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Attempting Perfection? Ain’t Gonna Happen!

As one begins a quest for health, either through fitness or weight loss, many strive for perfection. Did you as well? How did that go? When you failed to achieve it, did you became discouraged, falter and give up?

Unfortunately, perfection is unattainable at any age. Therefore, strive for excellence, not perfection.

But why did we expect perfection from ourselves in the first place? Did we think perfection would make others like and appreciate us more? It won’t. In fact, Romans 3:10 informs us that there was only one perfect person ever born, our Lord. If you recall, most people didn’t like him much while He lived on earth and even today Jesus continues to have countless enemies.

Humans cannot be perfect no matter how hard they try. No one else is Christ. If God doesn’t expect perfection from us; only obedience, how could we possibly think we could ever become godly enough to achieve perfection?

May I remind you that God used normal, everyday imperfect human beings for his work? We tend to believe that the personalities of the Bible were superheroes, larger than life, but look again:

Abraham was old and Jeremiah was a child, Moses was timid and not a great speaker while Peter was proud and had a temper. Elijah got discouraged and Jeremiah was frequently depressed. Paul was egotistical and boastful while Jonah was a coward, David was an adulterer as well as a murderer and Solomon seemed to love women more than his LORD.

And don’t think women were any better: Sarah was a doubter, Rebekah was a schemer, Miriam was a gossip, Martha was controlling and Rahab was a prostitute!

Just as parents love their children no matter what, God loves us and desires what’s best for us. We are not perfect, but that shouldn’t give us license to be disobedient either.

Isn’t it a relief that God does not expect perfection from us to be useful to Him?! Knowing that, what does our testimony say about us? I’m quite certain you have never killed anyone but have you ever gossiped or let gluttony overcome you at a church social? Remember sin is sin in God’s eyes and His Son died for all sins; even gluttony, laziness and gossip.

Striving for excellence pleases God. How we live represents our Christian testimony. Concentrate on that aspect rather than expecting personal perfection which only frustrates and discourages. We must begin to create a strong godly example here on earth so we will hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)

People are watching us as an example of Christianity. Do we represent someone a non-Christian would strive to be? What strengths will we eventually bring to place at His Holy Pierced Feet?

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)        

 

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The Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

For years I have touted the benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV) with its positive health properties. Well it seems to becoming back with a vengeance simply as a weight loss tool. Yes, it certainly assists in shedding pounds but there is so much more to ACV than that.

One might think, because of its sour taste, ACV would produce an acidic pH. “And Ellie,” you protest, “you’ve always flouted how humans should strive to become more alkaline!” Yes that’s true and ACV certainly does that.

Imagine the pH scale as a line from 1-14;  7 being pure water. Everything below 7.0 is acidic and above 7.0 is alkaline. To be their healthiest, one should remain around 7.2 – 7.45.  Just like lemon and lime, ACV turns into an alkaline pH as it metabolizes. Why is this important in the first place? Because an alkaline pH protects the body from toxic conditions and illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and cancers! Disease cannot thrive in an alkaline environment. Wow, how smart is God???!!!

There’s another important benefit to having a more alkaline pH: it improves your mood! When someone is on the acidic scale side, below 6.9, they are usually grumpier; so provide more fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and herbs at mealtime to create a more pleasant family member.

ACV contains a great many nutrients: A, C, Riboflavin, Thiamine, B6, manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium to name a few. Due to its alkaline producing pH, it affects insulin levels and acts as an appetitive suppressant; one reason it’s a beneficial weight loss aid.

It’s also high in probiotics which boosts our body’s good bacteria. This will not only protect against urinary tract infections and candida, but skin flare-ups, eczema, psoriasis and other fungal ailments. If suffering from acne, use a small solution of 2 parts water and 1 part ACV to clear and tone any skin challenges. (Do not use straight for it’d be too strong and might hurt tooth enamel.)

By drinking 2 teaspoons of ACV with 4 ounces of water daily it will reduce the sludge of cholesterol and triglycerides in your bloodstream and allow for healthier circulation. ACV actually lowers bad LDL cholesterol and increases the good HDL.  It also regulates blood sugar and improves one’s energy levels.

I’ve worked extensively with patients who suffered from fibromyalgia. There was a common correlation among them. They all, in some way, worked with or around chemicals. These chemicals built up in their system. ACV is rich in enzymes to stimulate bile and liver function. This action reduces toxins by binding and removing them through urine. This should also help with arthritic and joint pain.

Amazingly, ACV is also beneficial to bone health for it allows the body to uptake and absorb calcium more affectively. If one’s bones aren’t hurting they enjoy exercising more and therefore remain flexible and energetic. Thus it slows aging as well. (This is the opposite of debilitating Metabolic Syndrome.)

With its antioxidants it’ll neutralize free radicals, preventing sun damage, so you’ll look younger as well. Still need more convincing? It is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. ACV also improves brain health by increasing healthy neurotransmitters like serotonin. Serotonin is similar to a fireman who douses a fire with water, except this one douses the brain with the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin.

But simply because something is good doesn’t mean more is better! God states that quite well:

“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.”   (1 Corinthians 10:23)

Moderation, dear people is the key to everything healthy.

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)

The Benefits of Spicing Up Your Life!

“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.” (3 John 1:2)

Many people are “sunny personalities,” tying their moods and energy to sunshine. To me, the grey, overcast days are much worse than the cold ones.

When depressed, the mind appeals for relief. People tend to gravitate to comfort foods but that simply puts on the pounds. Instead of reaching for chocolate pudding or potato chips, how about going for something producing healthier results?

First turn to Scripture and what truly brings Joy to the soul, Jesus! Then go to God’s Healing Garden:  Hot spicy foods improves one’s mood naturally. (Drugs and alcohol don’t!)

The chemicals in spicy foods have so many medicinal factors to improve health; it’s hard to know where to start!

Let’s look at cravings:

  1. When one is mired in a depressed state, it craves happiness.
  2. When one is in pain, they tend to seek out emotional relief found in comfort foods.
  3. When our bodies are exhausted, it requires food (water)for quick energy.

That’s when we should turn to hot spicy foods!

Whenever one consumes horseradish, hot sauce, salsa, hot peppers, hot mustards, wasabi and Chili spices, it affects the brain’s neurotransmitters. (Just a fancy word regarding how the nerves send messages to each other.)

When our brain communicates its desire for relief from pain, depression or lethargy, it sends out a signal. Then tiny chemical “firemen” answer the call, running in with fire hoses blasting our brain with the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. “Aah” you sigh, “I feel so much happier and more energetic now.”

So, I add hot spices not only to Chili, pasta, Oriental foods and soups but even special wine sauces, tomato juice or chocolate for a boost of happiness. (Chili spice in chocolate??? Try it, it’s amazing! Probably dating back to the Mayan culture?)

Haven’t lost weight recently, no matter how much you exercise or cut down? Chili’s affect one’s metabolism by revving up your internal engine. Consume a week of smaller, spicier meals and see how the pounds decrease.

Hot spices burn off calories because the heat one feels is the energy needed to consume them. Fascinating, right?

This knowledge doesn’t give you a license to eat more, mind you! Use restraint and discipline. Anything that makes one feel good can become addictive. I say this because hot, spicy food is my trigger food. It’s tough for me to stop gobbling down salsa and chips at a Mexican restaurant.

However, it should naturally curb your cravings because it sends out a blast of overwhelming flavors, fooling the brain into believing it has eaten more than it has and voila’, you find you’re not as hungry.

Chili peppers contain capsaicin, a natural immune system protector.

Experiencing a cold? Chili’s are a natural decongestant and expectorant. Anything that will make one’s eyes moisten will also open up the lungs and sinuses. Reach for the hot peppers, horseradish or spiciest salsas! Hot wings or General Tso’s Chicken anyone?

People spend a fortune on over-the-counter drugs when it’s right in your refrigerator. So when you’re experiencing arthritic or muscle pain; or coming down with a sore throat, reach for the hot Tabasco sauce and add a few drops in your chicken soup or sauces.

So many remedies, so little time! I haven’t even begun to discuss how hot peppers contain antioxidants which keep us young, neutralizes free radicals, protects us against heart disease, strokes, cell damage, cancers and other illnesses. That’s for another post!

Yes, Praise God, He definitely provided natural relief!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which God Do You Serve?

Whether we admit it or not, there are many gods in our life – even some that sound “religious” or well-intentioned.

Around our town there is a popular lawn sign declaring: “I Love My Church!” This sign irked me from my very first sighting and I didn’t know why. After all, they had a right to be proud of their large building and congregation, didn’t they? Was it simply jealousy on my part because their church was larger than ours? I hoped not; I wanted God’s Word to reach as many as possible and I’m not biased toward large churches.

So I thought this over and came to this conclusion: if they had advocated, “I love my LORD!” with their church name written prominently beneath that sign, it would have made a world of difference in winning me over.

I’m sure it’s a very pleasant church but a church is a building. If fortunate, it will have several services a week and lots of activities. But I’m told that sermons many times in this church, came from sources other than the Bible, like current events, the pastor’s vacation and very little Scripture.

The church is not a God to be idolized and this sign professed unintentionally that they loved the church more than the LORD. “as for me and my house . . . I will serve the Lord.”

The pompous Pharisees also loved their “church.” They were very “churchie” attendees. In fact, they cared so much about their church, they failed to recognize the Messiah when he came professing Truth. I wondered if they thought, Gosh, if this is the Messiah, it will change our way of life and prestigious positions. In that sense they preferred bondage to their building rather than to their God.

“For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Romans 16:18)

Who is your god? What can’t you give up to spend time with God? Is it your work? A certain television show or sporting event you can’t miss because it’s during a church service? A buffet dinner invitation? Is your idol your family, a technical device: computer, tablet, Kindle, cell phone?

Today people create many false gods: sporting events, celebrities, money, power, politics, position . . . even food becomes more important than God. Loving chocolate isn’t sin – loving it more than the Lord is! Keep your priorities straight.

“Are you serious, Ellie? Really . . . some make an idol of a favorite food?” Absolutely! Fast food, sugar, bacon, donuts, pizza, chocolate, wine . . . None of these foods are sin by themselves according to 1 Corinthians 10:23, anything’s fine in moderation. But losing control of our senses make them an idol as they literally kill our personal temple of the Holy Spirit via obesity or illnesses!

It’s not easy to turn away from an idol that has you firmly in its grasp but it can be done! Visualize that debilitating food hanging all over Jesus on the cross. That’s ridiculous you say? Not really, Jesus died for all sin, even gluttony and personal idol worship.

But God is faithful, providing the answer to temptation:

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

I beg you to love the Lord more than anything here on Earth. For Christ loved US more than anything!

 

 

 

Why Does It Take So Long to Obey Our Master’s Voice?

I’ve written about our pup, affectionately called “Mr. No-No” a few times. In all honesty he’s the most affectionate little dog we’ve ever had – but he’s also the most mischievous.

Every morning before breakfast he begs for a toy or chewy bone which we give him because he’s such a (insert baby talk) “good little boy.” But sure enough, a little while after it’s been gifted, he runs over to the couch attempting to frantically bury it under a throw pillow or loose blanket.

Afraid he’s going to tear up our beautiful couch, I get up from the breakfast table, gently “urging” him to “StoP THat!!!” He immediately stares at me, jumps down and runs away.

Great. I go back to the table. Sure enough I suddenly hear him digging under a throw rug in my husband’s office, struggling to hide his treasure beneath it. Once again I warn him to stop, which being the good dog he is, does . . . at least for a few seconds.

Looking at his deceptively cute expression, I can see his brain calculating: mmmm, if she’s here, that means the COUCH is free! He runs over to the sofa once again and proceeds to dig a hole to China to bury that blasted toy. By now I’m regretting giving it to him at all.

“Okay Buster, you’re getting a time out right now! Get. Into. Your. Crate!” Dejectedly, he scurries into his personal condo and looks mournfully at me. (Oh seriously? Please don’t feel sorry for this little mutt – that’s where most of his toys are!)

Don’t worry, he gets paroled within a short time in dog years and currently he’s on top of that same couch, happily watching people and pups walking along the path outside. Occasionally he’ll glance over with sad black eyes, as if questioning why I’m not taking him for a walk too. Like I’d really reward bad behavior?

Aren’t we the same though?  Don’t we expect to get rewarded even if we fail to do the right thing?

God only desires our good. He laid out a healthy diet when He placed Adam and Eve in the Garden.  (Genesis 1:29 & Genesis 9:3) and yet He also urged us not make our stomach our god. (Philippians 3:19) Yet we continue to act irresponsible, lusting after excess (gluttony) and usually unhealthy food. Even knowing it will hurt our health eventually.

I know now how frustrated God gets with us! He doesn’t want to take away good pleasures anymore than I desire to take away Mr. No-No’s toys. But sometimes we also need a reprimand or “time-out” too when we stubbornly demand our own way. We pursue selfish gluttony rather than listen to God’s Voice of Reason and Moderation. (1 Corinthians 10:23) Our own actions are the cause our troubles; yet we tend to blame God for them.

I continue to encourage everyone I know: eat anything in moderation. Yet most believe they’ll be able to continue in rebellious behavior, consuming chemically-based, unhealthy foods and get away with it.  Not true! Actions have consequences.

I’ve counseled many who have suffered strokes, heart attacks, developed diabetes and other illnesses. I’ve encouraged (nagged?) them to consume less fatty foods and choose fibrous fruits, vegetables, lean protein, good fats and whole grains. Will they listen to my voice? Some do. Others seem to have an excuse for eating unhealthily. Well . . . until they receive a health “time-out” courtesy of County General Hospital.

Your body is your earthly temple, honor it for your sake and His Sacrifice.

“For you yourselves know how you must imitate us: We were not irresponsible among you;”

 

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!