Our Food Counts | by Lesley

The last 3 1/2 years have been quite a journey for our family when it comes to food. I began learning about our food supply – how it is processed, where it comes from, and how it affects our health. The more I learned the more I realized we needed to change our eating habits. A lot. It was overwhelming, but little but little I can say we have come a long ways and are healthier for it.

At the beginning of our journey I was 25 pounds heavier, and struggled with mild depression. I rarely felt energized to get done all that was required. With small children running around it was often hard to get through the day. But as I began to change our eating and incorporate exercise, I lost weight, felt better, and was energized. My perspective changed, and I was able to do things I never would have thought about doing before … like adopting a child from foster care.

I truly believe that food can be our greatest healer and fuel (as God designed it) or our greatest poison (as humans designed it).

I have found that when I am eating clean and exercising, I have more to give everyone in my life, first and foremost my family.

I know I am not the first to bring attention to the health CRISIS we have here in the U.S. This is the first generation where children are expected to have a shorter life span then their parents. Obesity is still on the rise, especially in children. Type 2 diabetes, autism, cancer, ADHD, asthma, sleep disorders, liver disease, mental disorders – I didn’t hear much about these when I was a kid, let alone know anyone who dealt with them. Now it is common lingo. And our food supply has changed DRAMATICALLY in the last 50-60 years. The link is clear – but food companies are reluctant to change what is making them A LOT of money. We can see the tide is starting to turn though, as consumers our dollars speak loud.

It can be overwhelming to change eating habits, but here are some ideas to start:

1. Read and learn ingredients. We have been trained to read calories, fat, sugar, and carbs. And while those should be considered, what is of greater importance is what is actually IN the food. Avoid things that you don’t recognize, and even some things you do recognize (high fructose corn syrup is never good for you, and it is in EVERYTHING). If your bread ingredient list is over 5 items, there is stuff in there you don’t want in your body. Isn’t bread just flour, salt, yeast, and water??? Not anymore.

2. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, the middle aisles generally do not contain “food.” Spend most of your time in produce. If you eat meat, choose organic and grass fed (beef). Cage free eggs are a good source of protein. The hormones injected into animals to produce products quickly and make them bigger and also getting into your body.  Not good.

3. If possible, increase your food budget. We prioritize lots of things – cable TV, cell phone service, coffee … just to name a few. The average U.S. household spends about 9.7% of their budget on food, less than any other nation and down from our grandparents generation. Yet we spend 16% (more than other nations) on healthcare. Our cheap, processed food is making us sick, and we need to re-prioritize. Either way you will spend the money, why not put it towards your health and not medical care costs? If you are as tight as possible on your food budget and can’t spend any more, look up ways to save money on whole, real foods. There is a ton of ideas out there – Pinterest is a good place to start. I have found that we really have not increased our budget significantly … it just takes some planning.  Check out Farmer’s Markets in your area.

4. Do a 30 Day Detox (start with just you, not the kids), eliminating dairy, gluten, caffeinne (gulp), sugar, and any processed food. The first few days you can feel sluggish (your body is eliminating toxins) but then you feel great and have a head start to a healthier future. By doing this you may discover foods that have been making you feel bad … and you didn’t know it. This is especially true of gluten and dairy.

5. Don’t drink your calories! Water is the best option. Eliminate soda all together, diet soda is even worse than regular (avoid all artificial sweeteners!). You should be drinking 1/2 your body weight of water each day (example: if you weigh 150 pounds, drink at least 75 ounces of water – more with exercise).

6. Eat whole foods. Think about food this way – does it have a mother or did it come from the ground? If not, it is likely not a whole food (Doritos don’t have a mother).

7. Cook at home! The only way to know 100% what is going into your food is to cook it yourself. It tastes better, saves money, and is better for you. Win-win-win!

8. Get support! Find an exercise buddy, an accountability partner. Surround yourself with people who will encourage positive change.

9. Most importantly – give yourself time and grace! It can feel overwhelming and like we are fighting an uphill battle (we are). It gets even harder when you add children to the mix. But continue to makes changes – your health and the health of your family is SO worth it!

God has designed us for service in love to others. I have found that my service and love for others is tied to how I feel physically.

When I am eating healthy and exercising I have SO MUCH more to give.

I still struggle in this area, but am determined to give my best to those in my life. If you need help, please ask! I would love to be on this journey with you.

Romans 12:1-2
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

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Hold On To Hope | by Patty

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Isaiah 41:10 NRSV  “Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

If you are a woman, and you have a pulse, chances are you have received advice from welcomed and unwelcomed sources your whole life.  When you were a girl, it was advice on how to be a lady, how to behave, what to say, what not to say, how to dress, how not to dress; as you got older, there was advice about your hair, jewelry, makeup, who to date, not to date, when to date, when to marry…You name it, and there is a woman out there giving you her advice.  And if you are like me, you are trying to filter through all the “advice” and decide what is worth listening to, and what is not.

When you get married, the advice continues, from how to keep your home, how to keep you man, when to have children, how many children to have, where they should go to school, whether you should stay home, or work outside the home, which school to put you child in…the “advice” or rather, opinions, continue.

I was sleep deprived, postpartum, and alone

When I was a new mom, I was a little overwhelmed by the changes that had taken place in my life.  I was 20 years old, still a newlywed, had moved 1500 miles away from my family, given birth to my first baby, and was now a stay at home mom.  I was sleep deprived, postpartum, and home alone with this tiny human being whose life depended on me.  The sobering reality that I was now responsible for such a fragile human being was overwhelming.

What if I messed him up?  What if I didn’t raise him right?  Could I really do this?  Have I mentioned that I was overwhelmed?  Let me say it again, I was o-ver-whelmed.

I remember walking through Costco with my screaming child in my arms, bouncing and singing and patting his back, doing everything that I could to calm this child down.  A mom leaned over and said, “Let the dishes go.  Sleep when he sleeps.”  Let’s just say, this advice was not well received.  I held my tongue, but on the inside, I was fuming.

Instead of feeling supported, I felt judged

Now, in retrospect, this was not bad advice…and her intentions were good. But all I could think of was the mess that was my house, and my failure as a “good stay-at-home” mom.  Instead of feeling supported, I felt judged.  I was exhausted, and I felt like a failure.  I thought of my mom, who raised 4 kids, worked outside the home, how hard she worked to keep our house clean, and how it seemed like the house was spotless.  I thought of my mother-in-law who raised 5 kids, made excellent meals, and kept her house clean…they seemed to have it all together.  And when I looked at myself, I didn’t see a mom with the kid whose clothes were immaculate, whose house was well kept, and whose hair and make-up were done.  I just saw failure.

I mentioned I was postpartum and probably had postpartum depression, but I didn’t know it at the time.  All I knew was that I loved my husband, I loved my son, and I wanted to be the best wife and mom…and I was not.

Looking back on that time, if I could give myself advice, I would share what I know now about being a mom.

It’s OK to let others help.

1)  Motherhood is a life-long journey.  You will love, learn, succeed, fail, try again, laugh, cry, rejoice, ache, pray, defend and advocate for your child(ren) your entire life.  You will never be perfect.  You will always be you – so give your best, and let the Lord lead you in all things, big and small.

2)  There is no manual, and there is no perfect mother.  What works for someone else, may not work for you.  Your child, your family is unique.  Learn from your successes and failures, listen to the Lord’s promptings, and don’t doubt yourself.  Believe in yourself, and lead your children with confidence.

3) The woman that seems to have it together, does not.  Don’t be fooled, she is as insecure as you are.  The woman that appears to have it all together, is usually only about appearances.  If you could see into her heart, you would see someone a lot like you – a mom who loves her family, who is doing her best to be what her family needs her to be, and aching for a friend who is safe enough to let her guard down with, and who will love her as she is.  Don’t judge her, be her friend.

4) You are enough.  Whether by birth or adoption, your child was given to you, and you are the best mother for that child.  There is no one better.  As mothers, we are often our worst critic.  Silence your inner critic, and listen to the voice of your Heavenly Father telling you who you were created to be.

You are enough

5) It’s ok to let others help.  I remember feeling guilty the first time my husband and I left our son with my mom-in-law for the first time.  I felt like I was abandoning him.  Momma, your needs are still important.  If you are blessed to have family and friends that are willing to love and care for your little one, while you take a much needed break, it’s okay to let them help.  You are not a failure. You are not a bad mom.  You are showing your child, even at a young age, that they are surrounded by people that love them, that will protect them, and that will support them throughout their life.  That is what family does.  They help each other, they love each other, and they take care of each other.

6)  Hold on to hope.  There will be times when you are scared, tired, angry, tired, weepy, tired, you may even feel alone, and one more thing…tired.   I hope that you will be encouraged by Isaiah 41:10 NRS:

“Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

Hold on to hope Momma.  Whatever your trial, whatever your hardship, whatever your struggle, you will get through it.  God is with you.  You will rejoice again.

30 Days of Encouragement – Join The Movement

30 Days of Encouragement

Follow us on Twitter @3StrandsMoms #30DaysOfEncouragement

Hi ladies,

I’m not going to sugar coat it.  Being a mom can be hard.  There is no easy way to say it.  Motherhood is like a rollercoaster, filled with thrills and chills, curves, loops, sudden turns, steep highs and sudden lows.  Sometimes, you want to throw your hands in the air and enjoy the ride, and other times, you hang on for dear life and wish the ride would stop.   There is no one who understands this like another mom.

This is the foundation of Three Strands Ministries- to bring women together from all walks of life, to support and encourage one another, through thick and thin, good times and bad, joy and pain.  We are better together.  We are stronger together.  And we need each other.

And so it is with this purpose that we have decided for the next 30 days, we will focus on being a source of encouragement to all moms, from all walks fo life.

We hope that you will join us by sharing our site, with other moms who need hope and encouragement.   #30DaysOfEncouragment @3StrandsMoms