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How Does Food Control Us?

Do you wonder also why you suddenly crave something salty, crunchy or a piece of chocolate? As a nutritional counselor, studying the mind and body is a fascinating profession. Many false beliefs will challenge my patients. Some believe eating right is simply a matter of willpower, but it’s not.

Here are several reasons why we eat:

Reason #1:

The answer literally starts in the mind with the hypothalamus. Our bodies need nutritional balance, which we often don’t select. The hypothalamus acts like a little drill instructor indicating what nutrients you require and what food supplies it.

For example, if you haven’t consumed enough copper, the hypothalamus will torment you until you reach for a food containing it. Kale contains copper – so does chocolate.  Which would you reach for? (Yeah, sure you’d choose the Kale chips.)  Therefore it is important to  eat a well-balanced diet from the beginning or it’ll take enormous effort to overcome unhealthy cravings. You’ll become frustrated and quit, believing it’s your lack of willpower. It isn’t, it’s about physiology.

Reason #2:

Emotions and memory can be your best friend or worst enemy. One example: your childhood affects your eating habits today.

If you were poor or had to compete with eight siblings, you might be a fast eater. You might believe that it’s not going to be there tomorrow, so I better eat as much as I can now! Therefore, you’ll consume food without chewing enough to release enzymes or place more on your plate than you can eat.  Did your mother ever profess, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach!”

As you age, hopefully you understand that you are neither poor nor have to fight off others for that last cupcake or slice of pizza. But now you can have as much as you want, whenever you want, creating gluttony or closet eating.

Talk yourself into success, recognizing that you are an adult and only answer to God for your eating behaviors. Do you believe God would allow you to starve?  On the contrary, He only wants what is best for His children as He cared for the Israelites when they wandered in the desert:

“At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”  (Exodus 16:12)

God however, provided enough meat and manna only for one day. God never stuffed His children with more food than they required for energy. Still the Israelites complained, didn’t they? Human nature never changes! “I don’t want salad! I want a big juicy hamburger with greasy French fries and a frosted malt and I want it NOW!”

Reason #3:

Insulin. Have you ever had a hazardous encounter? Driven on ice or thought someone was following you? Under stress your heart raced and your body instinctively went into a “flight or fight” mode. That drew blood away from vital organs into your outer extremities, ready for action. What happened next? When the threat was over, you probably reached for comfort food. Why?

When the body is under stress, it readily prepares for the next crisis. Routine blood insulin is lost quickly.  Therefore, under constant daily stress (work, children, finances) you are always hungry, seemingly “for no reason whatsoever” in your mind. I just need more willpower, you tell yourself. Not true. What you need, is find a way to relax . . . a walk, bubble bath, Bible meditation, soft music or other activity to conquer your stressful life.

Health begins in the mind. Recognize the many reasons your body protects you physiologically and strive to honor it for doing so!

“you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

Godly and Nutritional Lessons Learned from the Super Bowl

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

tom-bradyHow many of you are on a weight loss plan and struggling? Did you expect to lose that weight without a strong mindset, a strategy and proper education? It takes all that to reach a goal. But it’s the third quarter and it seems you’re on a path of failure. You’re stagnating. You think, here we go again, I’m going to fail and everyone will make me a laughing stock!

Do you care more about what others think than what you should? So what’s your solution? Do you give up, laugh it off or cave into a false belief that a goal isn’t worth fighting for?

I watched the Super Bowl and wondered where my beloved Patriots had gone? During the first half, what was going through their minds? Being defeated was a real option for Tom Brady. Sports anchors mentioned repeatedly that no team had ever come back from a 10 point deficit so how could a team overcome a 25 point one?

Well they didn’t know Tom Brady!!! Disciplined, confident and competent, he showed them all! He inspired his team with those personal traits. I admire all those, don’t you? Tom Brady never admitted defeat! He knew his strengths, believed in himself and never gave up!

Not everyone was a fan of the Patriots. Believe it or not there are some who won’t want you to succeed ether. Some might place mental roadblocks or temptations in your way. If you’re successful they might lose your friendship, they believe. Will you stop meeting them at the bakery anymore?  True friends want the best for you and will cheer you on.

When on a weight loss plan, there are times when it’s difficult to continue, when the thought of giving up might enter your mind. When that occurs find your own support team, friends who will fire you up and inspire you. You can also accomplish your goal if you make God your Coach! Don’t believe the devil’s taunts and mind-games! Rather trust in the positive Word of God (Philippians 4:13) which declares you’re strong enough!

However we are all weak at times. We all have good and bad days, accept that. Know yourself, your limits and what you can accomplish. Your ultimate goal is to strive for excellence. Don’t believe your own publicity, good or bad. Brady himself recognized he wasn’t presenting his best during the first half. With that, he determined that even if they lost, they’d begin to employ their best once again.

Have you ever noticed how people who are disciplined sometimes aren’t as popular? Is it insecurity, jealousy? As long as you are doing what God wants, stand firm! God wants you as healthy as you can be – not necessarily a size 2. Eat anything in moderation and enjoy nutritionally healthy food..

Throughout 4 1/2 years of blogging, I am fortunate to have very few nasty comments about why their diet is better than simply eating for nutrients as God intended. However when someone attempts to deride God’s concrete solutions to man’s weight loss problems, I’ll stand firm!

What do you believe? Are you confident that striving for a healthier lifestyle is right? Victory is certainly better than defeat, right? God created each of us uniquely – we all can’t all be Hall of Fame quarterbacks but we all can strive for excellence. Let nothing defeat you, especially mentally. Become confident, as a Christian remember you are a child of the King.

Following an Anti-inflammatory Diet

If your physician has prescribed an ‘anti-inflammatory diet’ would you know what to eat?  Probably not. It’s one of those  “dog year” questions (relatable in practical terms.) It has to do with the pH scale’s acidic/alkaline relationship.  The more acidic one is, the more prone to illness one becomes.ph-scale

Imagine the pH scale being in a straight line from 1-14.  7 is neutral, (like pure water.) 1 is acidic, (like battery acid) and anything above is considered alkaline.  Balance is what it’s all about. Try to maintain a pH around  7.3 – 7.4.

Coffee, alcohol and soft drinks are incredibly acidic so cut down. Increase your water intake with lemon. Although you’ll notice lemon and vinegar is acidic on the pH scale, each actually metabolizes into an alkaline food. (God knew it all the time!)

The anti-inflammatory diet isn’t a “diet” as much as a lifestyle choice. One thing is certain however, not addressing your health concerns will only create larger ones down the road! Chronic inflammation is dangerous! It is not a “little” problem if you ignore will simply go away. Chronic inflammation can eventually cause intense health issues including heart disease, IBS, colitis, arthritis, dementia, kidney disease and cancers.

What causes inflammation? Stress is a major contributor and in today’s world who isn’t under stress? Find ways to relieve daily stress through exercise, relaxing bubble baths, soft music, fresh air, massages or anything that calms you besides food.

A healthy anti-inflammatory diet is on the alkaline side of the pH scale. It primarily consists of: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs and whole grains such as oats, quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat (kashi).  In truth, if you eat as God instructed Adam in the Garden of Eden, you’ll add a lot more life in your years.

Every meat is acidic, especially the processed meats with dyes and chemicals such as cold cuts, bacon or hot dogs, so consume lean protein like fish, chicken, sirloin and pork loin.

Sugar and artificial chemically treated foods are highly acidic. Unfortunately so are the nightshade plants like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant. This doesn’t mean you must give them up entirely, but only consume occasionally. Balance is the key here.

Wheat, unfortunately, is on the acidic side of the scale. However whole wheat contains a great deal of fiber, so only avoid enriched breads and balance whole wheat products with more fruits and vegetables. Try to consume fiber-rich vegetables like sweet potatoes, corn, squash, alfalfa, beans and lentils. The fiber helps remove toxins from your system and avoids damaging inflammation. Increase water consumption also.

One characteristic of the anti-inflammatory diet is the recommended inclusion of omega-rich fatty acids, especially omega 3’s. These consists of milled flaxseed, walnuts, olive oil (best used cold), avocados, good fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines.

Avoid salt and choose to flavor your foods with healthy herbs. Garlic, turmeric, cinnamon and capsaicin are especially helpful with their anti-inflammatory properties!  And don’t worry about not enjoying any treats either. A good dark chocolate contains a great deal of antioxidants as does a glass of red wine.

Do you see the pattern here? You can enjoy so much more than you thought you could! Simply eat healthier and consume more whole foods to rid yourself of the artificially flavored, chemically processed boxed foods you might pick up at the supermarket for “convenience.” There is nothing convenient about pain and inflammation! Strive for a happier, healthier lifestyle.

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

The Benefits of True Health

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

healthy decisions

Health is important, being skinny isn’t! Oh my, did a Nutritional Counselor just say that? Shocking! However I won’t tell you what your “itching ears want to hear”  (2 Timothy 4:3) and  as some false prophets of dietary health profess. True health comes from the inside out. Be mentally, physically and spiritually fit!

Have you ever asked yourself why you really want to be ‘skinny’?

  • Is it because you dislike your appearance and want to look like a supermodel?  (God designed you. If you’re God’s child, you’re beautiful to Him no matter what size you are!)
  • Is it because someone keeps nagging you?  (Strive for health because honoring God is the right thing to do, not what someone else expects it of you.)
  • Is it simply because you’re self-conscious by the looks people give you when you walk by?  (Well, people stare no matter what size you are!)
  • Or is it because you know God expects a disciplined, sincere testimony and you are rebelling against His command of 1 Peter 1:13-16? Jonah also tried to run from God’s commands. (You can’t  hide from God) Eat nutritionally balanced because it’s the right thing to do.

Thin isn’t always healthy. Being FIT is healthy! The ability to climb stairs or play with your children without exertion is healthy! Being mentally balanced and alert is healthy! Exuding a countenance of  JOY is healthy!

I’ve met many who despise their looks and put themselves down. Whereas some, exhibiting the other side of the coin, continually post selfies, seemingly expounding upon, “I’m so beautiful aren’t I . . .  but enough about me, what do you think about my beauty?”  Looks are simply the “luck of the draw” you did nothing to earn it –  true beauty comes from within. Kindness, patience, helpfulness are all attributes to strive for, resulting in true beauty that endures. That’s beauty God recognizes!

Real change must come from a personal desire to succeed and please our Lord. Is that self-destructive addiction too dear to you?

No one has an easy, stress-free road. Life can get discouraging at times. We then fill the empty void with other idols which leads to addiction because it numbs the pain. Food, alcohol, shopping, gambling, drugs or other addictions will never fill the void that is in your soul. Only God can change lives! Will you allow Him to change yours?

After embracing the Christian lifestyle and experiencing what TRUE joy brings, most people have no desire to return to the decadent, self-deprecating days in which they used to live. Granted that pull will always be there; the same enticement a drug addict, alcoholic or smoker encounter as they struggle each day to remain faithful.  God remains faithful. He’ll help you endure.

God doesn’t expect us to be perfect but sometimes we expect it from ourselves. When facing tough times,please don’t give up and exclaim, “Why bother? It’s not worth it!”   Because upon conquering addictions, (that ‘old man’ way of life) you’ll wonder,  “Why didn’t I overcome this sooner?” There is no feeling as victorious as conquering a destructive habit.

We’ll never find that eternally peaceful life in anything this world has to offer.  That’s only found in Christ! Love yourself as God loves you. Realize you have worth simply because you are!

Ephesians 4:24, “Put on your new nature, created to be like God–truly righteous and holy.”

Live in the Moment? Really?

rosesThere is a popular expression which encourages us to “Live in the Moment.” At one time even I thought, sure sounds good. Live for today, live like you would die tomorrow! Then I saw what “living in the moment” actually is.

As I saw my mother slip further away in her mind, she began to live in the moment. At first it was the communication “loop.” She mentioned the same thought over and over again. Gradually she lost track of time. I heard repeatedly how she found a $5 bill on the ground just last week, even though I knew it was two years ago. Eventually over time she didn’t recognize her family and forgot any had called or visited previously. Once time passes, so do the memories.

My mother left a strong, independent legacy for me. If I complained she instructed me, “Now say two good things.” She’d never allow me to live in self-pity. If I complained about our material possessions, she’d mention that there were children without (food, shoes, homes) and be content with what we had. I learned to look for the bright side of any situation and took pro-active actions to encourage others because of her positive personality.

Memories have purpose!

Good or bad we never forget our childhood experiences until we suffer from dementia. How would we feel if we didn’t remember the faces of our childhood friends, family vacations, birthday parties or senior prom? That’s what living in the moment means. There is no past. Sure it might be great to cease to remember a painful break-up, failed test or a school humiliation. There have been times life when I simply wanted to crawl into a hole until the pain dissipated. Let time pass.

Is there anything good about bad memories?  Yes, because weren’t they turned into learning experiences? The trials allowed us to discern a faithful relationship, strive for more study discipline and overcome stressful situations. When we know better we do better. That’s only accomplished thru time and experience. God has a purpose for everything He does.

God gave us our memories for a reason. Memories mold, comfort, teach and encourage us. Memories are my most cherished treasure. We either learn from our mistakes and better ourselves or wallow in our misery, holding on to regrets and grudges. Why drag that baggage around for eternity?

God loves us just as we are but please strive to represent Him, building memories of excellence, for this world is NOT our home! Remember it is only what we do for our Lord that matters in life.

What would it feel like to wake up one morning and not remember your past? Not recognize your spouse, children, friends anymore? That’s what living in the moment really means. But your loved ones will remember you well after you are gone. What legacy of memories did you leave them? Leave Godly ones and they will meet you there!

 “For, All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached to you.”  (1 Peter 1: 24,25)

 

 

 

Pulling Those Pesky Spiritual Weeds!

In my last post I expounded upon how easily sin can spread like flowering weeds throughout our lives. Pretty to look at but deadly to Spiritual growth. We’re aware that sin is destructive and shouldn’t flower in a Christ-filled life but how do we rid ourselves of them?pulling weeds

We must recognize that sin’s unhealthy habits drag us down, destroying our Christian testimony. I hate to admit when I was younger, someone asked me once, “If you’re a Christian why do you do such bad things in your life?”  I had no answer except a flippant, “Well Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” I don’t know why God is so patient with me but I’m grateful!

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.”  (1 Corinthians 13:11)  NLT

When it comes to sin we can’t be kind, even allowing a little bit of it to grow in our Spiritual garden.  This means going along with injustice, being peer pressured or overlooking sin in our friends lives. “Bad company corrupts good character.”  (1 Corinthians 15:33) Yes it’s true that sometimes we can win others by displaying good Christian character amidst challenging social situations. But more times then not, those “weeds” overpower us and we fall into sin rather than allow our testimony to thrive. Scripture urges us to flee youthful lusts, (2 Timothy 2:22) not dabble in it.

It’s similar to obtaining a healthier lifestyle. Every sin has consequences. If you always consume fattening, chemically laden foods you’ll risk diabetes, strokes, heart disease and cancers. Risk? Do you feel “lucky?” I’d prefer not play Russian Roulette with my life but rather trust God to keep me healthy because I want to honor that vibrant life gift He has given me.

Until one gets strong enough to withstand the temptation of donuts and sugary carbs, we shouldn’t go into a donut shop! Or attend a Buffet if you’re a curious person and consume a little of everything the tables offer. Nine times out of ten we will fall to the “Feast of The Eyes!”

“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” (1 John 2:16) NLT

So we need to overcome the weeds in our Spiritual garden by first recognizing that they are even there. And how do we do that?  Well, how do we feel after we’ve done something totally against our godly beliefs? Pretty bad right? If not, maybe we better question if we really are God’s child for apathy is the opposite of love. If we love someone we truly want to please them, not cause them pain.

What about toxic relationships? Following a raucous, sinful crowd is being like a sheep who plunges to his death because he followed the leader over a cliff. Sheep are dumb animals! You shouldn’t be! As painful as it is to say goodbye to a close but unrepentant friend, if they are dragging you into a pit, for your own safety, let go and fervently pray for them.

And the best advice: don’t allow temptation to grow in the first place! If you prevent pesky weeds from growing, you won’t have to pull them later. Use the best Spiritual Weed Killer there is: Scripture! Cultivate appropriate Bible verses deep inside your mind and soul and it will absolutely act as weed preventer!

 

 

 

 

Food Can Never Satisfy a Hungry Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next: Practical Ways to Avoid Saboteurs