thus preventing the build-up of toxins, preventing disease.

There was also no common-sense advice to consume only good quality yogurt with “active cultures” and no fillers like artificial sugars (no “lite” yogurts please!) high fructose corn syrup or starches.

There were no recommendations as to of what constituted “other” fermented foods like sauerkraut, cottage cheese, anything pickled, and kefir which also contain probiotics.

Claim: Zinc – take it!

This supplement was highly recommended because it attacked cold symptoms. True, but again, it never once advised how much to consume. A balanced intake is important. No more than 100 mg. is recommended per day because more will depress the immune system.

Zinc works in conjunction with vitamin A and E, both fat soluble vitamins to maintain proper blood balance.

Practical Biblical Application:

I see a Biblical principle within this and I bet many pastors will too. Simply reading a health article does not make one a nutritional “expert” any more than someone reading one Scripture passage makes them an “expert” on a certain Spiritual subject.

Despite years of seminary training and continual study, I surmise pastors have in their congregation, one who has read a bible verse and believed they knew more about it than you did simply because they read that particular passage and interpreted it for their own benefit!  A wise reader most look at the whole picture and cross-reference knowledge or they will be led astray.

For wisdom will enter your heart And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; Discretion will guard you, Understanding will watch over you,…”  (Proverbs 2:10, 11)

God gave us two ears to listen and one mouth to speak for a reason. Crave knowledge, discern and wisdom will follow. Never stop learning.

The Pros and Cons of Red Wine

th5T07EJ34October is turning out to be a month of “Well, Duh” televised health claims. Yet another was made recently regarding the healthy benefits of red wine if taken in moderation. Once again, if one follows a Biblical diet plan this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

As a Christian nutritional counselor I look at whether wine is beneficial in two ways: one as a nutritionist and the other as a Christian.

First, as a Christian, let me ask you a question: Would Jesus ever tempt someone to sin? Of course not! Jesus is perfect and as the Bible states, “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;” (James 1:13)

Jesus’s first miracle was turning water into wine (and please don’t insist it was grape juice.) Therefore, when presenting it to his host to drink, he would actually be tempting someone to sin. Granted, grape juice is a fine substitute if one doesn’t imbibe.

Secondly I look at it through nutritionist eyes. Remember 2 Corinthians 10:23 again. Moderation is key. A glass of red wine at dinner is healthy but over two glasses tips that balance detrimentally, especially if one is a woman. Too much wine can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, liver problems, breast cancer and pancreatitis. Even as the Bible states a little wine is acceptable, “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.( Timothy 5:23)  it also urges moderation: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to  debauchery.” (Ephesians 5:18)  Balance.

Now I am not advocating that someone start drinking red wine if they choose not to. Christian balance is also about not being a stumbling block to another. If I realized someone had an addiction to alcohol, I certainly wouldn’t offer them wine nor drink wine in front of them. Bear in mind that our God is a God of common sense as well!

Some of The Benefits of Red Wine:

  1. Red wine kills e-coli, parasites and bacteria. Wine was an essential beverage in Biblical times when residents lived without refrigeration. (One reason why unclean foods were forbidden at that time.)
  2. Red wine assists in circulation issues by removing plague from your arteries so blood can flow more freely, lowering blood pressure and coronary heart disease.
  3. Ongoing studies say it may help diminish kidney stone risk.
  4. Red wine contains resveratrol, a powerful antifungal, antioxidant which builds up the immune system and lowers unhealthy fat content.
  5. That being said, a little assists with weight loss using ellagic acid  but at 9 calories per gram (1/4 teaspoon) it can really put on the pounds.
  6. Studies are promising regarding its ability to fight cataracts.
  7. Red wine boosts our good HDL levels while lowering bad LDL cholesterol levels.
  8. It’s rich in potassium which maintains healthy fluid balance.
  9. It fights free radicals, therefore assisting in anti-aging. (But once again, too much alcohol ages.)
  10. Most recently, studies have found that red wine regulates blood sugar, great for Type-2 diabetics. (But so does cinnamon, green tea, fiber.)

Caution: Too much wine can interfere with the absorption of vital nutrients such as calcium which could be detrimental to regulating blood pressure and osteoporosis.

Now you might disagree with me and that’s fine. I don’t enjoy Mt. Dew but I’m not telling you to avoid it. We live under Grace.  The Jewish Talmud states that “Wine is the foremost of good medicines.” If it’s good enough for the Jewish nation, that’s good enough for me. What’s the expression? “God says it, that settles it?”