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Counting the Cost Before “Dieting”

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ (Luke 14:28-30 28)

Many people jump into the dieting realm without counting the cost too

A sensible diet begins by contemplating ALL options of a health plan: how solid is the “soil” I’m building upon, how much time do I invest, what is the environment surrounding the “project” like? Which architect designed the plans and is he/she credible?

1. Do you decide which diet you’ll try because it’s currently popular? “Well that celebrity lost weight!” (Bear in mind that celeb has a personal trainer, chef, massage therapist, psychologist and a contract!!!)

Successful plans begin with solid foundations. Does it include wholesome complex carbohydrates, (fiber) lean protein, good fats? Steer away from fake diet gurus who advocate eliminating entire nutritionally-dense food groups because the brain’s hypothalamus will nag for specific nutrients until you give in. (But you’ll believe you have no willpower.)

2. Seek one that fits your lifestyle

Let’s say in the corporate world your job includes escorting clients to restaurants. Getting healthy will then only work if you know what constitutes sound selections like grilled meats or fish, veggies and a salad with a smidge of dressing. (Mediterranean, DASH, Volumetrics diet) Guard against peer pressure and concentrate on nutrients. Pre-plan accordingly.

3. Are you focused on an event rather than a lifestyle change? Do you contemplate the time of year or events coming up; vacations, holidays . . . parties?

Some people go on a “diet” to look good for a wedding, class reunion or other social occasion. When the event is over, so is their motivation. Ask yourself: how happy was I walking into that room feeling like a million bucks?  Don’t you want to feel like that every day??? You’ve worked hard to get in shape; now use visualization/mental discipline to maintain your hard work.

The only true diet is the one you stay on forever: moderation.

4. Recognize what type of personality you have and whether it will compliment the diet plan you attempt.

For example, if you absolutely love food, going on a liquid diet will drive you crazy. Besides that, the body has an innate desire to chew (because it releases enzymes to metabolize food) and you’ll be grabbing some pretzels by 2pm.

If you’re a curious person, stay away from buffets.

5. Most importantly, you must ask: are you truly, mentally ready to impart on a lifestyle change? Have you emotionally hit rock bottom, been ridiculed or lost total control in public; been diagnosed with a debilitating health issue?

All of these questions and others must be addressed before one jumps into a health plan. Otherwise you’re set for failure and all that does is discourage, shame and have you believing the lies of the devil who whispers in your ear, “See I told you, you couldn’t do it. You’ve failed yet again!”

Crazy diets never work and yet even healthy diets won’t if you aren’t ready to change your lifestyle!

When I find myself losing control at buffets or a party, I ask myself, “Which do I love more, this food or my Lord who sacrificed himself for my gluttony and idol worship of food?”

No contest – my Lord Jesus wins every time!

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”  (Psalm 34:8)

 

 

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Controlling Blood Sugar Sensibly and Effectively

Since I began working for physicians, where I specialized in the disease, diabetes has increased to epidemic proportions in this country. It’s also sad to report that more children than ever have this disease. Why?

For one thing, we have become even more of a Fast-Food-Nation with all its tempting, fat-laden, high caloric choices. Sadly, obesity has run rampant in our country.

Surprisingly, fat is more detrimental to the diabetic than sugar! Fat clogs the arteries which stresses the body, which raises insulin levels which creates hunger pangs. It’s a vicious cycle.

But avoid those artificial sugars, especially Splenda which produces dangerous side effect. Use Stevia, less regular sugar or honey instead.

A practical diabetic diet (due to everyone being physiologically different) should consist of 50 -60% complex carbohydrates, 20-25% lean protein and 2025% beneficial fats like olive or canola oil, avocados, fatty fish and nuts. Avoid chemically processed items and select whole foods. Make lean pork, sirloin, chicken, eggs, turkey and fish your preferred meat options.

There are basically only 3 food groups: Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. All carbs produce a form of glucose (which is necessary for brain function!) but simple (sugary) carbohydrates should be consumed only in tiny amounts.

Most diabetics reach for sugar-free items which are high in fat. One patient wrote in her food diary that she consumed 6 cookies at one sitting. When asked why, she answered, “But Ellie they were sugar-free!”  Sugar-free doesn’t mean calorie free and these were loaded with fat.

The best habit diabetics can incorporate into their daily routine is consuming 35 – 45 grams of fiber to their daily diet. 4 grams = 1 teaspoon – or approximately  9 – 10 teaspoons of fiber per day, (now you know what it means to you in “dog years.”)

Adding fibrous foods helps one lose weight. Fiber allows insulin to be dispensed more slowly into the blood stream so you won’t feel jittery or hungry and reach for that Snickers bar. Fibrous foods mean fresh fruits with skins, vegetables, whole grains, cereals (with 5+ grams of fiber,) nuts, seeds and herbs. Eat sensibly, your health depends on it! Diabetics however should avoid fruit salads since it’s too much sugar at once.

Establish a routine. A diabetic needs to live a disciplined life. Eat systematically to keep blood sugar levels stable, meaning same time each day, example: 8am, 10am snack, noon, 2pm snack, 6pm and always incorporate a small protein-rich snack before bedtime.

Moderate exercise is also essential on a routine basis to avoid nerve damage and create ways to release life’s stresses which raises insulin levels. The hormone adrenaline, designed for the human “fight or flight” reaction, increases fatty acid production while shutting off insulin while under stress. Constant stress upsets pancreatic balance which solicits diabetes.

Certain nutrients/foods regulate insulin:

Chromium. Chromium is like the doorknob which allows insulin to flow slowly into your system. Some foods containing chromium include mushrooms, corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beets, turkey, shellfish, garlic, apples and basil. Add garlic to as many foods as you can; pasta sauces, pork loin, chicken, breads . . .

The antioxidant lipoic acid, contained in spinach, potatoes, broccoli, liver and red meat, fights premature aging of the arteries (aging arteries makes the heart pump harder, increasing insulin stress.)

Cinnamon allows your fat cells to recognize and respond to insulin more efficiently. Shake it on cereals, over whole grain toast and fruit. Along with a half teaspoon of cinnamon, I place a few dashes of turmeric in my morning coffee as well. Makes the smoothest cup of coffee I’ve ever tasted!

“Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you,” (Exodus 23: 25)

The Benefits of Spicing Up Your Life!

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s look at cravings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chili peppers contain capsaicin, a natural immune system protector.

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

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

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

Yes, Praise God, He definitely provided natural relief!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updating to a Better You!

As I was revamping, improving and updating my e-book novel from 7 years ago, I thought as I went along, “yuk, that doesn’t express what I wanted to say! How could I have ever written this crazy paragraph?  Umm, there’s got to be a better way to convey that!”

I’m sure most writers have similar feelings.  As the author of 2 novels, another on the way, a short story and a nutritional counseling work based on Biblical principles, I’m always critiquing my work. GOSH, that’s not good enough! translated that means, Gosh, I’m not a good enough writer, am I? 

As humans, we should strive for excellence not perfection – because there was only one perfect person and we’re not Him!

As flawed beings we are also searching for perfection. I sometimes want a re-do. Do you look back on your life and also ask yourself, why in the world did I do that – or say or wear that?

Sure everyone wants a do-over for something and we all probably have regrets. That’s the challenge. – we can never re-do that day, EVER.  Once words are  said, an action completed, it’s over. Therefore we can live in the past with regrets and bitterness or learn to forgive, attempt to make restitution and carry on becoming a better version of ourselves for God’s Glory.

I praise God for all I’ve gone through in my life. It’s true I’ve endured unspeakable childhood traumas, loneliness, betrayals and other life lessons; but each made me into a stronger, more capable woman. It was His Will, so who am I to shake my fist at God? He molded me, brought me out and set me on solid ground while always being by my side. That’s LOVE.

I once existed in a pit but I was never meant to live there, neither are you! I retain much Joy in my life because the Lord has been there, strengthening, teaching and loving me throughout. That was sometimes difficult to understand. How does God love the unlovable and imperfect being, I was?

I don’t know but He does!

Now as a counselor, I reflect back on life lessons and use that empathy to assist others.

I know some patients who believed they were unlovable, not worth anyone’s attention or time. They tried one weight loss program after another and failed every time. Why? Because they felt they weren’t worth the effort and self-destructed. That’s a fallacy. You have worth because you ARE!  God designed and created you and God doesn’t make JUNK!

We’ve recently gone through a wonderful sermon series on the life of Joseph. He has always been one of my favorite Biblical personalities. He didn’t deserve the treatment he received either but he learned patience, to endure and even become his best self through those trials he faced.

Think of those Jesus walked with: Did our Lord love Peter any less when he denied knowing him? No. How about Mary Magdalene when she was a prostitute? No. David, Abraham, Jacob, Moses or anyone else when they fell? No.

As it states in the wonderful film, I Can Only Imagine, “If God can forgive me, why can’t you?” Choose to forgive yourself or others and lift a heavy burden off your shoulders.

The Apostle Paul professed it beautifully:

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:13–14)

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Why Dark Chocolate is the Perfect Valentine Gift!

On a morning show recently, I heard this health professional snidely remark, “Well you wouldn’t eat dark chocolate every day would you???”

Oh my dear lady, Of course I would and usually DO!

Doesn’t she keep up on the latest info available? Oh wait, never mind. I derived mine from God’s instructions 6,000 years ago when God told Adam he could eat from any tree in the Garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Let me assure you: the cocoa bean comes from a tree which isn’t evil.

I know, I could have waited until next week but hopefully husbands are contemplating Valentine’s gifts this week. So I’m passing along this suggestion now.

Sometimes I overhear, “Oh, I was baaaad; I ate chocolate this week.” Giggle, giggle.

Why is chocolate so maligned? Chocolate, in moderation, is one of the finest, nutrient-dense  foods one can consume. The cocoa myth ranks up there with avoiding eggs and shrimp with good HDL cholesterol.

I follow a simple formula, if God says it, I believe it, that settles it. However in case you don’t, let me convince you of the benefits of dark chocolate.

Chocolate is a powerful anti-oxidant, ranking even higher than the acai, pomegranate and blueberry on the protection scale. What do antioxidants do? Let me count the ways:

  1. They act as a natural sunblock, protecting us against ultra violet rays and skin damage.
  2. It protects against ailments like heart disease, vision impairments, hypertension, diabetes and cancers.
  3. It assists in lowering blood pressure because chocolate contains natural nitric oxide which increases oxygen levels and relaxes blood vessels.

Chocolate boosts our mood due to its phenethylamine (PEA) content. This is a 50-cent word which stimulates the brain to produce the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. PEA acts as drug. It stimulates the nervous system and triggers feel good endorphins. (One reason chocolate’s addictive. It’s hard to stop something that makes you feel so emotionally good.)

But a normal serotonin level is important because it improves one’s mood, sleep patterns and increases libido. When one is low in serotonin, they’re usually cranky, impatient and could act erratically. Women who suffer from PMS often find themselves depressed, craving chocolate because serotonin levels are diminished.

Subconsciously you might find yourself searching for chocolate after you’ve had a bad day or are lonely. Remember it’s a treat not a crutch. Bring it into your home only if you can control your behavior around it.

Chocolate is an enigma. It contains theobromine and caffeine which are stimulants and yet  reduces the stress-hormone cortisol, once again increasing serotonin, the pleasure hormone.

The nutrients found in chocolate are incredible: Potassium, zinc, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, great fatty acids, good saturated and monounsaturated fat. The cocoa bean also contains valuable flavonoids, polyphenols, fiber and cocoa butter, (a great moisturizer.)

Chocolate even contains powerful probiotics which improve digestion and good bacteria to fight infection. Need another reason to consume chocolate? Believe it or not the antibacterial compounds will fight plague and tooth decay!

One of the best ways to consume dark chocolate is to place 15 semi-sweet chocolate chips in a small container. Eat one at a time, savoring each one. Don’t place another in your mouth until you’re done with the first one.

Another way is to melt those chips and slice fresh berries, bananas or your favorite fruit and use chocolate as a dip.

These are just some of the many ways chocolate benefits the body. Just enjoy God’s bounty without making anything an idol.

“The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God, blesses us.” (Psalm 67:6)

 

You’re an Individual, Lose Weight as One!

Everyone’s lives are chemically differently with various bone structure and stress levels so there’s really no “one-size-fits-all” diet plan.  Besides you don’t want to rely on a “diet” – you want to change your lifestyle.

An adult’s caloric intake should never drop below 1200 calories or your metabolism will begin shutting down and physiologically you’ll gain when you eat “normally” again. Keep things simple, slow and steady. I suggest reducing 500 “junky” calories per day x 7 days = 3500 calories which equals a pound of fat loss safely per week. Add daily exercise and you’ll lose even more of course.

You must eat!!! Starvation never works.Your body is like an engine. It needs to be kept powered with energy to produce energy; that’s the First Law of Thermodynamics. So strive to consume mini-meals throughout the day.

Keeping it simple, here’s a suggested sensible typical daily eating plan that can be adapted to fit your schedule:

For Breakfast:  Choose 4-8 oz. of good quality yogurt, Dannon Natural or Mountain High are my favorites. Eat yogurt first. Why? Because the good bacteria strengthens your immune system’s digestion track. (Also the natural   liquid whey contains weight loss properties.)

Most nutrients get dispersed out of the small intestine so if it’s clogged up, it can’t function properly. In a hurry? Create a quick smoothie with yogurt, a banana, orange juice, ice and 1% milk.  I call it my “magnesium-potassium” shake.

Then consume 3/4 cup of a high fiber (5 grams +) flavorful cereal like Great Grains, Shredded Wheat, Raisin Bran, Grape nuts, Kashi products. If you have high cholesterol, choose soluble fiber which turns into a gel, like oatmeal, reducing bad cholesterol. Insoluble fiber, like bran, push waste through your digestion system so you’ll absorb nutrients efficiently.  Add a banana, raisins or berries for additional fiber. Use almond, soy, 1% milk (2% is 40% fat).

Carbohydrates remain 15 minutes – 3 hours in your digestive system, depending on the amount of fiber contained in the carbs which lasts longer. Then increase water. You’ll feel fuller because fiber expands, which also slows down insulin dispersion.

Mid-morning:  Bring a snack to work like a 1/4 cup of walnuts, an apple, red grapes, banana or other fruit for brain function. Your brain feeds primarily on glucose.

Lunch:  Choose low-sodium or homemade soups, a salad with protein/colorful greens for nutrients, a low-sodium  microwaveble meal, a small  veggie/low-cal sandwich, one brought from home on whole wheat.  You can also bring ‘planned-overs’ from last night’s dinner.

Proteins last in your system from 2-4 hours. We only burn up about 30 grams of protein in 2 1/2 hours so don’t over-indulge!

Afternoon snack: If you won’t arrive home until late, try carrot sticks, 2 thin slices of light cheese on 4 Triscuits. a tablespoon of peanut butter on two low-fat crackers, apple or a cup of herbal tea.

Home now, go for a walk to relieve stress or listen to music, take a short bath and de-stress before eating.

Dinner: Lots of choices!! Consume 3-4 oz. of lean protein, sirloin, pork loin, chicken breast, shrimp, crab, tuna, any white fish.

Eat 5x’s more water-based vegetables than meat, (broccoli, garden salad, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers) a whole grain such as a baked potato, pasta, corn, peas, bread.  Avoid frying your food and enjoy the taste of grilled, broasted or baked choices.  Add olive oil or canola oil to your salads and use real butter sparingly.

Desserts?  Indulge in one individual dark Dove, Ghirardelli or other fine high quality chocolate and savor the taste.

You’re in control now.  Making the right decisions is empowering!!!

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