BAD HEALTH? Whether you or a loved one has bad health, doubts may rush in and twirl you like carnival ride. You may ask yourself:
- “What did I do to deserve this?”
- “Will I (or my friend) ever get better?”
- “Where’s God? How come he’s not helping?”
You may also experience anger, despair, and fear. Anger over waiting. Despair over pain. And fear of invasive tests, fear of bad news, even fear of God’s disfavor.
So have you faced bad health? Or, has a loved one of a friend had an awful illness? What emotions coursed through your veins?
My Bad Health Story
No physical form of bad health runs in my family. But mental problems do, namely anxiety, depression, and bipolar I disorder.
had has the latter. During my childhood, he dad walked in the shadows of depression, rarely smiling. And he often spoke in monotone. In my early teens, my mom and brother convinced him to get psychiatric help at a hospital.
I had no idea how to handle my dad’s depression and occasional manic episodes.
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In fact, I figured I was the problem. But I was wrong. Can you relate? My child mind thought. . .
If only I got better grades. . .
If only I kept my room clean. . .if only.
But there was nothing I could do to help, and this made me sad. Eveyone in the family found ways to deal with the pain of a loved one with bad health. For instance, my mom devoured romance novels. Potato chips and French onion dip put pounds on her frame. And my brother managed, barely. In grade school he pulled Cs, Ds, and Fs, though his IQ topped 140. Later, he got high on weed a lot. And later still, porn became his drug of choice.
Me? I still tried on perfectionism. Miss goody two shoes, I attempted to do everything right and learned it didn’t work. Yet I kept trying. Only later, when I trusted in Christ, I found my reason to hope and heal.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Bad health may have an emotional cause or physical root–or both. Heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, lupus, fibromyalgia, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and other illness are physical. Doctors can indeed diagnose them through tests. But illnesses with a physical cause often take an emotional toll too.
Some types of bad health, like hypothyroidism, include the symptom of depressed mood, for example. Also, depending on the illness, there are physical changes such as bloating and hair loss. In addition, medications used to treat bad health may have nasty side effects. Soon the ill person may feel helpless and hopeless. Spiritually, she may cling to Jesus, or she may blame God for allowing the illness and wrecking her life.
What to Do
When a friend or family member faces bad health, how can you help? Well, they’re are helpful things to say and too. And there are cringe-worthy comments to avoid. Here are a few of each.
To say and do:
1. Say “I admire your courage.”
2. Ask, “Can I grocery shop, take you to the doctor, or clean the bathroom?”
3. Play an uplifting CD or make a delicious, healthy soup (see below).
1. “I know exactly how you feel.” You don’t.
2. Call your friend and talk a long, long time. Stick to 10 minutes unless she asks to talk longer. Add another 10 minutes tops. Use a timer.
3. Pretend nothing is wrong, like my family did.
What ideas have worked for you? Or have blown up in your face? My own personal, embarrassing piece of bad advice (that I no longer do): Telling someone how she should feel!
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May I Share a Recipe?
This first appeared in my book The Vegetarian Child (Perigee, 1997). I hope you like it. It’s make a great meal for someone in bad health. Or good health. It’s that delicious.
Creamy Broccoli Soup
A creamy soup with no cream? That’s right. The secret is pureed potatoes, which add extra nutrients to the soup without a smidgeon of fat.
2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
3 ½ cups vegetables stock or 3½ cups water with 1 vegetable bouillon cube
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
½ onion, chopped
½ to 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place all the ingredients except the salt and pepper and ½ cup vegetable stock or water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over medium heat until tender, about 20 minutes. Set aside ½ cup broccoli to use as garnish.
Puree the remaining contents of the pot, a batch at a time, in a blender or food processor. Be sure to fill the blender or food processor no more than 2/3 full. Return the pureed soup to the pot. Add the remaining vegetable stock or water, season with the salt and pepper, and simmer 5 minutes. Pour the soup into individual bowls and top each one with the reserved broccoli garnish. Serve warm.
Serves 6. Per serving: 91 cal; 3g prot; 0.2g fat; 21g carb; 0 chol; 368mg sod; 2.7g fiber
Counseling Hearts to Hope (and healing),
DIETING: Millions of women are on a diet now. Is dieting wrong in God’s eyes? Is it (gulp) a sin?
Diets. Gotta love them, gotta hate them.
We women love them because losing weight helps us look better and feel energetic. We hate them because we may feel deprived, grouchy, and fearful that we’ll gain back the pounds we worked hard to lose.
I have a crazy Weight Watchers story. It begins what I was age 10. You can read part of my crazy story here in the intro of my eBook, Fit for Life.
Back to the BIG question:
So Is Dieting Sinful?
The quick answer: no. In itself dieting isn’t bad. In fact, caring for yourself by eating right is good. But dieting can turn bad. It depends on your attitude. What’s your attitude regarding food and self image? Do you hate how your jeans fit? Do you call yourself awful names if you go off your diet?
If you fear that eating certain favorite treats like ice cream, chips or cookies will prompt you to binge or if you believe that eating your favorite treat is “wrong” (even if the Bible doesn’t teach that it is), then you must not eat it, says Elyse Fitzpatrick, a leading biblical counselor and author of several books including Love to Eat, Hate to Eat.
The bible says that if you compromise your conscience, you sin.
He who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)
This passage primarily speaks to food offered to idols (which was a problem when the apostle Paul wrote this epistle), yet the biblical principle holds true: anything that compromises your faith is sin, including faithless eating.
The upshot: If you believe dieting or cheating on your diet is a sin, then it is sin for you. If not, then feel free to choose a weight-loss plan.
Listen to Paul’s words on sin and grace.
For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)
If you choose to lose weight by dieting, select one focused on lifestyle changes and teaches healthy habits to keep you Fit for Life.
What About Gluttony?
Derived from the Latin gluttire meaning to gulp down or swallow, “gluttony” means over-indulgence of food or drink to the point of extravagance or waste, gluttony has a spot on the infamous list of the seven deadly sins. While I’ve never heard a sermon on gluttony, the Bible speaks against it. (Check out Proverbs 23:20,21.)
In a strange twist, under-indulgence of food is also gluttonous because it is an extreme use of food. For some, the problem is anorexia nervosa, which troubled a food disordered counselee, who eventually found healing as she determined to put God first and to bring glory to him in everything she did. We also kept in regular contact with her medical doctor and nutritionist.
She learned to enjoy eating food, a gift of God. Indeed. Paul declared,
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:4,5)
4 Quick Self-Care Food Tips
1. Cut out or reduce sugary drinks like soda. (When my husband corked the a while back, he lost 15 pounds in three months and feels more energetic, especially in the afternoon.)
2. Drink a glass of water before a meal or when you feel hungry between meals. Drinking water makes you feel fuller, helping you to reduce portions easily. Hycration also helps you think better.
3. Eat colorfully. Have lots of veggies and fruit on hand, washed and ready to eat. You’re less likely to crunch a cookie when you’ve set out baby carrots, snap peas, bananas, and apples.
4. Decide NOT to diet. A diet is an eating plan you go on and off, typically regaining the weight you lost. Instead, listen to advice from MayoClinic.com:
Combining a healthier diet and more activity is the best way to lose weight and keep it off for the long term. Take your weight loss and weight maintenance one day at a time and surround yourself with supportive resources to help ensure your success.
This is exactly the approach of my ebook Fit for Life, with a strong biblical emphasis. God created you to shine.
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
Counseling hope to your precious heart,
Overeating is a life-dominating sin. It has a strong influence over your life, affecting your mind, your body, your spirit, your heart, your emotions, your relationships, and even your finances. The sin of overeating is practiced repeatedly so that it becomes a habitual lifestyle and almost second nature, a continuous action that controls your life.
Let’s look at nine characteristics of the life-dominating sin of overeating.
Characteristics of Life-Dominating Sin
1. You have repeatedly tried to stop overeating.
You’ve tried every diet known to man, but failed to stop habitually overeating. The root of your problem is that you are not taking this sin seriously.
2. You blame others or circumstances for your failure.
The world may teach you to blame your mother for your sinful eating habits because, when you were a child, she forced you to ‘clean your plate’ at every meal. You may blame overeating on your genetic makeup. Also you may blame your diet plan: “It did not work for me. It is too strict.”
Perhaps you even blame your sin on God because he will not change your circumstances, your cravings, and so on. You completely disregard what the apostle Paul says in Romans 14:12:
So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
3. You deny that overeating is a sin.
You believe what the world tells you about your overeating problem: that your problem is really low self-esteem, or that you actually have a disease. In addition, you refuse to accept that your actions are sinful and do not glorify God. And so you call it a weakness instead of a sin.
4. You convince yourself that you are not enslaved to overeating and ‘can stop at any time.’
You must admit that you are in bondage to the sin of overeating. Jesus teaches, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin (John 8:34). Chance are, you believe that you are in control of your eating habits every time you start a new diet plan or workout program.
But you are deceived into believing that this plan will deliver you. A life-dominating sin requires the work of the Holy Spirit in order for it to be put to death in the believer.
5. Any pleasure from overeating is short-lived, while the harm is considerable and long-Term.
You feel as though you have no control over your cravings. And so you give in to the temptation to eat repeatedly. Then you see your body weight increasing and feel your clothes tightening.
As a result, you get depressed because you don’t like the way you look. Your blood pressure is getting dangerously high, and your knees hurt when you try to climb the stairs to your apartment. Nevertheless, you find yourself stuffing your face again with massive amounts of food and not receiving the relief you are seeking.
6. You overeat when no one is watching.
When overeating controls you, you will seek to hide your outward behavior by doing it in secret….Hiding your sin will only lead you into deeper bondage. You must realize that there is power in confession.
James 5:16 states,
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
7. You know that overeating obscures the testimony of Jesus Christ in your life and Is a stumbling block to others.
To commit sin and know that it is damaging the testimony of Jesus Christ can lead you more deeply into slavery. You must know that your sinful actions are affecting everyone around you: your husband, children, coworkers, unsaved relatives, and friends.
You cannot admonish and encourage others in their walk with Christ when you are purposefully committing sin in their presence. They see your helpless struggle with overeating and may deny the power of Christ in their own lives.
8. You Know that God’s Word Tells You to Stop Sinning, and that God Can Release You from this Bondage.
Pride and rebellion are at the heart of your problem. Perhaps you have been a Christian for a long time and you know that God is not pleased with your gluttonous behavior. But you continue to ignore God’s command to glorify him when you eat (1 Corinthians 10:31). You refuse to trust in God’s faithfulness and accept his way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).
9. You realize that your deeds (thoughts, words, actions) do not conform to the character of Christ.
Your conscience accuses you of your sin. Plus, your behavior doesn’t conform to the character of Christ. Without telling a bold-faced lie, you cannot say that your gluttonous behavior is Christlike. You know in your heart that your behavior is not pleasing to the Lord. You know that your desire is to please yourself.”
Get HELP! I’m a Slave to Food in print copy and/or Kindle format.
RESOURCE: Looking for a whole-hearted, comprehensive ebook to be Fit for Life. Get it now.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
God declares overeating to be a sin: ‘For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty’ (Proverbs 23:21).
So begins the second chapter of biblical counselor Shannon Kay McCoy’s very helpful mini-book HELP! I’m a Slave to Food.
Then McCoy defines sin. These definitions include–
- whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
- therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17).
- all unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17).
- sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4).
These descriptions view sin as the act of the will. Sin is choosing to act in opposition to God’s Word.
Sin of Overeating?
McCoy continues: “Perhaps you don’t believe that overeating is a sin. Many of us have been brainwashed by magazine articles, television talk shows, and reality shows that tell us that food is the problem: you are simply eating the wrong things in the wrong way.”
Often Christians view overeating as a diet problem rather than a sin problem.
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But overeating does n
ot seem serious. We often treat it as one of those ‘little sins’ that are acceptable in the church.
You don’t hear sermons or read books on the sin of overeating, do you? Your focus is more on getting treatment for your problem of overeating than facing up to your personal responsibility of repentance and obedience.
As McCoy pointed out, overeating is failing to do the right thing. It is unrighteousness and lawlessness.
Description of a Food Struggle
A woman McCoy spoke with describes her struggle:
My eating was out of control. I ate solely to satisfy whatever craving I was having at the time. As a result, my health was suffering and I was not honoring God with my life and body He had given me. I was for the first time confronted with the fact that the way that I was eating was sinful. I knew that my eating was ‘not good,’ but I never considered that my eating was sin.
In her mini-book, Shannon transparently identifies with her readers by acknowledging that overeating once dominated her life. Then she shares the life-changing counsel from the Scriptures, which changed her life, beginning with admitting the seriousness of her sin problem.
Overeating Is Not an Addiction
Some overeaters label themselves “food addicts,” believing they are addicted to food. However, addiction is not a biblical term. The world uses this terminology to describe the behavior of someone who is controlled by a substance.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines addiction in this way: “To devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.” But the danger in labeling overeating as “addiction” is that it undermines the personal conviction of sin. If the problem is not sin, then you will look for solutions in a system of theories, not in the person of Jesus Christ.
Overeating Is Idolatry
The biblical term for “addiction” is “idolatry.” The sin of overeating is idolatry. And idolatry is worship and devotion to creation rather than worship and devotion to the Creator God.
You worship your stomach and appetites by indulging in food. In fact, you desire the created food more than your Creator. The problem is not necessarily the food you consume; it is the worship of your heart. But before you can be set free, you must acknowledge your idol, denounce it, repent, and give your heart and devotion to him. Your greatest hope is in turning from your false gods and surrendering your life to Jesus, who forgives your sins and frees you from the sin of overeating.
God’s Grace Empowers Us to Change
Romans 6:12-14 both exhorts us to repent of the sin of overeating and gives us hope on God’s power to change us:
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
In the remainder of her mini-book, McCoy teaches us how to conquer the sin of overeating by God’s gracious empowerment for disciplined living.
Get HELP! I’m a Slave to Food in print copy and/or Kindle format.
RESOURCE: Looking for a whole-hearted, comprehensive ebook to be Fit for Life. Get it now.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
RECIPES: Did you know what you eat affects your mood?
Here are four eco-friendly,
healthy and oh-so-delicious recipes for you.
These recipes were first published in my book Energy Eating, Peak Nutrition for Maximum Physical Performance, Brain Power, Body Strength and Mood Enhancement!
What makes these recipes eco-friendly? They’re vegetarian! Eating green is earth-friendly because it make the best use of the earth’s resources. Also, they’re light on sugar, which affects mood, and high in healthy plant-based protein, carbs, and fats that help improve your mood. Let me know if you’d like more mood-enhancing recipes.
Quick Black Bean Burritos
Need a speedy dinner? This dish pairs legumes and healthy carbs — and it’s ready in just 20 minutes.
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
One 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 to 2 Tbs. minced green chilies, fresh or canned, seeded
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Eight 10-inch flour tortillas, preferably whole wheat
One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, diced
3/4 cup cooked brown rice
3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
1/2 cup nonfat sour cream (optional)
1/2 avocado, diced
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
Sauce: Place the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside.
Burritos: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. lay a tortilla on your working surface. Spoon about 1/4 cup black beans across the center of the tortilla, followed by a tablespoon each of onion, rice, and cheese if using. Roll up and place the burrito seam side down in a 9-by-13-inch lightly oiled baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, onion, rice, and cheese.
Spoon the sauce over the burritos and backe for 12 minutes. Serve the burritos topped with the sour cream if using, avocado, and cilantro. Serves 4.
Spicy Sesame Noodles
I could eat pasta every day, especially soba. Yum!
1 pound whole-wheat soba noodles or regular linguini
1 Tbs. sesame oil
6 scallions, green parts only, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 tsp. peeled and minced gingerroot
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
Prepare the noodles according to the package directions. Drain. Transfer to a serving dish. Cover.
In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and saute the scallions, red bell pepper, and gingerroot for 2 minutes. Add the cilantro, cayenne, and soy sauce, and saute a minute more. Toss with the noodles. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Serve warm or cold. Serves 6.
Strawberry Orange Ice
This refreshing meal-ender is a pretty, deep pink and vitamin-rich.
1 cup calcium-fortified orange juice
2 cups stawberries. fresh or frozen
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar (optional)
Orange slices for garnish
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the orange slices. Pour into a shallow, nonmetallic pan and freeze, stirring occasionally, until almost frozen, about 3 or so hours. (Freezing time depends on the shallowness of the container and the temperature of the freezer.) Spoon into four dessert dishes, garnish with the orange slices, and serve at once. Serves 4.
A breakfast drink or dessert, this drink delivers choline-containing soy, betacarotene, calcium and other phytochemicals.
2/3 cup frozen unsweetened raspberries
1 peach, peeled, pitted, and frozen
1 banana, peeled and frozen
4 ounces reduced-fat soft silken tofu (or plain Greek yogurt)
1 1/2 cups calcium-fortified orange juice
Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Makes 2.
Sharing Hope (and recipes) with Your Heart,