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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!

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy the Company as Much as the Food!

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Sorry, but what better verse for Thanksgiving 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)

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 it  over  next 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? Even Thanksgiving leftovers are great! Realize this day is special and still maintain discipline.

And how do we do that and not feel deprived?  It’s all about choices.

First, chew your food slowly while consuming quality nutrients.

Turkey is a lean protein with approximately 340 calories for 6 ounces. Lots of B vitamins and an enormous amount of minerals including selenium. Turkey makes us happier. Cut a smaller 3 ounce (170 calories) serving into tiny 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 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 someone would consume 1400 to 2,500 calories daily depending on one’s weight or if he’s cutting down purposely for health reasons. It’s a special day but God doesn’t want you idolizing food!

There are specific 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. At home beforehand use a measuring cup to 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 has 125 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 200 and pecan, 480 (with a dab of whipped cream increase those by 65 calories.)

Enjoy, don’t stress. God Supplies Bountiful Blessings; so please remember those today. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Playing Russian Roulette with Diet Plans

“The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly. ”  (Proverbs 15:14)

Sometimes gaining experience can be humbling. When I first started out as a nutritionist nearly thirty years ago, I trusted what the experts told me. I encouraged my patients to follow some crazy recommendations of the times, like skipping eggs, potatoes and butter. When I began researching God’s Plan I learned better.

Most dieters don’t get diets right the first time either. So they’ll attempt different plans, jumping from one diet to the next, hoping for the best. They follow blindly without understanding physiology or why they crave food.  By doing so, they are playing Russian roulette with their body.

How many of us have made fools of ourselves by following one crazy diet plan after another? Some blogging sites exhort: cut out a food group, give up bananas, sweet potatoes or legumes. Eat more fat, give up fat, eat tons of protein, cut out all carbs . . . so how are we to know what’s truth and what’s not? By understanding Truth and the process of metabolism makes it less frightening.

Think of it this way: God could have designed us to be energized by solar power, oil or hydro energy. But He chose food as the source of our bodily power. How much more fun is it to consume food rather than oil?  God gave us a gift! When we receive a cherished gift we honor it, right? Then why do we trash God’s Heavenly gift?

Is it any wonder why we feel so discouraged mentally and physically after following unhealthy diets with artificial preservatives, dyes and even chemicals? This creates changes in brain chemistry. We weren’t meant to run on junk food because it interferes with healthy physiology. These harm our bodily functions while  the devil dances gleefully as we give in to foods that produce diabetes, heart disease and even cancers.

I read and follow dietitians, doctors and other nutritionists who practice what they preach while avoiding those who profess myths like “lose 10 pounds in a week!!!” All diet plans will cause weight loss but not all diets are healthy and some are downright unsafe!

Therefore I recommend analyzing yourself first.

Know yourself.  Are you a creature of habit? Does watching a movie mean sitting down with a big bowl of popcorn every time? Habits are difficult to break but it can be done. Create strategies before you go to a food function, like: have a glass of water with lemon to keep your hands busy, sit with your back to the food, memorize motivating Scripture verses or visualize gooey cheese coursing through your veins. By conquering your temptations, you’ll feel victorious!

Why do you eat? Do you eat for enjoyment, guilt, comfort, curiosity, peer pressure, boredom?  Think before eating. Ask yourself if you are really hungry or simply provoked by a feeling? If it’s a feeling, do something else: Read, take a walk, play with the kids, bike, dance, drink water – anything other than eat unless you are truly hungry; then eat a small nutritionally healthy snack. Create an alternative list and post it on the fridge.

Are you motivated enough? To stay motivated, one needs positive reinforcement. Read God’s Word for strength. Our Lord overcame everything, even hunger and peer pressure and he remained strong in his goal. Read positive devotional or autobiographies of inspirational champions who have overcome obstacles. If they did it, why not you?

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  (1 Corinthians 10:31)

 

The Most Grandiose Season of the Year!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning to Overcome Food Addictions

By now you probably realize that food, being a bunch of chemicals, is addictive. Chemicals change our neurological and metabolic functions; sometimes without us even being aware of that fact. Food addiction is similar to every other addiction because it alters our brain neurotransmitters and body chemistry. As one patient described it to me, “it’s like a switch went off in my brain. I couldn’t stop.”woman stuffing fast food

Some believe food addiction is even worse than drugs, alcohol and smoking because we can’t get away from food – it’s always there, staring us in the face. It’s at work in the vending machine, on television commercials, magazines, along the roads we travel on. If we are having a stressful morning, it is so easy to reach for the donuts in the break room. Angry? Those pretzels are therapeutically crunchy!!! Lonely? We might find ourselves craving the comforting chemical found in chocolate, called phenylethylamine. Food chemically changes our moods.

It is a fact that food acts as a soothing drug when we are emotionally stressed. There is hope however. I have discovered the more I turned down donuts, processed, fast food and placed more wholesome foods into my system, the less I desired junk food. Today it doesn’t tempt me to stroll past a table covered in sugary snacks. If you also begin to select mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein, you’ll also discover a desire for more nutritionally healthy choices!

Let’s get real: self-medicating with food, drugs or alcohol does make the pain go away, but only for a short time. It changes our chemical make-up, providing pleasure, relaxing us. That’s a hard habit to give up. I urge you to reach out for God’s strength to get you through those hard times. Sadly however, many turn directly from instead of to God when hardship hits. You might even question God. Why doesn’t He give me more strength to overcome? Why would He allow me to be so weak?

“He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.”  (Psalm 107:20)

God does care deeply, it breaks His heart when He sees suffering. But He allows us, just as He has since Adam, free choice: loving obedience, apathy or self-destruction. God gave us free will. God wants us to choose what is best but in His love, He did not create puppets and will not force us to do what He wants us to do. Free Will! But actions have consequences. Choosing to consume chemically-laden, processed foods will ultimately produce physiologically destructive results.

I understand personal choice. As much as I wanted my patients to become healthier, they had to want it more than I wanted it for them! I watched as they chose a more healthier lifestyle . . . or destruction. It was either victorious or painful to watch but it had to be their choice. Change starts from within the individual.

Most people probably don’t understand the intricate, complicated processes of physiology but we do see the result of positive or detrimental choices. Isn’t this similar to how we see Jesus at work in a new believer’s life? We see the results of positive choices as well.

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

Please choose wisely.