Thursday, May 30, 2013

Food for her Household Part 2 - Glycemic Index

Okay, so here's a term I never knew until maybe 18 months ago: glycemic index.


The glycemic index, GI, ranks foods on a scale of 1 to 100 according to how quickly they can raise your blood sugar level. The lower a carbohydrate scores on the glycemic index, the slower it becomes glucose in your body, and the less impact it has on blood-sugar levels. Originally developed as a tool for diabetics to help them choose carbohydrates that would keep glucose levels stable, low-GI foods can also help reduce cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease. Several popular diets, including the Zone and South Beach diets, are based on choosing foods low on the glycemic index scale.
- Courtesy of the Livestrong website

Science in Plain English: 

Simply put, all foods have a ranking on this index, and the higher the number, the harder the food is on your blood sugar levels, consequently making you more susceptible to diabetes and heart disease. When you eat refined sugars and flours, your blood sugar spikes then plummets. Refined sugars and white flour also addict you to them by releasing a chemical called dopamine in your brain that makes you feel good. So it becomes easy to mindlessly eat food you don't need because you're addicted to it.

All foods are on this index, but I've mainly been concerned about the sugars and flours that we eat, as those make up a large portion of our diet. You can search online for charts, listings or articles of/about this index. Livestrong has some good ones. This article at Organic Living is good as well for sugars.

Here's an example of the ratings:
High Fructose Corn Syrup - 87
White Table Sugar - 80
Honey - 30 to 50 (depends on the variety)
Fructose (the sugar in fruit) - 12 - 23
Xylitol - 8
Stevia - 0

However, the glycemic index is not the only factor in deciding what ingredients to use. Sweeteners like honey (raw is best, however, non-pasteurized honey is better than nothing) that are natural have at least some nutrients and don't have some of the toxic side effects of refined sugar or corn syrup. Whole grains contain more nutrients, are lower on the glycemic index, and are more complex carbohydrates (meaning your body has to work harder to digest them, resulting in better nutrition and preventing the spike and crash). Our foods in America are so far from the natural state that God made them for us to eat! The closer we can get to that natural state, the better for our health.

There's so much more that goes into all of this, but these are some of the basics in everyday English. You can research more on your own - my goal in writing this is to just simply pass on my reasoning for making these choices.

Practical Considerations:

Because it is so good for you, and tastes just as sweet as white sugar, I love xylitol. It is a natural sugar alcohol that doesn't harm your body in any way and actually has several good benefits (see this page). However, it is pretty pricey, so I use it as sparingly as I can. In the average recipe, I use honey, molasses, or maple syrup as substitutes. Molasses has a strong flavor, so I generally pair it with something else. Sometimes I use dark brown sugar, which is not great, but a slightly better alternative to white sugar, and good to use when I'm bringing a dish to a potluck or party.

Ratios (from AllRecipes):
Honey: 3/4 cup for 1 cup of white sugar
Maple Syrup: 3/4 cup for 1 cup sugar
Molasses: 1 1/3 cup for 1 cup sugar
Xylitol: 1 cup for 1 cup

It takes practice to use new sweeteners, and like I said in my first post, you will find these more expensive than your white sugar and corn syrup. Sometimes it also takes developing a new taste for old favorite foods. But it's not a bad new taste, I promise. For instance, brownies made with honey and whole wheat flour taste just as scrumptious as the normal ones!

I hope this is clear. And I'm not pretending to be an expert, or exhaustive. Just passing on some info that's been helpful to me. Research some more on your own if this interests you!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Food for her household... Part 1

"She provides food for her household." ~ Proverbs 31

I will never claim to be among the world's healthiest people. I like ice cream far too much. I also am terrible at exercising like I should. However, in the past two years, I've started becoming more educated about the food America eats and have slowly and surely begun making changes to our family diet.

I must here add a caveat. I'm an opinionated person, and a determined one, but I strongly dislike fanaticism for the sake of fanaticism. For instance, I don't want to be a person who jumps on the next superfood bandwagon just because everyone suddenly thinks that a food like avocado is the solution to the nation's health issues. I refuse to be a fanatic. But I'm incredibly practical, and therefore, when I learn something legitimate, seek to put it into practice. Can it be done and would it be beneficial? Then I will attempt it.

I'd like to write a few blog entries about some of the things I've learned about baking and ingredients and nutrition, etc. I've learned so much by trial and error and would love to share some practical ways to simplify the healthier eating process and why certain things are beneficial. If I can save others some time and frustration, it would be worth it.

Eating healthier doesn't have to be difficult or distasteful. No, I'm too much of a simple housekeeper and a foodie to boot to make complicated and un-tasty changes to our diet. It really mostly involves simple substitutions. Sometimes those are more expensive substitutions but you have to be the one to count the cost financially and decide what is worth spending more on in the short run to keep your family healthier in the long run. There's no right or wrong answer to that question, although I believe there are wiser and less wise choices. But it's up to you to decide what is most beneficial.

I used to judge people for their physical lifestyle choices. I've since been convicted and realized how futile that is. Judging other moms and families is completely unproductive and unhealthy. So this series of posts is not about telling anyone what to eat, but rather sharing some useful things I've learned through weekly interaction with our chiropractor, Dr. Abby with Health from Within, and also my friend Julie, a nutritionist, as well as from my own research, and as mentioned before, much trial and error. I've also learned much from having a business with the wellness company Melaleuca, and continuing as a shopper with them even though I no longer represent them as my occupation.

I'm looking forward to verbalizing some of these things! It's been a fun journey that will continue all of my life I'm sure.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Two Years with my Man

Nate, my love, this is for you.

To the man who asked me to be the woman who builds his home...

To the man who faithfully works at a job he'd rather not do to provide for us...

To the man who leads our family to follow Christ...

To the man who loves the people of our church and leads us to serve them...

To the man who makes me laugh when I want to punch him...

To the man who makes me roll my eyes no less than 3 or 4 times a day...

To the man who has taught me to enjoy life and to breathe...

To the man I married two short and long years ago...

Happy Anniversary!

Monday, May 20, 2013


Mama said there'd be days like this.

Days when it's only 8:28 and you've already given up on being a mother.

Days when your son chooses a butterknife to play with over a piece of jelly toast to eat for breakfast.

Days when you'd rather lock him up and go hide somewhere then be a gracious, loving mommy.

Days when you get to choose a sense of humor over a sense of despair.

Days when you decide to let go of all your aspirations to perfection and just be here, in the moment, today, and accept what comes.

Days when you choose to be like Joshua and Caleb and not the other 10 spies who said, "We felt like grasshoppers next to our enemy!" But you say, "The Lord is with us; we will not fear."

Days when you get to trust God's promises to provide grace and strength for the journey.

Days when you remember God is good.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Catching a Moment with God

Just a little thought. It's truly all I have time for, with a living room full of rowdy boys climbing in and out of laundry baskets and wrestling over the possession of bouncy balls.

Recently in a Bible study, we were discussing "quiet times." You know, that little peaceful moment you spend with the Lord. So refreshing and reflective. A mom of four mentioned that she had begun to see her quality time with the Lord as not only something she could do alone in the quiet, but as something she could do with her children around her during the busy part of the day. In her words, "I mean, I talk to my mom on the phone with the kids around."

It's been too long since I enjoyed a long quiet time with the Lord, and I miss it. Of course, it's my own fault, and hopefully soon I can steal away by myself to be alone with him. However, this morning as I was watching the kids I care for along with my own son, and desperately needing to hear from God, I sat down and read my Bible with Monsters vs. Aliens playing on tv and two boys climbing on top of me.

I was reading in the book of Numbers, and was challenged by the story of the Israelites, who "complained in the hearing of the Lord or their misfortunes." It struck me - how easy it is to complain to God of my misfortunes. Often my misfortunes are nothing more than a lack of sleep, a hectic schedule, a whining baby, or not knowing what to make for supper.

The Lord was angry and sorrowful over the children of Israel in this story, because they rejected him by complaining. Our ungrateful attitudes are a reflection of our hearts. Thankfulness shows my contentment with the Lord himself and all he chooses to allow across my path in a given day.

Instead of complaining over my misfortunes, I need to thank God for his presence, and his grace in the face of any misfortune I might be facing, great or small.

Yahweh is so good. He is all I need.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Now That Tastes Good

So often I have read the words:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil.

Only yesterday did I connect the dots with the following verse in the same chapter:
It shall be life to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Oh, life and refreshment! How I long for you! To drink and be satisfied. To have strength to triumph over the day's tasks and not just drag through them. To have a spring of joy inside of me that isn't muddied by weariness or grumpiness.

And the principle is too simple. Trust. Lean on him. Acknowledge him. Fear him. And life and refreshment will be yours.

I am so quick to look for instant comfort and relaxation - the internet, What Not to Wear (or Chopped) - my favorite shows, a handful of chocolate chips with peanut butter - whatever hits me where I think I need it most. But then I must pick myself up off the couch again and keep going - perhaps rested in body but not refreshed in my soul.

Yesterday I decided to experiment. I had a to-do list a mile long...basically CLEAN THE HOUSE but spelled out in a list. And I had no motivation or desire or energy. But I chose to trust God, and make calculated choices about how I spent my time, what I ate, and what I did. I plugged along faithfully, choosing to acknowledge him throughout my day.

Today I tried more of the same. And I have a theory now. The life and refreshment here is not going to be a quick fix, fast food kind of deal. It will come with practice, and a weaning off of trusting myself and worshiping my own idols. As that transpires, refreshment will take the place of weariness, and life the place of drudgery. I don't sit here writing about how adding a little trust and sprinkling in a little fear of God turned my perspective around. Instead I can see how a weight lifts as I choose God above myself. Sometimes it bears down again, as I rely on my own strength, but as my heart changes, so does the burden.

Jesus said he came to give us abundant life. I want to live that life. But I can't hang on to my own way and have that life in addition. I must rest in his strength and grace and he will fill me with true life and lasting refreshment.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Things I learned while playing outside with my son

1. Setting up the kiddie pool takes longer to do than the time he will be interested in playing with it.

2. He won't understand that the reason you set up the kiddie pool was to play in it. There's just too many other cool things outside to play with, like Daddy's grill.

3. Water and dirt are only interesting if you're NOT supposed to be playing in them. If they're okay to play in, charcoal, ashes and Mommy's flowers are more fun.

4. Dogs are cool. Big dogs are cooler. Even from far away, a barking dog sounds cool.

5. Sticks are great for banging together.

6. Dandelions are for eating.

7. You have to teach a kid how to eat a popsicle - it doesn't come naturally. What does come naturally is sticking the popsicle in the dirt.

8. Ice water is freezing if it gets dumped on your chest.

9. A sand bucket makes a great drum.

10. You should wear a swim suit even if you think you will be reading your book while he is playing in the pool, because you won't be reading your'll be convincing him to play in the pool and you'll end up soaking wet.

11. Lawn mowers might be the coolest thing in the world to watch.

12. When it's over, you are going to need a nap more than he does. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Retraining Myself in the Old Ways

Lately, I can't stop thinking about the joy of mailing birthday cards to friends, and the fun of hearing news by word of mouth, face to face - the "Did you hear that so-n-so is engaged?!" "No, really!" (not, "Yeah, read it on Facebook."), and the connection of praying on the phone with a long distance friend. Tonight, I read an excellent article written by an author and youth worker, Rebecca Cusey, about "breaking up" with Facebook. I have never wanted to abandon Facebook completely, and still don't. It's the most common form of communication today, and a great way to find old friends, and a good way to get feedback from a lot of people (e.g. "Does anyone know where I can find this kind of store in my town?" or "Does anyone have a good recipe for chicken enchiladas?" - very handy indeed). But I've been feeling for a while that something has to change.

Go read Rebecca's article...she hit the nail right on the head. Facebook has taken the place of true connection with people.

I post banalities because realities would be too much. I respond with comments when in the past I would have sent a sympathy or congratulatory card. I’ve realized, a thoughtful wall post is no substitute for a visit and a gift of a casserole.

This is what bothers me the most. I mean, I just mailed my sister's birthday card a week late. Lame. I've trained myself to jump on the computer (not just Facebook) whenever I'm done with present work and want to zone out and not face reality. I've lost so much time for prayer, for letter writing, for calling old friends. All of that matters so much more to me than anything I read on the internet.

Another thing is that I want my son to pick up good habits from me. Gracious...he knows already that when I'm on the computer I'm not really connecting with people - and he proves that by shutting my laptop lid on me almost daily. "Look at me, Mom. I'm here. Enjoy me!" If I am actually relating with people on a real basis, he will learn that from me. 

So in lieu of deleting my Facebook account, I'm limiting it. I use a wonderful tool for Firefox called Leechblock that allows me to literally time myself on the site (I also use it for Twitter now, too). And tonight I changed the settings on my timeline to limit how people can contact me. If you want to say something to me, send me a message, or pick up the phone and call me. If you don't have my number, or address, or email, send me a message and ask. Likely I'll be asking a lot more of you for your personal info, too, soon. I'm also going to limit my own posts. I know every time you get on Facebook you are bursting to read what I write about my little boy (insert sarcasm), but I'd rather tell you about his goofy antics in person.

This isn't going to be easy. But I want to retrain myself in this. I'm tired of letting myself be controlled by social norms. I miss people. And I want to connect with you for real.