Love Your Body: How to Survive Holiday Eating

Love Your Body: and Survive the Holidays by eating healthy

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

No escaping it, the Holidays are upon us and with that comes all the temptations and frustrations of trying to maintain a healthy diet.

The downward slope starts with Halloween and the candy. Then comes fall recipes using yummy pumpkin that always includes lots of sugar. Just as the last of the candy wrappers disappear in the trash . . . along comes Thanksgiving: the day we thank God for His provision by feasting.

Only a few days later, it’s December 1st. Christmas parties start with cookies, candy, fudge, punch, cakes, pies, and lots of calorie ridden, fat laden food! It’s easy to lose heart—literally and figuratively—and decide you’ll just throw caution to the wind and get back to that healthy eating January 1.

But hey, then you have all the nibbles watching the New Year’s parade and football, and it’s too cold to go outside and exercise so those extra few pounds over the holidays can quickly morph to a couple of new dress sizes. Then it’s Super Bowl parties, Valentine’s Day and the cycle just continues.

What’s a Body to Do?

There really is a way to stay in control of your health and still enjoy the holidays. I do it every year and you can too, but you have to have a plan in place. Pray about how you’re going to deal with all the tempting food you’ll soon be encountering before you encounter it. Ask God to give you wisdom and discernment on what to eat, how much to eat, what to cook, how to cook it, and what to avoid.

Our usual tactic is to promise ourselves we’ll be good, and then when we get to the party throw caution to the wind…and then beat ourselves up the next day when we get on the scales. So here are some tips I’ve found helpful over the years. Please share any you have too:

  1. I do get on the scales every day so I can keep a handle on my weight. If you wait until you notice it in your clothes, chances are you’re going to have a tough time getting it off. If I see I’ve gained a few pounds, I take that seriously and layoff desserts and eat smaller portions until I lose the extra weight.
  2. If you have an exercise regime don’t stop. If you don’t have one, start! Even though the holidays can be crazy, do this for you! Give yourself the gift that keeps on giving. Exercise helps with stress, gets the endorphins pumping, and burns calories. Find a way to fit it in. In bad weather, take laps around a mall, or I’ve done laps inside a church. Get some girlfriends to join you.
  3. Take a green salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing to a potluck or party. That way you know there’s something healthy for you to eat. As you go down the buffet line, take only a spoonful of things you really love and be especially mindful of Jell-O salads usually loaded with sugar and fat. Don’t go back for seconds.
  4. When there’s a selection of desserts, have a small piece of the one you love the most. Or take tiny servings of several. If you bite into one and it isn’t as good as you thought it would be, don’t finish it!
  5. Let your stomach guide you. Most of us feel uncomfortable when we overeat, so when you start to feel the belt or waistband tighten around your middle, STOP eating.
  6. If you love bread, let yourself have a small piece, but don’t use butter. If it’s store bought dinner rolls, skip them.
  7. If you’re out to dinner, make a visual line down the middle of your plate and only eat half of the meal. Ask for a to-go box for a tasty lunch tomorrow.
  8. Drink water! Avoid punches, juices, soft drinks, and alcohol.
  9. Enjoy stuffing or mashed potatoes without gravy. They’re delicious on their own. Also avoid “sauces.”
  10. If you’re on a special diet like I was this year, take a side dish you can eat. You might find others giving it a try. At Thanksgiving this year, I made mashed cauliflower for those like me who couldn’t eat mashed potatoes. Here’s a simple recipe I learned from an employee at Trader Joe’s. BTW they also have frozen mashed and riced cauliflower at TJ’s, but they were out of the mashed when I was shopping so I made my own.

Mashed Cauliflower

Wash and cut a head of cauliflower into florets

Put in a saucepan with Organic Bone Chicken Broth to cover about an inch up the pan

Add a few peeled garlic gloves

Cook until the cauliflower is soft. Don’t drain!

Season to taste, add a little butter if you choose, and mash the cauliflower with the bone broth in the pan with a hand blender or masher until desired consistency. Delicious!!

  1. Instead of feeling left out for dessert, again bring something you can eat. I brought a keto pecan pie. I have to admit I was the only one who wanted to eat it, but when the pies came out after turkey dinner, I did not feel deprived. Can you guess which one is my keto pecan pie?Keto pecan pie looks like the real thing!

Cooking for the Holidays

I used to bring out all my recipes for my childhood holiday favorites and spend a day or two in the kitchen making cookies and candy. Then I realized I was the one eating most of it! So now, I pick a favorite or two, and that’s it. Here are some ideas for making your recipes healthier:

  1. Never use shortening in anything! Substitute coconut oil.
  2. When a recipe calls for “vegetable” oil, again use coconut oil (you can melt it) or applesauce.
  3. Cut the amount of sugar in half and substitute Stevia or Swerve for the other half or use all Stevia or Swerve, or stick with just half the sugar.
  4. Use 2% milk, almond or coconut milk.
  5. Substitute whole-wheat flour for some of the white flour.
  6. If you’re gluten-free or low carb, follow the recipes for the flours you use.
  7. Avoid recipes that are pure sugar. They’re not good for anyone.
  8. If you’re making cookies with the grandkids, send the goodies home!

Remember that these holidays are not about food! When you gather together, it’s about the fellowship as you thank God for all His blessings and remember the greatest gift of all, His Son Jesus Christ.

I’m thankful for each of you and appreciate your following on my blog and your desire to live the best life you can for the Lord and to love His gift of your precious body.

PS My publisher for Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness is offering a Cyber Monday discount of 40% off any purchase. Use the promo code: blackfridaycybermonday2017 to redeem your discount! Find us at. https://leafwoodpublishers.com/

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My Thanksgiving Prayer from Philippians

Count your blessings this Thanksgiving and Pray like Paul did in Philippians 1

Many of you read my blog regularly, though we’ve never met, and others I know quite well or we’ve had the opportunity to meet and fellowship together. But I want you to know that when I write this Monday Morning Blog,  my monthly newsletter, or any of my books, you are on my mind. I’m wondering what you’re thinking about world events and how I can encourage you with the Word of God.

Often you tell me that a particular blog or book was just what you needed at the time, and we both know that it was God using me as His messenger. To God be the glory!

As I read Paul’s letter to the Philippians, I noticed that Chapter 1:3-11, 27-28 in the NIV translation has the heading: Thanksgiving and Prayer. I thought how appropriate to personalize this passage as my Thanksgiving prayer for all of you.

Adapted from Paul’s letter to the Philippians Chapter 1

Thanksgiving Prayer (Adapted from Philippians 1:3-11)

I thank my God every time I remember my family, friends, peeps, church family, readers, blog/newsletter followers, brothers and sisters in Christ, fellow authors and speakers . . . . In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy for those who partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in and through you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart whether I am chained to the computer writing the next book, blog, or newsletter . . .  or defending and confirming the gospel and mentoring . . . all of you share in God’s grace and ministry with me spiritually, and sometimes physically, through prayer, communication, and social networking. God can testify how I think of all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best for you and those you love and cherish, and you will remain pure and blameless for the day of Christ. That you will lead, guide, encourage, parent, serve, and mentor others and be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Living a Life Worthy of the Gospel (Adapted from Philippians 1:27-28)

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I know you, or never meet you but only hear about your great work, I will know that we stand firm in one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose us. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that we will be saved—and that by God.

From Janet

This Thanksgiving, and every day, go and represent Christ to a depraved and fallen world, so that because of your witness and sharing the Good News of Jesus, more will be saved than lost (“destroyed”) when Christ returns.

I thank God in remembrance of each of you.

About His Work with you,

Janet

You can sign up for my monthly online newsletter or weekly blog on my website.

For more on what I’m grateful for this year read the November 2017 issue of About His Work Ministries Newsletter

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*Picture from clipart.org.

How to Celebrate a Peaceful Post-Election Thanksgiving

happy_thanksgiving

During our small group prayer request time, a reoccurring request went something like this: Please help us be a light on Thanksgiving with the eclectic group of people attending with differing political and faith beliefs.

Whether it was all family, all friends, invited guests . . . or a combination . . . most were apprehensive how the day would turn out.

In the fragile aftermath of a volatile election, I imagine many of you are having similar concerns and conversations. I remember my mom cautioning that if you want to keep the peace, don’t talk about religion or politics, As a kid, I never understood her warning. Believers are supposed to tell everyone about Jesus. How could we not talk about our Savior, since our identity is in Christ? And isn’t everyone entitled to his or her own political opinion?

Then I grew up and learned that Jesus and politics are indeed quite controversial, but I still don’t think that means we shouldn’t talk boldly about them . . . we just need to be respectful. My first priority in life is being a born-again Christian and all other roles follow after. But as I wrote in Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten: “Bold doesn’t mean obnoxious. It simply means not being afraid to speak the truth in love, even in the face of adversity: ‘Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold’ (2 Cor. 3:12).” For example, if someone asks what I write, I answer, “Christian nonfiction.” Or I’ll say, “I’m a Christian author and speaker.”

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. Philippians 1:20 NLT

So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. 2 Timothy 1:8 NLT

Is Thanksgiving a Religious Holiday?

That could be an awkward question in some circles.

I was with a group of people when I mentioned how I hoped people would set their differences aside on Thanksgiving Day, and one person said, “It’s just a time for eating a lot of food, watching football, and shopping online anyway.”

Me: “I’m pretty sure the first pilgrims who celebrated Thanksgiving didn’t have TV or Amazon.

Another responded: “Well at least Thanksgiving isn’t a religious holiday.”

I asked: “Who then are we thanking?”

Complete silence.

Of course, the answer is: God.

Abraham Lincoln made it an official national holiday “as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe.”

The English colonists we call Pilgrims celebrated days of thanksgiving as part of their religion. But these were days of prayer, not days of feasting.

We read in Genesis that God spoke everything into being, and yet, many will be sharing turkey and dressing with people who don’t believe in, or discount, the existence of God. They don’t know where they’re going when they die, or where everything we enjoy on earth came from . . . and maybe they don’t even care. They’ll walk out of the room during prayer before the meal, and may try and start an argument over the election. Maybe after a few drinks, their conversation will turn ugly, even though innocent young eyes are watching and ears are listening to how “adults” interact.

As I prayed and talked to the Lord, here’s a list I hope will help any who might be apprehensive this Thanksgiving. I’d love to hear your ideas too.

Don’t worry about what to say—“Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.” Mark 13:11 (Jesus was instructing his disciples, but I think it could apply to us too if we felt our faith was being tested or put on trial.)

Speak kind words— “Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Pr. 16:24 NLT

For your part, maintain peace—“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

Don’t ask or answer antagonistic questions, walk away or change the subject“Interfering in someone else’s argument is as foolish as yanking a dog’s ears.” Pr. 26:17 NLT

Play with any children present“We will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.” Ps 78:4 NLT

Don’t drink“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 NLT

Smile, Smile, Smile“Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” Psalm 42:5 The Message

Listen“Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” Pr. 12:15 NLT

Take a deep breath and think before you speak—“There  is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.” Pr. 29:20 NLT

Less is more—“The more words you speak, the less they mean. So what good are they?” Ecc. 6:11 NLTThere’s “A time to be quiet and a time to speak.” Ecc. 3:7 NLT

Say mind prayers continuously.—Pray continually” 1 Thess. 5:17

Have a secret sign or word between you and someone else that signals: Let’s change the subject or move into the other room.—“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.” Ecc. 4:9

Put on the Armor of GodPut on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Eph. 10:6:18

If you’re Hosting—Pray and thank God for each guest. Ask to be a blessing and to share joy. Pray over your home and each chair at the table. Pray before the meal as you normally would, your guests know they’re coming to a Christian home.—“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9

If you’re a Guest—As you walk up to the home, pray you’ll be a blessing and that God will stir up the fruit of the spirit in your heart. If you’re hosts don’t pray before the meal, bow your head and pray over your food as you normally would. — “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Gal. 5:22-23

Thanksgiving is a day for harmony and focusing on God and giving Him thanks and praise in whatever way He leads. Fiction writers have a saying: “Show don’t tell.” Which simply means, you don’t always have to speak Jesus with your words, you can show Jesus with your actions, and people will want what you have!

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 NLT

Past Thanksgiving Blogs

Here are several past Thanksgiving blogs you might enjoy. I do give thanks for each of you who have followed me on my Monday Morning Blogs, and I pray you have a joyful, peaceful, and God-filled Thanksgiving Day.

Acquiring Overshadows Thanksgiving

What Are You Most Thankful For?

Love Your Body During the Holidays

Thanksgiving Tablecloth Idea

In Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten I share how to use your tablecloth as a “praise-cloth” to preserve memories for generations to come. Here is an excerpt from the book. I hope it gives you some ideas. I’ll be taking our tablecloth with us this Thanksgiving, and here is a picture of ours. We’re now writing down the sides.

thanksgiving-tablecloth-full

When my breast cancer journey started [2002], I became keenly aware of making memories with my family. At times like that, you think seriously about your mortality and the legacy you want to leave with your loved ones. You appreciate each new day of life. The sun rising every morning is an act of God to celebrate.

            Holidays like Thanksgiving have new meaning. Typically, Thanksgiving is a celebration where family and friends gather for a feast, and everyone says what they’re thankful for in the past year. But after finishing the dishes and putting away the leftovers, how many really remember what everyone said?

The Thanksgiving following my first breast cancer surgery, I had an idea of a Thankful Tablecloth. I purchased a Thanksgiving themed tablecloth with plenty of white space and a box of wash-resistant colored markers. After Thanksgiving dinner, I brought out the markers and asked everyone—kids included—to find a spot on the tablecloth to write what they were thankful for that year, sign, and date it. We traced handprints for the tiny ones with their name and age.

Today, we have years of thankful messages to read every Thanksgiving and remember the many acts of God’s goodness to us and the people who joined us at the celebration table each year. If we go to someone’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, I ask if I can bring our Thankful Tablecloth and markers.

            When I go to be with the Lord, I pray my family will continue bringing out the Thanksgiving Tablecloth as a reminder through the generations of how good God has been to our family and friends. [Excerpt from Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten]

 

thanksgiving-tablecloth-message

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:15 NLT

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What Are You Most Thankful For?

happy_thanksgivingToday starts Thanksgiving week. I’ve talked to so many people who tell me that Thanksgiving is one of their favorite holidays. For Christians, it ushers in the season of thanking God for His provision, but most importantly thanking Him for sending His One and Only Son to die on a cross to offer each of us eternal life.

I wonder how many think about our Salvation at Thanksgiving?

We typically thank God for our family, our home, our jobs, our health, our friends… answers to prayers . . . all of which are so worthy of our praise. But I would like to challenge you this year, when it comes your time around the dinner table to answer the question: “What are you most thankful for?”

Your answer will be, “Jesus Christ in my life.”

Thank God for your salvation . . . even if there are nonbelievers present . . . especially if there are! Then do everything you do to the glory of God whether it’s cooking, playing games, fellowshipping, even watching football!

If we say that Jesus is at the center of our life and we put Him above all else, doesn’t it only make sense that He would receive our greatest praise and Thanksgiving?

If we say we are blessed, it’s important that we remember the source of all our blessings is God and we direct our attention to Him. In my upcoming February release, Forsaken God?, I talk about celebrating Thanksgiving as a way to remember God’s goodness and I ask the question:

Thanksgiving is a day set aside to acknowledge and celebrate God’s acts of kindness and provision to America. What could you do to put the focus more on God at Thanksgiving and less on feast and football?

I would love to hear how you answer that question. Leave a comment below and let me know.

NO-shopping-on-thanksgiving

I also hope that you are not treating Thanksgiving as another shopping day, whether at the stores or online. That might seem like a harsh challenge, but you can read my thoughts on that in a post I wrote Thanksgiving 2013 “Acquiring Overshadows Thanksgiving.” I would encourage you to read that post before you break out your credit card or grab your car keys.

A Thanksgiving Prayer from David

This Thanksgiving I bless you with a psalm of Thanksgiving. May this become your Thanksgiving praise also!

That day David first appointed Asaph and his associates to give praise to the Lord in this manner:

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
10 Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
11 Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.

12 Remember the wonders he has done,
    his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
13 you his servants, the descendants of Israel,
    his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
14 He is the Lord our God;
    his judgments are in all the earth.—1 Chronicles 6:7-14

A Reminder of the Purpose of Thanksgiving from President Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation. Thanksgiving Was to Be An Annual Day of Thanking God:

It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. …Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.”

I pray a blessing over each of you this Thanksgiving Day as you give praise where praise is due!

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Acquiring Overshadows Thanksgiving

Women On Shopping Sale Stock Images - 21849044

To me, Thanksgiving ushers in an end-of-year season of thanking God for our many blessings, celebrating our biggest blessing—the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ—and setting purposeful goals for the next year.

I pondered and prayed about our local Christian radio station playing Christmas music all day October 31. Were they countering Halloween or getting a head start on the Christmas shopping frenzy? Most of my FB friends chose the first explanation, and I agreed.

The Black Friday frenzy is once again creeping into Thanksgiving

Now we have the infringement of Thanksgiving Day with some stores preempting “Black Friday” by opening on Thanksgiving Thursday! Two years ago when this trend started, they opened at 9 PM or midnight, but this year many stores are pushing the envelope and opening as early as  Thanksgiving morning!

The separation between Black-Friday and Thanksgiving is blurring.

The shift to earlier hours started in 2010 and has accelerated since then, said Kathy Grannis, spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation, which is based in Washington, D.C. Last year’s Thanksgiving shopping event was the biggest yet: More than 35 million people hit the stores and shopped online, up from 29 million in 2011, according to an NRF survey conducted by BIGinsight.–Sue Doefler. The Republic

Sadly, millions of people plan a quick “Thank you God for this meal,” which they’re gulping down to be the first in line for the “can’t miss, one-time-only, one-hour-only bargains.” Seriously? These stores run sales all year round and even more at every holiday. And financial analysts show that many of those stores opening on Thanksgiving are under performers and want us to help them get back into the black. Or their trying to make up for six less shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year . . . like we’re not all going to get our Christmas shopping done if we don’t start on Thanksgiving. Again, I ask, “Seriously?”

When I mentioned at our Thanksgiving dinner two years ago that I found it sad when a grandma at the table was going home to catch a nap because she had to go to work later at Wal-Mart, there were questions as to what I saw wrong with this new “tradition.” Here were my answers:

  1. Instead of focusing an entire day on thanking God for providing all we need and already have (something we should do every day) there’s a frenzied rush to acquire more than we need.
  2. Store workers no longer enjoy an entire holiday off. While shoppers are trampling each other for the “only-while-supply-lasts deals,” store employees have had to skip dessert to get back to work.
  3. It’s definitely not God enticing crazed consumers to go shopping on a day set aside to thank Him for life and provision. So if it isn’t God . . . who else would it be whispering in ears, “Did God really say you shouldn’t go shopping on Thanksgiving? He just doesn’t want you to get that great deal.” Hmmm seems like a conversation something like that took place in the Garden of Eden.
  4. How long will it be before after-Christmas sales start Christmas afternoon? If shoppers really support the opening of stores on Thanksgiving . . . it’s only a matter of time.

God Says . . .

In Exodus 16:4, the Lord said to Moses regarding the food He was providing for the Israelites, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.” Later in Scripture, we learn that those who gathered and horded more than they needed lost everything.

In Matthew 6:24-26 God warns and assures us: “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?

And in 1 Corinthians 10:14 “So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols.”

Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to You All

Enjoy what the Lord has given you this Thanksgiving, be generous with your time, pray for wisdom and discernment in your acquisitions, and above all, share with everyone you meet the greatest “deal” of all time—eternal life through believing in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

I would love to hear from you regarding what your family is doing to avoid the commercialization of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Please leave a comment below and share ideas with others.