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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)

Creating an Energy Efficient Machine

God created our bodies as incredible machines. It’s absolutely amazing how intricate and energy efficient we could be if we only took care of ourselves and ate better. But do you run like a lawn mower, a garbage disposal or a sports car?

God has intricately designed our systems to protect us even when we do something crazy.

Case in point: when we attempt a starvation diet, pills, shots or liquid protein diet; our body will go into protection mode. Sure, any diet will allow us to lose weight . . .  initially, but starvation is not natural . Our  brain will discern that something is wrong, (perhaps we’re ill?) and will slow our metabolism to save energy.  Afterwards it takes longer to adjust our metabolism back to normal. We begin to store fat for later use. Because after all, “the crops might fail again” and we’ll need that stored energy to survive!!!

Our body is innately self-protecting and the only “slimness” produced is to our egos. We feel like a failure. It seems our brain wants to live more than we do!

There is no miraculous way to instantly lose weight. It always goes back to God’s beautifully designed physiology: sensible nutritious eating, consuming water while exercising to burn calories and tone muscle which burns fat. Circular, boring and time-consuming. So to speed things up we’ll desperately try anything, gimmicks, caffeine, drugs . . . again gimmicks!

We need to always go back to basics: eat for nutrients, smaller portions, exercise, drink water, slow down and chew to release those vital nutrients.

Another suggestion is to make life’s challenges a game! To increase fluid  intake:

  1. Fill a water container with a various combinations of lemon, cucumber slices, watermelon, berries . . .  you get the idea.
  2. Create a chart and for every glass you drink, check off a block.
  3. Every box is worth a nickel, dime, whatever. Reward with non-food items.
  4. Display the jar and tangibly you’ll see accomplishments right in front of you.

These habits restore a feeling of self-discipline. Self esteem issues were probably one reason you gained in the first place, right? (Congratulations – you’re now a winner!) Use the reward money for a family fun night, DVD or shopping trip.

Exercise! When did exercise cease to be fun? When we were children we ran for the pure joy of it! Find a sport the family can perform together. Whether it’s throwing the Frisbee, biking, swimming, hiking; these can all be fun activities and bond the family together. As your health improves, so does your children’s.

Cooking. This can be a fun family achievement as well. Have each family member list their favorite dinners and place all in a hat, then plan your weekly menu.

Forget the sticks and twigs of diet plans. Feed your family nutrients! Even hamburgers, meatloaf and happy familypizza can be created with less fat. Use 93% ground round or homemade pizza with less cheese and more veggies.

Grill chicken, sirloin kabobs or roasted pork loin with grilled potatoes, veggies and salad. These aren’t fattening. Use the leftover pork for BBQ sandwiches and extra chicken over garden salad. Search through cookbooks as a family to see what recipes to try. Did you know that 80% of the time, families consume the same 12 meals? Boring! Your body needs nutritional variety.

Train your children well to create healthy habits. Strive for excellence as a family, instilling discipline and common sense. What values are you teaching your children? They watch and learn.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;” (Ephesians 4:22)

Taking Baby Steps Toward Success

When we are born, we don’t learn to walk overnight do we? As we grew, first we learned how to sit up, crawl, stand, then take baby steps. We fell a lot too. But one thing I do know, we never gave up. But does a baby whine, ‘Well for heaven’s sakes, I failed again; so I’m gonna sit around on my butt forever!”

Of course not. As Thomas Edison said so eloquently, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”As we’ve seen, babies pick themselves up time after time, eventually running around with boundless energy.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have that much energy again? So why do we sit around believing we’re a failure? Because we’re human!Keep striving for success anyway.

As Christians, we don’t become our best self overnight either. Life experiences teach us what works and what behaviors don’t. As children, through life’s experiences, we learn not to touch hot stoves or disturb a dog while he’s eating. By trial and error we grow, recognizing good from bad.

Instilling a positive attitude becomes second nature, building confidence.

As a counselor, amazingly I noticed some patients preferred living with self-pity. It brought attention but it was so wasteful. Some dieters gripe, make excuses and settle for second best when God wants them to enjoy an abundant life!  But then again, many times after a patient finally reached their health goal, I heard the phrase, “Why didn’t I do this sooner? Why did I settle for mediocrity when I could have felt like this?”  It feels wonderful to conquer challenges so strive to become your best self starting today!

“Well that sounds Hunkie-dory Ellie, but how am I supposed to do that?”

With a different mind-set.

  1. Create a chart and reward yourself for each 5 pounds lost with something you want more than food: moisturizers, DVD’s, music, manicures, books, cologne . . . you’ll continually feel successful!
  2. Post a photo on the fridge to motivate you. Keep your goal visual.
  3. Remember you are worth everything in God’s Eyes. He doesn’t create junk!
  4. Give yourself the “pep-talk” and strategize action plans for future situations.
  5. Whatever  actions you do, own them. It’s your body, your decision.
  6. Accept that it’s not easy – you’ll crawl before you walk – but conquering habits feels victorious!

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. “(1 Corinthians 10:13)

Eat well! God didn’t tell you to eat sticks and twigs either. Man created that foolish rule which tells us we’ll have to suffer, eating “sticks and twigs” for losing control. What a fallacy! God provided an abundance of colorful, flavorful food for our pleasure and greater health. The nutrients in those foods will energize our human machine as beautifully as a Maserati. Man-made chemicals will wear us out, making us hack and sputter like an old clunker.

As we strive to become healthier we might find ourselves giving in to cravings, overindulging or feeling lethargic about exercise. We might hit a weight plateau and get so discouraged we’ll feel like giving up. Be kind, forgive yourself. Don’t expect instant gratification, healthy driven people don’t! But don’t sit there on your butt, having a pity-party, whining either. Conquer that inner voice which tells you, I knew you couldn’t do it, you always been a quitter so why stop now? Continue striving for excellence.

The toughest struggle we fight is in our own mind. We’re not a failure, we have worth – God thinks so, why don’t we? Become a Strong New Creation by continuing to grow smartly!

Before You Take Drastic Measures to Lose Weight . . .

It is always wise to determine your personality, lifestyle and relationship to food before jumping into any “diet” plan. It could influence whether you succeed or fail.

What I enjoy about counseling is that every patient is different, keeping me on my toes. But all new sessions begin with the Guess Why I Can’t Lose game. Some tell me what I want to hear while others deny they even have a problem. “I don’t have a problem, my husband has the problem! He’s pushing me to lose!” But I can’t assist anyone until they understand there’s a crisis. They’re in denial. I can’t fix what someone won’t recognize as broken. The first step in overcoming is awareness.

Another denial is if the doctor circled obese on their chart. “I am NOT obese. I’m only sixty pounds overweight – how dare he call me obese!” (More importantly, every pound of fat requires 2-7 extra miles of blood vessels. That’s stressing the heart!)

Or we play their hide and seek game: “Unless you discover my hidden insecure pysche, I’m terrific!” Having perfectionist tendencies tends to feel like admitting any mistake is a chink in their armor. Believe me I won’t think less of them and success will come faster. In counseling, the more we discovered together, the more the patient recognized the challenge to address.

The saddest scenario however is when someone desperately searches for drastic methods to lose weight, without knowing how their lifestyle affects their eating habits. Such was the case with “Sheila.” who underwent stomach reduction surgery in the mid ’90s. This surgery was considered permanent then.

Why a doctor would have endorsed an operation like that for someone who lived for food is beyond me. The doctors I worked for would never have approved such surgery unless it was a lifesaving procedure.

Sheila loved everything about food! She enjoyed the taste, texture, cooking, baking, dining with friends, exploring new restaurants and entertaining in her luxurious home. Life was one big party! As a teenager she was a healthy 125 pounds but over the years she lost control. She believed all her problems would be over if she only had the surgery. Then she’d return to her normal weight and carefree lifestyle once again.

What Sheila didn’t understand was that eating normally again as she knew it, would never happen. For someone whose world revolved around food this was a living nightmare she’d never wake up from. After the surgery, she could only consume 2 ounces of food at any one time while her friends dined on thick steaks, French fries, buttery rolls plus dessert. She became jealous, angry at having lost her eating pleasures.

Why she hadn’t realized she’d have to drastically reduce her portion sizes was puzzling. Sheila never acknowledged if she hadn’t understood the consequences or if the doctor failed to emphasis this essential restriction. She only knew that when others enjoyed Thanksgiving with all the fixings, she ate two ounces of pretty much nothing. She suffered from depression, malnutrition, anemia and anger issues, despising herself for her impulsive action.

There’s a safer way. Talk to a qualified nutritional counselor first before taking drastic steps or attempting crazy diet plans. It’s the same  adage as “when all else fails, pray.” Actually we should go to God first. Not as an after-thought. God wants you healthy and so do we!

“Why spend your money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in rich food.”  (Isaiah 55:2)  ISV

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)

 

So Many Diets – So Little Truth!

“But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.” (Romans 8:9a)

LTSTEBC high resolution cover for TwitterWould you trust a pastor who only consulted outside sources for Biblical Truth?  What if his sermons professed “truth” using his horoscope, a crystal ball, Nostradamus or the New York Times? What if he counseled you in his office using People magazine? Would you trust and follow what he preached? Basically he’s feeding you cornflakes; food with little fiber or substance.

Traveling extensively, my husband and I have sat in many a church pew and heard powerful sermons. However, we have also seen ministers never open the Bible or reference Scripture.  One sermon consisted of the man’s entire vacation, yippie, how motivating. Our young people are floundering, thirsting for clear Biblical direction and they don’t hear Truth from the pulpit! Where can they go for Spiritual Truth? Usually they give up, discouraged; believing the Bible is simply not relevant to their lifestyle.

Therefore I trust you’ll understand my frustration when I hear Christians announce triumphantly at the beginning of each year that they are trying the Atkins, Paleo, carb-free, fat-free, grapefruit or some other gimmicky diet before they ask me for direction, a certified nutritional counselor who worked alongside primary care physicians.

I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve heard, “I don’t understand why I can’t stay on a diet?!”  as they flit from one flawed diet plan to another. There’s a specific reason and it’s either a mental, spiritual or Spiritual one. “Life’s Too Short to Eat Bad Cheese . . .”  gets to that source.

Desperate people spend hundreds of dollars on special boxed-foods, caloric formulas, videos and even bariatric surgery before they ask me for advice. (My average patient attempted six different plans before they came into my office.)  I’ve counseled all types in my twenty-plus years as a healthcare practitioner.  One truth I’ve always stressed is: Health begins from the inside out! Get to the heart of the “why” and improvement begins.

New Creations Ministries is just that; my ministry. I’m happy to help anyone who has questions for free, but sadly, I am not omnipresent. So using clearly defined illustrations and applications, I created a practical, motivational guide urging all who desire true health to become their most vibrant self . . . and it’s less expensive than a doctor’s visit!

“Life’s Too Short to Eat Bad Cheese . . .” (Nutritional and Life Lessons God Teaches Us) is printed in different languages. It contains a study guide and is available through Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, (or Google it.) An e-book only $7 and the 234 page print version is only $14.95.

LTSTEBC addresses nutritional and life situations we all encounter. Using Biblical principles you’ll finally understand the true Joy of living a healthy, vibrant lifestyle. Health is significantly more important than  the number on the scale.

Our Heavenly Father doesn’t want his children to suffer any more than we want ours to. Why survive on rice cakes with no nutritional purpose? Eat for nutrients, not for grams and caloric formulas. And learn what that means to you in relative terms!

Please don’t settle for second best and present that self to God. You’re better than that! God wants us to enjoy His Bounty but not make food our god. “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) 

Eat nutritionally sound. We wouldn’t throw trash on the floor of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem so why do we trash our bodily temple?

 

Looking for Magical Weight Loss?

Do you remember when Michael Corleone in The Godfather 3 declared,”Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.” He had tried to become a legitimate business man but had been pulled back into the “family” business of deceit, death and destruction.

Don’t we feel the same sometimes while attempting to lose weight? Every time I’m following a healthier diet, I get sucked back into eating junk  food again! We try with all our might to resist the pull of those seductive, sugary, simple carbohydrates by consuming whole grains, vegetables, fruits and lean protein. For a few weeks we’ll stand fast, smugly thinking, I’ve got this! But then an invitation to a special event arrives and find ourselves munching on dark chocolate cupcakes.

Why did we self-destruct when our determination seemed so strong?

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15) ESV

Sometimes it’s our old nature which seduces us with the thought, oh well, just this once, what could it hurt? Then afterwards we think regretfully, now I’ve blown it so I’ll just start again Monday. But Monday never comes and slowly the weight lost seems trivial and desserts and pleasure take priority. Stand strong, forgive yourself and get back on track immediately.

As a nutritional counselor, some of my patients have weighed well over 500 pounds. But even they were only five pounds overweight once. What went wrong? Had they made food their god? How could anyone be happy living in an unhealthy environment? Now they lived with joint problems, diabetes and other diseases of their own making.

What causes us to self-destruct? It’s important to know why.

Do we not think we aren’t worth the effort? Are we basically lazy or bored eating the same foods over and over again? Why, when there are so many different international recipes using chicken, fish, lean pork and beef. Please don’t suffer with rice cakes and celery which contain little nutritional value. If we eat for nutrients, our metabolism will nationally work efficiency.

Some find comfort in certain foods. However a cookie isn’t always a “cookie.” Sometimes a cookie represents security, comfort or memories of a close relationship with our family. We must ask, why am I eating this? Am I really hungry or simply provoked by a feeling? If it’s the latter, find something else to do which would create positive feelings: exercise, reading, walking,  . . .

Are we searching for the easiest way to health? Packaged foods, liquid diet drinks, pills – none of these will work long term. The only good diet plan is one which teaches us to eat sensibly through a variety of nutrient-dense choices for a lifetime.

At a Home and Garden Show last weekend one lady at a booth was pushing a “miracle” diet product which I found baffling. “Look at my old photo.” She said. “I was 25 pounds heavier a month ago. Now I’m on this special diet. It’s easy!!! For two days I eat all this junk food.” She showed off a display tray featuring  chocolate cake, donuts, cookies, candy, pie, but nothing of nutritional value. She proudly stated, “Then for two days I simply take three pills daily and the fat magically dissolves away!”

Her thirteen year old daughter who tagged along, was also on this plan. Realize that the only good diet is one we’ll stay on for a lifetime. She was setting herself and her daughter up for a lifetime of yo-yo dieting.

Research physiological truth, understand and responsibly dedicate your actions to God’s Health Plan. It works.