A Little Oil and A Little Faith

“I never fry with oil. I use broth or a little water.” My girlfriend recently declared war against her bathroom scale and her growing wardrobe, growing in size that is, from an 8 to a 12. She had it with the disappointing reflection in her mirror, with her decreasing health and declining feeling of wellbeing, and she was sharing with me one of her secrets to her success: no more oil.

Imagine a tablespoon of oil. Now imagine a tablespoon of oil in a fry pan and compare it to the amount we really use. Imagine a tablespoon of salad dressing. Now compare that to the amount we use on our salads. Most likely what we actually use is more like two tablespoons, maybe even three. Oil is calorie dense and one of the most likely contributors to our increasing weight gain. Get rid of the oil and lose weight, gain health, and feel better.

Cuisines across all nations use oil. I recently experimented with a cookie recipe using teff flour, a North African cereal grain, and a half a cup of oil, among other ingredients. I just wanted the benefit of the calcium in the teff flour so I left out the sugar but I never considered the oil. The recipe turned out nicely and I started eating it for breakfast. After a few days, I noticed I had gained weight and, knowing the only thing I changed in my diet was the teff flour recipe, I realized that the oil in it was the most likely culprit.

Like salt, oil can enhance the flavors in a recipe. Oil is also one of the tools used to enhance the flavors in processed foods. The more oil, the more taste and the more fat. Dr. Furhman has a neat little diagram of a stomach filled with 400 calories of oil compared with 400 calories of greens and vegetables. The difference is striking as the stomach is quite empty on 400 calories of oil, while quite full with 400 calories of vegetables. The point is that we are still hungry after eating 400 calories of oil because our stomach are still empty, while they are completely full after eating 400 calories of greens and vegetables.

Oil is rich and eating fried or oil-laden foods causes us to overeat. Too much of this type of eating can sicken us, give us stomach aches, and over a period of a lifetime, create some pretty serious illnesses for our heart and arteries. Oil is fat and though some are more healthful than others, a little oil goes a long way. Think one tablespoon; not three.

A little faith can go a long way too. Faith, like oil, enhances the flavors in life. But how do we begin to have faith in our scientific world? People often scoff at religion for its fairytale-like stories of miracles and heaven where angels sing in the clouds. How do we take the historical Jesus seriously? Just wondering if he really existed has stumped some folks. However, virtually all historians agree that he did exist. The historical events in the New Testament line up with other historical texts, and references to Jesus can be found in texts other than the Bible. Making the assumption that Jesus actually lived is not much of a leap. A lot of experts agree that he did walk the earth once upon a time.

But what a walk. Accounts of Jesus in the Bible have him walking on water, feeding thousands with only a couple of loaves of bread and two fish, and even raising people from the dead. And healing? It seems like that’s all Jesus did wherever he went. Is believing all that accredited to faith?

I’d say faith begins with believing that Jesus lived and then died specifically as a sacrifice for sinful man. That’s not much of a leap either since crucifixion in Roman times was a common punishment for crimes, and in Jesus’ case, for blasphemy–claiming to be God.

So imagine Jesus who was a good man by anyone’s standards, letting himself be punished for crimes he did not commit, the crime of hatred toward him, and declaring right up to the end that he was dying for the very folks who were killing him. Now imagine Jesus embodied the soul of God who willingly endured a physically cruel and ultimately fatal punishment to save us from an equally cruel and fatal spiritual punishment so that He could love us forever, even while we were hating him. Going from the first image to the second is the first leap of faith, a fairly large one because it requires the acknowledgement that we are prone to evil and deserve punishment.

The belief that the historical death of Jesus met all the requirements for God’s justice against the evil in this world will flavor our lives with joy and comfort because we can approach God in peace and speak to Him as our own dear Father. Acting out that tiny bit of faith does enormous things to our lives, but getting there requires a good look in the mirror.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Romans 5:10-11

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Discerning What is Nutritarian Food: Soy Products and the Dark Forces of Evil

Soy can lurk in unlikely places

Soy can lurk in unlikely places

The only dietetic advice my oncologist gave me was to stop eating soy. The thought that soy was bad for me never entered my mind until then. When I googled “Is soy bad for me,” I found a resounding “YES!” Soy is big business and touted as healthful but there are some very unhealthful aspects about soy.

Soy contains plant estrogens that can increase the level of estrogen in your body. This is bad news for women because some common types of breast cancer feed off of estrogen. Phytoestrogens in soy can also lower testosterone levels. In addition, soy is thought to interfere with thyroid functioning. Like most grains, soy contains lectins and phytates which also interfere with digestion. Fermenting soy can reduce the toxicity, but it is still wise to eat only small amounts of soy, preferably in the form of miso, tempeh, and nato. Really, all grains should be eaten in moderation.

Trying to discern what foods are nutritious is often a walk in the dark. I had gone through several health diets before I found Dr. Fuhrman’s. When I stumbled upon his wisdom, I knew he stood squarely in the light of truth for me. I don’t think I would have recognized the truth without experiencing the previous diets. These were, The Hallelujah Diet (raw food), The Whole Grain Diet (a very weird trip), and the Alkaline Diet. Except for the whole grain diet, I found Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian diet to be somewhat supportive of the raw food and alkaline diets, but providing much more flexibility and a wider variety of nutrition.

Finding out that foods I thought were healthy to be not so healthy was devastating, overwhelming me with a lack of will power to quit eating or drinking them. I loved soymilk. I used to drink the sugary vanilla kind (of course!). I still have trouble saying no to soy milk at Starbucks. Temptation to eat or drink the wrong things even when I know they are bad for me, reveals to me a flawed nature, a bent towards unhealthy living.

Once, when I was sitting at a table with several people headed for jail time, one young man talked about how as an eight year old, he used to steal cigarettes from his mom’s purse and smoke them. This was exciting to him at that age and almost impossible for him to stop. He said he knew because of this that there was something seriously wrong with him. I’ve known a lot of kids in my life and I know this is not so very unusual.

Jesus said we need to be reborn and He died on the cross for our seriously wrong nature, so that his own spiritually healthy body could be reborn in us. Recognizing the bent towards wrong-doing our physical nature possesses is the first step to finding the truth. Paul said that he did not do as he wanted to do, but did what he hated, and that only Christ could free him from his wrong-doing. Later, Paul explains how being reborn spiritually can transform us so that we are free from the devastating pull of our physical natures, and we can begin to grow and mature into spiritual beings aligned with Christ.

Christ’s spiritual transformation leads me to seek out healthy ways of living, including my diet. I earnestly seek to find out what is healthy and often pray for discernment because big business and years of lies have obscured the truth from me. In fact, I believe that the dark forces of evil have led us into disease and early death because of our human nature’s greed for more at the expense of others, and our natural propensity towards gluttony. When I look soberly at myself, the truth is devastating, and I know, like the young man who spoke out, that there is something seriously wrong with me. Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. – Psalm 51