The Sound Side

daniel2Every year we go to the Outer Banks, a barrier island off the east coast. Our house’s worth is measured by its distance from the ocean as in oceanfront, ocean view, one block away, two blocks away, etc.  I never tire of the sudden sight of the magnificent ocean as we climb the steps over the dunes, and there it is. The wind picks up and the sound of the waves is volumes louder just as we make our way over the dunes. Families litter the beach staking their claim for the day with beach tents, chairs and umbrellas, and sand castles. This year we brought my dog and stayed in a little house on the sound side that allows pets, many blocks away from the beach. The house wasn’t much but the beauty of the sound in my backyard took my breath away. In all the times we visited this area, I’d never come to look at the sound. It took the love of my furry little friend to force me to turn my attention from the magnificence of the ocean to see the quiet beauty of the sound. Love will do that to us. Love opens us up to new experiences and possibilities we may not have otherwise considered. It reveals the deep and hidden things we never saw before. When I think of love, I think of God because God is love and the most beautiful, deep and hidden thing He has revealed is His son Jesus Christ. In Him is the fullness of God’s love for us.

Alternative to Fish Oil and The Calling

Men and fish: a long relationship

Men and fish: a long relationship

Fish oil is getting a second look these days in the form of a scowl. A recent study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center claims a man with high levels (taking daily supplements or eating fatty fish three times a week) of Omega-3 fatty fish oils is 2/3 more likely to develop the fatal type of prostate cancer. More studies will be need to confirm the association with fish oil and prostate cancer because this study did not take into account other risk factors. However, the news out there is disturbing for all those men who are taking the supplement, my husband included.

There is a plant-based alternative to fish oil in the form of marine algae. Plant-based omega-3 supplements are not the same as fish oil supplements and do not contain the fatty acids associated with prostate cancer. Plant-based omega 3 is a different type of omega 3, not nearly as strong as fish oil, but a diet high in flax seeds and oil, green leafy vegetables (my favorite), walnuts, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, soybeans, and other omega 3 foods while staying clear of foods high in Omega 6 (vegetable oils, grain-fed meats, egg yolks, and most processed foods) should keep us covered in health.  If you are a fish, meat and dairy eater, grass-fed beef and dairy products made from grass-fed cows is a great choice over the conventional grain fed products. The grass-fed products retain a healthy omega 3 to 6 balance which benefits the consumer as well. And, wild-caught salmon is still the omega-3 heavyweight champion.

Here is my favorite dish to keep my husband heart-healthy in omega 3s: saute onions, garlic, and mushrooms in a small amount of canola or olive oil on low heat for about 30 minutes. Add piles of green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, chard, etc.) and cook until wilted. Serve over brown rice sprinkled with sesame seeds and tossed in Flax oil and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.

Just like eating what we think is healthy one day and finding out it is not healthy the next day, some worldly things can seem fine one day, and very disappointing the next. As Christians grow older, we see we are different from others in our thoughts and in our habits. Things we did in our youth can set like well-rooted weeds later on that we want to get rid of.  These weeds can take the form of something perfectly fine for others to do, and yet we know that God is calling us to a higher ground.  We may even struggle and pray about how different we feel from others, sometimes we stray away because the calling seems impossible, but it is not impossible for God, and the benefit is to experience a greater sense of the peace of His Kingdom, that is, His presence in our lives. This struggle to grow increasingly closer to the Kingdom each day is a strong one and is pleasing to God, but His calling can also be very challenging and cause a lack of peace in our lives if we try to ignore it. It is a good thing that God is pleased even with a weak repentance when it is sincere.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Matthew 13:45 & 46

The Diet Merry-Go-Round and Finding Inner Peace

Angel on my left shoulder: your diet says only one cup a day. Devil on my right shoulder: Make it a Venti

Angel on my left shoulder: your diet says only one cup a day. Devil on my right shoulder: Make it a Venti

There is something in our nature that can make us obsessive compulsive when we are given a set of rules. Anyone who has followed a strict diet knows the power of feeling in control when we follow a diet successfully. It is such a good feeling to be in control that we can even over-follow the rules by making up even more strict rules until we begin breaking them, slipping now and again until we feel so bad about it, we give up. Likewise, when we find ourselves unable to follow the dieting rules we feel hopeless and inadequate, lost in a sea of confusion about food and how we can eat pleasurably and still maintain a healthy body.

Food addictions to salt, sugar, fats and oils corrupt the body’s ability to enjoy good food. Much of the SAD (standard American diet) contains unhealthful amounts of addictive foods. Blame it on capitalism. Our industry standard is to make people keep coming back to buy our products, so of course processed foods contain large amounts of these addictive foods. “Hungry For A Change” on Netflix is a very interesting documentary on this, and there are several books out about it, google Food Industry. “Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” is a recent book my husband found at Barnes and Nobel.

To beat these addictions, try adding sea vegetables for salt. They contain lots of minerals our bodies need. Replace refined sugar with dates and other dried fruits, as well as mangos and bananas. Stay away from fried foods, bakery items, and all white breads and rice which turn to sugar. Once we are free of these addictive foods, vegetables and fruits become so much more appetizing. We begin to crave salads, roasted vegetables, and fruits of all kinds. Lately I have been eating dandelion greens which are delightful in salads, and when I saw one sprouting up in a local parking lot, I was surprised to find it looked mouth-wateringly good to me.

Making greens and vegetables the main dish in every meal will put your body in an alkaline state. Stay away from alcohol (hard to do!), coffee (almost impossible!), and rich deserts (Aye!) and you will find yourself feeling energized and on top of your game. I often yo-yo through all of these traps. A glass of wine and a cup of coffee a day are fine but they are addictive and so one cup becomes two or one venti size  (Starbuck-speak for extra-large). A glass of wine turns up being two (who has any control after one?). So because we find ourselves unfaithful in these small ways we want to say forget it or make a new rule that forbids everything. Then we start slipping and we fall back into all of our food addictions. Pick your merry-go-round poison: caffeine, wine, sugar, salt. Is there any peace at all?

Thank goodness for Jesus Christ. It is for good reason that I relate my food struggles with my spiritual struggles. I know that my diet does not determine my spiritual connection to God, however it does affect how I feel about myself and my health. God wants me to be healthy and honor the body he has given me. Just as I can ask forgiveness for wrongs I have committed and know that God forgives me through Jesus Christ,  I can also ask for help to live a healthy life. One thing God has revealed to me is that I have spent a large portion of my life eating SAD food and so changing overnight into a healthful lifestyle of eating all the right foods will take time. If I stumble here and there, my Lord is  kind to me. He helps me to get back on track. God loves us just where we are.

In the Garden of Eden, Eve tells the serpent that she and Adam should not eat of the Tree of Life, nor should they touch it. A perfect example of adding a rule to a rule because God did not say not to touch it. They could touch it all they wanted, just not eat it. When they do end up eating the fruit, God tells them the consequences and then clothes them because they realized they were naked. The consequences of eating SAD food is disease but God helps us through the consequences. He clothes us with Christ so we can always go to Him, no matter what. Thanks to Him or I would have gotten off this crazy merry-go-round a long time ago.

Hunting for Hidden Salt and The Sermon on the Mount

Take the refined salt and toss it. It is no good for you. It is striped of all the minerals our bodies need, it may promote high blood pressure and calcium loss in bones, and it is ruining the true taste of salt. Buy sea salt and sea seasonings (photo). They have the minerals we need, they taste good, and they promote good health when used in healthful amounts.

A healthful amount of salt is approximately 2,000 milligrams per day. Our salt intake can quickly rise if we are eating processed foods, so be careful to check labels. Salt is added for a preservative and also to disguise the lack of taste in processed foods. Look for “no salt added” or “low sodium” on the label. For example, soy sauce is very salty.  One tablespoon is 920 mg of sodium (Kikkoman). The low sodium brand is only 525 mg for the same amount. Low sodium teriyaki sauce is only 320 mg. When comparing sodium content on labels, check the serving size. Bragg’s Amino Acids is a soy sauce alternative and looks like less sodium than lite sodium soy sauce but the serving sizes are different. Bragg’s is 160 mg for 1/2 teaspoon while sodium lite soy sauce is 525 for 1 tablespoon.

Check the sodium content of doughy foods like donuts, bread, rolls, crackers, and biscuits which can have from 200 to 400 mgs of sodium per serving. Pizza, cold cuts, hot dogs, bacon, most canned foods, and fast foods contain high amounts of sodium. Condiments and salad dressings can quickly add over 200 mgs of salt per serving (and we know those servings are small compared to what we really use). Restaurant foods also add salt. Most restaurants have a nutrition page on the their website which lists the sodium content of their foods.

The best way to monitor our salt intake is to cook without salt and only add salt at the table. Stay away from processed foods and drink lots of water, but check bottled water labels for salt, too. Once we back off of all this salt, the true taste of salt will be far more pleasing.

The Sermon on The Mount is known for the words of wisdom Jesus spoke when he first began his ministry. In the very beginning of his sermon, Jesus tells his disciples they are like the salt of the world but cautions them not to lose their saltiness because nothing can make them salty again. Jesus’ disciples would one day preserve the message of Christ to all the world, that is, that Jesus was the sacrificial lamb, the ultimate and last blood sacrifice for sin. If we live a life a goodness without belief in Christ, it cannot preserve us for eternal life. Just as salt that was contaminated with gypsum was used for keeping pathways free of vegetation and nothing else, so does a good life without belief serve only as a pathway here on earth. The message of Christ is salt for all mankind, it is the Good News and the pathway to eternal life.

Have you ever run into someone who threatens you with hell? Or someone who tells you that despite your belief and your attempts to rid yourself of sinful actions, that your are headed straight to hell? These folks have lost their saltiness and have forgotten the message of Christ that brings life to those who are reconciled to Him. They are looking at you with a worldly view.

Wherever we find ourselves, Christ can meet us there. You do not need to become perfect first!  Faith in Christ covers you like a robe, so that God sees the Holy Spirit in you and this Spirit cries out to Him. Trust in His love and it will compel you to try again, not out of fear of damnation, but out of the love He bears for you. The love of Christ in your life is like putting salt on your food: He makes our ordinary, dull, every day lives something much more, something quite delightful. Believe in Him and the sin you struggle with today will melt away like snow in the spring that is here in the morning and gone by afternoon.

Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!

Matthew 5:5

spring

Alkaline Proteins and Visionary Prayer

A plant-based diet that is slightly acidic will require more protein than a plant-based diet that has achieved alkalinity. If we do not eat enough protein, our muscles suffer for it since that is one place our bodies will get needed protein missing from our diets.

Most animal proteins are highly acidic and need alkalizing foods to balance out the net effect of a meal. Low sugar and high water content alkaline vegetables will balance out the acidity of animal proteins. Livestrong.com offers some great choices: celery, cucumber, iceberg lettuce, tomato and zucchini, broccoli, green cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant and spinach. These vegetables served with a small amount of fish, chicken, or meat can alkalize your meal.

If animal proteins are not an option for you, many vegetables have a protein content with varied amino acids, making it important to eat a large variety of vegetables to get all the amino acids our bodies need. Try roasting a variety of vegetables tossed in olive oil in a low oven (325) for about 20 minutes. Make sure not to blacken any by picking out vegetables done before the rest, like broccoli.

Most beans are acidic but high in protein. They need to be balanced with alkaline foods in the meal. For example, beans with garlic and onions over steamed kale. Beans are a staple protein for vegetarians and Dr. Fuhrman recommends eating them every day.

Glutinous grains have a protein content but are acidic unless they are sprouted. Sprouts are one of the few alkaline proteins. Health food stores sell sprouted grains but sprouts can be made at home. Vegetable and seed sprouts are usually eaten raw; other sprouts should be lightly steamed. Read more about sprouting.

Changing from our acidic, Standard American Diet, to a healthier one can seem overwhelming but don’t give up. Visualizing a new you with a  lifestyle that is energizing and healthy is important. Hold on to the vision you have of what you want to become. Having a vision like this is an important gift to you.

That gift of the new you is God’s grace to you. No matter what your religion or even if you have no religion, God’s grace offers you hope for tomorrow. Envisioning is a powerful tool you can use to reach towards that tomorrow you hope for. For Christians, envisioning can become a prayer exercise, offering to Christ your hopes for becoming the person God created you to be.

Sometimes in prayer we have no words to speak but our emotions reach out to Christ through the Holy Spirit that abides within in us and this Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans (Romans 8:26). Open your conscious to Christ’s holy love that lives within you by envisioning a healthier you (or someone you love). Envision His coming when there will be no more tears, no more death, and no more illness, and you will find that the peace of Christ will dwell richly within you.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:20 & 21

Nutritarian Public Enemy #1: Sugar

A school project showing the amount of sugar in beverages.  Knowledge is power at any age. Choose wisely.  (Facebook: Inspiration For Mind Body)

A school project showing the amount of sugar in beverages.
Knowledge is power at any age. Choose wisely.
(Facebook: Inspiration For Mind Body)

Sugar is poison to our bodies. A new study shows that high fructose, fructose, and sucrose are directly related to type 2 diabetes. Dr. Lustig’s video explains the reasons why we should avoid these sugars that are so toxic and why consumption of refined sugars can cause a host of health issues.

A recent New York Times article, “It’s the Sugar, Folks,” preps us for some very interesting upcoming activity concerning the government regulation of these sugars, an ingredient that is found in almost all processed foods at a quantity that is now known to be toxic. Processed foods use high doses of salt and sugar to cover the lack of taste in processed food, foods that we sell worldwide. In addition, a new study also from the NY Times, reveals that the Mediterranean Diet is very beneficial for those with heart disease.

As more reliable and true nutritional information falls into the hands of the public, we are faced with some very big decisions. Let’s have faith that we will work together to create nutritionally sound food supplies, especially for low and moderate income families. Right now cheap food is often processed food.  Good nutrition takes time, money, and will power when all around us we see tasty sodas, salty snacks, and sugar-laden desserts. We are at a turning point when demand for healthy food may well take precedence over our addictions to sugar and salt. Health-oriented markets like Whole Foods is a reflection of a more health conscious society.

Eating is often social. Nothing beats a good meal with good friends and family. The same is true of spirituality. We were made to worship with others. The Christian Church is the bride of Christ, that is, we who worship together are the Lord God’s most beloved and intimate relationship.  The meal that reflects the deep love that Christ has for his church is the bread and wine given to us the night Jesus was taken to be hung on a cross.

Creating a spirituality out of solitary prayer and study is like eating a meal of Twinkies. It tastes sweet but it will not get us through the day. We need each other, we need to love and be loved. We were not created to be alone, but to serve one another with holy reverence and respect in the arena of Christ’s holy church. So many times we get our feelings hurt or we feel ashamed of what we have done or not done, and we give up before we can realize the power of forgiveness and healing. We limit ourselves when we avoid committing to a church for whatever reason (and there are many reasons) when it would ultimately generate authentic Christian relationships for us, including a more authentic relationship with Christ. As Benedict J.  Goreschel in Spiritual Passages writes, Christ’s last discourse to His disciples makes clear that in a divine way He thought it better to love (His church) and lose than not to love at all.

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy

— Ephesians 5:25

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