More Cheer

Skimming my Bible concordance, I searched for the happiest words I could find.  Here are a few:  Blessed, Cheerful, Glad, Happy, Joyful, Rejoice, Radiant.

Cheerfulness.  Who couldn’t use a little more of that?38489-A-Cheerful-Heart-Is-Good-Medicine

In regards to serving with our Spiritual gifts, Romans 12:8 refers to some of us having the gift of showing mercy with cheerfulness.

Cheerfulness is the Greek word hilarotes, pronounced hil-ar-ot’-ace.  Compare hilarious.  Synonyms would be graciousness, joyfulness, gladness, benevolence, amiability.  Translated as “The heart is laughing and the eyes are dancing.”  The person who exhibits hilarotes is ‘a sunbeam lighting up a sick room with warmth and love’.

Whether you have the gift of showing mercy with cheerfulness or you are just a cheerful person at heart, pass that cheer on.

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That’s all.  Just passing along a word of cheer!

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Chocolate Zucchini Cake

A super moist, mouth-watering chocolatey treat.  And, yes, another way to use that summer zucchini, decadently!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake  IMG_0771

1/2 c butter, softened
1-3/4 c sugar
1/4 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 t vanilla extract
2-1/2 c flour
1 T baking cocoa
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground cloves
1/2 c buttermilk
2 c shredded peeled zucchini
1 c semisweet chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Beat in oil, eggs and vanilla.  Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk.  Stir in zucchini.  Pour into a greased 13-in x 9-in x 2-in baking pan.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

Signature Recipe by Luanna Diller
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This Thing

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Imagine the Lord God Himself is speaking to you today…

THIS THING IS FROM ME by Laura Barter Snow

My Child, I have a message for you today; let me whisper it in your ear, that it may gild with glory any storm clouds which may arise, and smooth the rough places upon which you may have to tread.

It is short–only five words–but let them sink into your inmost soul; use them as a pillow upon which to rest your weary head: “THIS THING IS FROM ME.”

Have you ever thought of it, that all that concerns you, concerns Me, too? for “he that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of His eye”(Zech. 2:8).

I would have you learn, when temptations assail you, and the “enemy comes in like a flood,” that this thing is from Me: that your weakness needs My might, and your safety lies in letting Me fight for you [Isa. 59:9].

You are very “precious in My sight” (Isa. 43:4). Therefore it is my special delight to educate you.

Are you in money difficulties? Is it hard to make both ends meet? This Thing Is From Me, for I am your purse-bearer, and would have you draw from and depend upon Me. My supplies are limitless (Phil. 4:19). I would have you prove my promises. Let it not be said of you, “In this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God” (Deut. 1:32).

Are you in difficult circumstances, surrounded by people who do not understand you, who never consult your taste, who put you in the background? This thing is from Me. I am the God of circumstances. Thou camest not to thy place by accident: it is the very place God meant for thee. Have you not asked to be made humble? See, then, I have placed you in the very school where the lesson is taught; your surroundings and companions are only working out My will.

Are you passing through a night of sorrow? This thing is from Me. I am the “Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief. [Isa. 53:3]” I have let earthly comforts fail you, that turning to Me, you may obtain everlasting consolation (II Thess. 2:16,17).

Has some friend disappointed you? One to whom you opened your heart? This thing is from Me. I have allowed this disappointment to come, that you may learn that:

“The best friend to have is Jesus;
He will hear you when you call,
He will keep you lest you fall,
The best friend to have is Jesus.”

I want to be your confidant. Has someone repeated things about you that are untrue? Leave them to Me, and draw closer to Me, thy shelter out of reach of “the strife of tongues,” for “I will bring forth thy righteousness as the light and thy judgment as the noonday” (Psalm 37:6).

Have your plans been upset? Are you bowed down and weary? This thing is from Me, You made your plans, then came asking me to bless them; but I would have you let Me plan for you, and then I take the responsibility; for “This thing is too heavy for thee, Thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.” (Exodus 18:18). You are only an instrument, not an agent.

Have you longed to do some great work for Me, and instead been laid aside on a bed of pain and weakness? This thing is from Me. I could not get your attention in your busy days, and I want to teach you some of My deepest lessons. “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

I want you to learn to sing:

“I am not eager, bold, or strong,
All that is past:
I am ready not to do
At Last! At last!

Some of My greatest workers are those shut out from active service, that they may learn to wield the weapon of all prayer.

Are you suddenly called upon to occupy a difficult and responsible position? Launch out on Me. I am trusting you with “the possession of difficulties,” and for “This thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works and in all thou puttest thy hands unto” (Deut. 15:10)

This day I place in your hands this pot of holy oil; make use of it freely, my child. Let every circumstance as it arises, every word that pains you, every interruption that would make you impatient, every revelation of your own weakness, be anointed with it! Remember, “interruptions are divine instructions.” The sting will go as you learn to see Me in all things. Therefore “Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, for it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life, and through ‘this thing’ ye shall prolong your days in the land” (Deut. 32:46,47).

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Easy One Pot Chicken and Vegetables with Couscous

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How do you take plain chicken and vegetables and make them into something lively and delicious?  And how do you make it easy by making it in one stock pot?  Like this…

CHICKEN and VEGETABLES with COUSCOUS

1 T olive oil
2 to 2 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 x 3 inch strips 
1 large onion, chopped coarse
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 – 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
1 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes in rich juice
½ cup dried currants (or raisins) 
3 bay leaves
6 inches stick cinnamon (or ½ t ground cinnamon)
1 T chili powder
1 t ground ginger
2 t ground cumin
2 t chicken base (such as Better Than Bouillon)
2 t brown sugar
1 t salt (or to taste)
6 cups fresh vegetables, sliced (such as carrots in 1/4 inch slices, celery in 1/2 inch slices and cabbage in 1 inch wide shreds)*

1 box couscous (such as Near East)

In a stock pot or Dutch oven, cook chicken pieces in olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add onion and garlic.  Continue to cook and stir occasionally until chicken is just cooked through and onion is tender.  Stir in garbanzo beans, tomatoes, currants, bay leaves, cinnamon, chili powder, ginger, cumin, chicken base, brown sugar and salt.  Stir in vegetables.  Heat until bubbling, then reduce heat.  Cover and simmer about 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Discard bay leaves and cinnamon sticks.

Meanwhile prepare couscous according to package directions.  Serve chicken mixture over couscous. 

Note: You will have plenty of chicken mixture for another meal of leftovers.  Just make a new box of couscous.

*More vegetable options : zucchini, mild bell peppers, turnips.

P.S. This recipe is chock-full of nutritious goodness but I’ve never told my family that and this gets consumed down to the last slice of carrot!

Bon Appetit Script style

Signature Recipe by Luanna Diller
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It is Done

images-140In times of overwhelming stress, have you ever thought to yourself, I AM DONE!  When you feel you can’t take one more burden, one more crisis, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back?

If you were to take a peek inside my journal, at one point not too very long ago, you would find a page with just three words, I AM DONE!

But God didn’t let me get away with that kind of attitude for very long.   In an Aha! moment, I saw clearly that that phrase, I AM DONE!,  had way too much “I” in it.  In reality, this was the time to say, IT IS DONE!  IT not I = DONE!

Christ’s perfect work on Calvary has finished ALL of the “ITS” in my life.  And in your life.  He HAS DONE IT!  

Try it.  Take that “I” and make it “IT”.  The focus will be less on you and more on Him.   If you are IN CHRIST, this is His life you are living.  You have given yourself completely to Him to live His life through you.  Let Him do IT.  Whatever your IT is: (fill in the blank with your “IT” here).  This IT is His.  Surrender it.  Allow Him to do with it what He will.  

It’s ALL His anyway.  Won’t you give IT to Him now?  And say with me, IT IS DONE!

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Super Victorious or Under Sin?

Sin.  Did she just say sin?  I am so outa here…

WAIT!  Before you dismiss me for saying that dreaded 3 letter ‘s’ word, sin, ask yourself, why are you in such a hurry to rush past it?   Did you instantly feel guilty?  Did you inwardly cringe?  Did you berate yourself for not being a better Christian?  Did something less than stellar in your past flood your mind?  Did you roll your eyes and think, sin — really — again?  Why are you so uncomfortable with this major topic of the Bible?  More than 400 times SIN is in there.  About the same number of times as LOVE.  Seems important enough.  Yes?

My dear Christian sister, let me tell you this:  When you think of sin, if you only  experience condemnation or fear, then something other than God’s Spirit within you is offering you a big fat lie.  

images-132Did you notice that your initial reaction to sin was one or more of these: a negative feeling, a physical discomfort, a self-condemning thought, taking a rebellious posture.  Right?  I know because in the past, I have reacted to even the mention of sin like that.  But.  That was before I determined to understand better what God says to me about sin in His Book of love.  I am His very own child.  He has something to tell me and I want to hear it.  Because He loves me.  And He loves you.  He wants us to be growing spiritually.  He does not condemn us.  That is not who He is!

There is therefore now NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.  (Romans 8:1,2)

Condemnation is a specialty of someone else: Your infernal enemy.   He is someone who is out to destroy your life.  He would like you to run on negative feelings, on physical anxiety, on pride, on self-rejection, on false guilt, on self-destruction.  Do you see what I’m getting at here?  Satan will always try to deceive you.  He wants you walking according to the flesh.  He does not want you walking according to the Spirit.   Freedom is in the Spirit, not in the flesh.  That’s exactly why it’s so important to know what God says.  So we have the facts.  So we know the truth.  So we can identify and refuse those lies!

Let me ask you this: Did your mind go to SIN as a VERB or a NOUN when you first started reading this post?  In other words, did the thought of sin bring to mind things like angry outbursts, adultery, stealing, gossip, murder, a critical attitude, physical abuse?  These are verbs, involving behavior and actions.  Things that people do.  Sin is real, people do sin.  Christians do sometimes sin.   And we confess those things we do to God and restore fellowship with Him.  BUT.  AND THIS IS HUGE!  There are places in Scripture where SIN IS A NOUN.  That’s right, a person, place or thing.  In Romans 5-8, Paul is letting us know how this noun — the enemy — operates.  There is a conflict.  And this conflict is between the new creatures that we are in Christ and this power of sin, personified.  Read this verse (Romans 6:13) with ‘sin’ as a noun instead of a verb:  Do not present the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead.  Do you see it in a new light?  Did you get a jolt of hope?  We’re not in conflict with ourselves (sinning as a verb) but against a personified power (sin as a noun).  Jesus already defeated that power on the Cross.  We get to claim and believe that victory!

Even if our moral behavior looks really great (on the outside), our thought life (on the inside) could be littered with junk.  Lies.  Untruth.  This is where Satan is so absolutely deceitful.  He specializes in selling lies.  Offering us thoughts and pushing us toward feelings that are not at all in line with who God says we are.  He gets at us in the flesh.  In our mind, our brain – part of our body living here physically on earth.  Waging war against the law of my mind, as Paul says in Romans 8:23.  BUT.  MORE GOOD NEWS!  When we were saved we not only were immediately saved from the penalty of sin, we were also saved from the POWER OF SIN.  And this DELIVERANCE from the power of sin is by faith through grace just as for salvation itself!  How awesome is that!  

Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.  (Romans 6:14)

Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 6:11) 

We are free to choose to either listen to the power of sin personified, trying to defeat us or we can listen to God who loves us and always wants what’s best for us.  We get to choose who we listen to.  

We are more than conquerors.  Romans 8:37 says, yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us so much that He died for us.  We don’t just conquer.  We utterly, overwhelmingly conquer.  We are SUPER VICTORIOUS in Christ. 

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The Dangers of Morbid Introspection

images-99It’s no secret that many of us have emotional issues of the soul that have been our lifelong companions.  Many tears may have been shed in pleading with God to take it.  He has not.  And accepting defeat is not our style.  So, what do we do?  We probably begin a serious search for answers.

Where we search and how we go about searching is what I want to explore with you.

Introspection, in the sense of the observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes, may have a little value.  Morbid Introspection, however, is an excessive, depressing, unhealthy, over examination of one’s own thoughts, feelings and emotional shortcomings.  The result of which is often the opposite of what we’d hoped for — more inner turmoil, sometimes to the point of despair.  In other words, over analyzing ourselves is not overly productive.

Many years ago my brother suggested I read a book titled, Handbook to Happiness – A Guide to Victorious Living and Effective Counseling.  If it had been someone other than my brother, I may have procrastinated.  The title sounded a little hokey for a Christian book.  But, nohing could have been further from the truth.  This was, and still is, my ‘go to’ resource book for understanding, spiritually, life’s many inner struggles.

One particular section of the book has always stuck with me.  That brief, one page section is titled “Morbid Introspection”.  That hit home for me because in times of turmoil my tendency has been to ask myself, “What is wrong with me?” and then, proceed to try to figure it out through excessive self-analysis!

Here’s the thing — “Many Christians… spend much time in looking inward… The result? The more they look inward, the more miserable they become, in spite of the fact that they may view their self-searching and self-condemnation as proof of their sincerity, or as a kind of punishment by which they get even with themselves … At best, our searching can only turn up garbage, and sorting garbage is a most depressing avocation. Too, if we could ever complete the interminable task, we would wind up with neatly sorted piles of garbage, but still blind to the source of all garbage–self.” — Charles Solomon, Handbook to Happiness

This mental picture of a mound of garbage sorted into neat piles of garbage remains fixed in my mind still today.  It’s the result when I (as in, myself apart from Christ) decide to over-analyze my emotional issues.  If copious amounts of self-searching were the answer, I would be fixed, cured, emotionally stable, without problems, always victorious.  Sadly, not so.  And, this morbid introspection could be part of the problem.  Actually making things worse!

This begs the question: How Could Introspection Be Creating More Problems Instead of Fixing Them?

One possible problem is this — “If you are a subjective person prone to “thinking with your feelings,” bearing the scars of rejection from childhood and past painful circumstances, the possibility will be that of becoming discouraged. The introspective monitoring of your slow progress [of spiritual growth] will only hinder the release of Christ’s life and if you are not careful, you will become depressed!” — Eric Maddison

We are often mistaken when we hope that we can cope with disappointments by becoming self-absorbed and overly introspective.  We often end up feeling sorry for ourselves, beating ourselves up, focusing on our suffering, and playing the role of a victim.  Has rigorous introspection ever really worked for us?  In honesty, we’d most likely answer, not as well as we’d hoped.

As Christians, when we are looking within, we are occupied more with counting on ourselves than counting on the work of Jesus in us.  It is His work.  His Power.  His Wisdom.  His Grace.  Yet, we continue to try harder, all in our own self-effort, while Jesus waits for us to let Him do His work.  Knowledge and insight are valuable but our eyes are in the wrong direction and we are looking at the wrong person when we practice morbid introspection.  But when I look more to the Person of Jesus, His work, His character, His deity, All that He is, I find that being overly self-absorbed, loses much of it’s initial appeal.

I read an excerpt from the British preacher, Stephen Olford, where he talks about a time when he ‘was haunted by the memory of past defeats’.  He said, ‘instead of turning to the Lord for deliverance, I tried to conquer the problem by self-effort.  The result was disastrous!’  In desperation he went to hear a missionary speaker who said, “Do you know that such introspection is a violation of the principle of grace?  God has condemned, crucified, and buried your ‘old self.’  What right have you to visit the cemetery of your moral past and dig up the bones?”  Olford concluded, ‘the grace of God set me free!’

For those of us who are naturally curious — seekers, searchers, analyzers, researchers by profession, and the like — we might be wondering, Why Do I Continue to Be So Overly Introspective?  Charles Solomon may be able to shed some light on that question:  “When an overly introspective person ceases or attempts to cease this useless and harmful indulgence of self, he usually feels guilty for falling down on God’s job!  He always fails at it because he is playing God.  That is a sure way to fail.”  (Ouch!  Did that sting a little for you, too?)

Here’s how H. L. Roush describes this issue of introspection and how we might begin to change our perspective:  “The testimony of the writers of the Scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments abound with a single theme: the faithfulness of God. No time is wasted in dwelling on the unfaithfulness of man, for every believer is well aware of the deceitful and desperately wicked heart within [the flesh]; and when walking under its influence and dragging its heavy chains of unbelief, his only hope is in the faithfulness of God. We are often defeated by a morbid introspection of the heart and mourning over our unbelief, our failure and sin, when the source of victory is not to be found in our hope of perfect obedience, but in the perfect faithfulness of God to us. We seem to forget that if we should succeed in doing all those things commanded us, an honest heart would still force us to say, “We are unprofitable servants…””

There it is then, at least for me — even if I, in all my self-effort, were to self-analyze until I thought I had my issues figured out, I would yet continue to be plagued by the feeling that it was still not enough.  Do you know that feeling?  Have you been in that place of ‘never enough’?

This excessive introspection which prompts us to feel such negativity is in direct opposition to the spiritual truths that God has given us in His Word.  In other words, morbid introspection is self-defeating!  This might be a good time to ask, How Do I Begin to Introspect Less?

As I’ve searched Scripture, I’ve found that there truly is a better way to deal with our inner struggles than to attempt problem solving by morbid introspection.  God’s solutions are always far better than anything we can find within ourselves.

The cure for morbid introspection.

1. Look less at yourself and more at Christ.  Look to Jesus.  “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set images-101before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)  “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

2. Believe God’s faithfulness.  “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God.” (Deuteronomy 7:9a)  “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13)  “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

3. Ask God to do the searching.  “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23, 24)  Allow the Holy Spirit who dwells in us to bring conviction to our hearts.  (see John 16: 8-11)

4. Repent when we err in lining up with God’s word.  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

5. Beware of the enemy of your soul.  Satan is known as ‘the accuser’ (see Revelation 12:10) and the ‘father of lies’ (see John 8:44).  He distracts, discourages, and deceives us, attempting to turn us away from Christ our Advocate.

6. As Christians, we are ‘in Christ’ so, daily live in Him.  “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” (Colossians 2:6)

7. Be a blessing.  Be love in action.  Let Christ’s life live through you to bless others.  “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”  (Philippians 1:11)

Charles Solomon continues with this thought in Handbook to Happiness:  “During the day we do well to remind ourselves several times, “It is not I, but Christ” [Galatians 2:20] and to expect that He will govern our plans and actions.  We are not to become introspective and test every thought and action to see if Christ is responsible or self or Satan.  We are merely to commit the day and our life to Him and trust Him to control us and each situation to His glory.  Committing, trusting, reckoning — all are terms indicative of a functional will.”

A century ago Jessie Penn-Lewis counseled with these words: “Look away to Calvary. The Lord Jesus died on your behalf, and as your Representative carried you with Him to His Cross.  Are you honestly determined to part with every known sin, and willing for the death with Christ to be wrought out in your experience?  Then from this crucial moment see yourself as nailed to the tree with your crucified Lord.  Relying upon the Holy Spirit, and in faith in the word of God, ‘Let not sin therefore reign’… Hidden in Christ upon His Cross, and joined to Him in His life, thy part, O child of God, is the continual choice of thy will…  Do not struggle with aught that comes to thee, but hand over all to Him Whose life thou dost share, and thou shalt find that He is able to deliver and to keep thee day by day.”

I’ll close with a Scriptural summary of what we’ve been examining.  (And just in case you’re wondering, the irony of writing an introspective post on ‘introspection’ has not been lost on me.  How about you?)   : )

My summary is from Psalm 42: 5, 6.  I’m often drawn here when my soul struggles in a dark place.  “Why are you cast down, O my soul?  And why are you disquieted within me?”, the Psalmist asks, as he looks within himself in tiring introspection.  He is searching, and though he is looking inward momentarily, he reasons with his soul to “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance”.  Then, he leaves his self-analysis and speaks directly to God, to his God.  “O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will remember You.”

I will remember God.  My God.  The faithful God who chose me, sent His Son to redeem me.  He is able.  Nothing is too hard for Him.

That morbid introspection with eyes turned inward takes on a whole new perspective when we look to Him, remember Who He is and what He’s done on our behalf.  Did you notice it?  Look up, out, away to your God.  God’s perspective overcomes morbid introspection every time.

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Top 10 Healthy Holiday Tips

Fall and Winter mixChristmas is just around the corner.  In anticipation of the upcoming holiday, I have compiled a few simple words of advise.

 

My Top 10 Healthy Holiday Tips

  1. Choose your attitude.  Include some gratitude in that attitude.
  2. Put the weight loss goals on hold and consider holding your weight.
  3. Keep calm and remember to breathe.  Find little ways to decompress the stress.
  4. When in a time crunch, make those spare minutes count.
  5. Tired of the same exercise routine?  Try something different.  Really, different.
  6. If you’re planning on ‘get-togethers’, plan ahead.
  7. Try a new holiday recipe such as Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish or Pumpkin Custard.
  8. Remember to read something that makes you smile.  Or, something just plain silly.
  9. Rehearse regularly who God says you are in Christ.
  10. Most importantly, know that you are loved.

Thank You God

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Managing Inflammation with Nutrition

How we eat can either help to manage inflammation or cause inflammation to lead to more health problems.  The foods and nutrients that tend to control inflammation are the ones I want to focus on today.  (For an overview of how our health and inflammation is linked, check out my previous post.)

The best place to start is by choosing real, whole foods that are fresh, natural and/or organic.  Our ancestors of eons ago ate this way and consequentially appeared to develop significantly less inflammatory diseases.

When you look at the way Paleolithic and hunter-gather societies ate in comparison to today in our Western society there is quite a contrast.  A few examples:   1) They ate an average of 100 grams of fiber daily in vegetables and fruits (which is excellent).  We eat about 20 grams of fiber daily, mostly from grains (not so excellent).  2) They never ate refined oils (terrific, again).  Most of the oils we consume are refined (not so terrific).  3) Their ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids was about 1:1 (an ideal ratio).  Our ratio is about 20:1 (not even close to ideal).

While I’m not promoting a particular diet or one certain eating style, I am suggesting that in many ways our ‘highly processed’ eating has led us away from a more natural and healthy eating style that was once common.

raspberries & blueberries

Let’s take a closer look at a couple of these areas where most of us have room for improvement — namely, vegetables and fruits and omega-3 fatty acids.  Our standard American diet tends to be consistently low in both of these.  To begin to correct this deficiency, and promote the body’s anti-inflammatory response, eat more of these foods and nutrients.

Eat MORE Vegetables and Fruits.  Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants galore!

Eat more vegetables and fruits – whole, fresh, fresh frozen and organic (when possible).  I think it would be safe to say that at least three-fourths of Americans are still lacking in the minimum of five servings a day.  Five to ten servings a day would be much better.  Choose mostly from the high-fiber, non-starchy ones.  That would include vegetables such as, spinach, cucumbers, broccoli, green beans, and kale and fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, and kiwi, just to name a few.

flaxseedEat MORE Omega-3 Fatty Acids.  More omega-3 fatty acids and less omega-6 fatty acids promotes a better balance of anti-inflammatory nutrients.

We could improve our omega-3 intake by including more fish, especially cold water varieties like salmon and sardines.  You might add some tuna, halibut or cod for variety.  The omega-3 content is a little lower but they are still good choices.  Flaxseed oil and fresh, ground flaxseeds would add some omega-3 fatty acids as well.

Excess omega-6 fatty acids tend to have a pro-inflammatory effect.  The simplest way to reduce these is by switching from any store bought processed cooking oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower or canola to extra-virgin olive oil which is much healthier.

steamed broccoliChronic inflammation and inflammatory disorders are linked to our dietary habits.  We can influence our body’s inflammatory response to some degree with our every day food choices.  How about trying a simple meal like this: Broiled Salmon with Steamed Broccoli and a Fresh Fruit Salad? 

Why not start today?

NA Salmon

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Could Inflammation Be Affecting Our Health?

I’m not a jogger.  But I do run on occasion.  Like when I’m playing with the dogknee inflammation or having
fun on the ocean beach with my daughter.  However, lately my knees have decided to rebel, even when I pick up the pace for very short distances.  “Bursitis”, my doctor says.  (And ‘itis’, as we know, commonly refers to inflammation.)  “Take an anti-inflammatory, over-the-counter pain medication”, he suggests.  Being one who doesn’t like to pop a pill for every pain that comes along, I researched ‘inflammation’ to find the latest information on problems it causes and the best, most natural ways to deal with it.

Inflammation is a big can of worms in the health field.  Even bigger than I thought it was.  As more research is conducted, we find that inflammation is linked in some way to a majority of diseases.  Uncontrolled inflammatory problems tend to snowball and lead to more serious inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cancer and arthritis, to name a few.

Some have termed this the ‘inflammation syndrome’.  Meaning that it “reflects the coexistence of at least two (and often more) inflammatory disorders that greatly increase the risk of developing more serious inflammatory diseases”.  This definition is from the author, Jack Challem, of The Inflammation Syndrome book.  He goes on to say, “although an inflammatory response may primarily affect specific tissues, such as the knees, {don’t I know it, Jack!} it frequently radiates through the body and attacks other tissues.”  For example, joint injuries can set the stage for osteoarthritis.  Chronic infection and inflammation have a 30% likelihood of leading to cancer.  This is what seems to have happened to my brother earlier this year.  He had a prolonged serious infection unresponsive to treatment, followed by a diagnosis of aggressive prostate cancer which took his life, all in less than a year and a half.

Chronic inflammation simply makes the body more susceptible to disease.  Nutrition plays a large part because nutritional deficiencies or imbalances prime the immune system for the inflammation reactions.  To effectively treat inflammatory diseases nutritional problems need to be corrected.

What are the main foods that contribute to an inflammatory reaction?  In general, highly processed foods.  And more specifically, processed foods high in sugar such as soft drinks and desserts; refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, and cake; processed oils like corn, soybean or sunflower (as opposed to olive oil);  most fast-food restaurant items; prepackaged microwave meals and processed foods that come in boxes, cans and bottles.

This brings us to the flip side – what foods tend to help control inflammation?   In general, fresh and whole foods, such as fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil, fish and naturally raised lean meats.  Look for minimally processed foods.  For example, a baked potato would be a fresh, whole food verses fast-food French fries, which are potatoes, highly processed.  (For more detailed dietary suggestions check back next month.)

And remember, it’s not just what you choose to eat but how much you eat and how often you eat it.  I’m a firm proponent of ‘80/20’ thinking in regards to healthy food choices.  At least eighty percent of the time, make a conscious choice to eat fresh and whole foods.  Twenty percent of the time (or less), give yourself permission to have those items that you truly enjoy even though they may not be considered a ‘healthy’ food.

I plan to continue to do what I can to manage inflammation.  How about you?

pile of produce

If you want to learn more on how to eat to control inflammation be sure to stop back next month.

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