The topic for today’s devotion has been something that has been on my heart for quite some time. I’ve been asking the Lord to put just the right words to this topic so that I approach it with care and sensitivity. My prayer in sharing this is that the Lord will use it to convict us all to seek peace and pursue it, and offer kindness and understanding toward one another every chance we get!
I have become acutely aware of a theme lately, particularly among my women and mom friends. I’ve really begun to recognize that a heaping-helping of shame and judgment have attached themselves to the concept of health.
The term “healthy” is really very relative, but it has become overused and misguided. The word healthy used to simply imply not being sick, but somewhere along the line it has lost meaning and gained judgment, especially as it relates to food. Depending on who you ask “healthy” means Paleo or vegan, gluten-free or whole-grain, low-fat or high-fat. We hear that healthy means egg-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, or only organic and non-GMO. It’s daunting isn’t it? As always, I would never claim that any of these ideas are wrong (my own family follows several of these). But, for the purpose of this devotion, what I’d like to focus on is living shame-free.
The depth of this awareness really hit home for me one day recently while at the grocery store and after having family in town. Both times, I interacted with moms of small children who emphatically apologized and reasoned with me about why their food choices weren’t as healthy as mine, or made declarations about their need to “do better” about how they fed their families. It broke my heart. And, it caused me to pause and ask myself if I am unintentionally making others feel “less-than” by how I communicate about my family’s particular healthy lifestyle choices?
While I obviously believe that living our best life is God’s heart for all of His children, I am also more and more reminded that above all else, His desire is that we love and support one another. The truth is that my healthy lifestyle can be different from yours and still be equally effective! Do you want to know a secret? I’m allergic to kale! Yep, kale! You know, the so-called healthiest food on the planet? Well, not for this girl (I love kale by way, if you can eat it, do!!). What’s healthy for me, may not fit into your heathy lifestyle and the whole point of this devotional is to understand that that is ok!! I pray that right now, in this moment we all release ourselves and others of judgment or shame for having different models of a healthy life!
While the word “healthy” is relative and can have many different meanings, the Word of God is not and is clear about this subject. God’s word says, “If I partake of my food with thankfulness, why am I accused and spoken evil of because of that for which I give thanks? So then, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you may do, do all for the honor and glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:30-31. And, we also know from Romans 8:1, that there is no condemnation (shame or judgment) for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
Friends, I pray today that if you are feeling “less-than” or are being pulled into the temptation to compare your healthy choices to someone else’s, that is not the voice of the Lord. Above all else today, ask God to help you focus on what TRULY matters and that is the health of your spirit. There is no shortage of judgment, shame, or opinion in the world, especially around the topic of health. But, be encouraged today! That heap of shame is not yours to bear! May God release us of that today and remind us to look for ways to love one another! Walk in peace and freedom today knowing that not a single person who puts their hope in the promises of God will be left empty or put to shame! God loves you EXACTLY where you are today!
St. Patty’s Day is approaching, which means the popular Shamrock Shake will be returning! Before you indulge in a ‘treat’ that has more than 400 calories and 60 grams of sugar….
Try this Healthy Protein Packed Shamrock Shake instead for just 160 calories and 5 g of sugar!
To get the recipe, click on the picture below!
If you haven’t noticed, the term ‘high in protein’ has become a common buzzword with all of the diets that are becoming popular these days. If you have been following Dashing Dish for a while, you probably know that I don’t support diets, but I do recommend incorporating protein rich foods into your daily meals and snacks!
You may notice that most of my recipes are high in protein, and often times I even supplement my recipes with protein powder. My recipes are also naturally lower in simple carbohydrates, due to the fact that my recipes don’t contain flour, sugar, or processed ingredients. I personally have found that eating this way (a balance of protein, and healthy fats/carbohydrates) makes my body function and feel it’s best, all while helping maintain a healthy weight.
Now, you may be wondering, when it comes to health, and weight loss/maintenance, what are the actual benefits of protein? Well, i’m glad you asked!
Here are five benefits to adding protein rich foods to your diet:
1. Foods high in protein help you feel full, and more satisfied for longer periods of time. In general, protein rich foods take your body a long time to break down and digest, which means it keeps you feeling fuller longer.
2. Protein helps balance out blood sugar swings. Pairing protein with carbohydrates in a meal or snack slows down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, which helps balance your blood sugar, preventing insulin spikes that can lead to fat storage and cravings.
3. Protein helps preserve muscle tissue during weight loss. A part of the weight loss process includes losing not only fat tissue, but muscle tissue as well. The reason for this is because during weight loss, your body looks to burn not only fat, but protein for energy (in order to synthesize glucose, which is used for energy). When you make sure that your protein intake is sufficient through your diet, your body will be less likely to break down your muscle tissue as a source of protein used for energy.
4. Protein aids in muscle recovery. The problem with losing muscle is that it is increases your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which accounts for over two-thirds of calories burned at rest. Protein is comprised of amino acids, which helps spare lean muscle during weight loss, so the body can burn more fat (instead of muscle) for energy.
5. Protein can help you maintain your weight long term. It requires more energy to digest protein, which means that our bodies burn calories just breaking it down! This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF), or the energy we use to digest food into small, absorbable components. In addition, as I mentioned above, protein aids in preserving lean muscle also helps with long term weight maintenance!
A few important things I want to mention is that consuming more protein alone won’t make you lose or maintain weight. Any macronutrient (fat, protein, carbs) still has calories, and at the end of the day, if you are consuming more calories than your body requires, you will have a hard time losing or maintaining weight…(And eating too few calories also has an negative effect on your weight- so remember, slow and steady wins the race!) The key is truly a balance of protein, healthy fats, whole grains, and proper exercise that leads to a healthy body.
That being said, how do you know how much protein you should have in a day? A general rule of thumb is 1 gram of protein per 1 lb of body weight. However, that may vary based on your exercise, age, gender, etc. but using this basic formula is generally enough for the average person.
If you are looking for ways to implement more protein into your diet, Dashing Dish is a great place to start, where all of my recipes are high in protein, with the proper balance of healthy fats, and whole grains! Also, be sure to check out my new cookbook, Dashing Dish: 100 Simple Recipes for Clean Eating, which is packed with 100 delicious and simple protein packed recipes!
1. Plan Ahead. Meal planning has proven to be one of the best ways to stay on track with a healthy lifestyle in my own life. During busy week days, it is incredibly helpful to have healthy meals that are ready, (or at least part of the way prepared), and it also helps save money, and last minute take-out runs!
2. Be Prepared. Being prepared is essential when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. Being prepared can be as simple as carrying a small protein packed snack with you in your purse or car. Having a healthy snack when you are out, and keeping your fridge and pantry stocked can prevent unhealthy choices when you find yourself busy and hungry.
3. Choose Wisely. You don’t have to let healthy eating fall by the wayside when you go out to eat, or are at a get together with friends. Making wise choices with what there is to offer is one of the best ways to stay on track when you are not eating at home. I personally like to fill up on veggies, fruit, and lean protein choices when possible. Another great option is to bring a healthy dish to pass!
4. Be Active. Being active can be fun, and it does not have to take a lot of time out of your day. Even if you take a 30 minute walk every day, try to do something to get your body moving at least 3-6 days a week. Not only will it help you maintain a healthy weight, but it will improve your mood and give you energy!
5. Get Enough Sleep. Sleep is essential to living a healthy lifestyle. Our bodies simply do not work the way they should, and we are less likely to make smart choices when it comes to our health if we do not get enough sleep. I recommend getting at least 7 hours of sleep at night.
6. Be Well Balanced. Overall, living a healthy lifestyle should be something that is not only achievable, but is also maintainable long term. The only way that this is possible is with balance. I always say that the key to living a truly healthy lifestyle is moderation! Too much of anything is never a healthy thing, and that goes for all extremes, even if they seem like a good thing. Aim to enjoy life, make wise choices, and take care of your body. It will thank you in return!
Recently when I was spending time with the Lord, I read Matthew 5:8 and it really stood out to me. I began to wonder what it meant to have a pure heart, so I did some digging! When I looked up the word pure, I found that the word means not mixed or altered with any other substance or material; or uncontaminated. So how do we protect our hearts from becoming contaminated by the ways of this world? I believe that this means that we are to be in the world, but not of it. A more practical way of saying this is that we must put a guard on the portals to our heart, which are our minds, eyes, and body.
When it comes to putting a guard on our minds, the Word of God gives us very simple but clear instructions on how to do so. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” And as we can see…there’s that word “pure” again!
When we stop and take inventory on our thoughts, we will be able to see if we are in fact lining up with God’s Word. We can ask ourselves, am I thinking on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of a good report? If not, it is time to think about our thinking! When we redirect our thoughts from our situation to the Word of God, we will be in agreement with what God says about our situation, rather than what the world has to say. This my friends is the most crucial part of keeping our minds pure, which will in turn protect what goes into our hearts.
One of the strongest tugs on my heart for our generation is guarding our eyes. With all of the images displayed on the media, movies, and advertisements these days, one does not even have to be intentionally seeking out something evil or corrupt in order to see it. Despite the culture that we live in however, I am convinced that there are steps that we can take to put a guard on our eyes.
Recently, I stopped in to a well known undergarment store at the mall (I won’t name the store, but I’m sure you can probably guess which one i’m speaking of). The images displayed at every turn made my heart so incredibly sad. In fact, there was no safe place to look except to the floor. Now, you may be wondering why I chose to look away, especially since it was other women I was looking at. Well, for me personally, this is a part of guarding my eyes. I have learned that these images can create a distorted image what women’s bodies should look like. When we look at the images that portray women in a way that God did not intend, and it can produce comparison, insecurity, and even body image distortion if we do not guard our eyes. This one simple act of looking away, (or clicking the exit button on the screen or television) is a choice that we can make when it comes to protecting our hearts.
The last thing that I want to touch on in relation to our hearts is the purity our bodies. In today’s society, modesty is certainly not the norm. In fact, it seems to be that our society is becoming more desensitized to seeing skin and even nudity with each passing year. Although we may not be able to stop how others are portraying themselves, we can certainly make a choice on how we present our bodies.
The bible also has quite a bit to say about this topic, and I think it goes without saying that it encourages modesty. One of my favorite verse on this topic is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, which says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” This scripture shows us that our bodies are not our own. They are a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, and God paid a high price for them. When we keep our bodies pure, dress modestly, and take care of them properly, we will honor God and protect our hearts from so much of the pain and evil of this world.
Not to mention, I can honestly say that the most confident and beautiful women I know are those that know they are valuable without revealing their bodies. There is something to be said about the beauty of a Godly character that is spoken of in Proverbs 31, for this type of beauty never fades!
Being an Example of Purity
Being an example of purity starts with guarding our own mind, eyes, and body, and finding our worth and value in who God created us to be. When we find our identity in Christ, instead of this world, we will find more fulfillment, peace and joy than one could ever imagine.
Sisters, I want to encourage you today…No matter your age, background, or your story, you can choose to be an example of purity in this world starting today. Not only will it bring glory to our heavenly Father, but it will protect your own heart, and bless the hearts of those around you.
Have you ever looked at someone’s house, beauty, business, or family that seems to be ‘ideal’ in your mind, only to leave you feeling less than? I am sure that these scenarios of comparison and perfection ring a bell for most, if not all women in some way…and I’ll be the first to admit that I have certainly been tempted with these things myself! Whether it is comparison with others or the pursuit of perfection, I have found both to be a dangerous trap.
I often describe the pursuit of perfection as something dangling in front of us that we will never be able to catch. The faster we run after it- the faster it moves just a few steps ahead of us…always remaining out of our reach. This chase always leads us to running a race that we were never meant to run, making us worn out, exhausted, and the ultimate purpose is to get us off track, too tired, and too busy to run the race that God has set before us.
I believe that the Lord has created each one of us to be so incredibly unique, and that He gave us specific gifts and talents to fulfill our destiny. These individual qualities that make us so different are the very gifts that God has bestowed upon us. Those blessings are the very things that God can and will use to draw people to Him, if we choose to use them for His purposes.
When start to strive to be something that we are not our gifts will remain dormant, and we will find ourselves run-down and exhausted with nothing left to give at the end of the day.
I believe that the only way to effectively deal with this never-ending chase is to shift our focus daily from our flaws, our weaknesses, and the very things that make us feel ‘less than’ to the one who IS perfect- Jesus Christ.
You see, from the moment that we give our lives to Jesus, He comes to live on the inside of us, which means that we no longer have to strive for perfection, because the hope of glory, the perfect Great one lives in us and through us. When we get our eyes off of ourselves and our own imperfections, and get our eyes on Christ, then we are freed up to think about others and how we can bless them.
Each one of us has so many different unique qualities that are intended to be used to build up and bless others. Let us make the choice this day to see the beauty, gifts, and blessings that the Lord has placed in our lives instead of looking at the things that we wish we could perfect. When we shift our focus onto Jesus, we will shine His love to the world around us in a more beautiful way than any physical quality ever could. We will be more content than we could have ever imagined.
If you would like to join me in ‘letting go’ of this never-ending pursuit of perfection, please join with me in saying this short and simple prayer.
“Lord, I thank you that you have created me wonderfully unique. Thank you for the gifts, talents, and blessings you have poured into my life to shine your glory to the world around me. Forgive me for striving to be something that you never intended me to be, and for comparing myself with others. Today I choose to focus on the beauty that you have placed in my life, instead of the things that seem to be my shortcomings. I thank you that today the pressure is off- I am content in being who you created me to be, nothing more, nothing less!”
For more devotionals like this, be sure to check out my new devotional book: Devotions for a Healthier You!