Tag Archive | nutrition

How Does Food Control Us?

Do you wonder also why you suddenly crave something salty, crunchy or a piece of chocolate? As a nutritional counselor, studying the mind and body is a fascinating profession. Many false beliefs will challenge my patients. Some believe eating right is simply a matter of willpower, but it’s not.

Here are several reasons why we eat:

Reason #1:

The answer literally starts in the mind with the hypothalamus. Our bodies need nutritional balance, which we often don’t select. The hypothalamus acts like a little drill instructor indicating what nutrients you require and what food supplies it.

For example, if you haven’t consumed enough copper, the hypothalamus will torment you until you reach for a food containing it. Kale contains copper – so does chocolate.  Which would you reach for? (Yeah, sure you’d choose the Kale chips.)  Therefore it is important to  eat a well-balanced diet from the beginning or it’ll take enormous effort to overcome unhealthy cravings. You’ll become frustrated and quit, believing it’s your lack of willpower. It isn’t, it’s about physiology.

Reason #2:

Emotions and memory can be your best friend or worst enemy. One example: your childhood affects your eating habits today.

If you were poor or had to compete with eight siblings, you might be a fast eater. You might believe that it’s not going to be there tomorrow, so I better eat as much as I can now! Therefore, you’ll consume food without chewing enough to release enzymes or place more on your plate than you can eat.  Did your mother ever profess, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach!”

As you age, hopefully you understand that you are neither poor nor have to fight off others for that last cupcake or slice of pizza. But now you can have as much as you want, whenever you want, creating gluttony or closet eating.

Talk yourself into success, recognizing that you are an adult and only answer to God for your eating behaviors. Do you believe God would allow you to starve?  On the contrary, He only wants what is best for His children as He cared for the Israelites when they wandered in the desert:

“At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”  (Exodus 16:12)

God however, provided enough meat and manna only for one day. God never stuffed His children with more food than they required for energy. Still the Israelites complained, didn’t they? Human nature never changes! “I don’t want salad! I want a big juicy hamburger with greasy French fries and a frosted malt and I want it NOW!”

Reason #3:

Insulin. Have you ever had a hazardous encounter? Driven on ice or thought someone was following you? Under stress your heart raced and your body instinctively went into a “flight or fight” mode. That drew blood away from vital organs into your outer extremities, ready for action. What happened next? When the threat was over, you probably reached for comfort food. Why?

When the body is under stress, it readily prepares for the next crisis. Routine blood insulin is lost quickly.  Therefore, under constant daily stress (work, children, finances) you are always hungry, seemingly “for no reason whatsoever” in your mind. I just need more willpower, you tell yourself. Not true. What you need, is find a way to relax . . . a walk, bubble bath, Bible meditation, soft music or other activity to conquer your stressful life.

Health begins in the mind. Recognize the many reasons your body protects you physiologically and strive to honor it for doing so!

“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!

Why Make Dietary Rules Complicated?

 

While on Earth, Jesus didn’t insist on complex, laborious, ritualistic do’s and do not’s on how to live a pious life. Rather than repressing his disciples with a lengthy, involved list of rules and regulations, Jesus encouraged Believers to live by God’s Ten Commandments which are clear-cut and simplistic. These principles projected explicit guidelines on leading a Holy life and honoring God as well as the personal temple of the Holy Spirit within us.

In  Matthew 22:34-39, the Pharisees and Sadducees approached Jesus with a question to test him.  Those leaders still believed  in following complicated religious ceremonial regulations and practices. But Christ had come to fulfill those requirements. Over 450 Old Testament Scriptures prophesied of the coming Messiah. (And He Fulfilled Every One!)

As those Jewish leaders tried to trap him, Jesus silenced them by declaring that they failed to know the Scriptures and that’s why they couldn’t  understand!  The truth is that one will never be misled by false beliefs if he comprehends and memorizes God’s Word!

Even today, many false preachers are trying to ensnare unbelievers into following ritualistic practices. Some declare that Christ’s sacrifice with its simplistic act of Salvation through Faith alone is too effortless as well. There must be some additional rules that we must follow, they declare, which the Lord inadvertently forgot to tell us about . . . or added afterwards.

Not so. It is through the uncomplicated belief that Eternal Salvation is through Faith alone that we are saved. There is nothing else we need to do to receive Salvation except ask forgiveness for our sins and accept Christ’s gift. 

During my nutritional practice, some believe that the uncomplicated, healthy formula of consuming whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, as God advised since the world began, and then meat after the flood, is too simplistic as well! There must be a magic formula, the say, some complicated process to suffer thru in order to find truth . . .

There are some false diet guru’s today leading many astray through false, ritualistic eating plans. I’m continually researching false claims where others profess certain foods are now unhealthy: potatoes, eggs, nuts, red meat, dairy, bread. I bet you know where I stand on that.  (Gee, did Jesus make a mistake when he declared that he was the Bread of Life?)

Now as a former farm girl, I know the process of raising crops has changed over the years and tomatoes don’t taste like real garden tomatoes anymore, but I mean,  Seriously??? Fibrous whole grain bread is not unhealthy!

So many Christians fall for half-truths! Many are trusting in these complicated, formulaic diet programs which were never God’s plan from the beginning. (Genesis 1:29 and 9:3God’s guidelines for sound eating were given to Adam  in the Garden of Eden and are still true today.

God NEVER changes, nor does He make mistakes.In Hebrews 13:8 we read, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  What a comforting thought to anchor our beliefs upon.  Since God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, what would make us question whether His physiological design, rules and commands would change through the ages? 

Take care that you won’t be misled by false teaching or mistaken dietary claims.  We should live by sensible culinary guidelines because we strive to be holy and God-honoring, not become fearful through professing man-made false claims.

Keeping Our Bones Stronger Throughout Life

When I developed osteoporosis, I tried to argue that the test was inaccurate. I eat too well! I protested. I exercise daily, walk, lift weights, . . . so the test must be wrong. After all, as a nutritionist, I know what to eat and practice what I preach! But as the verse goes, “Pride Goeth Before a Fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

I had inherited my mother’s bone structure. I was arguing with God and one shouldn’t argue with our Maker. I should be grateful for how He created me.

“You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”? (Isaiah 29:16)

God’s smarter than me.

Did you know that there is a simple way to determine your bone size? Wrap you thumb and your middle finger around your wrist. If you can overlap your fingers, you are small-boned. If your fingers just meet, you are medium and if your fingers don’t touch, you are large-boned. The smaller the bones, the more susceptible to osteoporosis. (Recently some dispute this method but it works for me.)

As in everything with God’s Handiwork, balance is the key to healthier living.

Calcium is essential for regulating the passage of nutrients in and out of cells and need to be taken with food. Vitamin D should be consumed alongside calcium, magnesium and boron (grapes, apples, nuts) for maximum effect.

Anyone over 18 should consume approximately 1000-1200 milligrams of calcium, spaced throughout the day. Too much calcium could manifest in kidney stones. Too little and you’ll not only develop osteoporosis but insomnia, nervousness, an irregular heartbeat, hypertension, aching joints, irritability, leg cramping and brittle nails.

Calcium assists with insomnia and is a natural tranquilizer. It’s one reason why stressed-out people run to creamy foods such as macaroni and cheese or ice cream when under pressure. Their body is crying out for calmness amidst life’s storms. Our protective hypothalamus in our brain is informing us this nutrient will help. (Fresh air  calms us too.)

What Foods Contain Calcium?

  1. Did you know skim milk contains more calcium than regular milk? (316 mg. versus 290)
  2. Consume vegetables such as: Arugula, kale, spinach, broccoli, Bok Choy, acorn squash, dandelion, collard, mustard or turnip greens.
  3. Beans and legumes are excellent sources of beneficial calcium. So are whole grains, bread and cereals, so watch out Paleo Diet activists. You are playing Russian Roulette. For God knows our frame and how our bodies work. (Psalm 103: 14)
  4. Almonds, cashews, sesame and sunflower seeds can be eaten in moderation (2 tablespoons daily.) Excellent on rich garden salads!
  5. Consume seafood: Salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovy, cod fish, oysters and crab.
  6. Calcium rich fruits are figs, kiwi, and fortified orange juice.
  7. Cheeses: Mozzarella, parmesan, Swiss, Laughing Cow. (The lighter the cheese the less cholesterol.)
  8. I usually recommend alfalfa tablets which can be found very cheaply. The roots of the alfalfa plant grow so deeply that they naturally contain many nutrients, including calcium.

It’s also important to consume foods high in the amino acid lysine along with calcium for maximum absorption. This is found in eggs, cheese, potatoes, red meat and soy. Amazingly, some of the foods forbidden on certain “diets.” Perhaps a mistake has been made? Is God or man correct? I’ll choose God every time, won’t you?

Bottom line: Calcium helps us lose weight, improves our mood and  keeps us healthy and younger looking! God knew it all the time! That’s good enough for me.