Tag Archive | Christian living

Healthier Eating Truth for an Extended Life

Last week I featured a dear friend who celebrated her 100th birthday. In that blog I spoke of her positive mental attitude as being essential to a longer, happier life. We discussed many things that day and another was how consuming healthier foods gave her that extension on a life well-lived.

Granted Judy grew up during an age without all the preservatives and chemicals found on our store shelves today. She ate more unprocessed whole foods. Sometimes I wish we could go back to a simpler time because many of today’s selection are literally killing us!

I confess it drives me crazy to hear “Oh, I don’t eat carbs!” Oh really??? Well that means you don’t consume fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds or herbs which is against God’s Word in Genesis 1:29.

“God also told them, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant that grows throughout the earth, along with every tree that grows seed-bearing fruit. They will produce your food. ”

What they probably mean is that they’re staying away from Simple Carbs and triglycerides like donuts, Twinkies and Pop Tarts. Good. But giving up ALL carbs is unbalanced and God wants us to live a balanced life.

Complex Carbohydrates on the other hand, keep your body running like a well-oiled machine. These are loaded with nutrients, phytochemicals, amino acids and enzymes. Surprised to see amino acids on my list? You’re not alone. Most believe that amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are only found in meat. Actually all nine amino acids which the body cannot make on its own are found in plant proteins.

Complex carbs metabolize in only 1-3 hours so people get hungrier sooner. But that’s not bad. It simply means the food is energizing you, so eat mini-meals, balanced with a little protein which lasts from 2-4 hours. Also your brain functions primarily on the glucose of those carbs so if you want to kill off your brain, go right ahead and avoid all carbs. I won’t.

The two kinds of beneficial fiber found in CC’s accomplish much. Soluble fiber turns into a gel and is beneficial for the blood stream’s removal of toxins and bad cholesterol. Applesauce, oatmeal, pears are examples but a combination of both types are found in all fruits, vegetables. The second, Insoluble fiber, is like Rotor Rooter, pushing along toxins to clean out your digestive system so one’s body can absorb nutrients. Insoluble fiber passes along without breaking up. You can find it in corn, beets, apple skins, etc. These protect against colon cancer and liver disease.

Increase any type of berry. They’ll fight inflammation by reducing oxidation and inflammatory stressors. As a side benefit they will increase brain function!

Another complex carb usually avoided by dieters are nuts. When I began my nutritional career in the 1990s this was a food nutritional “experts” told people to avoid. When I thought about it, I questioned why. (Eggs and potatoes were also considered “no-no’s.” Would our God declare that all He created was “Good” and then wring His Hands and say, “Whoops!” I didn’t think so.

After careful study I discovered how nuts contained a plentitude of B-complex vitamins, magnesium, manganese, calcium, copper, iron, zinc, selenium, omega 3’s and on and on. It also increases good cholesterol and contains fiber. Doesn’t sound like a mistake to me!

Herbs and spices are complex carbs too. Spices are great for the circulation and our mental function. Spices are fibrous foods which lesson inflammation and regulates insulin production.

Don’t fall for fallacies; God wants to provide a healthier environment and man messes it up!

“With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors, but through knowledge the righteous escape.” (Proverbs 11:9)

Sage Advice From a 100-Year-Young Friend

“Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.”  (Job 12:12)

Everyone desires to live a productive and happy life. Few achieve it. My dear friend Judy exemplifies it!

Tomorrow marks her 100th birthday. Yes, she moves a little slower but her mind is still sharp. She resides in a lovely assisted living facility but never misses a Sunday service if she can. With so much energy, I can’t help but think she must have been somethin’ in her prime!

Now imagine all she has seen since 1917; how the world has transposed amidst industrial growth, space flights, world wars, technical advances and changes in society which have occurred over a century.

I interviewed her recently to unearth how she accomplished what so many seek but never find; peace and contentment.

Ellie: Judy, you are one of the most gracious people I know. I never hear you complain about aches, pains or grumble as so many older people do. What’s your secret to being so youthful?

Judy, without a moment’s hesitation deadpanned, “Good genes!” (A great sense of humor is also a wonderful age-resister: Proverbs 15:13.)

E: And that’s certainly part of it. You still look and act young-at-heart. But I also know you’ve gone through challenging times. What has given you such a positive outlook on life?

J:  (pausing) I guess my mother was the greatest influence in my life. When I was a teenager, she wouldn’t allow me to  complain when others had so little compared to us. She always told me to count my blessings.

E:  This was during the Great Depression?

J: Yes, we weren’t rich but we weren’t poor either. My mother was always sharing what we had with those less fortunate than us. Her generosity was a good example to follow.

“I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.”   (Psalm 37:25)

E:  So what was the most important piece of advice your mother ever gave you?

J: She taught me that if you don’t give – you won’t receive. Help others as best you can. Give from the heart but be genuine about it.

E: What’s your secret to aging gracefully? You certainly don’t act 100. I know they feed you well here.

J:  In here, one eats what they put in front of you. (smiling) Well . . . there’s always an activity to occupy our time if we want and I’m happy being here near friends. My mother told me there is always someone who is better off or has less than me so I try to live my best life. Until I see Jesus, this is the life I’m given and I am content.

E: Is that another of your many secrets? So many who live in Assisted Living Facilities miss their previous home and lifestyle, but I’ve never heard you complain.

J: I think I’ve never minded change. I’ve lived a long time and have seen this world change a great deal. Look at how technology has grown. I’m able to watch TV, talk on my cell phone and have friends drive me to church.

E: With that being said, what words of wisdom would you give today’s generation?

J: I’m sorry so many seem to have lost the Godly values my generation had and I’d like to see more kindness.  Young people used to stand aside to allow older people to enter a building. Few do today.

E:  You don’t seem to live in the past as so many do.

J:  I remember my past but I don’t live in it.

Judy epitomizes what being young-at-heart is all about. To be truly content one must be grateful for God’s blessings in one’s life, remain mentally and physically active while being surrounded by loving, supportive friends. Those are the keys to a Joyous Life.

She has truly exemplified Philippians 4:11, “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.”

 

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)

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)

The Most Inspiring Young Lady I Know!

This post is dedicated to one of the bravest young ladies I know. She battles an illness many others would never reveal and does so with strength and courage. Can you imagine standing up and resisting any friend who pushes delicious (but harmful to her) foods like fried chicken, donuts, potato chips, soft drinks or spicy foods? That demonstrates incredible perseverance in resisting peer pressure and setting priorities! She’s truly independent and strong and I’m very proud of her!

Diagnosed last year with ulcerated colitis at age 9, she has shown remarkable determination and dedication to healthier living. UC is an inflammation of the colon causing bloating, gas, intense pain, bloody diarrhea and other embarrassing biological responses. Maintaining a strict diet is the only way to endure this debilitating illness.

One of her biggest daily challenges is consuming valuable nutrients which will remain in her system. Now vital nutrients are carried away without infiltrating the digestive system. The body  derives much of its nutrient balance through the intestines. Therefore it’s imperative to consume valuable vitamins, minerals and protein. But if one is constantly dealing with diarrhea that’s tougher. Consuming mini-meals and lots of water to avoid dehydration throughout the day will help.

ALSO IMPORTANT: Chew your food!

Chewing releases enzymes. Digestion can’t happen without enzymes.  No vitamin, mineral or hormone can work without enzymes. Without enzymes one can’t breathe, walk or complete any other function! Think of enzymes as the moving men who distribute boxes to the right room in your house; except enzymes move nutrients to the correct part of your bodily home.

Lipase is the enzyme which moves fats throughout the digestion system and is released through the intestines. If one is constantly battling diarrhea, digestion is poor and even the best eating plan won’t work, fatigue, weakness and anemia could occur. Consume good fats like avocado, coconut oil and milled flaxseed.

Probiotics

To build up the immune system eat probiotic and prebiotic foods. These foods will increase good bacteria in your gut so enzymes can work properly. Find these in garlic, onions, tomatoes (mmm, Italian food anyone?) They are also found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, sour cream, cheeses and yogurt.

Let’s talk about yogurt. Most contain too many fillers, chemicals and sweeteners and should be labeled junk food! It’s the beneficial bacteria that’s important and these contain little if any! Also avoid “light” yogurt which contain artificial sweeteners.

A good yogurt is one that states there are active cultures inside. This is the beneficial bacteria which keeps your colon healthy while fighting our body’s harmful bacteria. The label usually will have names like Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles along with active cultures.

I purchase Dannon Natural Vanilla but these brands are also good:  Fage, Stonyfield, Liberte’, Mountain High. Always check the label for “active cultures.” Add your own fruit, honey, milled flaxseed or cinnamon for flavor. You can also create smoothies with cultured yogurt, bananas, oranges, coconut, smooth peanut butter or other creation.

Those with UC have a harder time metabolizing insoluble fiber because it passes without breaking down, (think corn, seeds, apple skins.) Strive to consume soluble fiber which becomes a gel and won’t incite flare-ups. Applesauce, stewed pears, Guacamole, oatmeal, mashed sweet potatoes are suggestions. Baby foods, Ensure or Boost will help when you’re having an especially tough day.

Bottom line, eat for nutrients and reduce stress. Keep a food diary and recognize what works and doesn’t. Unfortunately there is “no-one-size-fits-all” diet plan. Resist discouragement and don’t allow the devil to steal your Joy! Count your blessings in all God has allowed you to do!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  (John 10:10)

 

 

 

 

 

Revving Up That Old Clunker: Metabolism

If you’ve been feeling more like a 1971 Pinto than a Ferrari, perhaps it’s time to rev up that old metabolism. Start modifying your engine. I know it seems like an impossible task but there are many easy lifestyle habits to incorporate into your routine to change for the better.

Let’s look at creating a healthy ritual:

First thing in the morning, consume a glass of water. This starts the digestive track moving and awakens your entire system. When your digestion is working better, nutrients can be absorbed more effectively.  Why does that matter? Because all vitamins have a purpose and B vitamins especially, convert carbohydrates, protein and fats into energy. Absorption means better metabolic function.

Drinking enough water is essential because this allows your kidneys to remove toxins and the liver to metabolize fat. Add a slice of lemon, lime or apple cider vinegar  to water during the day as well. Why? It will create a more effective alkaline pH.  A slightly higher alkaline pH protects you against disease and reduces stress. Stress destroys B vitamins (see above.)

Enjoy your cup of coffee without guilt. Anything is fine in moderation but too much destroys B vitamins.  Adding a bit of cinnamon or turmeric actually improves the health benefits.

I’m often asked when is the best time to exercise. Short answer: anytime! Exercise will rev up your metabolism for hours so try to get some in several times a day. For example, stretch and do leg exercises in the morning. Walk the dog or run up and down stairs, garden, vacuum, clean your home, etc. during the day, lift light weights watching television in the evening. Don’t feel like it? Do it anyway! It feels victorious to conquer lazy habits!

Exercising in the fresh air increases serotonin levels and is a great stress reliever. Stress increases cortisol and other destructive hormones, making you hungrier, increasing cravings. Another benefit of exercise is building muscle. Muscle burns fat. Get your BMR to a healthy rate. (Basal Metabolic Rate is the amount of calories it takes to maintain individual normal bodily functions.)

Consuming a healthy breakfast is imperative! Your body has been without food probably ten hours or more. Therefore it must “break-its-fast” or your brain will believe you are ill and will compensate by slowing down metabolism. A body protects itself at all costs so you’ll never starve yourself healthy!

It’s imperative to begin your day with a balanced diet containing all three food groups at every meal: protein, complex carbs and healthy fat.

What does “balanced” mean exactly? Well here’s some breakfast examples: Create an egg, cheese and veggie omelette. 2. Consume yogurt, berries, an ounce of walnuts and milled flaxseed. 3. Buckwheat pancakes with pecans, sliced bananas & drizzle of pure maple syrup, or 4. any fiber-based (5+ grams) healthy cereal, berries and 1% milk (which is 20% fat.) Each suggested example is balanced with all three food groups. Eat proportionately during lunch and dinner as well. (example: 60% complex carbs, 20% lean protein and 20% healthy fat.)

Balanced snacks should also be consumed throughout the day: peanut butter on a small apple or banana, white cheese (white has less cholesterol) and fruit, sliced avocado, turkey or ham on fibrous crackers, etc. You and your auto shouldn’t run out of gas during the day.

Hot spicy foods such as cayenne, wasabi, horseradish, spicy mustards revs metabolism and releases serotonin to the brain which reduce cravings.

God has given us a cherished gift. Life. What you cherish you take care of, so cherish your incredible, unique body! Don’t allow bad habits to overrule what you know is right!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

 

 

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!