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“You believe whaaaat . . . ???

There have been many myths regarding nutrition; many I have already written about over the years.

My Litmus test for truth has always been, “What does God say about it?” Would God instruct us to consume anything in moderation and then say,”Whoops!” I doubt it because my God doesn’t make mistakes.

My go-to for accuracy has been the Bible. Contrary to science and some intellectuals, it holds no mistakes. The Bible declared the Earth round, a fetus has a beating heart and man lived with dinosaurs long before science had to retract their theories.

Over the past 15 years some “bad” foods have come back into acceptance again. Yet some diets still declare certain ones off-limits. For example, the Paleo diet plan claims lentils, beans & potatoes are forbidden. Silly, if God made it for food, it shouldn’t be unless you’re allergic to it.

Let’s address some nutritional fallacies you might have believed in the past.

Nuts: Yes they are loaded with calories but all foods should be eaten in moderation. Walnuts especially are helpful in reducing the bad LDL cholesterol while increasing the good which protects against heart disease.

Red Meat:  Do you know that red meat is one of the few places we can find B12, a vital nutrient in fighting fatigue and neurological damage? When given to dementia patients, most saw improvement. It also contains zinc, iron, B6 and niacin among other important elements. But choose wisely: select anything labeled “round” or “loin” as the best cuts for health. A 3 ounce serving is approximately 150 calories and 4 grams of fat which is less than dark meat chicken.

Eggs: When I first began my career in 1990, eggs were considered unhealthy. I wondered how a God who made everything good could make a mistake. Well, as I researched I discovered that eggs contained, A,D,E, B6, B12, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, zinc, iron, choline, folate, selenium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and vital amino acids among other nutrients. Does that sound like something we should avoid? Of course not, my God doesn’t make mistakes!

Chocolate: Any food becomes fattening when we lose control and overindulge but chocolate has gotten a bad wrap. It’s like giving a child a bunch of crayons and when he draws on the walls, blames the wall. Use common sense and set up boundaries. An ounce or two of dark chocolate chips or two Hershey Kisses won’t destroy your health plan. Losing control does and that’s a counseling challenge!

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”   (James 1:14)

Chocolate contains many vital nutrients such as magnesium, iron,  selenium,  and  phenylethylamine which actually affects weight management, stimulates the nervous system and assists in digestion aid. It also of course emits the same emotion as love. When God told us to consume every green plant and tree in the garden, it didn’t surprise me to discover that the cocoa bean comes from a tree.

Pizza:  A good source of calcium and iron if you make your own with limited cheese and plenty of mushrooms, peppers, black olives, etc.. Pizza can be fattening if one consumes an overabundance of sausage, pepperoni, and 80% hamburger. However if you order one with Canadian bacon and pineapple why not enjoy a couple slices?  BBQ chicken is excellent too.

Shrimp: “Too much cholesterol,” they cry! It might surprise you to discover that the cholesterol in shrimp works to increase the good HDL while lowering the bad LDL type. Over the years, similar revelations were found with butter, coconut oil and nut butters.

Anything is fine in moderation (1 Corinthians 10:23) so choose wisely and enjoy God’s Bounty!

The Importance of Sleep, Heavenly Sleep

 “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”  (Psalm 127:2)

sleepy personHave you ever had a friend or acquaintance who worked shift work, had too many activities to sleep, or joked, “Well, I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”  First of all that’s bad theology and second, they didn’t recognize the importance of sleep!  Sleep is essential for life’s regeneration and for renewed mental health and weight control.

Even God insisted on rest: Genesis 2:2. “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.”  A God of Balance, right?

In this high-tech world of computers, Kindles, iPods and cell phones, if we didn’t recharge our battery-operated devices every so often, they would eventually run out of steam.  Same with our physiological electrical systems as well.  In order to work properly, our bodies need recharging and sleep is how we do it. Sleep boosts our immune system, reduces stress and restores energy levels.

Our pineal gland, located in our brain, releases the hormone melatonin which monitors our sleep cycle. As we get older, our hormone levels and other systems start to decline. Thank Adam and Eve for that.

When one can’t sleep, it creates stress. We tend to toss and turn and our minds can’t relax! This produces physiological changes, increasing the risk of heart disease and a weakened immune system.

For sleep, we can take melatonin supplements but I recommend them only for a short amount of time, 1-2 weeks. Here’s why:  Current research is professing that if the body is receiving hormones from pills, medication and supplements, the body will stop creating its own hormone and begin to rely on outside sources. So be cautious about using any hormonal supplement for too long a period.

Some foods naturally contain melatonin so  I would highly recommend getting your supplementation naturally.  Melatonin is an amazing hormone and isn’t simply for sleep. It’s powerful benefits include antioxidants, cancer & heart disease fighters as well as anti-aging properties.

Here a list of nutritious foods to incorporate into your diet to get a good night’s sleep:

  1. Cherries! It’s cherry season and this wonderfully delicious fruit contains a great deal of natural melatonin. Try consuming a handful of cherries about an hour before bedtime.
  2. Having a small bowl of magnesium rich cereal has been known to help some people fall asleep at night.
  3. Tryptophan,a calming amino acid found in milk and turkey, is a solution too.
  4. Black and other beans, bananas, dark green vegetables contain a lot of magnesium which relaxes the body.
  5. Salmon, (also chicken, wheat bran, peanuts, apricots)  helps convert vitamins B3 and B6 ( found in bananas, rice, shrimp, carrots) into melatonin.
  6. Add oats, sweet corn, tomatoes, barley, chicken broth, avocados to your diet.
  7. Herbs like lavender, lemon balm, juniper or passion-flower will produce a soothing relaxation to your bath water.
  8. Having a cup of chamomile or Sleepy Time tea in the evening has seen results as well.sleeping baby

Sometimes our bodies can’t rest because we have too much on our minds. So have a piece of paper beside the bed, write down your anxious thoughts and get to them in the morning!

Best of all, when you can’t rest; pray, count your blessings or sing a hymn in your head and it’s amazing how quickly you’ll fall under His protection and sleep like a baby!

What in the World is Metabolic Syndrome???

If your doctor ever told you had metabolic syndrome, you probably wondered what that means. The term metabolize is simply how your body processes calories for energy. But what is metabolic syndrome? Is it good or bad? If diagnosed with it, you might be wondering, how did I get it and what can I do about it?

Let me provide a simple illustration to help you understand this term:

Have you ever seen dominos set up in intricate patterns before? Think about how those dominos line up and then fall after the first domino is pushed over.

Now relate the domino effect to health because it’s similar to how metabolic syndrome works. Many factors are involved in creating this pattern.

For example, the first domino could represent insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone which regulates blood sugar. Insulin resistance is the term for insulin’s failure to be utilized (metabolized) properly. This can eventually lead to diabetic challenges, diabetes produces nerve damage, nerve damage leads to stress, stress to weight gain, which creates heart disease and on and on. One health challenge advances to many others.

This exact pattern can be applied to those who continually eat fattening foods, creating plaque which hardens and narrows arteries, which then creates extra stress on the heart, causing heart palpitations, chest pains and eventually heart attacks.

“Scary stuff. Okay, I’m in – how can I change my risk pattern?”

If you truly want to see improvement, change your lifestyle. Only you can do that; and only if you’re ready! As much as I want you to be healthy, you must want it more!

Metabolic syndrome is usually linked to obesity s0 improve your eating habits.Begin today to clean up your menu with more fibrous whole foods which will escort toxins and bad cholesterol out of your system. No need to suffer. Eat sensibly and balanced. (Avoid quick-fix, fad diets!!!) Add flavor with healthy herbs and spices instead of fat.

Do you consume many fast-food meals, donuts, and fatty meats like cold cuts or sausage? How about processed snacks like potato chips, Twinkies, or Cheez Doodles? STOP! This raises dangerous LDL cholesterol levels.

“LDL? HDL? What??? It’s Greek to me!”

Good cholesterol, HDL, (healthy) protects the heart and blood test results should be over 60mg/dl. (LDL (lousy) should be kept low. Strive for 130-150 mg/dl in a real world. Triglycerides are the blood fat levels created by consuming donuts, pies and other sugary snacks.

High blood sugar insulin is usually a sign of early diabetes. I’ve lowered many a diabetic patient’s levels simply by increasing their high fiber food intake; whole grains, beans, cruciferous vegetables, legumes, sweet potatoes . . . Still on the Adkins or Paleo Diet? Get. Off. It!

Another change I’d recommend is to incorporate sufficient exercise into your lifestyle. Finding exercises that are enjoyable to you is essential: dancing, swimming, tennis, walking, badminton, etc. If you get your children involved, the entire family benefits.

With each fall of a domino your risk of Metabolic Syndrome increases. I’d rather not play Russian roulette with my health and highly endorse the pure enjoyment of a high-energy lifestyle. Sure, sometimes there’s a genetic factor involved but don’t get discouraged. I inherited my mother’s osteoporosis and father’s familial cholesterol. Therefore I take medication, but also fight to be healthier with weight bearing exercises, avoiding dangerous fats while consuming a balanced Mediterranean diet.

“I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.” (Psalm 139:14  HSV)

Your life, your choices. Please choose an abundant life!

Should We Expect Rewards for Bad Behavior?

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”  (1 Corinthians 9:27)

I haven’t posted about our pup, “Mr. No-no” in a while. How quickly times flies. He’s 17 months now and still mischievous. Honestly though, he’s so gosh-darn-fluffy-cute & affectionate, I can’t stay angry at him long.

Unfortunately I must be more stubborn than the pooch or I’d have a very spoiled dog and no one likes that. He gets away with some bad behavior occasionally, but mostly he’s a  joy to be around, sweet but challenging.

In spite of all the toys he has to play with, we’ll still catch him chewing on the edge of our carpet. We know he realizes right from wrong because as soon as I gasp at what he’s doing, he’ll run into his crate and give himself a “time-out” and look absolutely  sorrowful for what he’s done.

Or is perhaps the real reason he’s miserable, is because he got caught?!

How like unruly pooches we are too. Many of my patients were extremely sorry after consuming all those chemically-based, fattening foods which evolved into heart disease or diabetes. But were they really  (???) . . . or was it the fact that their behavior caught up with them and they had to face the consequences of their actions which caused the sorrow?

Everyone realizes that choosing unhealthy foods MOST of the time isn’t good for us – that’s a “duh” statement. But we do it anyway, don’t we? It’s the main reason I enjoy counseling because getting to the root of  why we self-destruct with foods must come first.

Our American diet has become so unhealthy: Breakfast of bacon, 3 egg cheese omelette, hash browns, buttered toast followed by fast-food double cheeseburgers, French fries and shake for lunch. Then for dinner fried chicken and a “diet” coke. (Or the equivalent daily.)

Recently we were visiting at someone’s house and our dog kept jumping up, demanding a treat. I asked the friend not to give it to him unless he sat first. The man laughed, shook his head and stated, “Oh that’s okay, he’s just a puppy.” and promptly gave Mr. “No-no” a treat. So what did our dog learn? That jumping is acceptable and you’ll be rewarded if you keep it up.

That’s so contrary to Scripture. What if God laughed at our ungodly behavior and smirked, “Well, that’s just Fred. He’s a new Christian. Here’s a treat . . .”

No! Actions have consequences. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7)  Or as we say in today’s terms, “Garbage in, garbage out.” God stated anything is permissible. but not everything is constructive. (1 Corinthians 10:23)

Sure consuming BBQ ribs, fries, milkshakes, steaks, etc. is permissible. Simply eat less and balance  nutrients out. Personally I avoid most fattening foods because fat actually coats the tongue which prevents us from really tasting our food. Therefore we eat more, trying to derive more flavor. That first bite of ice cream or donut might taste fantastic but after a while, we don’t reap as much enjoyment because our taste buds are covered.

80% of the time choose healthy nutritious foods. What God created in Genesis 1:29 and 9:3, He preferred us to eat. He provided us with excellent and varied choices for our best metabolic function. We should always attempt to honor God with our lifestyle and diet. If we abuse our bodies, remember it was our choice.

Discipline your body! Don’t create an idol out of food, because actions always have consequences.

 

 

 

 

What in the World Does . . . Eating “Cleanly” Mean???

A new buzz word has been circulating the country for several years now; “clean” . . . a clean budget, clean fitness, clean health care bill, clean living . . .  isn’t it getting to be a cliché? No wants to eat “dirty” food.


 

Recently someone asked me what a clean diet actually means. So let me explain this concept as simply as I can: it’s God’s diet plan from the beginning: Genesis 1:29 & 9:3.   End of blog. Short and sweet. Okay, okay . . . I’ll clarify.

Solomon stated it best when he proclaimed in Ecclesiastes  that there is nothing new under the sun.”

“Ecclesiastes 1:10 ” Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.”
Now even those diet gurus who claim there is no God, are advocating consuming whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  Throw in lots of pure water and you’ve got a “new diet” plan that’s over 4,000 years old!! Wow, who knew?  Well, God did.

God told us in  Genesis 1:29 what to eat. After the Flood, He added meat to our diets. Then again in 1 Corinthians 10:23, confirmed that any food was fine in moderation but advocated that some were more beneficial to our health than others.

As Christians, you wouldn’t place illegal drugs into your system, because you would destroy your temple of the Holy Spirit. It’s not God-honoring.  But God doesn’t want you to ingest lots of over-the-counter drugs either!  And yet we continue to purchase and consume processed, chemically laden foods with intricate sounding names like Propyl P Hydroxybenzonate,  Norbixin, Sodium Metabisulfite, Orthophenyl Phenol, Polyxyl Stearate and Disodium Guanylate.

Names as difficult to pronounce as the kings of Genesis 14!
Those confusing names above are but a small sampling of additives, preservatives, sweeteners, emulsifiers, and flavor enhancers added to today’s foods.  These will chemically transform a body into one that’s susceptible to asthma, ADHD, allergies, hyperactivity and different cancers. The body becomes a chemistry tube. Look at your children’s faces before you reach for that fast food or packaged convenience food and decide which you love more, convenience or your family.  No contest right?

Years ago, manufacturers discovered that they could lengthen the shelf life of grain products by removing the germ, which was the good fat in grain, and bran which was the fiber and then add preservatives. However essential nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium, calcium and fiber were lost in the process until they were “enriched” with vitamins and minerals again (but usually not fiber).  It’s important to realize that enriched doesn’t mean ‘better than’ it simply means ‘up to’ standards.

And eating cleanly doesn’t necessarily mean organic either. (Sorry, my dear nutritionist friends) If an organic farm is next to a regular farm, then it depends upon the water source or the spraying that occurs on the neighboring farm. I grew up on a dairy farm and ate a lot of dirt in my childhood. I’m hardly ever ill now and I still consume great amounts of regular farm produce – but I sure miss the taste of a flavorful, farm grown (New) Jersey tomato.

If organic works for you, great, I’m not advocating giving it up. I like organic too, but find it expensive. I view eating only organic, the same way I view the doctrines of some churches; if it doesn’t affect Salvation and isn’t spoken of directly in the Bible, then I live under grace and have the liberty to choose without condemnation.  God can judge – I can obey.

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

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)