Tag Archive | emotional eating

Personal River of Change

Thank you to all of my followers who didn’t quit on me during my long sabbatical. It’s hard to return after being away from blogging. One reason is because it’s difficult to come up with a first post! It’s not as easy as: “Hi, I’m Back!!! Gotta love me!”

Recently I saw a poster entitled “Life is like a River.” How often have you heard that saying? Poems are written about it, Facebook posts share it and Garth Brooks beautifully sang about it. Wouldn’t a river analogy be the perfect segue after a life-changing sabbatical?

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” (Isaiah 43:2)


Rivers are molded by their environment.

Rivers are amazing and beautiful. They can gently bring life back to a community or can flood it with a vengeance, if influenced by outside sources. Rivers can gently round off rocks, creating their beautiful smoothness or mold them into craggy, sharp, dangerous edges.

During my teenage years, our farm bordered part of the Susquehanna River. Since we weren’t far from its source in Cooperstown, NY, it wasn’t very wide. A stone could have easily been thrown across it. That is until the rains came and the river overflowed onto our fields. This could have been a good or bad event. It could destroy crops or enrich the soil.

Events happen in our lives that we have no control over. When downpours come into our lives, do we rant and rave? Sure, but even if justified, do we allow it to destroy our happiness? Do we accept life’s challenges, make the best of it and move on or have a pity party, mope and complain? How we react to a crisis is a personal choice. Choose Joy!

River intensity changes frequently

Our personal “life river” became a white water rafting trip last year when we traveled over some rocky shoals of life. Sadly, we were betrayed by beloved trusted friends, accosted and blindsided by an angry mob of “Pharisees.” Other innocent friends were hurt simply for being our acquaintances. Yet still their and our Faith never wavered.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Yes, God is Faithful. He almost miraculously moved us out of a toxic environment and provided a way of escape. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Over the past five months, life has become incredibly rewarding and joyful once again, living in paradise. We are coasting on smooth waters and our faith not only endured but flourished.

Rivers are always moving forward, therefore no two days are ever the same: 

Several years ago, after my husband accepted his previous position, he was asked to join the staff of a wonderful Christian college. Having integrity, he declined, faithfully serving his congregation. It was evident that God’s River moves at its own pace, patiently instilling life experience. God eventually provided abundant blessings; moving us to that new teaching position and true Christian friendships.

Rivers are so diverse, no two are alike. Just like people 

I’m here to implore you to not focus on fragile, fallible Christians. God alone is perfect. Our past is a training field, learn from it. If you don’t like your circumstances, change them. If you trust in God, rely on His Will, He will never forsake you!

It’s good to be back, my friends.



Live in the Moment? Really?

rosesThere is a popular expression which encourages us to “Live in the Moment.” At one time even I thought, sure sounds good. Live for today, live like you would die tomorrow! Then I saw what “living in the moment” actually is.

As I saw my mother slip further away in her mind, she began to live in the moment. At first it was the communication “loop.” She mentioned the same thought over and over again. Gradually she lost track of time. I heard repeatedly how she found a $5 bill on the ground just last week, even though I knew it was two years ago. Eventually over time she didn’t recognize her family and forgot any had called or visited previously. Once time passes, so do the memories.

My mother left a strong, independent legacy for me. If I complained she instructed me, “Now say two good things.” She’d never allow me to live in self-pity. If I complained about our material possessions, she’d mention that there were children without (food, shoes, homes) and be content with what we had. I learned to look for the bright side of any situation and took pro-active actions to encourage others because of her positive personality.

Memories have purpose!

Good or bad we never forget our childhood experiences until we suffer from dementia. How would we feel if we didn’t remember the faces of our childhood friends, family vacations, birthday parties or senior prom? That’s what living in the moment means. There is no past. Sure it might be great to cease to remember a painful break-up, failed test or a school humiliation. There have been times life when I simply wanted to crawl into a hole until the pain dissipated. Let time pass.

Is there anything good about bad memories?  Yes, because weren’t they turned into learning experiences? The trials allowed us to discern a faithful relationship, strive for more study discipline and overcome stressful situations. When we know better we do better. That’s only accomplished thru time and experience. God has a purpose for everything He does.

God gave us our memories for a reason. Memories mold, comfort, teach and encourage us. Memories are my most cherished treasure. We either learn from our mistakes and better ourselves or wallow in our misery, holding on to regrets and grudges. Why drag that baggage around for eternity?

God loves us just as we are but please strive to represent Him, building memories of excellence, for this world is NOT our home! Remember it is only what we do for our Lord that matters in life.

What would it feel like to wake up one morning and not remember your past? Not recognize your spouse, children, friends anymore? That’s what living in the moment really means. But your loved ones will remember you well after you are gone. What legacy of memories did you leave them? Leave Godly ones and they will meet you there!

 “For, All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached to you.”  (1 Peter 1: 24,25)




How Could Our Lord Willingly Go to the Cross?

During this week of reflection, with so many documentaries about Christ on television, has anyone discussed what unimaginable fortitude it took for Jesus to voluntarily go to the cross? How did He do it? Perhaps he focused on something even more important than pain.

In 1970,a made-for-TV movie entitled Tribes aired. The film centers around a new military recruit Adrian,(Jan-Michael Vincent) drafted out of his carefree hippie lifestyle, and Tribesthe drill instructor whose job it was to make him into a fine soldier who obeys orders. Although I don’t remember much, I do remember a remarkable scene in which Gunnery Sergeant Drake, played by Darrin McGavin, forces Adrian to hold two full buckets of water on each side, shoulder-high, as punishment.

Now there were several possible outcomes here:

  1. 1. The Gunnery Sergeant will totally break the recruit’s spirit. Adrian will eventually discover what psychologist Abraham Maslow called, “learned helplessness.” That’s a belief that there is no way out of a predicament as one gradually accepts his fate.
  2. Adrian will rebel, experiencing increasing anger regarding his circumstances. Becoming bitter, he’ll lash out at life’s unfairness  toward him.
  3. Or he’ll use his inner resolve to overcome and conquer this challenge.

This third option, in fact, is what Adrian did.  He focused all his attention and mental powers on a special afternoon spent in the company of  lovely young woman. In this state he was able to maintain holding the buckets aloft indefinitely, much to the consternation of Gunnery Sergeant Drake.

Each scenario represents how we make personal decisions as we approach life’s trials. In the face of adversity what do we do?  How does our personality change? Do trials strengthen us or do we become embittered? Do we hunker down or throw in the towel and ask, “Why bother?”

Have you ever wondered what went through Christ’s mind as He was scourged and beaten beyond recognition as a scapegoat for our sin?  Did the Lord question why He was doing this?  Wonder why He was sacrificing His life for someone who tortured and murdered innocent children? The one who stole funds from that charity for personal use?  Or that serial rapist the judge let go, only to do it again? Yes, Christ died for all sinners, even those who simply lied, stole pencils from the office or gave in to gluttony. Every one of us is guilty of sin before the Lord.

Aren’t you grateful that Christ didn’t give in to the discouragement He must have felt because billions reject Him? Or became angry and bitter due to our apathy toward sin? Or disobeyed God’s Will in Gethsemane to avoid unfathomable pain?

I believe He focused on the countless faces who He became an offering for. He focused all his attention and mental powers on that future victorious day when Ellie, Sandy, Bill or whomever accepted Him as their personal Savior. He remained focused, knowing it was worth the sacrifice. Praise God for that!

Now the question is, are we living up to His incredible sacrifice? Are we focused on becoming a New Creation for Christ or are we idolizing food as our god?

When life becomes hard, we face our own challenges, whether it’s health concerns, addiction or financial problems. Do we remain focused on what’s really important in life: Eternity?  By praying for the power to remain strong against trials and temptations, His strength will always assist you! HE IS RISEN!

“who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”  (Titus 2:14)


“A Christmas Offer to All and To All A Good Read . . .”

Sometimes marriage is a real crime photo“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Just in time for Christmas I have reduced my Kindle e-book, Sometimes Marriage is a Real Crime, to 99 cents on Amazon.com.  It will only be available at this price until the New Year. I admit I am no Margaret Mitchell – but it was a blast to write!

Sometimes Marriage is a Real Crime is a memorable novel conveying how all our beliefs, traditions and tragedies occurring while we are young, transform us into the people we ultimately become.

Smart, spunky, tomboyish Katie LeVay is a seven-year old “Daddy’s girl” thriving in a typical 1950s family environment; until life becomes complicated after her father abandons the family. Divorce is rare in the early ’60s, but small town gossip is not. Comfort foods might be Kate’s antidote . . . but curiosity her downfall.

Beginning in nostalgic 1957, we pursue seven-year old Kate’s coming of age saga through her complicated childhood, complex marriage and aspiring public relations career. Life would finally be perfect if only her womanizing husband would change his deceiving ways. He doesn’t and Kate has just discovered the perfect untraceable crime. Layered with plot twists and humor, find out if Kate Madison will prevail.

Although not Christian fiction, it sets the stage for the sequel which is. This novel addresses what causes us to act as we do and how easily we can be drawn to the psychological edge of despair.

The idea for this novel began when a former patient of mine intrigued me by a conversation we had. We had just begun our counseling session and I was glancing over her food diary. (I had all new patients keep a journal for the first two weeks, so together we could recognize patterns of behavior.)

I noticed something amiss.  I asked her why she had prepared a certain dish that week?

“Well Ellie, I had to! It is my husband’s favorite,” she replied.

“But Ethel,” I responded, “don’t you realize that you are killing him with kindness?”

Hmmm. A thought-provoking idea evolved. Wouldn’t this be the perfect untraceable crime? I wondered how the authorities could ever trace this back to an unhappy wife? Therefore the plot concept of Sometimes Marriage is a Real Crime emerged and grew into a novel, five years in the making.  (Why so long you ask? Because I was afraid if anything happened to handsome hubby, I’d be in trouble!)

If you believe we never really outgrow our childhood and we are responsible for our own actions, I believe this novel will intrigue you. It’s basically a combination of chick-lit and psychological fiction.  There are two versions, both the same – download whichever you wish, but the one for 99 cents is available only until New Year’s as a Christmas present from me. I hope you’ll be entertained it if you do.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  (Proverbs 4:23)



Allow Your Children the Luxury of Being Imperfect Beings

thGYLDRKTHWe live in an age in which “everyone gets a prize.” Parents not wanting to disappoint their children, give every participant a ribbon. The world is unfair; in life, everyone does not get a prize.

James heard daily how incredibly special he could be because his older brother was a star athlete. His parents believed that their younger son could also be the  best player on his Little League team as well. Unfortunately this was unmerited praise for he was not. Professing to be Christians, James’s parents attended church and appeared to live godly lives until they attended their son’s Christian school games. That is when their testimony soured. His parents embarrassed their son with their cat-calls and criticism of the other team.  Every coach who benched him “Didn’t know what he was doing, was stupid and a lousy coach.”

Children need realistic boundaries, balance, guidelines and goals. Each child has a different personality and skill level. James loved books more than sports and dreamed of being a famous chef. But his parents continually urged him toward goals which were unrealistic. So few high school players ever go on to become a pro athlete and when James failed to win a college baseball scholarship, he felt like a total failure. He’d never be his brother. As James lived with the daily pressure of his parent’s expectations, he became increasingly resentful and bitter. I’ll never be good enough for them!

Upon entering the real world and away from his parents, James believed life would be easier but it wasn’t. To James, having grown up in an all or nothing environment, he didn’t possess the social skills needed in the business world and failed at every job he tried. But he had found his champion hobby . . . becoming a champion eater and 388 pounds.

He searched for an outlet to fill the emotional emptiness in his life. Food was that substance. James innately discovered that certain chemicals released through food, created feelings of pleasure, especially sugary foods. The more he ate, the more he could numb the pain of his parents nagging. Chemicals satiated his love hunger.

Addiction is addiction is addiction. If it hadn’t been food, it would have been smoking, shopping, alcohol, drugs, gambling or even television. Something needed to fill his inadequacy within. Whatever chemically makes one feel so good it can’t be given it up is an addiction. It masks the pain through its chemical attributes. It’s the reason why many addicts run from one addiction to the other, trying to fill emotional gaps in their lives.

As a child of God, we need to realize that we are each different but useful to Him even with our imperfections. I’d urge you to read to your children the many examples of flawed people who were used by God: Jonah was a coward, David was a cheater, Paul was a murderer, Moses stuttered, Thomas doubted and so on. Allow your own children the luxury of being imperfect. Teach them it is okay to fail if we rise up again! Life is a continuous learning experience and we learn from our mistakes. Each child has a unique personality and reward them with your love because of that!

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”  (Galatians 5:16 )

A Child Lives What He Learns

St. Francis Xavier, a Franciscan monk, once professed, “Show me the boy at seven, and I’ll show you the man he will become.”

A child lives what he learns. We might not think our children are listening to us, (especially as teenagers), but they are certainly observing how we react and how we behave in certain family dinner timecircumstances. If you are like me, sometimes that’s a scary thought! “Do as I say, not as I do” was one of my mother’s favorite expressions.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Do we follow basic biblical guidelines when raising our children? Or do we fail to represent Godly principles due to our own perfectionist expectations? That’s a lot of pressure to heap on a small child’s shoulders! The good news is that it is never too late to change behaviors.

Children mimic what they see.  That is a given. If they admire us and we aren’t happy with our appearance, what does that convey to them? What examples as a role model, good or bad, are we exhibiting?

So how do you react around food? Is food more precious to you than a loved one’s feelings of concern for your health? Is looking attractive in today’s stylish fashion world, more important than health? If your child’s not slender like you, do they believe they don’t measure up? Worth is not conducive to what size a person is! Thinness doesn’t necessarily mean healthy!

Food should be neither good nor bad, it is simply nourishment. Children need to know how to select the correct choices so train them well. For example, at the supermarket, allow your children to choose their own apples, pears, peaches, carrots, popcorn or other healthy snacks from a diverse list.

Begin changing your family’s habits today. Has dinner time become a battlefield? After work are you out of control; reaching for potato chips, ice cream or alcohol to quell frustration? If your child doesn’t eat everything on his plate, do you accuse him of being selfish, inconsiderate or thoughtless? Do your children see someone who tries every diet fad because they want to look like the latest celebrity?

As the adult, it is up to you to change destructive behaviors first. Start allowing dinners to become a time of happy socializing without being judgmental about grades or laziness issues. Involve your child with planning and preparing dinner. Let them see how food looks, smells and tastes, raw or cooked. Who says Saturday pancakes need to be round? Maybe they can be designed to look like a Muppet, topped with bananas as eyes and raisins or berries as hair. Create cranberry nut muffins, cucumber boats, colorful salads and teach children what constitutes a healthy choice.

Above all, resist being parents who reward their children with food if they are “good” and withhold snacks if they are “bad.” Don’t hold your children hostage to a Twinkie! Years later, as an adult, they will still identify that same behavior with internal value. They have worth because God designed them, not because of their outward appearance.

If you change your outlook on food, your child will follow. Start now to give your child the gift of a lifetime; a sensible, loving, godly role model. Children are a lifetime investment and the reward is priceless.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Psalm 127:3

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)

Life Lessons We Learn From Dogs . . .

We can learn a lot from dogs.

I’ve  written more about our little white Lhasa Apso than I have our sweet, beautiful Cocker Spaniel, Sebastian. He’s intelligent and well-traveled, having crossed this country six times and viewed 36 of the 49 States we’ve driven through in our motorhome.

Sebastian cropped phot 2Because we rescued him and fixed his myriad of physical problems, you could say he’s been slightly spoiled with attention. Now he believes he’s very handsome. We spoil him with love, play and lots of grooming. We speak to him as we would an older child and he actually understands.

But I’m stricter than my hubby. I feel good dogs should be taught manners. When we’re eating at the table, Sebastian should know that it’s “parents” time and not play time. While Jewel lays beside us and mimics us by chewing one of her “chewies”, alas Sebastian does not. It’s not like Sebastian isn’t one smart dog. In fact once, when we returned to my mom’s home, he rushed in, ran to her bedroom and looked on top of her dresser for a stuffed bear that he found there a year and a half ago! So my point is, he’s trainable.

A dog learns from his environment, same as children.  Sometimes Sebastian fusses for his food, expecting to get a dab of plain yogurt on it. If he doesn’t, he’ll pout, camp out by the bowl, going on a hunger strike. (I remember our children doing that as well.) But I’m more stubborn than Sebastian is and eventually when he gets hungry enough, he’ll eat. So did our children.

But during dinner lately he’s been vying for our attention and wants to play. My husband then tosses the Kong to him. This habit is driving me crazy because now he’s decided that it’s “his time” and not ours. As any adult knows, it’s tough to unlearn a habit!

So here’s the question: do we do the same thing with ourselves and our children? Can we resist? Or just as a child cries for a treat in the store, refusing to eat or throwing a tantrum in a public place, do we say “NO” but then give in? Even to ourselves? And what does that teach our children but to whine, fuss and disrespect authority if they don’t get their way? Spoil our children (and ourselves) with love, not things! Pamper our families with laughter, together-time and relaxation, not stress during this holiday season.

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

And one more thing: If a dog lives what he learns, then so do children! Giving in to a temper tantrum instills many bad habits! If a child becomes accustomed to eating only non-nutritional foods because a parent gave in, most likely you’ll never instill self-discipline, rather they’ll “super-size me” and choose unwisely later on. If they learn that throwing a temper tantrum at home gets them what they want, then they’ll most likely be disrespectful to authority figures in the work place. Would that make you proud?

It’s the seemingly insignificant things in life that molds someone’s personality. It takes a lot of patience to have a well-mannered child. What I’ve heard in the malls this season, “But I want it now!” makes me cringe.  We are becoming more of an entitlement society today and if we want it to stop, it must begin in the home!

“but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” Titus 1:8