Tag Archive | Food

Fact or Culinary Manipulation?

A patient of mine mistakenly believed in order to lose weight he would have to suffer. He explained he only darkened my office door to please his wife. He promised her he’d listen to me for three weeks and then leave. It reminded me of the old western joke, “We’ll give him a fair trial and then we’ll hang ’em!” I explained contrary to belief, he wouldn’t be eating “sticks and twigs.” Over the next year he and his wife became two of my favorite patients.

Why do some believe the “penance principle?” Anything is fine in moderation!  Remember we are each unique. No specific formula will work for everyone so there is no “one-size fits all” method.

Unfortunately many dieters I’ve counseled have followed diets (some outright dangerous) without thinking. Where are valuable nutrients??? I don’t care if it worked for Oprah or some other famous person; celebrities aren’t always correct. I’ve even seen some well-known health professionals subliminally manipulate results to prove their point.

Take for example a segment I watched on the Dr. Oz show while I waited to see the optometrist. It was on the benefits of chicken skin, long considered to be off-limits.

Okay, I thought, anything is fine in moderation; this will be interesting.

The good doctor chose three women from the audience and asked them which serving plate on the counter looked more appetizing  Displayed were three separate creations of two different recipes. One serving was featured on a paler colored plate and in my estimation looked pretty blah. The other was displayed on a vibrantly colored plate.

Each chose the brightly colored plate every time. To me it seemed the results were skewed to produce a positive result of one over the other. The brightly colored plate made the selection naturally more appealing and you guessed it, the brighter one featured the chicken skin portion.

I was sitting next to a woman who leaned over and quietly revealed, “I’m a nurse; we were required to only take one class in nutrition. I never knew this. Isn’t this amazing?” Then she got called for her appointment. So I continued to watch the program by myself, extolling the benefits of chicken skin.

As I watched, I don’t remember the doctor mentioning portion size, only that chicken skin contained 50 more calories than skinless chicken. So chicken skin only has 5o extra calories? Mmm, I wondered, for how many ounces? I don’t recall hearing that. I’m sure if you purchase chicken breasts, you notice size varies widely.The difference: a 3 ounce breaded, fried chicken breast is around 120 calories.

Nor do I remember him stating or suggesting how the chicken was prepared. That definitely makes a difference! Was the serving floured, breaded,  grilled, deep or battered-fried? Was it prepared in butter, oil, grease, PAM. (FYI: the more natural the better – butter has nutrients, kitchen sprays have artificial chemicals. You make the call.)

Fat will keep us fuller longer, that’s true. Fat remains in our system from 5-7 hours. There are also plenty of vitamins and minerals in chicken skin, including niacin, vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, selenium (the feel-good nutrient.)  If I ever consume the skin I prefer it grilled on broasted.

My point is to not condemn Dr. Oz. He has valuable information on his show and a limited time to present it. My intention is to protect against the snare by half-truths. Always question everything and do your research!

“For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.”  (Proverbs 27: 10,11)

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Resolve to Become Stronger in Your Health Goals

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”

Well not necessarily  – especially when it comes to what you eat. We have a choice and I trust you’ll choose life-giving nutrients.

Have you ever heard someone say that they’re “dying” for a piece of pie, fried chicken, bacon, mac and cheese or a hot fudge sundae? Yes those are delicious and I doubt if consuming a bit of anything will kill them if they are healthy to begin with and eating in moderation. However, if one suffers from diabetes or a heart condition, eventually wrong culinary choices could.

Anything is fine in moderation and there is no formula or one size-fits-all-diet-plan because each person is created chemically unique. With the billions on Earth who have lived, there has never been anyone exactly like you. Amazing isn’t it? (And “diet” is a generic term, meaning only what we consume each day. Therefore everyone’s on some kind of diet daily.)

Whoops wait, regarding that anything in moderation remark! (Written tongue-in-cheek.) I seemingly must add a caveat for those who will write to me and state if one is allergic to it or if it’s a poisonous berry DON’T consume it, so actually everything isn’t fine in moderation . . . sigh. My mother used to say, “Don’t put beans in your ears,” too, referring to whatever is basically common sense and should be easy to figure out as well.

So that being said, have you decided how important is it to YOU to consume healthier food? Do you love food more than playing with your children, hiking in the Alps, dancing at your daughter’s wedding or being  able to sit in an amusement park seat? Sadly, these are true incidents of patients of mine who loved food more than the joys of life itself.

Abundant health isn’t something you can obtain by sending in a form and receiving a certificate in return. Nor is it something you can purchase for any amount of money. Health can only be acquired through individual desire, a denial of self and a disciplined nature. Ask yourself how much do you want to be healthy? Or have you truly made food an idol which you’d rather not give up?

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song.” (Psalm 28:7)

Why do so many think of God as Lucy to our Charlie Brown? Remember how Lucy used to snatch away poor Charlie’s football when he was hopeful she’d finally hold it for him? God only wants to provide GOOD for us! He gave us all these fabulous choices for us to eat, why don’t we choose those? It wasn’t God who messed up our environment – we did just fine by ourselves by greedily plundering the soil of nutrients.

There’s always a trade-off to health.  As mentioned, there’s discipline involved. I’ve seen what wrong choices do, not only to one’s waistline, but to one’s mental capacity as well. We ARE what we eat and I’d prefer to maintain adequate energy and mental function as long as possible. I enjoy being flexible enough to touch my toes as I approach age 70. Please choose health, you won’t be sorry!

This is a time of the harvest when Farmer’s Markets have an abundance of fabulous fruits, vegetables, cheeses and herbs for purchase. Fresh herbs and spices add flavor to foods so much more than plain salt. Experiment with different selections. Praise God for a truly abundant life!

 

How Does One Determine Happiness?

How many times have we overheard someone say, “If I could only win that lottery, my troubles would be over!” “If only we lived in a larger home, we wouldn’t fight all the time.” or “If only I were thinner, I would be happy!”

Would incredible wealth, a great home, a CEO position, perfect body or perhaps gourmet meals with servants to wait on you every night really make us happy?

What happens when you reach that goal but there is still emptiness within your soul? What fills the void then? Food? Food can’t hug anything but your hips.

Adam was created by God Himself, with the perfect physique, placed in a perfect world but he still wanted something more. Walking with God wasn’t enough for him, and he reached for something he shouldn’t. Even living in a perfect environment didn’t bring happiness!

Don’t judge him too harshly. Today we call it “Keeping up with the Joneses.” Many desire what someone else has: an 80-inch TV, a Lamborghini, luxury vacations, an Oscar . . . a 22-inch waist.

Will having a perfect body make you happy?

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

A pure and grateful heart is more pleasing to the Lord than a small waistline or celebrity status.

Perhaps relationships will make us happy? Abraham, Isaac and Jacob thought that, but quickly discovered that spouses, siblings, friends and children can break a heart. Humans have character flaws and will eventually let you down. Let our plumb line be centered not on others, but on Christ who is truly perfect.

David was “a man after God’s own heart.” He found God’s favor and yet it wasn’t enough. He lusted after something he couldn’t have – Bathsheba. He knew better, yet risked God’s wrath for momentary pleasure. Sexual addiction can’t bring joy but one cannot build a foundation of happiness on someone else’s pain. God’s Word who should anchor one’s marriage.

Maybe money will instill happiness? It is futile to believe that if we won the lottery, our worries would be over. Does great wealth provide security?

No, not even King Solomon found happiness in wealth. Solomon possessed greater monetary possessions than anyone and yet declared, “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:1b). Power and other materialistic provisions require a heavier responsibility.

Searching to fill a void in your life without God leads to various addictions to mask pain. People fill life’s empty voids with things. Food is also a thing. The chemicals found in food indeed increase endorphins, providing comfort, happiness and energy but it is temporary. So are matrial possessions. You will ultimately search for additional fulfillment.

Find real joy from within by trusting in Christ’s sacrifice which brings Salvation, Peace and True Joy. It is a gift from the Lord!

The apostle Paul began his life with great wealth but gratefully relinquished it for God’s greater glory. He discovered what was important in life: contentment within God’s boundaries. Let Christ be the center of your influence and experience real Joy!

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12)

 

Intentional Motivation

One Sunday morning my husband and I were on our way to church when we got behind what used to be called a “Sunday driver.”  He was trudging along about 10 mph below the speed limit with seemingly not a care in the world.

Coming to stoplight on a four lane street, it became safe and convenient to pull around him which we intended to do. All of a sudden when the light turned green, this gentleman revved his engine 10 mph OVER the speed limit, intentionally not allowing us to pass.

My husband joked, “He must have realized he was late.” (Yeah right  . . more like ego.)

I, of course, immediately connected it to a motivational post. I remarked, “Man, I wish my patients had been that motivated at times!”

I thought back to when I worked with doctors. A few of my younger patients had always thought they’d improve their diet later.  After all, I have time to live it up, so don’t bug me! My system can handle junk & fast foods just fine. For now, they hadn’t a care in the world.

That is until they were diagnosed with obesity combined with diabetes or other illness. All of a sudden they had a reason to become healthier.

One, “Sherry” wanted to try out for the cheerleading team but realized she hadn’t enough energy to attempt that. Besides that challenge, all that junk food was affecting her skin and she suffered from severe acne which in turn make her self-conscious.

“Chuck” had already tried out for the basketball and later the baseball team but was winded after completing a few sprints. He never made either team. Now he was gaining weight. When his father began noticing a change in his demeanor, a doctor diagnosed Chuck with Type 2 Diabetes. His father brought him in for nutritional counseling.

These two teens faced similar challenges but achieved different outcomes.

Sherry had been bullied over her weight gain by typical mean-girls found in high schools all over this country. The more they teased her, the more junk food she ate to numb the pain. Her self-esteem was plummeting but I could still see a fire in her eyes. She desired to turn her life around and took to heart my pro-active nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes. Gradually she learned that no food could fill the void in her heart, only the Lord could. Months later I gazed upon a confident and independent young woman who decided to run for and got elected to her student government.

On the other hand, Chuck wanted to please his dad, which is one reason he tried out for the teams. But Chuck’s athletic skills didn’t equal his father’s expectations. Since his dad thought he was smarter than God, the twig didn’t fall far from the tree. Each session Chuck sat glumly, listening. Consume a variety of better foods? “I already know that,” Chuck responded. Really? Then why wasn’t he doing so?

“You believe in God? Good – even the demons believe that and shudder.”  (James 2:19)

Head knowledge isn’t heart knowledge. The demons had no desire to submit to God’s control and neither did Chuck.

There had to be a reason Chuck was self-destructing. Questioning a possible veiled reason brought a tense, “He’s not a basket case!” from his father.  I didn’t see Chuck after that and fervently prayed he didn’t advance to drugs to numb the pain of perceived unacceptance.  We are all unique with different talents and gifts given by God.

What is your motivation? It should be to first honor our Lord. Become a New Creation!

 

 

A Tribute to Our Little Walking Buddy

I’ve been putting off this post for weeks because of my broken heart.  Our beloved Lhasa was only 10 years old when she unexpectedly developed bladder stones last month and had to be put down. Our other two Lhasa Apso’s lived 16 1/2 years and we had no reason to expect she wouldn’t live as long. It was with a heavy heart we made that decision rather than have her endure an intricate painful operation which  provided only a 50% chance of survival at best.

For many years she was my little walking buddy. She kept me on my toes literally. Our two mile walk in Arizona was one I wrote of frequently. She rode shotgun beside me on the passenger seat while I drove the 2500 mile drive from Arizona to Ohio.

I used illustrations I saw in her and our beautiful 14 year old Cocker Spaniel’s behavior many times in my blogs.  It became easy to relate canine behavior to our relationship with God and health. She inspired me to write about trust, discipline and eating habits among other topics which can be found via my search engine on my webpage.

When she was a puppy she was so sweet and affectionate! She would climb upon my chest, wrap her little paws around me and give me an actual hug.  She was a favorite at the dog park at the RV resort we lived in at the time.

Then something happened after we moved into our new home. In most Arizona communities, people went to work, drove home, entered their enclosed garage and sat out on their private patio afterwards, enclosed behind a 6 foot high fence. We failed to keep her socialized and she became over-protective and sadly mean-spirited with strangers.

This was a terrible mistake on our part but we learn from our mistakes. Dog owners aren’t perfect, neither are parents or individuals. I needed to forgive myself and instill necessary changes. So I vowed last year after our beautiful Cocker Spaniel passed, that we would absolutely socialize our transitional pup, “Mr. No-no.” Happily he has become the most loving of pets.

Five years ago when I began this blog, I had no idea what God had in store for me – that He’d ask me to become a pastor’s wife 3 years ago. (You want me to do what God?) I never expected His leading to take me down this pathway. But I began to listen to my Master’s Voice, trust HIm and grew in a closer relationship with my Lord.  Throughout the decision some tough choices had to be made. Now here I am in northeast Ohio surrounded by family and friends, being more blessed than I ever imagined.

It takes an enormous amount of faith to trust God, even through sorrow, knowing that He only has our best interests at heart. Life is messy, hurtful, unfair at times. She was my last tie to my daughter and for that I will be forever grateful for having her in my life.

Someday I’ll know why God’s pathway has lead me to where He wants me to be now, even amidst sorrow. For I’d rather have memories of my little Lhasa buddy than to never have had her in my life at all.  Until then, He has His arms around me, soothing me with comforting Words. All I need to do is trust and learn not pull on my leash. Trust – it’s a liberating word.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

 

 

“You believe whaaaat . . . ???

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Importance of Sleep, Heavenly Sleep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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