Maundy Agape Dinner

Maundy Agape Dinner

Nothing beats a church pot luck!  We joined a new church about 3 years ago and are clearly in our element.  My husband is on the bread guild, which bakes bread for Sunday services.  I am part of “Main Dish” and the “goodie guild” to provide meals and treats to the church community and for those less fortunate.

Every Holy week, we look forward to “Maundy Thursday”, or the Thursday prior to Easter. Maundy means Holy and is derived from the word “command”.  A theme of the service is the commandment, “love one another as I have loved you”.  It is always a great reminder that no matter our differences and insults we may have endured by each other, love prevails.

My church clearly loves me.  The Maundy dinner is more like a happy hour on steroids, minus the alcohol. Plates of olives, cheese, delightful salads, fruit, hummus, bread and other savories are served. We gather for faith, fellowship and food prior to a powerful service with deep rituals and thoughtful reflection.  It may be my favorite holy day in church.

No calorie counting allowed.  And that’s just fine by me.

 

3 food fads to ignore

3 food fads to ignore

Think that juicing all your food or following a gluten free diet will cure all that ails you?  Or that coconut oil is the new avocado?  Think again.  While food fads come and go, the science behind them is not always that convincing.  A new review of scientific evidence was performed to examine the proof behind these and other diet claims.

Dr. Andrew Freeman, the co-chair of the American College of Cardiology’s Lifestyle and Nutrition work group, was the lead author of the study.  He and his researchers evaluated medical evidence associated with healthy eating habits and current popular diet fads in the US. 1   What they found was not surprising.  Here are three of the most popular fads and why you may want to think twice before drinking the kool-aid.

  1. Going gluten-free: A gluten-free diet is indicated for individuals with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity or intolerance, but is of no benefit to others that can digest grains normally.  According to an article published in the New Yorker in 2015, only 1% of the US population suffers from celiac disease, 6% are gluten-intolerant, but up to 30% of Americans are avoiding gluten because they see it as healthier.  Much of the gluten-free craze is due to intensive marketing, sometimes of products that were always gluten-free such as yogurt or vegetables. Gluten-free substitutes (such as corn or rice-based products) may be lower in dietary fiber and nutritional value than their whole grain counterparts.   In addition to being much higher in cost, there is risk of arsenic poisoning as so many gluten-free products substitute rice flour for wheat.  2
  2. Juicing: Juicing may improve nutrient absorption from some plants, but it lacks fiber and other nutrients found in whole vegetables and fruits. Whole fruits and vegetables retain fiber, which has been found to provide satiety.  Juice drinkers may consume more calories, but not feel full since the act of chewing provides a sense of fullness. 1   Juicing may also take more time than simply washing a piece of whole fruit or microwaving some frozen vegetables.  Special juicing machines and ingredients may also be costly.  If you have teeth and a small intestine, let your body do the digestion!
  3. Coconut oil: Coconut oil makes a great skin moisturizer and tastes great in Thai food, and has most recently been seen as the latest, greatest health food.  Coconut oil is often touted as healthy because it contains MCTs (medium chain triglycerides), which are more quickly absorbed and converted to fuel than other fats.  MCTs are used as treatment in people with difficulty absorbing fat such as those with cystic fibrosis, liver disease, pancreatitis or other medical issues.  They are found in palm and coconut oil and in full fat dairy products in smaller amounts.  Coconut oil contains about 10-15% of these fats, but the majority of the population do not require them anyway.  While coconut oil is recommended for weight loss and Alzheimer’s disease, many don’t realize it’s one of the few fats that’s over 90% saturated. 3   Freeman and colleagues advise using heart healthy olive, canola and other vegetable oils which may not raise blood cholesterol like saturated fats. 1 The science backing coconut oil for weight loss and other conditions is simply lacking.3

References:

  1. Andrew M.Freeman, Pamela B. Morris, Neal Barnard, Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Emilio Ros, ArthurAgatston, Stephen Devries, James O’Keefe, Michael Miller, Dean Ornish, Kim William, Penny Kris-Etherton. Trending cardiovascular nutrition controversies.  Journal of the American College of Cardiology.  Vol 69, issue 9, March 2017.
  2. http://fortune.com/2015/05/05/gluten-free-foods/
  3. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2015/03/11/healthy-eating-myths-how-many-have-you-fallen-for
Housing means food security

Housing means food security

Today I met a true hero: a woman that works for Habitat for Humanity who shared her own story of poverty, and how ironic it is that she’s now working to build affordable housing.

She is the second person to recommend the book Evicted by Matthew Desmond.  The book highlights the plight of tenants and landlords in poor areas of Milwaukee in 2008 to 2009.

She shared a quote from an interview by the author that really struck me.  It made me think how much I, and others, take for granted having a roof over our heads.

“I always come back to the question of scale. Do we believe housing is a right and that affordable housing is part of what it should mean to be an American? I say yes. Then the question becomes how do we deliver on that obligation? I think taking this program that works pretty darn well and expanding it to all families below the poverty line is the best way to do that. These families spending 80 percent of income on rent would be paying 30 percent. They’d be saving and spending money on their kids. We know from previous research that when families get a housing voucher after years on the waiting list, they buy more food, they go to the grocery store, and their kids become stronger. The book goes into how much that would cost and how to do that. But first we have to recognize how essential housing is to driving down poverty and recognize that we can’t fix poverty without fixing housing.” – Matthew Desmond

Being interested in fighting food insecurity, this is most definitely on my list of “must read”. And volunteering for Habitat for Humanity is now on my bucket list.

Affirmations of a chronic dieter

Affirmations of a chronic dieter

About 8 weeks ago, I met with a woman that had struggled with her weight her entire life.  She’d been a chunky child, a heavy college student and now, an obese adult.  She’d always felt bad about her weight.  It was tied to her self-esteem and self worth.  If she gained weight, she felt awful about herself.  If she lost, she’d fear she’d just put it right back on.  She’d become a chronic dieter on what I call, the “bummer cycle”:  Diet, cheat, repent, repeat.  She simply did not know how to diet appropriately to lose weight and not feel deprived.  She truly believe that to lose weight, you must punish yourself.

After our first visit, she thanked me for not “shaming” her with 2 shakes and a protein bar.  After seeing her doctor, she was told she should either follow a stringent meal replacement program or see a dietitian.  She chose me instead.

She weighed in today with a 22 lb loss.  Granted, she’s been swimming a few days/week and cutting back on calories, but she stated these 5 things that she’s learned on losing weight:

  1. I will (and should) eat regular meals including foods I love.
  2. I should not eat foods that I don’t enjoy.
  3. I will not starve myself.
  4. It’s OK to have dark chocolate now and then.
  5. Eating food I like means being good to myself.

I could see the tears of joy in her eyes that she was losing weight, but still eating real food.  She had no desire to be on a drastic program that only shamed her.  Her goal is simple- 50 lbs down every year until she reaches her goal.  While it may be a lot over time, it’s one pound per week, which is not punitive in the least.

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