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 healthier diet plan 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!

The “Secret” of Hyaluronic Acid and Younger Looking Skin

healthy-foodsI recently clicked onto an internet article on an anti-aging “secret” only to discover it was a come-on for a very expensive product promising younger looking skin. As I indicated in my last post, if we only ate better we’d look younger. Certainly we live under Grace and could spend mucho dollars each month searching for the illusive Fountain of Youth or we could simply eat better quality nutrients and save up for that world-wide cruise we long for.

The advertised product featured hyaluronic acid together with vitamin C. Big Whoop. I’ve always recommended vitamin C for younger looking skin to produce collagen but few people would recognize the fancy 50 cent word Hyaluronic Acid. Sounds impressive . . .  but is it worth the cost of an around- the-world-trip?  You make the call.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is simply a carbohydrate which can be found in green leafy vegetables, pineapple, pears, peaches, tomatoes, apples, bananas and avocados. It assists in rebuilding our skin tissue and stimulating collagen production. Who knew one could have radiant and luxurious skin simply by consuming fruits and vegetables???  Oh right, God did in Genesis 1:29 and 9:3.

One of the best sources of HA is found in chicken skin and bone broth. Chicken isn’t expensive and your grocery most likely has beef/pork bones to make your own broth. Other nutrients found in bone broths include magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, chondroitin sulfate and collagen. All work together with HA to keep us vibrantly young.

With the cold weather quickly approaching, I urge you to create your own healthy soups. There are plenty of recipes available! Search for any with lots of broth, tomatoes or green leafy vegetables and make a large pot of wholesome goodness to warm your insides and keep you young. “Consume 2 cups and call me in the morning.”

Lean proteins found in fatty fish will supplement the amino acids one needs to produce HA. So increase your consumption of salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines or trout.

There are other benefits to HA than simply younger looking skin. As we age, our eyes get dryer and our eyesight changes. Not only does HA affect your skin but it also moisturizes your eyes and improves eyesight because HA soaks up water like a sponge.

And as we age our joints begin to stiffen. HA surrounds and supports our molecular structure by absorbing  the water in foods. Therefore HA is a beneficial nutrient in saving our mobility too.

HA is found in so many items it’s almost impossible to miss out unless you consume a diet high in fattier proteins like sausage, ribs, bacon, cold cuts, etc. without fibrous vegetables which stimulate the production of HA, like most root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, yams and brown rice.

Have a glass of red wine or red grape juice with dinner. The skins of the grapes contain phytoestrogens which keeps our skin young-looking. Now phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogens like soy products)  have been controversial over the years because of the rise of breast cancer symptoms. Personally I’m not worried because phytoestrogens are God-created. I’m more concerned with the large consumption and use of hormones and chemicals found in fast foods. However it would be wise to check with your doctor if your family has a history of breast cancer.

Sometimes I hear, “Ellie, it’s too expensive to eat well!” but that same complainer will spend a fortune on some illusive fountain of youth cream. Remember God looks at our tender heart, not our face!

“Happy is a man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding,” (Proverbs 3:13)

Aging Gracefully Through Nutritionally Wise Choices

What facial features do people usually complain about most?  Wrinkles right? wrinkly-pupsWe all start out cute and wrinkly but how we end up is our choice. Why spend a fortune on face creams when if we only ate better, we’d save a lot of money?!

Daily free radicals age us while wind and sunshine steal oxygen from the skin.

How does one fight the aging process when tough seasonal elements aren’t helping?! 

Nutrition plays a huge role in creating a vibrant you. Choosing colorful, nutrient-dense foods containing anti-oxidants as much as possible will ward off that damage. Studies have shown that those who consume fibrous fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, omega-3’s and nuts naturally look younger.

Did you know that residents of certain countries have fewer wrinkles due to their diet? Scientists conducted a lengthy study of elderly people living in Greece, Australia and Sweden. They found those whose diets included high amounts of fruits, vegetables and legumes and less processed foods had fewer wrinkles. I’d urge adding salmon and other omega 3′s to that list like milled flaxseed.

In contrast, countries who sustained a diet high in meat, dairy, sugar and butter were linked to more wrinkled skin. That makes sense because the harder your body works to sustain its system through clogged pathways, the more worn out it becomes. Just visualize how your automobile would function if you never changed its oil.

As we age, a build-up of toxins affect our bodily systems. Our body loses some ability to absorb nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract. We tire easily, can’t think clearly, feel sluggish and our skin looks haggard.  We need to flush out our system so we can absorb nutrients again.

 Try consuming cleansing foods with a high water and nutrient content:

  • Green leafy vegetables, kale, green teas, alfalfa, asparagus, colorful fruits . . .  If you have a Juicer, try juicing for a few days. This detoxifies the liver, allowing it to metabolize fat easier.
  • Vitamin C, zinc and copper foods restore elastin and build collagen in your skin. Good news, dark chocolate contains copper . . . and so does broccoli.
  • Consume vitamin E and C foods together to repair sun damage.
  • Alfalfa, brown rice, soybeans and green leafy vegetables contain silica which is beneficial for collagen formation as well.
  • Eat lots of dark fruit such as blueberries,      blackberries, strawberries and raspberries.  Packed with vitamin C, it builds and restores collagen found in the skin. Purchase frozen during the winter season.
  • Caffeine is a natural diuretic and although fine in moderation, will deplete water from the skin. So simply cut down on the consumption of coffee and tea. Avoid sodas which contain abrasive chemicals.
  • Sodium pulls water from the cells and makes us look older, more tired and places bags under our eyes. Hydrate with water!

Unfortunately our skin gets thinner as we age, making it difficult to retain moisture. Therefore, try to limit sugar-rich foods, because through the metabolic process of glycation, sugar attaches to molecules in our bloodstream, forming harmful new molecules and dehydrating skin. Ironically these are called: (AGEs)  “advanced glycation end products.”

Our skin also loses valuable collagen and elastin which keeps our skin firm and elastic.  The more processed sugar we eat, the faster we’ll age! Is that daily donut worth it?

Focus on a life that is vibrant and full of energy, honoring our Lord!

“Instead, it should be the inner disposition of the heart, consisting in the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which God values greatly.” 1 Peter 3:4 (ISV)

The Evolution of Diet Plans

I was speaking to someone regarding a controversial Biblical subject when he stated, “Ellie, you can’t argue with science.”

Oh really? Of course I can. God is Absolute, man isn’t.  At one time humans believed a flat earth was carried on the backs of turtles, elephants, serpents and other creatures. They were wrong. God professed in Isaiah 40:21-22 , Job 26:7, Luke 17:31, 34 and Proverbs 8:27 that His Earth was round. Man however conveniently ignored that Absolute.

And how can scientists believe in evolution and yet ignore the Second Law of Thermodynamics which truthfully states the world is deteriorating not improving? There ARE absolutes found in science: mathematics, physics, physiology . . . but evolution is not one of them!

cabbage-soup-dietDiets have evolved too. In the 1960s do you remember the AIDs fudge candies before dinner? Yes, eat candy before dinner and you won’t be as hungry. Along came the Scarsdale Diet, grapefruit, cottage cheese, fat-free, carb-free, cabbage soup, rice, bananas or all fruit diet. Then came chocolate shakes, Atkins for Life, South Beach, Zone, Cookie diet (no joke) and dangerous diet pills in which sadly, people died to be thin! And let’s not forget the current celebrity endorsed diets of Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and NutriSystem.

The one diet in my opinion, which has evolved more than any other is the Paleo plan. Launched in 2005, it was strictly an “eat this, not that”plan. Modifying allowed it to blend in with the world of more “traditional” diet plans, gaining followers, producing more income. In other words it “adjusted to one’s own relativism.”

As it states in Judges 21:25, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” There was no strong leadership – no one to stand up for what was right! Relativism watered down morals, blending the principles of Absolutes into “feel-good” moments.

It takes a lot of discipline to do what is right when all around us others are saying, “If it feels good, do it!” I enjoy the Chinese quote, “Even if 5,000 men are wrong, they are still wrong!” In other words if someone states that a blue shirt is really yellow, no amount of convincing could make me believe it’s yellow.

Sometimes I feel like John the Baptist crying out in the Wilderness of Diet Relativism, “Don’t blend into the fad diet plans when there is no physiological truth behind them!” Sure I wish I could eat bacon, Dove Bars and BBQ ribs every day with no health consequences but that’s not physiological Truth.

Today we live under Grace. It’s fine to consume all foods in moderation and I encourage you to do so. Since God didn’t create robots, we can eat pretty much anything we wish according to 1 Corinthians 10:23. “I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive.”

Please do so sensibly. Consider smoking; it’s permissible but is it constructive? No. Why would we want to risk lung diseases and cancer? We’re playing Russian Roulette with our body. In the same vein, we can consume bacon double cheeseburgers every day but the risk of heart disease and diabetes is a distinct possibility too. Our choice.

Bottom line: trust the best Scientist ever! Enjoy a healthy, vibrant godly lifestyle within God’s abundance of healthy choices set before us.


Changing Those Pesky Habits

A story is told of a little girl who sat at her kitchen table watching her mom make dinner. Four generations had arrived for a family reunion and there was much to do.

The little girl watched as her mother placed the roast in a large pan and as she normally did, proceeded to cut off several inches of it and put it aside.  mother-daughter-making-dinner

The daughter watched all this thoughtfully. Being a curious little child, she  innocently asked, “Mom, why do you always cut the end of the roast off each time you and toss it aside?”

Her mother shrugged and replied, “Well, I don’t honestly know honey, but that’s how my mother did it. Why don’t you ask her?”

So the girl walked into the living room and asked her grandmother, “Grandmother, why did you always cut a few inches off the Sunday roast when you put in the pan?”

The grandmother contemplated the question for awhile and finally remarked, “Well I don’t really know. But it’s always been the way my mother made it. Let’s ask her.”

So they both walked into the den where her great-grandmother was watching television and the child asked,” Great-grandma why did you always cut a couple inches off the Sunday roast before you placed it in the oven?”

Great-grandmother  seemed perplexed at the question. “Why in the world would you ask that?”

“Well, mom is making dinner and that’s what she does, so I asked why and she didn’t know. Then I asked grandmother why she did that too and she didn’t know either. So we thought we’d ask you why you did the same thing?”

“Oh honey,” the great-grandmother sighed, shook her head and smiled sadly. “I only cut the roast because my pan was too small!”

Yes, we live as we learn and habits are pesky things. Occasionally, (as you’ve probably found as well), even when I spoke to my children, I thought, “My goodness – I sound like my mother!”

We tend to act, purchase and cook as our parents did. How many of us buy the same deodorant, mouthwash, paper towels or peanut butter that our parents routinely purchased?  We recognize the brand name and it’s reassuring to know exactly what we will get. But sometimes people get into a rut and are afraid to branch out and try new things.

I was a European tour guide for a few years (yeah I know, twist my arm.) After we entered a village and had some free time for lunch, inevitably someone would ask where the local McDonald’s was. They were afraid to be adventurous, trying new foods.

Our bodies can get into a routine also. We shouldn’t! When one eats the same old foods . . .  exercises in the same old way . . . even uses the same old shampoo, our body gets used to it. We get into a rut. Exercising the same way continually uses the same muscle groups and the body stagnates. If we constantly eat the same foods, we could develop an allergy to that food. Not varying your calorie intake also creates the innate metabolic function of “same old calories in, same old calories out.”

God created us with bodies that need variety! Each nutrient provides a different purpose within our frame. Mixing up different food groups with diverse nutrients will assist in keeping us healthy.  I urge you to become adventurous because God has provided us with a bounty of nutritional goodness!

    “In whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:21)

Smarter than God? Seriously?

God knows what’s best for us and desires to keep us from harm. I attempt to do the same with my family which includes our two dogs.

cj-looking-cuterThe other day I tried to explain to “Mr. No No” our new puppy, why chewing on an electrical cord wasn’t such a great idea. I even demonstrated the shaking, pulsating movement of being electrocuted but to no avail. He only cocked his head from side to side, looking at me as if I was crazy. Okay so maybe he’s not that dumb . . .  Anyway, he simply had to trust that I would keep him from harm and protect him.

So in the same way should we trust God.

As a nutritional counselor I seem to constantly be combatting dietary fallacies. For example, I was discussing dietary choices with a lovely gentleman who had recently been diagnosed with a heart condition. I suggested a few low-fat, nutritionally dense foods to build his immune system. This included shrimp. “I can’t eat that” Too much cholesterol!” Sigh. It’s typical of what I hear and read constantly in false diet plans. No eggs, avocados, potatoes, butter . . . you know the ones God made a mistake creating but He didn’t realize it until man pointed it out? (Not that man would ever make a mistake, right Flat-Earther’s?)

I ask, “Would God create a food, tell us everything is acceptable to eat and then change His Mind?” Could God make a mistake? No! I’ve often stated that after researching eggs back in 1992, I came to that same conclusion. Eggs metabolize differently in the body, increasing good cholesterol while decreasing bad LDL. But once again, anything in moderation.  (I’ve written enough about eggs and potatoes over the years. If interested, please use my search engine to read more posts on that subject.)

Consuming shrimp falls within that same concept. Recent studies conducted over a three and nine week shrimp-photoperiod monitored a group of people who consumed 10 ounces of shrimp daily. At the conclusion of the study, the subjects LDL cholesterol level rose slightly but not dangerously at all. What struck them as interesting was that the protective HDL cholesterol rose more while their unhealthy triglyceride levels dropped. Amazing statistics for an “unhealthy” food.

More good news, shrimp contains a unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory carotenoid nutrient astaxanthin. Translated in dog years, this means it provides substantial protection against heart ailments, nervous disorders, diabetes, colon cancer and muscular illnesses.  A single 4-ounce serving of shrimp contains 1-4 milligrams of astaxanthin.  Limit your shrimp intake to a moderate 6 ounces.

Also among the many vital nutrients found in shrimp are selenium, (a feel-good nutrient) omega 3’s, B3, B6, B-12, E, A, phosphorus, choline, copper, iodine and zinc which are all great for heart health.

This demonstrates once again that God’s Ways trump man’s ways. I don’t know about you but when I uncovered these facts, it only built my Faith that God knows better than us, always has, always will! So I suggest we trust God because no one’s smarter than Him.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms . . .

“Mary,” a patient of mine, came to me simply to lose weight. Although she found herself craving food, the answer didn’t lie within a new menu. Mary’s cravings lay with family issues. motherdaughter-hands

Her daughter had divorced multiple times and was now in another troubling relationship. She only seemed to call her mother when she needed money to run from another messy situation. Mary always felt pressured and manipulated into sending funds to rescue her.

Manipulation caused stress and when stressed, Mary ate. Of course as soon as the daughter was free, her daughter dismissed her as easily as she left her ex’s. Feeling used and rejected, Mary would find herself turning to food once again.

I understood. Rejection and loneliness hurts, being used hurts. Mary looked for ways to mask that pain and  certain foods sedated those hurtful feelings.

Parents want to do all they can for their children. A mother’s instincts to protect her child are innate. But by feeling rejected, Mary considered herself her daughter’s personal vending machine.

Wow, does God ever feel that way with us? We ignore Him until we want something. Then we pray fervently. When God gives us the desires of our heart, we tend to forget Him until next time. How that must hurt the very Heart of God also.

Do we only go to God when we want Him to intervene? “God, act fast and get me out of this situation I created?” Then we forget about Him until the next time.

I asked Mary why she allowed herself to open her heart time after time to rejection and she replied, “The guilt feelings I’d have experienced if something had happened would have haunted me forever.”

So instead Mary turned to food, primarily sweets to numb her pain. Self-destructing, she’d rather hurt than hurt someone else. Self-medicating with food is common but never the answer any more than turning to drugs, alcohol, gambling or any other addiction would be.

Realize that change comes from within. We can’t control someone’s life. Mary had to recognize that after a certain age, one’s decisions are their own. Continually bailing out destructive behaviors isn’t helpful. It only cripples the one who needs to take control of his/her actions.

As hard as it was, Mary needed to stand firm and lean on God’s Word. No more enabling. Her daughter had to understand why she was so uncommitted to her relationships. She needed a pastor or Christian counselor to talk to. Hard facts: Mary was actually a roadblock to her discovering that reason due to her enabling.

Pray for wisdom. Prayer does change our outlook on life! The LORD is the only one who can change a Spirit. God understands more than anyone. Jesus was rejected and abandoned. He knows what you are going through. But before the creation of mankind, God had a plan to redeem us from sin.

“Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

supportive-momSin is bondage. Have you ever met someone who has conquered addictions? Have you noticed their countenance?  They are Glorious, Victorious, Courageous and Confident!

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

It’s our choice. We can live with the miseries of despair or take control. God didn’t create robots. What’s your choice? We stand alone before our Lord to answer for the life we lived on Earth. Stand Victorious!