Trending buzzwords

buzzwords, healthy lifestyle

On the current health scene, there are a lot of buzzwords and phrases designed to catch our attention.  Lately, I seem to be reading a lot about living a “balanced” lifestyle.  This phrase is really attractive to us, because what it’s actually implying is that you can kinda/sorta have your cake and eat it too when it comes to healthy living, you just can’t have your cake as often as you want it.  Balance, or moderation, is the key.

While it is a very alluring concept that we can have a healthy lifestyle and still have ice cream and bacon on occasion, the word “balanced” began to echo over and over in my brain.  Like an annoying, persistent mosquito buzzing around my ear, it began to seriously irritate me.  As a big believer that balance is essential for a healthy lifestyle, I wondered why this was suddenly bugging (pardon the intended pun!) me.  As I made my breakfast a couple of mornings ago, a thought came to me that hit the proverbial nail on the head.

As Christians, is it a balanced life we seek, or a centered life?

As I pondered this question, it dawned on me why the buzz phrase “balanced lifestyle” was not sitting well with me.  When it comes to healthy lifestyles alone, yes, we want balance.  But balance gives me the mental image of a pie chart, with each piece cut neatly into wedges, but each piece is separate and distinct.

To live with joy, peace and purpose, we don’t need to live with our lives with sections compartmentalized into appropriate sized pieces according to their importance.  We need to live our lives with our faith at the center of all we do.  I picture it not like a pie chart, but as a wagon wheel with a center circle.  God is in the center of that circle, and what we do throughout the day are the spokes that come off of the center.  Everything that we do is attached to God, and should be about giving Him the glory.

Even the very reason we take care of our health through good nutrition and exercise should be about giving God the glory.  When He is at the center of this part of our lives, exercising and eating healthy are tools to give Him the glory, each a spoke radiating from the center of our life wheel.

For instance, when I encounter people I haven’t seen in quite a while, the first question I get after the comment of how different I look is, “How did you lose so much weight?  I want your secret!”  My usual reply that it’s simple, I just follow a balanced, healthy lifestyle and exercise regularly.  Sometimes this reply cause an abrupt end to the conversation – some people only want to hear about the “magic” cure, the drink, the potion, the pill.  But sometimes, it opens the door and gives me the opportunity to say, “I have tried so many fad diets and other ways to make healthy lifestyle changes and failed miserably.  But this time, I asked for God’s help and put Him at the center.  He gave me not only the desire to be healthy, but the strength to become healthy!”

Honestly, this sometimes shocks people into stuttering as they try to think of a reply.  However, sometimes it seems to be just what this person needed to hear, and a whole new opportunity for witnessing opens up!

If nothing else from this Reflections sticks with you, I want you to get this – God wants not just a part of you, but ALL of you.  It’s only when you surrender completely to His love that you can be free from the distractions that hinder you from allowing God to be the God of your entire being.  It’s what will allow you to have a positive, lasting change, and move you from the frustrating cycle of yoyo dieting or any other unhealthy habit (food, alcohol, drugs, etc.) that has control of your life.   When you allow God into absolutely, positively every little bit of your life, you will be changes.  You will be blessed and you will live in such a way that others will be drawn to you and want what you have.

If you’re ready to live with Jesus at the center of your life and the motivation for everything you do, how do you go about it?

First, when you wake up, before you get out of bed, before you check Facebook for the latest messages or turn on the television for the weather report, let Jesus know you’re ready to serve Him.  Thank Him for the gift of the new day He has given you and tell Him you are ready for Him to send you into the world to serve Him.  Ask Him to fill you with His love so that it overflows onto others throughout the day.  Let every daily task become an opportunity to serve Jesus.

Imagine what could happen in our world if all Christians made the decision every morning to live their lives with their faith in God as the center of all we do!

Scripture:

Romans 6:13 – Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness.

Prayer:

Father God, I thank you for Your amazing love, so amazing that You care about every part of my day.  Nothing that happens to me is insignificant to You.  I know that without You I can accomplish nothing; with You nothing is impossible for me today.  Today I put aside anything that I am holding back from You and am ready to serve You on all levels, with all of my being, in everything that I do.  I love You, Lord!  In Your Son’s most precious and holy name I pray, Amen.

Week 11: Salt – how much and what kind?

salt how much what kind

We all know that too much salt in your diet is unhealthy.  However, many of us are unsure of how much we should have on a daily basis.  Then there’s the myriad of salts to choose from on the grocery shelf.  Table salt, sea salt, kosher salt – so many choices can be confusing.  Which brings us to the question:  Salt – how much and what kind?

The current CDC recommendation is 2,300 mg. or less of salt per day for healthy people under 50 and 1,500 mg. or less per day for most people over 50.  Sounds like a lot, right?  It only sounds that way – 2,300 mg. of sodium is one teaspoon (6 g.) and 1,500 mg. is ¾ of a teaspoon (3.75 g.).  How many of us actually limit our sodium to one teaspoon, or 6 g. per day?

Most of us are probably aware of the health risks associated with consuming too much salt daily – kidney stones, obesity, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.  However, most American aren’t aware that controlling your sodium intake is about a lot more than just avoiding the extra shakes from the salt shaker.  The average American’s dietary salt comes not from the shaker but from processed foods.

There are the obvious salt bombs – processed foods, snack foods, luncheon meats, canned soup, and frozen meals – but there are others that may surprise you at their high sodium content.  Restaurant  food, prepared pasta sauces, processed breakfast foods (including cereals), bread and muffin mixes and even ketchup.  Just one tablespoon of ketchup has 160 mg. of ketchup.  How many of us limit our ketchup to one serving, a tablespoon?

The reality is that very few people have the slightest idea how much salt they consume in a day.  You can mostly take control of how much salt is in your foods by preparing it yourself instead of relying on packaged or processed and avoiding eating out more than you eat at home.

As with any healthy diet, the salt issue is all about balance and moderation.  You shouldn’t cut it out completely; in small amounts sodium helps to maintain the correct balance of body fluids and aids in muscle contraction and relaxation.  It’s also important in the sweating process, which allows you to cool down and avoid dehydration and heat stroke.

On the other hand, too much salt can have serious effects on your body’s nervous system.  Salt is a key factor in your brain sending nerve impulses to the rest of your body.  For your nervous system to function properly there must be a good balance of sodium and potassium; too much sodium can have negative effects on nerve functions.

A study of 12,000 adults published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that maintaining a diet with equal parts sodium and potassium can actually reduce risk for some diseases. Researchers found that simply cutting back on sodium-rich processed foods and eating a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables was usually enough to balance the mineral levels for optimum health (http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1106080).

Once you have a handle on sodium intake, the next hurdle is understanding the different salts that are on the market.  Although they all contain the same amount of sodium per serving, the unique flavors of some of them can actually help you use less.  A bonus to most of the “gourmet” salts is that, unlike regular table salt, they are unrefined and don’t contain the additives of regular table salt.

Below are three of the most commonly found salts on the grocery shelves, their characteristics and best uses.

Table Salt

  • Consists of fine, evenly shaped crystals and is denser than other salts. It’s usually mined from salt deposits underground, iodized and contains anti-clumping agents, such as calcium silicate.
  • When to use: Keep out on the table for last-minute seasoning. It’s also good for salting pasta water or seasoning soups.

Kosher Salt

  • Less refined than table salt with larger flakes and coarser.
  • When to use: Kosher salt is the most versatile; use to season before, during and after cooking. Especially good for seasoning meat before cooking.

Sea Salt

  • The least processed; flakes are collected from evaporated seawater and may contain residual minerals that could alter the color.
  • When to use: Best as a finishing salt; usually more expensive so use sparingly.

If you use only one salt, make it kosher. It’s affordable and usually contains no additives.  Remember to check the ingredient label, it should only list salt.

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