Tag Archive | Diet Challenges

Sheep, Crazy Diets and Discernment

Be Cautious, Don’t Follow Like Sheep!

Look at sheep. Those soft, cute, cuddly, adorable animals are so cute – but unfortunately they are as dumb as rocks too. They will robotically and blindly follow each other without thinking for themselves. They will even follow the leading sheep over a cliff to their death. Isaiah 53:6 “We all, like sheep, have gone astray . . .”

Sadly, some who pursue foolish quick weight-loss quests follow blindly as well. They become sheep, plunging over a deathly diet cliff!

“If you only follow me, you’ll see equally incredible results!!!” states some well-known, super celebrity regarding their special diet product’s claims.

Sure you will. Do you have a personal chef, professional trainer, stylist and a million dollar contract which is the incentive they have? Didn’t think so – but gosh wouldn’t that be nice?

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

Even though I dutifully research, evaluate and base my information on psychological and physiological truths, it is necessary that you evaluate my suggestions too. Question anything that you might find uncertain.

Diet pills, artificial stimulants, liquid shakes, boxed-food diets, fat-free, carb-free, excessive protein, all unsafe weight loss plans proclaim instant gratificaton.   And People Still Fall For Them.

More and more I observe Christians following blindly down a treacherous path proclaimed by some spiritual leader, health guru or politician without examining the evidence and using common sense. Never fail to test the spirit who proclaims the absolute! What’s in it for them?  My ‘radical’ approach endorses eating for nutrients, exercising more, knowing the mental reasons you’re eating and the body’s physiology.

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,” (2 Timothy 4:3)

Those who proclaim easy, instant weight-loss success are false teachers! Please intelligently research any new dietary plan claim.

Any legitimate nutritionist/diet counselor would never endorse products containing Fen-phen, Clenbuterol or Dinitrophenol which cause dangerous side affects such as hypertension, palpitations, muscle tremors (remember, the heart is a muscle) which could lead to death.

When a diet proclaims: “studies show that more doctors recommend this diet program above any other” be skeptical. Do not be misled by “Studies show . . .” Diligently research to uncover who conducted the study for that claim. In my research, sometimes the only one endorsing the program is the one who has a monetary stake in its success. And those doctors might be veterinarians or dentists.

Truth is, we live in an instant gratification society. Eat less, exercise more, is simply too slow for some who are searching for that instant ’magic’ pill. Before endorsing any program or person, you must ask yourself, What’s in for them? Do they have my best interests at heart or only invested money and blind devotion to a cause? 

Test those propagating a health fad with the same scrutiny you would a spiritual advisor or politician!

Ask pertinent questions:

  • “Will this improve my health?” Health is always more important than weight loss!
  • “Is it rejecting God’s basic truth regarding physiological science?” It’s impossible to lose 10 lbs. of fat in a week.
  • “Could this hurt my bodily temple with high-risk chemicals?” Eat with intelligence, not emotions

I caution you to not become a sheep, following a false leader blindly or you too will be led astray!


Labels- Do’s and Don’ts

What a fabulous and powerfully written post by Eat, Move, Improve by Anthony DiMarino! How often do we believe the labels placed upon us? How foolish to believe the lies and whispers of the devil telling us we are junk. God made us and God never makes junk!

Enjoy reading this motivating post and take it to heart:


Labels- we seen them everywhere.  We label people.  We label products.  We label foods.  Depending on the label we give something, it will change the meaning and the perspective we take.

For example, we label people.  We generalize.  We label rich people as “greedy,” “grimy,” or “despicable”.  We label overweight individuals as “lazy”, “losers”, or “undisciplined”.  These labels we use create how we interact within the world.  If you see the people I outlined above in this way, would you interact with them?  Probably not.

What if we turned this concept inward to ourselves.  If we see ourselves as “lazy”, “uncommitted”, “no good”, or “weak”, how do you think we would act?  Like losers, I’m sure.  So, why give yourself labels like that?  Consider changing the way you see things. Change the way you see others and yourself.  Choose constructive thoughts, words, and actions when viewing other people, yourself, and products.  Choose products and people that will benefit you in your mental, physical, emotional, behavioral, and…

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Controlling Blood Sugar Produces Greater Weight Loss

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it.”  (Psalm 139:14)

In order to derive the most benefit from nutrients, food must be broken down by enzymes. Specific ones are absorbed through the small intestine. A clean intestinal system will absorb nutrients quickly to jump-start your metabolism. Thus physiologically we lose weight faster.

But how do we do that? By first consuming fiber!

Fiber is essential in fostering good health and here’s why:

Suppose you had a garbage disposal in your home and nonchalantly threw scraps of food particles into it but never turned it on; what would happen?  It would build up, attract bugs and smell horrible!  And then when you finally did flip the switch, it would start grinding so slowly it might even stop if it’s too clogged.  Then you would have to snake out trapped particles or use something chemically to unclog it.

When one consumes mainly meat, fats, processed and low fiber foods, the intestines get clogged.  It’s harder therefore to move those through the colon. Since your body won’t absorb nutrients which are vital to life, your brain’s hypothalamus nags you to eat more food in search of necessary energy, thus you eat more calories but absorb fewer nutrients.

(Our digestive system is extremely complex so this is a simplified explanation.)

Strive to eat more fiber and keep your entire system working on less! Normally we need 25-35 grams of various fibers daily (approximately 4 grams equal one teaspoon.)

God advised Adam in Genesis 1:29 to consume whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and herbs . . .  all fiber producing elements.  That’s why He placed Adam in a Garden – all our life-sustaining nutrients are available!

There is no fiber in protein or fat. Sorry, no matter how tough that meat was, there’s no fiber in its content.

There are two kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Usually fruits, vegetables and whole grains include combinations of both.

Soluble fiber turns into a gel and helps lower one’s cholesterol.  Think apples, oranges, pears, beans and oats – all excellent sources of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber keeps our blood sugar levels steady so it’s easier to stand up to temptations. It also reduces the treacherous LDL cholesterol! Think of it as Liquid Plumr.

Insoluble fiber stays intact, it doesn’t break up as it travels through our system.  Think corn which basically exits intact. Whole grains such as potatoes, legumes, apple peels, beans and bran cereals are other excellent sources. Insoluble fiber  draws water into the intestines, making stools bulkier and easier to pass. It’s like Roto-Rooter.

Increase daily water content. If you ever dropped a piece of bread into the sink and watched it swell as water touched it, that’s what happens to fiber in your system. Fiber expands, creating a feeling of fullness. Fiber allows insulin to be released more slowly into your system, discouraging uncontrolled cravings.

If you consume a piece of fruit, add a bit of protein along with it such as a touch of peanut butter or piece of cheese. When choosing bread, remember the heavier the bread, the more fiber it contains.

If 60% of your daily calorie intake contains fruits, vegetables and whole grains, you’ll reduce your risk of colon cancer, heart disease, constipation, obesity, hemorrhoids and many other diseases. Remember, a man reaps what he sows, so strive to eat healthier to increase energy and lose weight.

Warning:  Increase fiber gradually. Excessive fiber intake may decrease the absorption of zinc, iron and calcium as well as promoting more gas. Take vitamin and mineral supplements separately from fiber.

Ridding Ourselves of the Muffin Top!

I was asked recently by one of my lovely followers (who will remain anonymous due to the question) regarding the challenge we sometimes face: the Dreaded Muffin Top (and I’m not discussing overfilling the cupcake pans!) No, I am speaking of that challenging area just above the hips that seems to overlap our jeans. How do we rid ourselves of that horrible, unflattering area?

So being a nutritional counselor, not a fitness instructor, I turned to an expert. If like me, you admire people who “practice what they preach” then David Vale of David Vale Fitness, is certainly one of those people.David Vale photo


“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)

After facing chronic health issues, David needed to make a choice: He decided to take control of his life; losing 60 pounds through clean nutrition, consistent fitness, and accountability. This not only transformed his physical health and appearance, but also changed his mental outlook with positive energy and a happier attitude. Now as a husband, father, Certified Fitness Instructor and Online Fitness Coach, he assists others in reaching their goals. I urge you to discover for yourselves how much he has overcome by logging onto his blog http://davidvalefitness.wordpress.com/ and see for yourself.


So I approached him for his expertise when facing this particular fitness challenge and he graciously subjected himself to one of my world-famous, probing interviews:

Ellie: David, thank you for helping my readers who, over time, seem to accumulate “extra padding” around the middle and above the hip area. Are there any specific exercises that would target this area?

D: This is a very common question that I encounter. Unfortunately, spot reduction or targeting specific areas of the body to lose weight is a common myth. The adage that Abs are made in the kitchen and not in the gym is true. Exercises will help one burn calories, but proper nutrition needs to accompany exercise in order to be effective at reducing the “padding.”

E: (thinking): Great! Eat for nutrients! That’s what I profess! Thumbs up David!

D (continuing): However, that does not mean this area should be neglected from an exercise standpoint.

E: Rats, if only it were that simple. Well for example – how about using small weights? Are stretch bands of any value? Stretching side to side?

D: In exercise terms, it is very difficult to isolate a particular targeted spot. Sure, if you want stronger calves, work them a lot. But spot reduction is difficult. What I usually do for my clients is consider approaches that incorporate the core, provide synergistic moves to provide a balanced approach. In fact this area of the body from the hip flexors to just below the chest (the Core) is critical to exercise and strengthen. Building a strong core will make every other aspect of exercising easier, enable greater endurance for functional daily activities like laundry, yard work, etc, and prevent injury.

E: Personally I have always disliked floor calisthenics but if that’s the only way to rid myself of a pesky muffin top . . . do they work?

D: There are certainly many exercises to strengthen the core. The best part, you can do this without doing dreaded crunches. You can use body weight exercises, and do this up to 3 days a week. Exercises include leg lifts/scissors, planks, side planks, standing elbows to knees, high knees jog in place, and seated side to side twists to name a few.

As David has demonstrated, if he can do it, you can do it too! We will continue our interview tomorrow, discussing among other items, if certain exercise machines are gimmicks.

Food Triggers Interview: Part Two with Author Dr. Rhona Epstein

Welcome back to my dialogue with Author Rhona Epstein who penned the nutritional self-help book, Food Triggers *End Your Cravings * *Eat Well and Live Better * I appreciate her graciousness in submitting to an interview.

Ellie:  Are food triggers something one ever conquers, or is it the equivalent of someone overcoming drugs, alcohol or smoking addiction, which must be faced daily?

Rhona:  I think it depends on the person.  Some people don’t really have a physical addiction to food and emotional/spiritual help might fix the problem.  For a person who really can’t manage Rhona Epstein Interviewcertain foods without losing control, it probably is safer to treat it like a chemical addiction which does mean daily careful navigation of food choices.  It does get easier with time – once clarity is found on the best plan then it can be a simple routine.

E: You address other issues besides food triggers in your book, such as how to establish lifelong healthy eating habits. As a psychologist, can you explain why most dieters seem to want to place a “beginning and an end” to any health plan rather than thinking in terms of a lifetime commitment?

R: Your question makes too much sense! I often think about this. Why, if something is working, do we quit doing it?Food triggers interview photo

I’ve seen people who have had wonderful success on various diets and once they start to have a little, it turns to more and more. The only answer I have is that in some cases a person might actually have that physiological predisposition to food addiction and they don’t realize that one cookie could be the beginning of the end of their success because it is just like one drink for an alcoholic.

Once a person understands this, the cookie doesn’t seem worth it anymore. The other possibility is what they are doing might be too restrictive and deprivation can lead to overeating. That’s why I strongly discourage quick weight loss strategies. You can’t stay on them. It’s better to slow down a chose a lifestyle plan you can live on forever.

E:  God created each one of us uniquely and there doesn’t seem to be “one size fits all” answer to every patient’s needs. Are your patients surprised to discover there might be a chemical reason rather than merely willpower, when one overeats? If so, how do they react?

R:  That’s for sure! If you talk to 10 food addicts in recovery you will hear 10 different eating patterns but all have certain similarities. I think people are generally relieved when they learn there is something chemical about their overeating. It provides an explanation to the insanity they are experiencing. People who are seriously overeating can feel like they’ve lost their minds. When they learn the foods are acting like drugs on the brain it makes sense.

E:  I have appreciated your time Rhona and have one last question for you: What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a psychologist? As a counselor myself, I have always said it is the satisfaction of seeing that ‘light bulb’ come on when someone finally realizes why they give in. What are some of yours?

R:  There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing people transform physically, emotionally and spiritually right before my eyes. I love to be a part of miracles in the making.

E: Absolutely! I agree that it’s truly an honor to make a difference in another’s life and that shows through in your writing. Thank you for the positive inspiration you’ve provided to so many through Food Triggers.

“Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.” Jeremiah 17:14  (NIV)

Battling Food Triggers? Meet the One Who Wrote the Book!

So many compulsive eaters today struggle with overcoming food trigger challenges, mistakenly believing that it’s simply a matter of willpower. That’s not always the case as psychologist Rhona Epstein details in her new book,  Food Triggers. After writing a review for Worthy Press, I was honored when Dr. Epstein agreed to my request for this interview.

Author Rhona Epstein, Psy.D, is an extremely accomplished woman. She is a licensed psychologist, certified addictions counselor and marriage and family therapist with a doctorate in clinical Rhona Epsteinpsychology. Yet, despite these impressive credentials, she still faced a private demon. Her extremely open and realistic perspective in confronting and conquering an eating addiction herself, is all part of the credibility of her book. In Food Triggers, she lays out practical pathways in clearly defined form, to recognize and control them.

Ellie: Congratulations on a very well-written book. Not only is it insightful and practical, but it shows a personal side not usually expressed by psychologists. How did the idea come about and what made you decide to write it?

Rhona: Thank you! Thoughts of writing this book started many years ago.  Friends have suggested the idea numerous times as they found my personal testimony an inspiration.  So many struggle with overeating.  I have been given the gift of a way out and believe God stirred me towards sharing the message of hope so others can find freedom.Food triggers interview photo

E:  My favorite passage in the entire book is from page 54, in which you state, “What you need and want most is not in the refrigerator or the cupboard, from a grocery shelf, or on a menu. What you need and want most are often the things that haven’t come to you easily or at all: love, belonging, security, success, fulfilling relationships, meaning.”  You go on to discuss how food can never fill your soul or what you are truly longing for.  Can you expound upon that truism for our readers?

R:  This passage is the heart of food triggers. People turn to food without realizing they are feeding the wrong kind of hunger. It’s like putting olive oil in the gas tank.  It’s just not what the car needs. God has many wonderful ways of feeding our hungry hearts if we only would turn to Him and the provisions He has for us to meet our true needs.

E: You are a very accomplished woman and yet even you struggled with food addiction.  You’re also very open and honest in the book about that challenge and the steps you took to confront it.  I’m sure your story encouraged many.  Did you have any second thoughts about revealing your personal history?

R:  Yes, as a professional we are trained to minimize self-disclosure unless it would help the client.  For many years I tried to put on a professional hat and minimize my story but there is no question that in my office every day my story helps people feel less ashamed of what they’re going through and more and more encouraged that it is possible to recover.  When I am real it helps others be real.  Addictions counselors tend to be more like this than other mental health professional.  If it works to save lives it’s worth the vulnerability.

“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11

Dr. Epstein is truly an advocate of God’s Wisdom and Power to overcome personal challenges.

Part Two of my interview will be posted tomorrow in which we will delve into the psychological aspects of food triggers

Resolve: Strive For Excellence Rather Than Perfection

Beauty comes from within!

perfect peopleFinally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8





Finally, A Sensible Answer to Food Addiction

In a world that seems to be obsessed with weight loss and dietary plans, self-help and personal assistance books are in great supply. Food Triggers adds to the mix. But, at the same time, Food Triggers, * End Your Cravings* Eat Well and Live Better, is a breath of fresh air. It provides both knowledge and inspiration in the “dietary wars.” Therefore, I am honored  to write a review for Worthy Press who recently published Rhona Epstein’s answer to one the toughest challenges over-eaters face. 

bookLG-food-triggersWhat is especially inspirational about Food Triggers is that it has integrity. Author Rhona Epstein, Psy.D, is an extremely accomplished woman. She is a licensed psychologist, certified addictions counselor and marriage and family therapist with a doctorate in clinical psychology. Yet, despite the impressive credentials, she still faced a private demon. Her extremely open and realistic perspective in confronting and conquering an eating addiction, is all part of the credibility of her book. In Food Triggers, she lays out practical pathways in well-thought-out form, to overcome them.

Interspersed with Christian values and Biblical verses, it is sensibly written using intelligent applications to which anyone can adhere. For example, using case composites of her many patients, we learn that it is not simply a matter of willpower as many believe. Additional emotional and physiological challenges factor into the equation. She lays out how the mind-body connection affects our actions.

“Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,” Titus 2:12 (ESV)

Dr. Epstein addresses how one’s relationships, internal beliefs, lack of pre-planning and brain chemistry among others, affects food triggers and how one re-trains beliefs in order to take care of our bodily temple.

Food Triggers touches on what addicts relate to most and is a must for anyone who struggles with food addiction. It’s a refreshing perspective on instituting self-controlled eating habits into one’s life.

“But I say, walk in the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”  Galatians 5: 16-17


Danger, Danger, Holiday Saboteurs Ahead!

lady baking pie

 “But I Baked This Just For You!”           

“Danger, Danger Will Robinson!!!”

Are you lost in a saboteur universe just as the Robinson family was in the 1960s television series, Lost in Space?

Food saboteurs might be lurking all around you. Yes, social situations present challenges to remaining faithful to a weight loss plan. Arm yourself for the party season ahead with some practical ways to resist saboteurs.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13