Friday, October 14, 2011

Clean, Healthy Eating Tips

Recently, i've become totally convinced by several nutritionists I know and authors I follow that clean, whole eating is the way to go. This isn't a diet i've started, but a lifestyle change of how we should approach food for the rest of our lives. I'd like to share all the information i've learned lately with you because I believe that clean eating is how God intended us to consume food from the beginning and it's the most beneficial to our overall health. 

This is such an important message not only in America where obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are major health issues, but especially in the South where i'm from. I grew up in Mississippi (the state highest in obesity) and now I live in Alabama. 

If you'd like to check out my sources that changed my approach to eating, look at Kristen's blog "Naturally Free RD," Edna's blog "Shape the Delta," Tosca Reno's Eat-Clean Diet,  and Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Eating and Cooking. And my motivation for honoring God with how I eat is Lysa TerKeurst. Check out her book and blog on "Made to Crave." Two other wonderful ladies that contributed to my new way of thinking are my friends Lindsey (Clinical Dietician) and Jordan (Health & Wellness Expert, Nutritionist). I know that these are just a few of the people out there who are promoting clean eating, whole foods and an active lifestyle.

Basic Principles of Healthy Eating:
- Eat clean and whole foods. In other words, eat natural foods that come from the ground or water (land and sea, people!) not that have been produced by man in a factory (such as hot dogs). If you were grocery shopping, you would want to mostly stick to the outskirts of the building in produce, fish and dairy. If fresh produce tends to go bad quickly in your home, you can also buy it canned (make sure it’s no sugar added or in light syrup) or frozen.
- Grill, broil, steam or bake your foods rather than frying.
- Eat a variety of foods. Don’t cut a whole food group from your diet such as carbs or fats. There are healthy options in these food groups. The only type of food you should totally cut out is Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs).
- Avoid processed foods that have added sugars, sodium and preservatives. Also, avoid white carbohydrates (white pasta, bread and rice).
- Add lemon juice to your water to increase the electrolyte value.
- Avoid empty-calorie foods and beverages (soft drinks and energy drinks).
- Whole grain is better than whole wheat when shopping for bread, pasta, crackers, rice.
- Avoid over-sized portions. Eat the recommended portion at your meals then if you’re still hungry, drink a glass of water or milk to feel fuller.
- Use honey, maple syrup, Stevia in the raw, or regular old-fashioned white sugar as your sweetner. Move away from artificial sweetners.
- To add flavor and increase your satisfaction when eating, use more herbs and spices.
- At least one day a week, don’t eat meat. A lot of people do “Meatless Mondays.” For just one day, try to eat like a vegetarian even if you love meat.
- If the increase of fiber in your diet is causing digestive issues, try drinking water with a tbsp of apple cider vinegar to ease digestion before eating a meal.
- An ideal post-workout snack might include whey protein. Try a whey protein shake such as vanilla, chocolate or strawberry.
- Take in more Vitamin C to boost your immune system, energize your body and help with burning fat.
- Eat 5 - 6 SMALL meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar stable, energy up, and prevent over-eating later in the day.

- Cucumbers and celery are awesome snack foods because they are rich in Vitamin C, help reduce blood pressure, help lower cholesterol, and act as a diuretic. They are made up of mostly water to keep you hydrated and flush out toxins. Eaten regularly, they can help prevent kidney or bladder stones. They have little to no calories so you can eat as much as you want. The water content helps give you clear, healthy skin (actually, clean eating in general will help you lose weight, have better skin, hair and more energy). They don't have any flavor so you can dip them in anything. I like to dip them in hummus for some protein or light ranch dressing.
If you’re feeling deprived, then eat whatever it is you’re wanting to eat when you want it. If you tell yourself that you can’t have that treat, then you’re likely to binge on it later. Allow yourself to eat it, but only have a small amount. Or, choose 1 day a week that you allow yourself that treat whether it’s a brownie, frappuccino, or cocktail. 
If you can, find a healthier substitute for the thing that you’re craving. If your craving the chocolate in a brownie, try to replace it with dark chocolate candy or chocolate flavored frozen yogurt. A healthy cocktail might be vodka with light orange juice, light cranberry juice or light lemonade with a slice of lime. Some girls like to mix a Crystal Light packet with vodka and diet soda. Guys might try a light or ultra-light beer. Having 4 oz of red wine every now and then with dinner has heart-healthy benefits.

How your dinner plate should look:
- Half of your plate should be made up of fruits and vegetables
- Ideally, your plate should be 1/4 fruits, 1/4 vegetables, 1/4 lean protein and 1/4 grains
- Make at least half of your grains whole grains
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk, cheese and yogurt
- Drink 1 glass of milk or water with your meal
Think back to shows about the 1950s (Leave It to Beaver, The Wonder Years, Happy Days, Lassie anyone?) when moms served a meat, starch, vegetable, and fruit with a tall glass of milk for their family. For example, lean beef or baked chicken, broccoli or green beans, sweet potatoes or corn, and a side fruit salad. All the major food groups were represented along with a serving of calcium. This was a tradition that my grandmother still follows to this day. Not a bad idea! Why have we moved away from this?

Super Foods You Should Be Eating:
Greek yogurt
Fat-free milk
Lean beef
Beans/ lentils
Nuts & Seeds (almonds & walnuts)
Oatmeal/ oats
Olive oil
Butternut squash
Sweet potatoes
Red & yellow peppers
Asian pears
Dark chocolate
Cranberries (fresh or dried)
Green tea
Lean turkey (I like Jennie-O)

Daily exercise:
You can walk off pounds by simply walking in low intensity (slower pace) and high intensity (faster pace) intervals for 20 - 30 minutes every day. Walking in intervals allows your heart rate to get up faster and better than if you walk at the same pace for twice as long. 
For example, a slow place could be around 3.4 mph and a faster pace around 3.8 mph.
Getting your heart rate up is what makes your body start burning calories. Also, walking builds strength in your heart, lungs and muscles. The more often you do it, the easier it’ll become and the more you can do. Your muscles will become accustomed to the exercise and better able to do what you want of them without soreness or tiredness. Within a few weeks, you will be capable of running! Even if it’s a slow jog at the same pace as your fast walk.
Another great way to burn calories while walking is to do incline intervals. Switching from walking at a 0% incline to even a 2% incline helps build your muscles and shed fat. 
If you’re on a treadmill, you can work your way up to higher percentages of incline to simulate walking up a hill. Then lower your incline level as though you’re walking back down the hill. If you live in an area with hills, walk outside instead. Walking outside is better in that you get some Vitamin D from the sunshine, your workout goes by faster because there’s more to look at, and you get to breathe in fresh air. 
If you want to tone your biceps and triceps while walking (I know my triceps are a problem area), you can carry 2 - 5 lb weights in your hands and pump your arms as you walk. Your arms should swing like you’re a robot- fists pointed straight ahead and arms moving front to back rather than side to side in front of your chest. Your arms should remain at the side of your ribcage. If you can find a terrain that’s rough, such as sand, that’s better to walk in for building your calve muscles and toning the muscles under your booty.
Basically, walking has a lot of healthy benefits and is a great way to start an exercise routine if you’ve been sedentary for a long time. Running is the next best cardio exercise, even for just 30 minutes 4 days a week. If you can’t stand the thought of walking or running because you find it too boring, try moving more in ways that are playful, like playing basketball, swimming, playing tennis, frisbee golf, tag football, soccer, or taking up karate classes, dance classes, or yoga (which is great for toning).

The Ideal Day According to Nutritionists:
Upon waking up, start your day by drinking a glass of water before anything else such as coffee, tea or juice.
Take a short 20 minute walk (such as walking the dog, walking up and down flights of stairs, on the treadmill if you have one) before you eat breakfast.
Breakfast: 1/2 cup uncooked oats (oatmeal with whatever toppings you like. I like canned
  pumpkin or 1 banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, Stevia, and dried mixed fruit)
1 glass of fat-free milk, 1 egg, 1 cup yogurt or added nuts to your oatmeal for protein
1/2 cup fruit (a variety of fruit, not just one kind)
1 glass orange juice (optional)
When you're at work, get up every hour and walk or move in some way. Also, sip on water all day. Don't wait until you're overly thirsty to get something to drink.
When it’s been 3 hours since breakfast, eat a small snack: 1 apple with string cheese,  1/2 cup nuts, 1 cup yogurt with berries, 1 banana, or whole grain crackers with hummus or cheese (I love brie, reduced fat mozzarella, feta, and swiss)
Before lunch, drink 1 glass of water, take a multi-vitamin and go for a short walk. It's better to take a multi-vitamin before you put food in your stomach, but be sure to eat soon so you don't feel nauseas. They can be hard on an empty stomach and make people feel woozy. 
Lunch: Rainbow salad with greens, different veggies or fruits, avocado, tuna or turkey or  grilled chicken or beans as lean protein, with an olive oil based dressing, and whole grain bread or crackers
Mid-afternoon: Drink 1 glass of water and take a short walk
Afternoon snack: 1 cup yogurt with high-fiber cereal, 1 banana with 1 tbsp peanut butter, or dark chocolate and fruit

Do your high intensity workout before dinner: 30 - 60 mins exercise including strength training. Drink 1 glass of water after and eat a snack if it will be a while before dinner.
Dinner: Start off with 1 cup broth-based soup like miso, gazpacho or minstrone.
4 oz grilled salmon, chicken, turkey, lean beef or other white fish
1/2 brown rice or whole grain pasta
1 cup vegetables
1/2 cup red wine from time to time

Dessert: Wait 1 hour after dinner before eating dessert. Try 1 cup fruit with chocolate syrup, apple slices with honey and cinnamon, or frozen fruit bars
After dinner, walk if you haven’t gotten to throughout the day and drink 1 more glass of water before bed. Aim for 8 hours of sleep.

Here's to a healthier lifestyle, losing weight and feeling great!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Love is...

Love is patient (long-suffering)
Love is kind (and sweet)
It is not jealous (does not envy)
It is not boastful (does not brag)
It is not proud (or arrogant)
It is not rude (does behave unseemingly)
It is not self-seeking (does not demand its own way)
It is not easily angered (or irritable)
It is not resentful (keeps no record of wrongs)
Love is not unjust (does not delight in evil)
But rejoices in truth (when good overcomes)
It always protects (never gives up)
It believes all things (never loses faith)
It always trusts (is always hopeful)
It always perseveres (endures all things)
Love never fails (or ends)

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

If this is what love looks like, and we're called to love others (Mark 12:31 our neighbors and Matthew 5:43-44 our enemies) then I'm falling short in loving my husband, my parents, my friends, and strangers the way God defines love. 

I particularly struggle with patience and long-suffering, pride, demanding my own way, being easily-angered, holding a record of wrongs, and always staying hopeful. 

But thankfully, God is love (1 John 4:8) and if his Spirit lives in us, then we have the love of God in us and the ability to love people like this. 

Jesus said, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another"(John 13:35). 

If we love others, then we know that we have passed from death to life. Anyone who does not love remains in death (1 John 3:14). 

Whoever loves his/or her Christian brothers and sisters lives in the light, and there is nothing to cause them to stumble (1 John 2:10). 

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Discovering the "want to"

"If you want to be perfect (whole, complete, lacking in nothing) then go sell all your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me."
Matthew 19:21

In Matthew 19, a rich young man comes to see Jesus and explains that he has been following all the rules (living according to God's commandments and being a good person) but still feels that something is missing from his pursuit of God. 

"All these I have kept," the young man said to Jesus. "What do I still lack?" Matthew 19:20

In other words, he was asking Jesus how could he really get close to God.

Jesus responded by telling him to sell all of his material belongings and give his money to the poor then come and follow after him. The rich man then goes away sad because he was very wealthy (19:21) and didn't want to give up the one thing that consumed him. He was so full with his riches that he couldn't see how malnourished, unsatisfied, and empty his soul was. 

He's just like people (such as myself) who refuse to eat a healthier breakfast (like egg whites and fruit) so they can fill themselves up with chocolate-frosted doughnuts instead. Even when their bodies regret it later and the guilt sets in, they still refuse to consider giving up the thing they crave and desire most. Why is that?

Lysa suggests it's because God made all of us with an inherent emptiness in our souls- a craving to be satisfied- that only He can fill.

The response Jesus gave to the rich man wasn't directed only for people who have a lot of money. You might be thinking already, "I'm glad I'm not rich and don't have this problem with loving money." Jesus meant this for any of us who wallow in whatever abundance we have (and boy, do we sure have an abundance of food in this country!). He calls all of us to give up the one thing we love and crave more than him in order to have more of him- in order to have what will truly satisfy and complete us so that we're not lacking anything.

If we want to gain, we must give up.
If we want to be filled, we must deny ourselves.
If we want to truly get close to God, we'll have to distance ourselves from other things.
If we want to be victorious over our cravings, we'll have to redirect them to God.

* All notes above from Lysa Terkeurst's "Made to Crave" book *

When it comes to my struggle with food (craving it over spending time with God and making it my satisfaction rather than Him) it's not that I don't know the "how to" for living a healthy lifestyle and losing weight. It's that I don't possess the "want to." Lysa talks about this in her book because she has struggled with the same dilemma. I've lost weight before. In fact, just two years ago I was very fit and healthy at my ideal body weight (or within 3 lbs of it) and felt great! What happened? My "want to" for being that way was wrong. My motivation was a number on a scale, to be a size 4, to look more attractive, and to impress my friends and family with my dramatic results. These incentives don't lead to long-lasting weight loss. I've realized that the only way I can be healthy and stay healthy is to be motivated by pleasing and glorifying God with my body. By adopting God's perspective of food in my life and relying on Him to be victorious over my temptations.

In order to be perfect (whole, complete, satisfied, lacking in nothing) I have to literally starve my flesh and feed my Spirit. It's uncomfortable and painfully difficult to deny your flesh. But I have to deny my carnal desires that I know won't make me happy in the long run, turn away from, and give up the thing I love more than God to follow after Christ.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Fit Collegiate

Pumpkin-Banana Oatmeal
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup water
1 banana, melted in microwave
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
(optional toppings) Love Grown cranberry pecan granola, dark chocolate chips, almonds, dried or fresh berries

This has become my new favorite breakfast! And dinner a couple of times.. Thanks to Anna who writes at The Fit Collegiate. It's warm, satisfying, yummy and filling! She's a rising junior going to college in Nashville (Yay! Southern girls represent) and promotes a healthy lifestyle while being off at school. She encourages girls, and college students in general, to maintain a balanced life- eating well and exercising- so that you don't gain the dreaded freshman 15 (or 20 was my case). She's managed to have a great college experience without losing self-control and putting on the pounds. Check out her site for good recipe and snack ideas! Thanks to her, i'm a new fan of veggie burgers. I tried one earlier this week and loved it- who knew! I can't wait to try some of the Trader Joe's and Amy's organic products as well!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Honoring God (and our spouse) with our body

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (where the Spirit of the Lord takes up residence), who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. You were bought at a price (you and your body are valuable to the Lord). Therefore, honor God with your bodies (by keeping it clean, pure, and empty so that there's only room for His Spirit).”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (in such a way that brings him glory and honor, imitating the image of Christ).”
1 Corinthians 10:31

“Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.” Ephesians 5:28-29 (The same can be said for wives to love their husbands as their own bodies.)

My personal motivations for honoring God and my husband with my body:

My body no longer belongs to me. My body was bought at a price by God. I have died to sin and am now alive in Christ as a slave to righteousness. I want to honor God with my body in everything I do. As the temple of his Holy Spirit, I want to keep it clean and pure and make sure it's healthy so that I can live a longer life for Him. I want to be around to accomplish His will for my life- parenting my future children and ministering to others. I don't want to cut my life short because of health problems that I could've controlled and prevented.
My body also now belongs to my husband. When we got married, we became one. I want to respect not only God, but also my husband with my body. I want to keep it fit, healthy and attractive to him. He's affected by how much I choose to eat and exercise. My appearance and being in shape definitely affects the area of intimacy in our relationship as well.
Lastly, my body affects the lives of my future children. I'm motivated by them and their well-being to have a healthy body during pregnancy. I also want to have the energy to take care of, play with and keep up with them as they grow up!

Other scriptures that inspire and motivate me to take care of my body with healthy eating and exercising, or that convict me of eating for the wrong reasons:

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is my strength.” Psalm 73:26

“Be not among winebibbers nor among gluttonous eaters of meat. For the drunkard and glutton shall come to poverty, and drowsiness shall clothe them.” Proverbs 23:20-21

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6

Jesus said, ‘Those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again.” John 4:14

“My people have committed two sins against me: They have forsaken me, the Spring of Living Water, and have dug broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13

“Do not love the world or anything in it. Love of the world is hatred towards God.” 1 John 2:15

“Keep watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation, for the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41

Satisfy me in the morning with your unfailing love, Oh God.” Psalm 90:14

Apart from me, you can do nothing.” John 15:5
With God, all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

“Love the Lord your God with all that you are.” Mark

“Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay and labor for food that does not satisfy? Listen to me and eat what is good for you- the finest of food.” Isaiah 55:2

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life which the Son of Man will give you. On him, God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” John 6:27

Friday, April 15, 2011


Since this blog was started because of my issues with food and it's founded on a spiritual, God-centered approach to overcoming those issues, I want to share anything that I come across to help others who are struggling with overeating or emotional eating, too.

If you want to start from the beginning and understand a little more about this area of my life, you can read the first entry here.

This week I found an interesting news artice from on how emotional eaters can still stay slim. You can read it here. It offers tips on strategic eating for those who turn to food for comfort, without letting it get out of hand and becoming a problem. Michelle May, M.D. who is the author of "Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat" says that "you can comfort yourself with food and still stay thin by following some simple ground rules."

These strategies include: Only eating what you really love (otherwise, you'll eat more of something that isn't that good to reach a point of satisfaction), making it blow your mind (taking the time and focusing your attention on what you're eating instead of eating while watching tv or working. This distracts you from enjoying it so you'll end up eating more), not eating on an empty stomach, and bagging the guilt (otherwise, you miss out on the full pleasure of eating the treat you want. Guilt can lead to a vicious cycle. As we feel guilt for eating more than we should or for the wrong motives, we want to comfort and get rid of that feeling. So we develop an "I give up" mentality and just eat more!)

Two other great articles I read just this morning come from writers at (In)Courage. The first one titled "Honestly" is written by the author of "Made to Crave," Lysa TerKeurst. You may remember I mentioned her and her new book on my other blog last week. She discusses her personal battle with comfort-eating and her weight loss journey since realizing that she was ready to do something about it. It challenges us to face our problems that we're making excuses for or procrastinating dealing with and being totally honest with ourselves about our sin. She touches on the physical, spiritual, and mental aspects of the battle to change in this area.

Lastly, Sarah Mae's post titled "The Good Kind of Gluttony" focuses on the feasting of God's Word and promises, filling ourselves up with the Spirit of God instead of trying to find life and satisfaction in anything else other than Him.

I hope you take the chance to read one or all of these if you're struggling with this issue in your life. They offer great encouragement.

Also, in case you haven't heard about it, there's a whole ministry aimed to help people have a biblical approach to weight loss and overall health management. It's called First Place 4 Health. The group study started at First Baptist Church in Houston and has grown to become a nationwide ministry. They promote Christ-centered priorities such as prayer, Bible study and scripture memory. They address the entirety of a person- mind, emotions, body, and spirit- in the healing process as well. You can find success stories, recipes, health articles, workout dvds, books, bible studies and food journals all on their website. I know of a couple of women through my mom who have benefitted from this program or just from the "First Place for Health" book.

Again, I'd have to promote reading Lysa's "Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire With God, Not Food." I hope to read it soon when i'm not in the middle of two other studies! If you want to follow her blog, just click here. You can read her bio story, her daily blog, all the articles she has written, and watch videos of her speaking engagements!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Turning Water into Wine

"The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus' mother told him, 'They have no more wine.' Jesus replied, 'Dear woman, that is not our problem. What does that have to do with me? My time has not yet come.' But his mother told the servants, 'Do whatever he tells you.' Nearby there were six stone water jars used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants to fill the jars with water. When the jars had been filled, the water turned into wine. This miraculous sign at Cana was the first time that Jesus revealed his glory and performed a miracle. His disciples saw and believed in him."
John 2:1-11

I'm sure that we could all interpret this passage in various ways and discover numerous meanings in it, as is true with most stories in the Bible that teach us different lessons. This story is a significant one because it recounts the first instance in which Jesus performed a miraculous sign in a public setting with so many people bearing witness, including his disciples. Although their presence, and the role of the servants, is barely mentioned, I think there's something important to observe and consider regarding their part in the story.

If I had been one of the servants at this wedding celebration and Jesus asked me to fill an empty jar with water when they were needing wine, I probably would have at least shot him a confused, judging glance. I might have even asked him politely with hesitation, "Umm, Jesus, you do realize that they are out of wine, not water, right? I just don't want you to be embarrassed in front of all these people when you bring them water instead of what they asked for."

The servants didn't do this though. There's no mention of them questioning his commands. Despite what they may have been thinking about such an odd request, they did just as he asked them without hesitation or a word coming from their mouth. Now, you might say that's because they were servants and it was their job to do as they were told. This may be true, but as servants and followers of Jesus Christ today, aren't we called and expected to do the same thing?

How often do we as humans (especially women) question and complain when we first receive a request, instruction or command from God? I know i'm quick to ask "Why, God?" because I want to know where he's going with this. I always want to be in "the know" which shows that I'm not trusting God and letting him have authority in my life. I want to be spared from feeling embarrassed in front of other people so I often ask "Are you sure you meant to say that? Are you sure you want me to do that?" I assume that he's wrong or mistaken or I try to persuade him to change his mind. In general, we simply doubt the word of God. We doubt that what he says is true, that he will keep his promises to us, and that his way is really in our best interest.

What I learned from this passage is that instead of questioning or doubting God, maybe I should react the way the servants did and just obey him (without any hesitation, consultation, mediation or procrastination). Everyone who was there that day witnessed this miracle and his disciples believed in him as a result, as i'm sure many other people did because of what they saw. Perhaps when we choose to obey God and follow his will despite how crazy it seems, we too will witness a miracle. Other people in our lives might see it too and come to believe in Him. I wonder if the servants thought he was crazy. I'm sure they did because they were human like me. The important thing is they chose to submit to him despite what their mind and emotions were telling them. I could learn from them!

Or maybe they didn't think he was crazy, because as we see God answer our prayers, perform miracles in our life, and direct us in our decisions along good paths, we come to realize that he's proven himself trustworthy and good and right every time.

Perhaps if we trusted him more, doubted him less and handed ourselves over to him as empty jars ready to be filled with whatever he has planned, we too would witness and experiences more miracles in our lives. If Jesus could turn water into wine then, we know that he can still perform miracles in our lives today through his Spirit that lives in us. We can bring him our brokenness and emptiness. We can hand over our lives in complete surrender knowing that he can and will turn it into something good. God created the world out of nothing. Therefore, we can believe in him to create something out of our nothingness, or something grand out of little and something good out of bad.

We just have to be clean, empty jars (ready to trust and obey him) so that he can fill us up and work the miracle in our life that we're wanting, needing and waiting on him for.