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I love wine.

I mean, I LOVE wine.

I love it with food, with friends, with Fridays, with homework. Math homework with my fourth grader is stressful and sometimes mama needs a little wine to smooth the edges. I’m allergic to math, remember? 😉

I love wine on vacations and special occasions. The problem is, to me, every day of being alive is a special occasion - praise Jesus! - and what’s worthier of a glass - or two - of chardonnay than that?

 On and off, I slip into a habit of drinking every day.

I know a lot of my mom friends who do too. No judgement there, mama. Wine is the Calgon that takes us away. Remember those commercials from the 80’s? Take a nice long hot bath with Calgon and all of your stresses will disappear. Who the heck has time for that every night? I’m lucky if I have enough hot water to take a quick shower by the time all my people have done their evening drill. Guess what makes that crazy evening drill go smoother too? Yes, love, vino.

The thing is, I don’t want to drink every night. I mean, actually I do. LOL. Just a glass - sometimes two -  as a delicious wind-down to my day. But I’ve found this interferes with my health goals: my sugar intake, my fasts, my sleep.. and that the effects often bleed into the next day with poor food choices or moodiness from lack of sleep. Not only this but my kids are watching.  I don’t want them to associate drinking with being a daily habit. I’m a little bit worried they already do. I didn’t grow up that way and I don’t want them too either. They are keen observers and if they see mom popping a cork on a Tuesday, this becomes “normal” in their brains.

 So my first solution was to W.O.W.  - Wine on Weekends only.

And I can stick to that pretty well. But those weekend lines can be blurry. Thursday is almost the weekend and technically Sunday IS part of the weekend. So then I had to rein that boundary in a little more and stipulate that my “weekend” days had to be less than my “week” days - which, at a minimum is a 3:4 ratio. No more than three days a week of wine. And, boy, did I look forward to those days.

Can you see what is happening here? There’s a lot of thinking, negotiating, justifying…in general, just way to much brain energy around wine. It’s not how I want to spend my “mind calories” or my body calories for that matter.

Now, I often give up wine during the first two weeks of Feast 2 Fast. But once we can bring in the Heck Yeah carbs - I’m back on the vino train with all of this same mind energy happening. In the past I’ve considered giving it up for Lent but then thought the better of it. Not only did I not WANT to, I honestly was not sure I could go a whole six weeks without it. I know how horrible that sounds.

So when this Lent rolled around, I felt that same nagging feeling. I really should give up wine for Lent, but I don’t want to.

I started wrestling with the idea about three weeks before Lent started - yes I’m going to do it, no way I’m not going to do it - over and over in my brain til I’d pretty much decided - nah, this isn’t the year. But then two things happened. I stumbled upon a podcast with a life coach who had this exact same struggle - specifically with chardonnay. She was speaking all the same things I am to you now. It’s not that she wanted to  - nor felt the need to - give up chard for forever, she just wanted to drink less. She even created a whole program around it called Stop Overdrinking. She was totally speaking my language.

The other, and way bigger thing that happened, was that I felt God speaking to me on this. One day when I was walking and thinking about this wine and Lent thing, I very clearly felt the word OBEDIENCE come into my brain. Believe me, that was not my word. I knew, I felt in my bones, that God was calling me to give up wine for Lent as an act of obedience to Him. Uuuugggghhhhhh. That is honestly what I felt. And truth be told (I’m totally embarrassed to admit this) I still considered not giving it up for Lent. I still wrestled with it in my brain for another week before deciding - how could I not do this thing God is asking me to do? It’s kind of scary I even thought otherwise. I knew I had to do it. This time was different. This wasn’t about anything else - the poor sleep, the sugar, my kids - but pure obedience to God. I’ve never felt this strong and clear of a call to be Obedient.

So here we are, friends. No chard for this mama for the next six weeks. I’ve already made it through the first week which doesn’t sound like much except that it was a week of spring break vacation in the mountains. And vacation pretty much equals fun food and drink in my mind.

But I’ve been strangely content and serene around the situation - much more than I thought I’d be. I haven’t been craving it or even having to “replace” it with kombucha in a wine glass or something to get that “feel.” (BTW - I gave up all alcohol for Lent…otherwise it’s too tempting to replace it with something else).

I KNOW that this is God supplying the strength and peace I need. My mind is not obsessing over it and it just feels different than any other time. Which goes to show, when He calls us to do something, He will provide the means to accomplish it.

Another thing - I don’t have expectations of gaining anything from this situation. It’s tempting to be like: maybe God will “reward” me or I bet I lose some weight or some other selfish reasoning. Nope. This is about pure obedience. It’s a totally different headspace than I’ve ever been in.

I’m sharing this with you not judge or try to persuade you into any course of action. It’s more that I hope you’ll be open, listening and recognizing what God may be calling you to do in obedience in any area of your life. And to show you that the hardest part of the whole thing is really in saying YES but that, once you do, He will supply the way through it.

If this resonates or you know a Mom who Chards too Hard who struggles with these feelings, I’d love for you to share or tell me in the comments.

xoxO, Chelsea


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Hey there friend! Here is the THIRD episode of my brand new podcast! The Christian Health Club Podcast is all about firing you up in Spirit, Mind, and Body so you can get out into the world and be everything God created you to be.

Tune in to hear my first guest interview with Cynthia Damaskos, a Certified Holistic Health Coach who specializes in healthy fasting for Orthodox Christians.


The Christian Health Club PodcastEPISODE 03: ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN FASTING WITH CYNTHIA DAMASKOS    

SHOW NOTES


  • (00:00) Intro

  • (00:40) Introducing Cynthia from Holistic Christian Life

  • (03:30) How Cynthia incorporates Spirit => Mind => Body Principles into her day

  • Quote from St. Basil the Great: “When you sit down to eat, pray. When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you. If you drink wine, be mindful of Him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness. When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes. When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars, throw yourself at God’s feet and adore Him who in His wisdom has arranged things in this way. Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises, when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God, who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know, love and praise their Creator.”

  • (06:53) Our take on meditation

    • Prayer is the asking; meditation is the listening

  • (08:29) Cynthia’s evening routine and how consistency helps your sleep

  • (13:20) An overview of Orthodox Fasting tradition

    • Fast for over half of the year when you add up all the days.

      • Three components

        • Abstaining from meat, dairy, eggs, fish, alcohol, and oil.

        • Increased prayer

        • Charitable acts and donations

      • When Orthodox Christians fast

        • Weekly

          • Wednesdays because Judas betrayed Christ

          • Friday because that’s when Christ died on the cross

          • With a few exceptions for times of celebration- just before Lent, between Christmas and Baptism of Jesus on January 6th, and week after Lent.

        • During the entire Lenten season

        • Apostles’ Fast at end of June

        • 1st two weeks of August Fasting

      • Foods focused on during fast- vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts/seeds, fruit, grains

  • (18:05) How to avoid eating “carbage” when fasting and keep fasts in the spirit of how they were meant to be. Just because it follows the “rules” doesn’t mean it is benefiting your health.

  • (21:30) How to embark on Orthodox Fasting for those who can’t tolerate legumes and grains

    • Soaking and sprouting your grains and legumes- try that first before writing them off altogether; can also help with nuts

    • You just need to think ahead- hard to make it work in the “go-go-go” culture

    • You can also use a pressure cooker which reduces the negative effects of anti-nutrients in beans- not as good as sprouting though!

  • (25:15) How the Orthodox Lent schedule differs from other Christian denominations

    • Lots of thought goes it into it- Julian vs. Gregorian calendar, also based on moon and equinox

    • Why is it different? In order to observe it in time most closely associated with when Christ truly died on cross

      • Our Easter date in the Gregorian calendar is more based on year-to-year consistency

  • (27:35) How the moons affect our hormonal cycles

    • In the past, women tended to all have their period at the same time.

    • Because we were more in sync with nature and the moon’s cycle.

  • (30:20) How Cynthia personally observes Orthodox fasting

    • Modifying for health challenges- speak with spiritual leaders and decide what’s best for you and if your body can tolerate fasting

    • Not doing it in a legalistic way- doing it in the spirit of pursuing our best health and spiritual goals

    • Treat it as the gift that it is

  • (36:41) Cynthia’s recommendations if someone would like to start Orthodox Christian fasting

    • Depends on your personality…

      • Enneagram Quiz https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/rheti

        • Some people like to follow the rules, some people want more flexibility- so will start with Wed/Fri.

        • Maybe even start with Holy Week. Up to you as an individual!

      • Better Than Before & the 4 Tendencies

        • Accountability strategy in the Christian Health Club

  • (42:40) Anchor Questions

  • (43:24) Cynthia’s Anchor Verse

    • Romans 12:2 NIV “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

    • Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives- Elder Thaddeus https://amzn.to/2XRFzIP

  • (49:00) Cynthia’s Anchor Meal

    • Morning Protein Shake to set Cynthia up for a healthy day

      • Greens + pea protein + grass-fed ghee (no on fasting days) + Brain Octane/MCT oil

      • Compliant with fasting for her but depends on branch of Orthodoxy

  • (51:55) Cynthia’s Book Recommendations

  • (54:42) Get in touch with Cynthia!

  • (57:20) Outro & Disclaimer


LEARN MORE FROM ME




Thanks for listening! Have a Healthy and Blessed week!



XOXOChelsea 
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This is the second episode of my brand new podcast! The Christian Health Club Podcast is all about firing you up in Spirit, Mind, and Body so you can get out into the world and be everything God created you to be.

Tune in to learn more about my Metabolic Strategy. These are my secrets to staying lean, energized, and happy as a busy mom of 3, wife of a cattle rancher, and full-time nutritionist!


The Christian Health Club PodcastEPISODE 02: MY METABOLIC STRATEGY SHOW NOTES


  • (00:00) Intro (00:42)

  • (00:57) My Metabolic Strategy

  • (02:32) #1. I Stay Low Carb (50-75 ish grams MOST days)

    • You don't need to be obsessive about weighing or measuring your food forever. Just keep carb counts in mind and soon eating lower carb will become second nature. At this point I can eyeball it and mentally tally throughout the day. I stay generally low carb so I can afford the carbs that are "worth it" to me- my Heck Yeahs. 

    • Why I Don’t Eat Keto https://www.thechristiannutritionist.com/blog/keto

  • (04:54) #2.  I Walk Daily As My Major Form of Exercise

    • Do what you love! I love walking a lot- it’s so good for my mind. I also enjoy sprints 1-2x per week and do weights 1-2x. I'm not a runner and never have been! But I've learned that you need to do what works for YOU- I'm not going to force myself to do that anymore!

  • (08:54) #3. I Do Intermittent Fasting

    • I'm flexible with my Intermittent fasting, and try to stick to 12-16 hours during the week. I don't do long fasts on the weekends because family meals- from pancakes for early breakfast to a late dinner grilled by my husband at the ranch- are much more important to me! #priorities 

      It's one of the easiest things you can do to improve your metabolism- and it's free!

  • (11:26) #4. I Define My Power Foods

    • These are the foods that really work for me- both on a physical (gut) level and emotional level! I don't want to feel bad about eating any of these foods- either healthy or unhealthy! 

    • For example, these are the foods I love to eat:

    • Eggs

    • Water

    • Leafy Greens (Spinach, Kale, Arugula)

    • Sweet Potato

    • Meat (Especially Grass-Fed Beef)

    • Olive Oil

    • Avocado

    • Onions

    • Chocolate (Good quality dark chocolate- insert brand here!)

    • Wine (yes, wine. I can drink a few glasses and still feel great and it adds to my quality of life!)

    • Coffee

    • Cheese (within reason, of course!)

      • When I focus on these foods, I feel great and NOT deprived. But there are some foods that are "healthy" and don't make me feel great. For example, nuts and brussels sprouts can hurt my stomach if I eat too much of them. So they aren’t my “super power” foods.

    • Focus on consuming your power foods ON THE DAILY- and invest in higher quality versions of those foods (ex: organic coffee, pastured eggs).

  • (17:25) #5. Consistency, Not Perfection

    • CONSISTENCY precedes progress- being consistent in what you're doing is what leads you to your best self, no matter what your goal is. 

      You are NOT going to be perfect- don't let falling short of perfection derail you. 

    • Proverbs 12:27 "The diligent man will get precious wealth."

    • Proverbs 20:21 "An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end."

    • Remember, there is no magic pill. If it's not a lifestyle, it's a yo-yo diet. 

    • The answer is not within the next crash diet- the answer lies within what you do on a daily basis. 

  • (25:15) Outro & Disclaimer

LEARN MORE FROM ME




Thanks for listening! Have a Healthy and Blessed week!



XOXOChelsea
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It’s finally here. The FIRST episode of my brand new podcast! The Christian Health Club Podcast is all about firing you up in Spirit, Mind, and Body so you can get out into the world and be everything God created you to be.

Check out my first episode below!

 The Christian Health Club PodcastEpisode 01: Welcome and the Holy Grail of Fat Burning  SHOW NOTES

  • (00:00) Intro

  • (00:42) Welcome To The Christian Health Club Podcast!

  • (01:15) Why I started this podcast & how God confirmed it for me

  • (08:46) The importance of health in Spirit, Mind, and Body

  • (10:34) The holy grail of fat burning- Intermittent fasting

  • (14:27) The ancient rhythm of feasting and fasting

  • (16:05) How fasting promotes metabolic flexibility

  • (19:55) How long should I fast?

  • (21:50) Isn't breakfast the most important meal of the day?

  • (24:38) Why you should eat fat & protein first, and carbs later 

  • (29:18) Does coffee break my fast?

  • (34:37) Outro & Disclaimer

RESOURCES MENTIONED

LEARN MORE FROM ME




Thanks for listening! Have a Healthy and Blessed week!

xoxoChelsea
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Note from Chelsea: this is a guest post written by my Operations Manager, Carly.

Why I Quit Diet Soda

Growing up as someone with type 1 diabetes, I was encouraged to drink lots of diet soda because it was a “free” food. I drank it all.the.time. mainly because it was an escape from the endless carbohydrate counting and taking insulin injections! My entire family drinks diet soda, so I thought it was completely normal and that claims of harm were overstated at best. Needless to say, even as I transitioned my diet to become healthier and healthier, I still struggled to give up my diet soda. It slowly dropped down from daily to occasional as I wrestled with whether or not diet soda is truly bad for you!

But the evidence I lay out here finally convinced me to completely give up diet soda a little over a year ago. Believe me, I know the addiction is real but I also know that it can be overcome. Allow this story to act as a disclaimer- this information is in no way meant to shame past choices, but to inspire you and your loved ones to make better ones in the future.

Diet Soda: The Backstory

Think back to the 1990s and 2000s. Most diets would have been low-fat and included diet soda as a “free food”. It’s gotta be so much better than regular sugar soda, right? No calories, no sugar, so how harmful could it be?

Turns out, extremely harmful. This stuff is NOT good for your health. And I think on an intuitive level, many of us know this to be true. Just because it has the same “macros”, diet soda is not equally as healthy as water! Let me make the disclaimer here that the intent of this article is not to shame for past choices, because lots of people have a major history of addiction to diet soda. My goal is that this information will empower you and your loved ones to take a look at the research and make better choices in the future!

Aspartame is responsible for myriad poor health outcomes, which have all been confirmed by independent research. 92% of independent studies found some health effect from aspartame while 100% of industry studies found aspartame to be “totally safe”, according to Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, Ph.D..

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty! Here are 6 reasons to quit diet soda for good.


6 Reasons To Quit Diet Soda


#1. Aspartame Makes You Fat

Aspartame exposure changes the gut microbiome (shifts toward the obesity-associated bacterial community rather than the healthy one), which may explain aspartame’s link to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. This is the exact wrong approach to take for someone who is trying to drink diet soda to make their diabetes better- because all it does is worsen their gut bacteria, and therefore, their blood sugar levels!

Aspartame also can induce an insulin response because when the body tastes sweet, it expects that sugar is coming in. So it secretes insulin to compensate. Because of this, you will get rebound low blood sugar and then even more sugar cravings. Major vicious cycle!


#2. Aspartame Turns Into Formaldehyde In The Gut!

Aspartame breaks down into a 3 substances in our gut- phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol in the gut. This is sped up especially if you’re drinking diet soda on an empty stomach (as many do as an appetite suppressant).

According to Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, the methanol that is released when we break down aspartame is free methanol, completely unlike the methanol that is naturally contained in fruit which is bound up with fiber and therefore passes unabsorbed.

This free methanol goes through a few more steps and then converts into formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, in the digestive tract.


#3. Aspartame Increases Rates of Dementia & Stroke

According to an article in the journal Stroke, “… Higher recent and higher cumulative intake of artificially-sweetened soft drinks were associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke, all-cause dementia, and AD dementia…Sugar-sweetened beverages were not associated with stroke or dementia.” (Pase, Himali, Beiser, Aparicio, Satizabal, Vasan, Seshadri, & Jacques, 2017.)

Many researchers believe the link between dementia and other nervous system disorders and aspartame exists due to this buildup of the previously mentioned compounds- methanol, phenylalanine, and aspartic acid.

An excess of methanol, similar to alcohol, can cause depression of the central nervous system (think slowed breathing and decreased heart rate).

Excess phenylanine “blocks the transport of important amino acids to the brain contributing to reduced levels of dopamine and serotonin.” (Rycerz & Jaworska-Adamu, 2013). This is important because dopamine and serotonin are your feel-good, happy, anti-depressant neurotransmitters (brain chemicals)!

And aspartic acid increases excitability of neurons- think anxiety, headache, twitching, and other effects- even seizures- similar to those experienced by those sensitive to MSG (Rycerz & Jaworska-Adamu, 2013).

Even more incredible? Aspartame has been shown to increase brain cell death and brain damage in mice (A. Onaolapo, O. Onaolapo, & P. Nwoha, 2017).


#4. Aspartame Increases Cancer Risk

Aspartame even at “moderate” levels of consumption (think 1 can of soda per day) is strongly linked to cancer. According to Dr. Ballantyne, aspartame can cause up to a 300% increase in incidence of lymphoma and leukemia, and has also been linked with cancers of liver, breast, prostate, and lung, among others. Exposure in utero has even been shown to impair normal development in mice, including excess growth of mammary (breast) tissue.


#5. Aspartame Worsens Mood Disorders Like Anxiety & Depression

This 1993 study had to be stopped early due to the severity of the adverse reactions in people with pre-existing depression. According to the study authors, “we conclude that individuals with mood disorders are particularly sensitive to this artificial sweetener and its use in this population should be discouraged.” (Walton, Hudak, & Green-Waite, 1993).

This may be due to the phenylalanine or methanol that are released during digestion, as they are actually able to permeate the barrier between our blood and brain. The full mechanism of action is still unclear and will need much more research!


#6. Aspartame Adds Fuel To The Inflammation “Fire”

This study in mice demonstrated that aspartame dysregulated antioxidant status which leads to oxidative damage and inflammation.

In plain English, Aspartame depletes our antioxidants, making us much less able to respond to stress (stress includes anything like diet soda consumption, exercise (positive stress), eating less-than-optimal food choices, etc.) in the body. It also disrupts cell membrane integrity which means your cells are no longer able to regulate what comes in and what comes out of the cell (which is incredibly important!).

Why should we care about inflammation? Because inflammation is the PRIMARY driver of many diseases including diabetes, kidney disease, dementia, and cancer. Not to mention, it affects every aspect of your life- including how you look, feel, and function.


How To Quit Your Diet Soda Habit

If you drink diet soda and are wondering where to start in changing your diet and lifestyle, I would argue that quitting aspartame is the first, and most important step, you can take.

Some alternatives that you can try to kick that "bubbly” habit include Zevia (a stevia-based soda company, the closest to diet soda taste in my opinion!), Blue Sky stevia soda, kombucha, Spindrift sparkling water, or LaCroix. None of these options are perfect (due to the “natural flavors”- which are basically a food industry catch-all term AND because many tin cans contain BPA and other chemicals) but DEFINITELY better than diet soda.

The bottom line? Diet soda is not food. It’s poison. Urge your family, friends, and loved ones to take a good look at the facts and reconsider their diet soda consumption. Send them this article or if they’re an auditory learner, this podcast (The Paleo View Episode 309) is a fabulous resource.


Thanks for reading!

What did you learn from this post? I’d love to hear your insights in a comment!

XOXO, 

Carly


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