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Excuse Me This, Excuse Me That . . .

Some visualize Jesus as a robotic personality who never showed much emotion. But while on earth, our Lord experienced friendships, joy, pain, loss, exhaustion. In other words, he recognizes and feels the challenges of everyday life. But did he offer excuses??? No.

He also got righteously angry upon seeing his Holy Temple in Jerusalem misused. So how do you think Jesus feels when he sees us destroying our bodily temple of the Holy Spirit? Probably the same.

As a counselor I get frustrated with excuses too. Here’s a sample of what I’ve listened to over the years and what I’d offer as an alternative, practical solution to overcome them:

“If I don’t eat right, I can simply take a vitamin pill” Our bodies work within a fascinating team environment. Vitamins and minerals need food in conjunction with each other to produce optimal efficiency. For example; iron should be consumed with vitamin C for maximum absorption, (try tomato sauces with meat). Calcium, Magnesium and potassium work together for electrolyte balance . . . and so on. Without food, vitamins aren’t effective, so eating junk and then popping a vitamin won’t succeed and you’ll be wasting your money.

But without fat, food doesn’t have flavor” Oh, really? Well then, open a Crisco can and dig in. It’s herbs and seasonings that give flavor to food. Avoid heavier fat items such as ice cream or whole milk for a while and you’ll taste the difference when you resume. (Fat coats the tongue, thus no flavor after awhile.)

Garlic, onions, mustard, curry, oregano, sage, thyme, cumin, lemon, even wine and vinegar enhance food flavor. Try adding vinegars, especially balsamic vinegar, to pasta sauces. Sure, use real butter, but use less of it.

“I have no time to eat right” By the time you get to the fast food joint, get out of your car, get in line, order, wait around, pay for your order, get back into your car, drive home, change into something comfortable, get your place settings out, get drinks and sit down, you could have pounded a chicken schnitzel, popped a few baked potatoes in the microwave, created a salad and have relaxed with a glass of wine! So don’t give me that excuse!!

“It’s too expensive to eat right” See above. For the amount you paid for that bucket of chicken, you could have purchased spinach, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, radishes, any meat on sale, potatoes and a loaf of French bread and had leftovers! Search store circulars and choose sale items from that week. As my mother said, “You can have anything you want . . . and this is what you want.”

“I have no time to exercise!” Listen, I know you’re tired after a tough day at work. Exercise revives you! Do you watch TV at night? During the commercials use stretchy bands or lift small hand weights. One of my patients peddled her stationary bike while watching Jeopardy each evening. Have children? On weekends, get them involved! Dance with them, rake and jump in leaves, play Simon Says, walk the dog, go to the park, throw the ball around. Your children will forever cherish those memories with you.

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

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus didn’t offer excuses. Are your excuses more important than HIS were? He went to the cross because he thought you and I were worth it. Respect Christ’s choice and let’s choose to honor God with our bodies.

“for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

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“What About Boxed Diet Programs?”

Please tell me what’s wrong with this statement?

“I know certain diets don’t work because I’ve tried them all. But this (boxed) program? I know that works, because it worked for me SEVERAL TIMES!!!”

That was the response I received as I counseled a new patient whose goal was to lose 150 pounds. Poor sweet lady, she just didn’t get it; she was only stressing her heart as she searched for an easy fix, believing a convenient “buy a box” program would work again.

First, the only real diet is one that will work for an lifetime. Of course one could get lucky and lose a few pounds on a gimmicky diet plan but for how long? Sure it worked for celebrities but will it fit into your lifestyle? For example, if you entertain clients at restaurants, host office dinners for your husband, teach 32 children in your classroom or show homes as a realtor, it’s nearly impossible to follow a boxed diet program successfully.

And keep in mind that the celebrity spokesperson, ecstatic over her current boxed food plan, has a lucrative contract, personal shopper, chef, publicist, housekeeper, private gym with trainer, stylist, masseuse and an incentive to look good in front of the television cameras!  You’ve got a mirror and box of cheese doodles in your cabinet. And I can buy my family an entire day’s worth of food for one individual’s cost of a boxed program at $9-11 per day, not counting the extras that go with it like dairy, vegetables and fruit.

Secondly, unless one knows how to maintain a balanced, HEALTHY diet, purchasers usually gain it all back and then some! Look at Oprah. Currently there are no one-on-one meetings with counselors to answer personal challenges on topics relevant to your individuality.

A nutritional counselor will discover the root cause of your self-destruction. Check a company out thoroughly and ensure the diet company has counselors who will keep you educated on physiology so you can maintain the weight loss under real life circumstances.. (Think Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.)

We are each uniquely designed by God. We also have different DNA’s, lifestyles and challenges we face daily. A stay-at-home mom faces different stressors than a lawyer who’s single. That mom needs to know how to overcome the cupboard temptations calling her name while the lawyer needs to alleviate mental stress by hitting the gym after work.

Pre-planning and controlling our own destiny instills personal confidence that we can overcome anything. No one else can get healthy for us. We might think that someone else preparing our meals so we can simply pop them in the microwave is convenient but what have we learned about meal preparation, grocery shopping for healthier choices, portion sizes and cooking for a family of five? That’s right, nothing! We might get a few brochures and pamphlets but can we decipher it? (Or as I usually ask, “Do you know what it means to you in dog years?”)

Selecting the right foods isn’t that hard. It’s common sense. Choose as many whole foods, lean meats, good quality yogurt and healthy fats (olive oil, coconut, milled flaxseed or avocados, etc.)

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.”   (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Very few remain healthy and slim on a prepackaged meal plan. Please don’t believe everything your itchy ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4: 3-4)

 

 

Whole Life Challenge review

I absolutely love this intelligent and thought-provoking post. It’s so great to come across another dietitian who understands all aspects of nutrition (while calling out the false diet gurus who proclaim anything people want to hear.) I highly recommend finding and following her blog too:

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You know what I’m sick of? Engineers and people with zero nutrition education making claims that you can “biohack” your life, undermining dietitians, and giving one-size-fits all nutrition advice. This rant seems appropriate coming on the heels of my post about the carnivore diet.

Earlier this summer my brother asked for my thoughts about this “Whole Life Challenge” that a bunch of people in his office were doing. He was a little sceptical about the nutrition advice they were providing and wanted to know my thoughts as a registered dietitian.

My first question was, “who is behind this challenge?” Well, we’ve got the founders: Andy who has a background in sales and engineering (quelle surprise) who then opened a crossfit gym and Michael who was a coach and manager at a crossfit gym, and has a degree in philosophy and culinary arts. Well, at least he’s got a…

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Why Do People Reject the Poor Carb???

I’m sure my fellow nutritionists and dietitians have similar frustrations when they hear someone gleefully announce, “I’m giving up all carbs to lose weight!

Before you swear off all carbohydrates, STOP and THINK. Here are some important facts for your brain to digest:

The brain feeds primarily on glucose. Glucose is a carbohydrate. The most important carbohydrate in the body. I don’t know about you but I intend to retain as many brain cells as I can; especially during this era of ever-increasing dementia.

Glucose circulates in the bloodstream as sugar and is also necessary for cell respiration and energy.

I’ve heard people declare they’ve sworn off peanuts, lentils (Paleo Diet) and that they’d NEVER eat bananas because they’re “fattening.” What false beliefs! All the above carbohydrates contain valuable tryptophan which turns into the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin. The body needs serotonin to remain happy. (Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are also excellent.)

By lumping all carbohydrates together, it causes confusion. There’s a difference between simple versus complex, good and not-so-great carbs:. Donuts, cakes, cookies, pies, Twinkies, Pop Tarts and candy are much different from cherries, apples, oranges, broccoli, spinach and sweet potatoes. One group contains a great deal of nutrients and the other . . .  not-so-much. Yet they are all classified as carbs.

Beneficial complex carbs contain nutrients while candy and other simple carbs contain little or none. Simple should be eaten for pleasure and in moderation. For a special treat, try a piece of fruit dipped in melted dark chocolate (with valuable antioxidants.)

Wholesome, complex carbs contain fiber. Fiber is essential for good health because dangerous toxins, preservatives, dyes and other chemicals attach themselves to fiber and are moved out of the bloodstream as well as through the intestines. Carbohydrates are only found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and herbs. (No matter how tough that steak was it contains no fiber!)

Without beneficial fiber, toxins fester in the cells, creating the possibility of cancers or implementing metabolic syndromes. Without fiber, parasites and other disgusting creatures remain in your gut and thrive. Lovely.

When someone avoids carbs and then goes back to them once again, they complain they’ve gained weight and thus blame the poor carbohydrate. Of course, it’s a physiological fact that fibrous carbs retain water which expands fiber – so someone on a high protein or high fat diet, will lose water weight rather than fat.

Those on a high protein or high fat diet, are usually crankier because their pH system becomes acidic rather alkaline.

Carbs produce energy in approximately 15 minutes and are burnt up within 2- 3 hours. To maintain your body’s efficiency, keeping it running like a well-oiled machine you desire, attempt to eat nutritious mini-meals throughout the day.

God could have placed Adam and Eve anywhere . . . on a beach, in a desert or on a mountain top. But He didn’t.  He placed them in a Garden. Why? For that is where all the nutrients to sustain life are found! He then gave them dietary instructions found in Genesis 1:29. Later in Genesis 9:3, mankind was told to consume meat.

We live under Grace and we’ve been told we can consume anything in moderation. (1Corinthians 10:23) It’s a matter of balance. To say what God has created is “unclean” or “bad” is like a slap in the Face of God. Strive to honor God always with our all our mind, heart, soul and strength.

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17) 

The Temptation to Become a Diet Chameleon

Have you seen them too?

I’m speaking of those who attend church looking properly pious during each service. However, as soon as church is over, they blend into a worldly crowd: they laugh at a co-worker’s dirty joke, fudge a report or degrade other Christians. The home-front is a battlefield but on Friday night they’re the ‘life of the party’  couple.

Back on Sunday morning though, they reverently sing hymns and pray righteously for all the world to hear. They blend in with the crowd wherever they go, the church or the world.

I call these people, “Spiritual Chameleons”. Sadly, it’s one of the reasons people avoid church. They’ve done more to turn others away from God’s Word than any other obstacle!

I asked a patient once why she didn’t attend church. “The church doesn’t work for me!” she replied. “Too many hypocrites!”

How sad. She failed to comprehend that we shouldn’t attend church to be seen, but to discover God’s Word and worship Christ!

Similarly, if you desire a healthy lifestyle, look to Absolute Truth in physiology. Don’t become a “weight-loss chameleon”. It won’t work, no matter how hard you try!

Unfortunately I see health chameleons all around us. Several famous talk show hosts flit from one diet plan to another, drawing others into their dangerous web. If they truly knew how they dangerously influence others they probably wouldn’t!

Does anyone remember in the mid ’90s, when Oprah wanted to know how desperate people were to lose weight? She set up a totally fictitious diet center in a mall. That ‘diet’ consisted of consuming only hot dogs and ice cream! How silly, you think, who’d sign up for that??? Well . . . 41 people did in three days.

Suppose someone suggests, “Hey I’m on the Atkins diet. You should try it. I lost 39 pounds this month!!!” So you try it and all you feel is sluggish with risky cholesterol. Didn’t work for you, although it worked for her.

Next you’ll see a celebrity on television stating they lost 60 pounds on this boxed food program. So you’ll try that. You might lose 2 pounds a week and spend a bunch of money on packaged food that isn’t appetizing after you’ve consumed it twelve times. You cheated and regained even more. Your wallet’s lighter though.

Okay, so now you’re getting desperate and searching for quicker results. That new popular pill that health clinic is advertising seems like the perfect solution! After a month of heart-racing, nervous reactions, a cranky attitude and a husband who doesn’t enjoy coming home to a nasty, unkind, hungry wife, it’s too high price to pay for thinness. (Notice I didn’t say health)

After trying hard to become thinner by attempting everything the world has, you might throw up your hands: “I give up! They’re all shams! Never again!”

Becoming a weight-loss chameleon never works! Embrace your uniqueness! You aren’t meant to blend in with everyone else!

Don’t compare yourself with anyone else, for we are all accountable for our own actions. Consider it a Spiritual Westminster Dog Show! Compare yourself only to the standard Christ set down for us, His Holy Word. Ask: what does God think?  Am I honoring Him?

Happily. God established a true diet plan for our physical health in the Garden: moderation!  Fruits, vegetables, seeds, whole grains and after the flood, lean meat. Try Truth . . . it works.

“If I have walked with falsehood and my foot has hastened to deceit; Let me be weighed in a just balance, and let God know my integrity!”

(Job 31:5,6)

Controlling Blood Sugar Sensibly and Effectively

Since I began working for physicians, where I specialized in the disease, diabetes has increased to epidemic proportions in this country. It’s also sad to report that more children than ever have this disease. Why?

For one thing, we have become even more of a Fast-Food-Nation with all its tempting, fat-laden, high caloric choices. Sadly, obesity has run rampant in our country.

Surprisingly, fat is more detrimental to the diabetic than sugar! Fat clogs the arteries which stresses the body, which raises insulin levels which creates hunger pangs. It’s a vicious cycle.

But avoid those artificial sugars, especially Splenda which produces dangerous side effect. Use Stevia, less regular sugar or honey instead.

A practical diabetic diet (due to everyone being physiologically different) should consist of 50 -60% complex carbohydrates, 20-25% lean protein and 2025% beneficial fats like olive or canola oil, avocados, fatty fish and nuts. Avoid chemically processed items and select whole foods. Make lean pork, sirloin, chicken, eggs, turkey and fish your preferred meat options.

There are basically only 3 food groups: Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. All carbs produce a form of glucose (which is necessary for brain function!) but simple (sugary) carbohydrates should be consumed only in tiny amounts.

Most diabetics reach for sugar-free items which are high in fat. One patient wrote in her food diary that she consumed 6 cookies at one sitting. When asked why, she answered, “But Ellie they were sugar-free!”  Sugar-free doesn’t mean calorie free and these were loaded with fat.

The best habit diabetics can incorporate into their daily routine is consuming 35 – 45 grams of fiber to their daily diet. 4 grams = 1 teaspoon – or approximately  9 – 10 teaspoons of fiber per day, (now you know what it means to you in “dog years.”)

Adding fibrous foods helps one lose weight. Fiber allows insulin to be dispensed more slowly into the blood stream so you won’t feel jittery or hungry and reach for that Snickers bar. Fibrous foods mean fresh fruits with skins, vegetables, whole grains, cereals (with 5+ grams of fiber,) nuts, seeds and herbs. Eat sensibly, your health depends on it! Diabetics however should avoid fruit salads since it’s too much sugar at once.

Establish a routine. A diabetic needs to live a disciplined life. Eat systematically to keep blood sugar levels stable, meaning same time each day, example: 8am, 10am snack, noon, 2pm snack, 6pm and always incorporate a small protein-rich snack before bedtime.

Moderate exercise is also essential on a routine basis to avoid nerve damage and create ways to release life’s stresses which raises insulin levels. The hormone adrenaline, designed for the human “fight or flight” reaction, increases fatty acid production while shutting off insulin while under stress. Constant stress upsets pancreatic balance which solicits diabetes.

Certain nutrients/foods regulate insulin:

Chromium. Chromium is like the doorknob which allows insulin to flow slowly into your system. Some foods containing chromium include mushrooms, corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beets, turkey, shellfish, garlic, apples and basil. Add garlic to as many foods as you can; pasta sauces, pork loin, chicken, breads . . .

The antioxidant lipoic acid, contained in spinach, potatoes, broccoli, liver and red meat, fights premature aging of the arteries (aging arteries makes the heart pump harder, increasing insulin stress.)

Cinnamon allows your fat cells to recognize and respond to insulin more efficiently. Shake it on cereals, over whole grain toast and fruit. Along with a half teaspoon of cinnamon, I place a few dashes of turmeric in my morning coffee as well. Makes the smoothest cup of coffee I’ve ever tasted!

“Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you,” (Exodus 23: 25)

Why Do We Crave Certain Foods?

It’s a mystery isn’t it? Going from fridge to cabinet to pantry knowing you are hungry but not knowing what you’re hungry for?

Hunger is an umbrella whose spokes branch out in different directions. Sometimes it’s not a food you’re even seeking. Rather it could be comfort, security, to soothe loneliness or a need for increased mental focus.

Occasionally your body simply desires water which is found in all foods and it’s not hunger pangs at all. So drink a glass and see if that helps. If not, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry or is it simply a feeling that needs addressing?”

By understanding the reason why behind the loss of control, you’ll recognize the urge when it occurs again.

Certain food cravings have hidden meanings. One should be aware of personal trigger mechanisms. Always ask yourself, what happened just before I craved this type of food and lost control?

Creamy foods like mac and cheese provide comfort. Are you sad, lonely or did you recently suffer a loss?

Hard, crunchy foods is usually an indication you are angry or stressed. Did your boss or mother-in-law tick you off today?  Stress affects the adrenal glands and releases toxins into your system which is dangerous.

Sometimes we simply love to eat! Therefore select wisely:

Craving sweets? Slice up a nutrient-dense apple or banana and dab a teaspoon of peanut butter on a few pieces. For a real treat, melt about 12 semi-sweet chocolate chips and dip some strawberries into the sauce. You’re getting magnesium, potassium, choline, copper, B vitamins, iron and many other essential nutrients. Not bad!

Craving specific nutrient-based foods is the way the brain’s hypothalamus tells someone they are low in a particular nutrient.

For example, low in energy? Lack of chromium or iron could be the cause of an insulin imbalance resulting in low blood sugar and energy. Instead of reaching for a piece of cake or a sixth cup of coffee, reach for raisins or a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses. For lunch create a spinach salad, roast beef sandwich or grill a 93% hamburger.

Another alternative would be to select foods high in Chromium.  This essential micronutrient acts like a doorknob, allowing insulin to be enter your body more slowly. You can find it in walnuts, sliced chicken, red grapes, corn, broccoli or mushrooms. Always try to balance your meals with a combination of lean protein, good omega 3 fatty acids and fibrous carbohydrates for longer lasting energy.

Finding yourself mentally fuzzy-brained and reaching for that energy drink to get you through the day? Rather than consuming that sugary donut or chemically-dangerous beverage, consume nutrients with a bit more beneficial power like green tea, avocado, banana or berries, especially blueberries. Spicy foods like salsa also rejuvenate!

It’s not unusual during the winter season to become depressed as sunshiny days are few and far between. Garlic is a great mood enhancer. Add it to pasta sauces, pork, beef, chicken recipes, grilled vegetables or as a dip with vegetables.

Anything’s fine in moderation!  Indulging in a piece of good quality dark chocolate is absolutely acceptable each day as long as it doesn’t challenge common sense. Make yourself a fruit smoothie or even a chocolate shake with 1% milk and ice. Yum! If chocolate becomes addictive with uncontrollable cravings, don’t bring it into your home.

As the Apostle Paul says: “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.  (1 Corinthians 9:27)

By taking control of your cravings you’ll feel as empowered every day!