5 Ways to Choose Joy

According to the dictionary, joy is a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. While happiness is a state of well-being and contentment.

We’re blessed to have a choice every day. A choice to be negative or positive. A choice to be happy or sad. But, joy?

I recently discovered that’s a choice too.

To set the scene, I started off 2019 with so much fire in my soul for God. I was serving in two ministries, rooted in community, and at church 3-4 days a week. Despite all that goodness, as I became busier, the joy came in lulls and it was pretty much non-existent when I was alone.

I didn’t get it.

In search of the solution to my fleeting joy, I chose to seek God in prayer & His word, which never falls short.

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:12-13

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We are honestly so fortunate, beyond human comprehension, to have a relationship with the Lord Almighty. What’s even more incredible? When we seek him in prayer He listens and will give us the remedy to our problems in His word.

My remedy was found in James 1.

In James 1:3, I learned about trials and temptations. James explains the importance of choosing joy, especially when you fall into trials because the testing of your faith produces endurance.

The Lord was calling me to have joy despite my feelings. If I was to choose joy by giving God praise and thanks, I would overcome the trial of negativity and most importantly, give God the praise He absolutely deserves!

My lack of joy was caused purely through negative thoughts (i.e. lies from the enemy). You see, the enemy wants to see us wallow in fear, pity, and sadness. He wants us to forget about all the amazing things God has done in our lives.

To the contrary, our King calls us to rejoice in Him and His promises!

But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:25

When you keep your focus on yourself and everything that isn’t going right, this opens the door and rolls out the welcome mat for lies. Lies from the enemy will make you forget the gifts and rights you have as a child of God…

For he gazes at himself and then goes out and immediately forgets what sort of person he was. James 1:24

Obviously, I don’t want that for you or me. I want us to stand firm on the promises of God and live out the fullness of life with joy! To help you do that, here are 5 practical ways you can choose joy, daily.

5 Ways to Choose Joy

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1. Speak out positivity (ALWAYS)

Express gratitude for a friendship, roof over your head, a job that provides a steady income, loving family, or food in the fridge, every day! When you remind yourself of the good and praise God in the process it’s a sure way to choose joy while practicing gratitude.

I was listening to the More to Be Podcast and Heather Boersma, an author and life coach with a passion for reaching the next generation of teen girls, shared this statement.

Whenever you experience a feeling that’s not of the spirit (i.e. anxiety, stress, anger, etc.), speak this out….

Spirit of joy rise up and take the lead. Body and soul come into alignment with joy.

There is an incredible amount of power in the words we speak. What we speak out will come to be, which isn’t my personal opinion, but actually biblical!

So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.  Proverbs 18:21

2. Fill your mind with God’s word

If you have a busy schedule and feel like you don’t have enough time for God, I want to lovingly remind you that you need to make time! I used to have this mentality and didn’t see how God could fit into my lifestyle. Nonetheless, once I committed my life to Christ, I started making daily appointments. I’d start my day reading God’s word, meditating, and praying and end my night doing the same. I don’t say this to brag, but only to encourage you and share my testimony. Intentionally using my time to pray not only strengthened my relationship with God, but it gave me a better understanding of who He is while also learning about the promises and rights I have as His child.

 3. Memorize verses

Phone reminders and sticky notes *mic drop*. Okay, okay, hear me out… These are so effective and helpful! Post notes in your car, bathroom mirror, room, and the fridge. You can also use the “Reminders” application on your phone. Title the reminder “Memorize Verse,” then select 2-3 different times during the day to be reminded (i.e. 6 am, 12pm, 5pm). I like to pick a verse for the day & will repeat it to myself during my down time.

Why should you memorize verses? When you can recall God’s word it’s the easiest way to combat negativity and lies from the enemy while reminding yourself of the blessings found in His promises.

4. Listen to faith-based podcasts and audiobooks

Most people are commuting at least once a day. Whether it’s to work, school, home, a meet-up, the market, or the gym. We spend a lot of our time in the car or using some form of transportation. Because I like to be intentional in every aspect of my life, I spend most of my car rides listening to faith-based podcasts or audiobooks. By doing so, you’re learning about God, filling your mind with positivity, and educating yourself with practical tools to live a life like Christ!

My favorite podcasts are Andrew Wommack Ministries, Glory to Glory by Pastor Joe Pedick, and Pastor Rick’s Daily Hope. My recommended audiobooks are Undaunted by Christine Caine, Univited by Lysa TerKeurst, and How to Hear from God by Joyce Meyer.

5. Make joy a habit

What brings you joy? For me it’s dancing. It’s one way I can freely express myself and also use it as an act of worship. When you’re in that moment of blissful joy, praise God and thank Him that He’s given you something you love to do!

Before I peace out, I want to leave you with this…

As a Christian you have the fruit of the Holy Spirit within you! It’s up to you to BELIEVE (Mark 11:24) and call on the Holy Spirit for help. If you still find yourself struggling, kick it up a notch by imagining yourself in a blissful state of joy. Take time while you’re listening to your favorite song or even better, make time to imagine daily, until the picture in your mind becomes reality.

Remember, every day we have the opportunity and CHOICE to choose joy!

 

How to Ditch the Diet: A Balanced Eating Approach

Can you believe summer is less than 2 weeks away?

Not only are we on the verge of another season, but we’re half way through 2019. Umm seriously, where did the time go?!

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If you’re a So-Cal native, I’m sure you have a special place in your heart for the summertime.

Life seems to slow down, beach hangouts and bonfires are priority, and the fun summer to-do list is crafted.

The summer has always been one of my favorite seasons, but if I’m being honest, I used to have a love-hate relationship with this time of year.

Before I discovered intuitive eating, I was a chronic dieter. I’d cycle on different diets year-round, which involved cutting out food groups, using fat burners, counting calories, and over exercising. Every time the month of May rolled around I knew it was time to diet and get my body “bikini” ready.

But, I’m happy to report, that this summer is going to be unlike any other summer before.

How so?

I’m 100% committed to ditching the diet. Just enjoying my summer AND life by eating balanced.

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Low key… I’m hoping you’ll want in on this too.

If weight loss is your goal for health reasons, I totally get that. But, if your dieting because you want to look like Adriana Lima, please think twice love!

Trust me when I say, I know how you feel. When I hit my goal weight with a flat and toned tummy, it brought me temporary gratification. I looked skinny in pictures, but that was it. My worth and value didn’t change. And on top of that, I was hungrier than ever! Dieting wasn’t sustainable and I eventually gained the weight I lost back.

Maybe you want to feel comfortable in your body, which is such a valid reason to get your health on track. But, before you consider dieting, I have a proposition for you.

Pledge to read through the facts about dieting in this post and genuinely consider balanced eating.

The Facts About Dieting

You’re not alone if you’ve dieted for weight loss. Today, 40-50% of U.S. women are trying to lose weight.It’s obvious that most women believe dieting will help them reach their health goals, but in the long run dieting can actually cause more weight gain.In addition, dieting can send your body into starvation mode and cause it to miss out on vital nutrients, which are critical to your daily health and energy.2

Instead of consuming healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, young adult women have adopted erratic eating behaviors. For instance, a study discovered that most college women engage in frequent “snacking,” skipping meals, unhealthy late-night eating, and the consumption of fast foods.For the record, fast foods fit the bill when it comes to convenience. But, this type of food is typically high in calories and saturated fat with little nutrient density.3

Let me lay this out, plain and simple. Spontaneous eating habits, physical inactivity, and poor food choices can lead to weight gain and even obesity.Not your occasional cheeseburger lunch. Continual poor food choices, like a cheeseburger with fries every day, will likely lead to weight gain, especially if you’re not active.

Nevertheless, dieting for weight loss and personal body satisfaction has become a normalized habit amongst young adult females as 38% of overweight or obese and 24% of normal weight women have the goal of weight loss.Moreover, 60-80% of women have been on a diet within a year!Clearly, pressure to fit the thin ideal (a slim/slender physique with minimal body fat) has impacted women of all sizes as evidence by dieting rates.

Because dieting is normalized in our society, women are at risk for weight cycling and binge eating.6  

Binge eating is classified as eating large quantities of food within a short timespan while experiencing feelings of loss of control, shame, or guilt.7

Weight cycling is a small or large weight loss followed by weight regain.8

Numerous failed attempts at weight loss has made binge eating the most common eating disorder in female college students who desire weight loss.Of college women, 32-44% engage in binge eating episodes and begin binge-eating behavior at the age of 20.9,10

There’s no doubt that limiting calories, fat, or carbohydrates can aid in quick weight loss. Yet, 80% of women regain their weight lost within 1 year.9

 If you believe you have a binge eating disorder, please don’t keep this a secret and attempt to figure it out on your own.

Seek the help of a medical professional or therapist who can provide you with practical tools to overcome your disorder and reach a healthier place in your relationship with food. You can contact the hotline listed below to speak with an advocate to discuss your treatment options and determine which solution is best for you.

National Eating Disorder Helpline👈🏽

Now that you understand the problem with dieting, let’s get to the heart of the matter, balanced eating.

What is Balanced Eating?

When you eat balanced your diet consists of a variety of foods from different food groups (fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, whole grains, and fats). According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, balanced eating is the cornerstone of health.11

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Full disclosure, eating balanced and working out is not a “quick fix.” Especially when you compare it to the numerous diet pills or programs out there. However, research has proven that if you want to lose weight and keep it off for good than balanced eating IS a sustainable lifestyle choice.1 

If you’re unconvinced that balanced eating is a legitimate solution, hang tight. I have a list of healthy foods, food group servings, healthy habits, and more research coming your way.

What are the Benefits of Balanced Eating?

  • You will have more energy
  • You will give your body the nutrition it needs to function and fight disease, like obesity and cancer12
  • Eating a variety of healthy foods can help you reach and manage a healthy body weight13
  • You will learn how to make healthier choices with time, which is important when developing a loving relationship with your body

Daily Food Groups and Serving Sizes for Women11

  • 3 servings (1oz.) of whole grains (oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain bread)
  • 3 servings (1 cup) of low fat or fat free dairy (yogurt, milk)
  • 2-3 servings (2.5-3 oz.) of protein (lean chicken, turkey, fish, beans, nuts)
  • 2 cups of fruit
  • 5 cups of colorful vegetables

Healthy Foods to Eat

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  • Beans
  • Brown rice
  • Whole grain bread
  • Oatmeal (rolled or steel cut oats)
  • Quinoa
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Apples
  • Banana
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Sweet potato
  • Peanut butter
  • Almond butter
  • Nuts (almond and cashews)
  • Seeds (flax, chia, sunflower, pumpkin)
  • Cod
  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Lean ground turkey
  • Soy or Almond milk
  • Low-fat or Non-fat milk
  • Low-fat plain yogurt

What are Healthy Defaults?

Easy healthy choices you can make daily to live a healthy lifestyle

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  • Walk, run, or take a dance class! Try to practice physical activity for 30 minutes each day 5x a week
  • Take the stairs at work or go for a walk on your lunch break
  • Make your meals and snacks ahead of time for the week (pick one day of the week to cook and prepare your food)
  • Make foods that can be frozen like rice, beans, or soup. You can defrost these foods and eat them when you don’t have time or feel like cooking!
  • Instead of soda or juices for a beverage, drink water and add lemon or fresh fruit for flavor
  • Pack your meals/snacks the night before a busy day, that way you can make healthier food choices
  • Eat a healthy breakfast to start your day with energy and to avoid overeating
  • Take time to enjoy your food. Eat without distractions like the TV, phone, or computer
  • Go grocery shopping on a full stomach and purchase healthy foods from your grocery list
  • Get enough sleep. It’s recommended women sleep at least 7-9 hours at night2
  • Stay hydrated. Drink at least 8 cups of water a day. The more the better!3
  • When eating out choose baked entrees and fresh sides, like fruit and salad
  • Listen to your body. A rumbling stomach is a sign your hungry!
  • Respect your fullness. Pause when you’re eating to see how the food tastes and feel if you’re full

Okay love, you have the facts laid out for you. You now know the harms about dieting and what exactly balanced eating is. Are you ready to ditch the diet with me?

If you’re down, drop a comment below and use the hashtag #ditchthedietfam on Instagram so we can cheer each other on this summer!

 

References

  1. Weight Loss and Maintenance Strategies. NCBI Website. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK221839/.
  2. kNOw Dieting: Risks and Reasons to Stop. UC Berkeley Health Website. https://uhs.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/bewell_nodieting.pdf.
  3. Ashok CK, Karunanidhi S. Prevalence of overweight and obesity among young female college students in Chennai city. J Obes Metab Res. 2016;3:23-31
  4. Morrell JS, Lofgren IE, Burke JD, Reilly RA. Metabolic Syndrome, Obesity, and Related Risk Factors Among College Men and Women. Journal of American College Health. 2012;60:82-89.
  5. Fayet F, Petocz P, Samman S. Prevalence and correlates of dieting in college women: a cross sectional study. International journal of women’s health. 2012;4:405-411.
  6. A Population at Risk: College Aged Females and Eating Disorders. American Counseling Association Website. https://www.counseling.org/docs/default-source/vistas/article_253e5c21f16116603abcacff0000bee5e7.pdf?sfvrsn=8. Accessed March 16, 2018.
  7. Filipova AA, Stoffel CL. The prevalence of binge eating disorder and its relationship to work and classroom productivity and activity impairment. Journal of American College Health. 2016;64:349-361.
  8. Field AE, Manson JE, Taylor CB, Willett WC, Colditz GA. Association of weight change, weight control practices, and weight cycling among women in the nurses’ health study II. Int J Obesity. 2004;28(9):1134-1142.
  9. Eating Disorders on the College Campus. National Eating Disorder Association Website. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/sites/default/files/CollegeSurvey/CollegiateSurveyProject.pdf. Accessed March 18, 2018.
  10. Binge Eating Disorder. National Eating Disorders Association Website. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/bed. Accessed March 16, 2018.
  11. Healthy Diet. World Health Organization Website. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/healthy-diet.
  12. Healthy Eating for Women. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Website. https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/healthy-eating-for-women.

 

The God Who Sees: Guest Post

The God Who Sees: Guest Post by Jessica Delgado

I grew up in a white church. Every Sunday, my family would pile into the car dressed in our Sunday best and drive to the nearest mega-church in our San Diego suburb. We were consumers, really. We attended church every Sunday but never stuck around to get involved, to serve, to go deeper with our neighbors in small group discussions or Bible studies. When the church we were attending stopped serving us, we’d venture on and find another. Yet in all our wandering, we never seemed to find a church that represented us: a Mexican-American family. I don’t remember ever seeing any kids that looked like me. There were no teachers, no preachers, no worship leaders, nor greeters who had skin as brown as ours. Whiteness surrounded us and we were eager to join the crowd.

I spent most of my time in white circles. My friends were white, my teachers were white, the celebrities we wanted to be like were white. I was comfortable with white people, I saw myself in white people, being white was what was normal to me. Yet for all their normalcy to me, I was not normal to them. They wondered if my dad was a drug dealer, if my family was undocumented, if my cousins were in gangs. They wondered, and they questioned, and they joked because there was no way a Mexican family could make it to the suburbs and be better off than some of them unless we had done so by breaking the law. When I ran to the church for solace, I was turned away. “It’s not about race,” they would say, because it had never been about their race.

I learned to hate the parts of me that made me different from all my friends. I learned to hate my tan skin because it was too brown, I learned to hate my resourcefulness because it was so ghetto, I learned to hate my ability to roll my r’s because it was so Mexican. I tried to hide the parts of me that were inescapable, the parts I couldn’t do anything about. I hid and I hid and I hid. After a while, I was practically unseen but for the parts of me that looked like everybody else. I longed to be known, to be chosen, to be loved wholly and fully for everything I was – even the parts I didn’t like. I had been living invisible like this well into my twenties – still going to church, still wishing I was white – but God had his sights set on me and He grabbed hold of me with unrelenting love.

God started teaching me about my culture, my heritage, about marginality and the plight of every immigrant’s child: to be too ethnic for the majority, but not ethnic enough for our own people. He led me to research, and findings, and then He quieted my heart long enough to let me listen to the margins.

The first time I heard the Scriptures interpreted by a minority point of view, my mind was blown. It seemed that the God of Israel was less of a cheerleader for me and my future – as I’d often gathered from my white church experience – and more of a Protector, a Provider; Defender of the powerless and Righteous Judge of the oppressor. This God that they preached in the margins was unlike any feel-good, Jesus-is-my-homeboy kind of God that I’ve ever heard of. This God was mighty, this God was holy, this God was King. Worthy of every breath, every song, and all our devotion, the God of the margins was also the God who sees. He saw us, hiding in our brown skin with our truest selves tucked in some faraway corner of our deepest closets. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and He is calling us out of hiding and into freedom.

See, there’s no reason to hide, because He already knows. There’s no reason to fear, because He already loves. The God of Israel, our Father who art in Heaven, He sees us, He knows us, He loves us. He is not colorblind and He is not indifferent to our suffering. Our God cares, cares enough to measure the hairs on our head, the blood in our veins, the drops of melanin poured over us. If you hear nothing else, hear this: the Almighty God of the Universe sees you, He is listening for you, and He will exercise justice on your behalf. He is a good Father. So to all you shadow-dwellers, come dance with me in His marvelous light.

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Jess is the creator of the blog, Life as Nobody’s Wife. She was born and raised in San Diego, studies Theology at Point Loma Nazarene University, and is totally, crazy, utterly in love with Jesus Christ.

To join Jess’ community, follow her on Instagram @lifeasnobodyswife and her blog by clicking here!

A Journey to Intuitive Eating: Guest Post

A Journey to Intuitive Eating: Guest Post by Katherine Herbison

Hi all! Excited to guest post here on The Nourishing Soul Co. sharing my own journey with intuitive eating.

For those who do not know me, I’m Katherine, a Holistic Health Coach and blogger at Choosing Balance, where I share my own journey of recovery from an eating disorder and inspiration for intuitive eating and practicing wellness and holistic living without obsession. 

Malena and I share a passion for intuitive eating and faith. She asked me to share my journey to intuitive eating with you all.

My eating disorder started right before middle school as a way to control everything in my life and “be healthier.” This innocent venture quickly spiraled into an obsession with my weight and food. Nine years into it, I’d had enough and was ready to get help. When I started recovery, I didn’t jump right into intuitive eating (I actually didn’t hear about intuitive eating until a couple years ago); I had a lot of groundwork that needed to happen before I could start eating intuitively. So I share this for anyone in the midst of recovery from an eating disorder, and for those who aren’t but want to learn more about intuitive eating. Intuitive eating is for everyone regardless of your weight, experiences, or health concerns. So let’s dive into my own journey.

The best definition of intuitive eating comes from the book, Intuitive Eating: 

Intuitive Eating is a personal process of honoring health by listening and responding to the direct messages of the body in order to meet your physical and psychological needs.

Intuitive eating has nothing to do with diets, meal plans, discipline or willpower. Instead it’s about getting back to your roots and learning to trust your body again. I will add that it is evidence based and has a great number of positive health outcomes.

For me, intuitive eating essentially means normal eating. There are no good or bad foods, specific amounts or times I need to eat/not eat, and no need to earn or make up for food. It also means honoring what my body needs and the natural ebbs and flows of weight and body changes. In my experience, when I focus on taking care of myself, my body will be where it needs to be and do what it needs to do. I can trust her.

Okay, so backing up a bit. You may be wondering how I went from controlling everything in my life, to letting go and trusting my body. You can read more about the story of my eating disorder and recovery here and here. When I first started my recovery journey, my focus was 1) getting to a stable weight, and 2) making sure I was eating enough. I was not at a point where I could start practicing intuitive eating, because I was completely out of touch with my hunger/fullness cues and I was not truly ready to let go of the diet mentality. I worked with a dietitian who developed a meal plan for me, which was exactly what I needed then. At a time where I couldn’t trust myself, I was able to trust my dietitian and the plan she made for me. For several years, I followed this plan (with some tweaks here and there), which did help me get to a healthy weight and learn my hunger/fullness cues again. A couple years into recovery, my dietitian would talk to me about eating more spontaneously and breaking away from the plan, but I could not imagine doing that. I did not trust that my body would tell me what it needed, and I was still so afraid of gaining weight. While I was experiencing a lot more variety and freedom in food choices, I couldn’t fathom the thought of not following the meal plan, which had become my safety net.

The turning point for me in trusting my body was six years ago when I injured my knee. I was in so much pain, I could do no physical activity whatsoever. This went on for months (in fact, I still have pain), and at the beginning I was terrified of gaining weight, but thankfully I had the support of my dietitian and the resolve not to fall back into my eating disorder. I was forced to honor my body and trust that my body still needed food regardless of whether I exercise or not. This was the start of intuitive eating for me.

In the midst of fear and the urge to restrict food, I started tuning out diet culture and filling the space with non-diet messages. I began listening to Food Psych and reading blogs like The Real Life-RD and Immaeatthat, which opened my eyes to the whole world of intuitive eating and health-at-every-size. I literally created a non-diet bubble around myself to keep me going on the road of recovery. The more I learned about intuitive eating, the more it felt right. After living in restriction and rules (not just amount of food, but types of foods), the idea of following another diet theory did not seem right to me. Plus, I knew that if I followed food rules again, it would be a slippery slope back to disordered eating. I had had enough of all that, and wanted to once and for all be free! I wanted to feel confident with my food choices and calm and in control around food. I wanted to fully trust my body to lead when it comes to eating, exercise, and life. And, I wanted to make space for self-care and spending time with those I loved without worrying about food or my body.

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I didn’t start following all the principles of intuitive eating right away. That’s honestly not very realistic because, intuitive eating is not another diet or food plan. There’s no pass or fail; rather, it’s a journey of self-discovery and connection to the needs of your mind and body. And that’s exactly what it’s looked like for me, a journey. One step at a time, I’ve let go of control, challenged fear, and learned to tune into my body. I will say that I am still learning intuitive eating; after years of tuning out my body, it’s been like learning how to eat all over again. What do I enjoy? What does hunger and fullness feel like? What does my body need right now? How do certain foods make me feel?

In a culture obsessed with thinness and health, it can be very challenging to stand your ground in honoring what your body needs not what you should be doing. Yet, the first principle of intuitive eating is to reject the diet mentality, and for me this is what propelled me into intuitive eating. The Intuitive Eating website describes this concept well:

Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.

Sound extreme? It is when diet culture is the norm, but I will argue that this is so very important to learning to trust your body again. When outside messages influence your judgement, it can be so hard to tune in. As I mentioned before, when I was faced with the urge to fall back into disordered eating, I filled my brain with positive messages encouraging me to trust my body. Rejecting the diet mentality has brought me so much gratitude for my body and peace around food.

Starting from this mindset, I began practicing the other principles of intuitive eating, meal by meal, day by day. When I was out to eat, I would ask myself what I really wanted, not what I should have. I started trying foods that I loved as a child to see if I still loved them. Instead of working out religiously, I learned to honor when I needed to rest and when I movement felt good. As my body continued to find its set point, I learned to trust the process and respect my body at every size. It has been a process that’s involved lots of grace and reorientation. Sometimes I feel like it would be so much easier to follow a diet plan, but then I think of how much happier I am now than when I was controlling my food and weight. Everyone’s journey to intuitive eating will look different, and I hope that my story gives you hope that it is possible for you.

Transformed: Guest Post

Transformed: Guest Post by Amanda Earl

Abused. Depressed. Lost. Homeless. Raped. Drug addict. Alcoholic. Party girl. Self-obsessed. Insecure. Angry.  Inferior.

If you identify with any of the words above, you can relate to a part of my past. It’s been a long and crazy ride.

I grew up in a Christian home with loving parents and a wonderful extended family. I had everything I could ask for growing up and was one of the most innocent-hearted high schoolers you would ever meet. At least this was my story, up until I met my first boyfriend.

Without going into too much detail, I will just say that I was physically and emotionally abused by him, and after a year and a half of being together, he forced me into having sex with him. I didn’t want this at all, and he was well aware of it. Unfortunately, it happened, and I remember shaking so hard and crying hysterically after it was over. I had officially lost my virginity. I remember that moment so well. I knew something was taken away from me that I’d never get back.

We started living together, but there were no more rooms in the house we were moving into, so we lived in the garage. We lived there for 5 months until we stopped paying rent. We couldn’t afford it anymore. With nowhere else to go, we lived out of my car for 3 months. We started smoking weed constantly, and picked up a terrible habit of smoking cigarettes. To say I was depressed is an understatement. We were together for three and a half years until I finally broke up with him.

To escape the pain, I turned to partying and alcohol. It was a release. I was trapped in a bad relationship for so long that I just wanted to live life. I turned 21 a couple weeks after we broke up, and started going to bars every Thursday through Sunday. I drank until I almost blacked out. I dressed provocatively to get male attention. I put so much emphasis on my outward appearance and spent hours getting ready. I hooked up with guys I barely knew and did things that the innocent high school girl I used to be would’ve never dreamed of in a million years.

Partying became my life. I literally lived for the weekend. At 22, I started going to raves. My first one was a very well-known rave, EDC. I was offered Molly, a drug, and I took it. I had never felt so carefree and elated in my entire life, and I decided I would never give this up. The feeling of happiness was overwhelming and it seemed to cover all the pain and emotional distress I was dealing with. It was a euphoric experience that I wanted to last forever.

Although EDC ended, the drugs continued. I took Molly almost every single night. I would roll whether I was home or going out. Weed and alcohol used to sound fun, but Molly dulled them in comparison. It was infinitely better than anything I’d ever done. I wanted to roll as much as I could.

After 6 months, my best friend, the one who started rolling at EDC with me, told me that we had to quit. She said our habit was way out-of-control and she felt that it was taking over our lives. I knew she was right, but just the thought of quitting depressed me. But somehow she convinced me and we stopped cold turkey. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t think I would’ve ever stopped. I truly believe I would’ve went on to bigger and “better” drugs, still searching for that high.

Although I quit taking Molly, my addiction to drugs didn’t stop. I found out that adderall and vyvanse would give me a high that was similar to Molly, and I could even get a prescription for them. Which meant I could go to the doctor and get the medication whenever I needed a refill. So that’s exactly what I did. And not long after I stopped taking Molly, I started taking adderall and vyvanse everyday. I thought I finally found my happiness in the little white and pink pills I was taking. And they were safe, right? They were prescribed by a doctor.

I was so wrong. Not only did I become addicted to them, but I also started becoming extremely anxious, my depression was at an all-time high, and my anger turned into rage. My memory wasn’t as sharp and nothing was fun anymore. I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing because I didn’t want them to stop me from taking them, but I also wanted to be set free from my uncontrollable emotions and addictions.

At this point, I had two options: I could turn to God or continue down this long, depressing, lonely path of searching and chasing something that only seemed to continually disappoint me.

I chose to turn my eyes to Christ.

I stopped taking adderall and vyvanse, because I knew the Lord was calling me to quit. I confessed my drug habit to everyone in my life so they could all hold me accountable and help me through the process. I read so many forums online about stopping this drug cold turkey. Everyone on there said they were depressed for months. I was not ready to fight that battle. But I got rid of them and prayed so hard God wouldn’t allow me to go through depression any longer. I was sad for about a month, and I’d be lying if I said it was easy. But God took my heaviness away, and I didn’t feel the burden of depression lingering over me. I had struggled with depression for years, and I felt Him lifting that heavy weight off of me.

My last “episode” with vyvanse was 16 months ago. Since then, I can honestly say I have been walking faithfully with the Lord. At least the best I can do, with the Lord’s help.

I have surrendered my life to Him, and He has been changing my heart ever since. The anger that was raging in my soul was replaced by joy and peace. I stopped smoking weed and cigarettes over 3 years ago, but alcohol was hard.

I felt God telling me to stop drinking, so I haven’t had a drink in 8 months. I thought giving up all the things that I held onto so tightly (drugs, alcohol, partying, etc), would make life boring and mundane. But I have been proven so wrong. I have never felt more joy. I thought being on Molly would be the best I could feel in this life, but Jesus has changed that and I know now that its definitely not the case.

Drugs, alcohol, sex… they all give you a temporary, fake happiness. But that hole in your heart, that longing for more, is never filled. The hole gets deeper and the depression gets heavier with every pill and every drunk night out.

Jesus provides real, everlasting joy.

Am I saying I never feel sad? No! But now, when I am unhappy, I focus on Jesus. I remember all the wonderful, beautiful gifts and truths in His word. I remember the fact that I will spend ETERNITY with Jesus Christ, in joy and peace like I will never be able to imagine until I get there. And I think about this verse:  “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” – Phillipians 4:8-9.

It’s pretty crazy looking back. Because God radically changed my heart since then. I think it’s insane that Jesus chose me before I was walking with Him…even before I was born! He chose a sinner like ME! And Jesus did the same for YOU if you’re a believer.

Isn’t that incredible? How can we even begin to understand that kind of patience and love?

This beautiful picture of our loving Father is depicted in Psalm 139: 13-18: “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body, and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!”

It is the biggest blessing and it is a beautiful thing to be part of God’s family. I’m not worthy, but I am forever grateful. I continue to keep my eyes on Jesus, because he perfects my faith and gives me peace and joy like I’ve never had before. When times get hard, I remember the joy awaiting me, just like Jesus did when He endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).

Because of Jesus, I can replace the words at the beginning of my testimony.

Loved. Cherished. Friend of God. Daughter in Christ. Forgiven. Peaceful. Safe. Joyous. Salvation in Christ. Blessed. Changed.

Those words define me now.

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Amanda Earl is a math teacher in Huntington Beach at Ocean View High School. Her greatest desire is to be a light to her students and inspire young people to build a relationship with Jesus Christ. She enjoys hiking, camping, spending time with family and friends, and reading.

5 Encouraging Verses to Help You Remember Your Worth

Society constantly tells women that their value is found in their looks. I’m 28 and this specific lie is one I bought into for the majority of my life. But, about a year ago, I really started questioning this. And instead of jumping on another diet in attempt to improve my self-image, I decided to give intuitive eating a try. Once I learned about intuitive eating it was like the veil was lifted from my eyes and I was exposed to the fleeting promises of diet culture.

Women are constantly flooded with media messages on how to burn fat and lose weight.

Why? To be valued, loved, and cherished of course.

Oh, and most importantly…to find a man. Seriously?! (*shakes head*)

As a single woman, I’ve felt extra susceptible to this message. The lies that typically loop in my head remind me that if only I looked a certain way or dropped 10 lbs. then Mr. Right would come running into my life, which is so far from the truth.

The thing is, the more time I’ve spent on my looks the emptier I’ve felt. But, the more time I spend with God, I find my value and worth so glaringly apparent.

Jesus loves you just as you are. He doesn’t care if you’re wearing makeup or the trendiest outfit. Jesus is concerned with your character and your heart. As I’ve placed my trust, faith, and identity in the Lord, He’s been transforming my life from the inside out. Including my self-image. And I’m confident, that He’ll do the same for you, if you let Him.

THE PROBLEM WITH #BOPO

I used to be pretty supportive of the body positivity movement. You’re probably familiar with it? Loving your body, just as it is. I totally believe it’s important to accept and love yourself, but I’ve come to learn the deeper problem with this message.

Body positivity STILL focuses on a woman’s body and looks when that effort could be placed elsewhere, with much more value…I.E. a woman’s personality, character, and heart.

Check out this TED Talk by Lindsay Kite, body positivity advocate and co-founder of Beauty Redefined, to understand where I’m going with this. Kite discusses how women are suffering not only because they are defined by beauty BUT their bodies first and people second. Can I get an Amen?

When we stop obsessing over our looks by partaking in grueling fitness regiments and fad diets only then can we learn how to gently nourish our bodies. You see, when we spend hours in front of the mirror, or on the treadmill, we may have good intentions.

But, before you continue on, stop and ask yourself, are you working out to take care of your body or to find value?

Don’t get me wrong, I love being active and absolutely love running. But, I realized I’d go that extra mile because maybe if I did, then I’d look better. And then finally I’d be noticed and found.

Not only was this mentally exhausting, but I was chasing a fleeting promise of the world.

God blessed us with our bodies and expects us to care for them while we’re here on earth. But, He never intended us to get to an obsessive point or seek value in our looks.

Our value and worth are found in Christ, and Him alone.

If you struggle with accepting yourself and your worth (which is pretty common for most women) invite the Lord into the equation. From God’s word we can learn how to use our bodies as an instrument to glorify Him instead of an ornament, like the world teaches.

Let’s take a look at what the Bible says….

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 

Psalm 139:14

You are no mistake. Before you made your debut, God knew exactly how you would look from your head down to your toes. He made you wonderfully, sis, and in His image.

 God not only loves you very much but also has put His hand on you for something special. 

1 Thessalonians 1:4

God is madly in love with you! And as your creator, He’ll always be the one who loves you most. God also made you for something special, which means your life purpose is not to look Instagram worthy.

Do you know what God called you to do? If you do, spend time fine tuning your skills. If you don’t know just yet, seek the Lord for guidance, give Him praise, and try something new!

 To piggy back off those special plans God has for you, here’s another incredible promise of the Lord…

 ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for well-being and not for trouble, to give you a future and a hope.’

Jeremiah 29:11

Stop for a moment and let that sink in….

God only has good plans for you! And as His child, He would never withhold good from you. Remember, even when things don’t go as expected, the Lord is working it out (behind the scenes) so you’ll have a bright future.

 So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. 

Romans 12:6

With social media at our fingertips, the comparison game is accessible 24/7. If you begin to feel envious about another person’s life or looks, don’t forget, God made you uniquely. And you are so much more than what meets the eye! Be vulnerable and embrace your corks and weirdness! God created you to use your special gifts, talents, and personality, to bring glory to His name.

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.

1 Peter 3:3-4

The world will tell you to put your time and focus into your looks. But clearly, God isn’t concerned with the exterior but rather your soul. Ask the Lord to fill you with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which include gentleness, kindness, patience, peace, love, joy, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control.

Why Every Girl Needs Gentle Nutrition

My ultimate comfort food of choice is a grilled cheese. It’s a classic. Honestly, how can you go wrong with crispy buttered bread and melted cheese😍? You just can’t. Glad that’s settled😉

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But as much as I love a grilled cheese sandwich, eating it everyday doesn’t work for my body or me.

When I began to eat intuitively, which is all about listening to my body’s hunger and satiety cues, I realized that my favorite comfort food came with side effects (i.e. feeling like a heavy snail).

On lazy days I don’t mind it. It’s the perfect set up for a nice movie on the couch. But to feel like that on a busy day? Not necessarily the best choice. Most days I choose food that not only tastes good, but is also going to give me sustaining energy throughout the day.

USING GENTLE NUTRITION 

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If you’re still debating whether or not intuitive eating is right for you let me introduce you to my BFF, gentle nutrition. Gentle nutrition doesn’t judge. She doesn’t define food as good or bad. Instead she guides you in making food choices based on health, your body’s functions, and enjoyment.

Gentle nutrition doesn’t restrict or make certain foods off limits. She encourages you to give yourself 100% unconditional permission to eat whatever you want.

Yes, I said it…anything. You might be thinking, “What?!! You can’t be serious. How can you be friends with her?” No joking around here. She’s my BFF for a reason. Let me explain…

When you start to eat intuitively you’ll RESPECT your body with balanced food choices.

Forewarning, don’t be alarmed if you find yourself ordering a burrito bowl from Chipotle packed with rice, beans, chicken, and guacamole (i.e. LASTING ENERGY) versus a hamburger and French fries.

Once you make ALL food fair game, those so-called “forbidden/bad” foods loose their charm and the excitement that comes with it. If you’ve restricted “bad” food in the past the diet rebel in you may come out full force. This isn’t unusual. But you’ll soon be calling on gentle nutrition to help you balance things out and nourish your body.

In case you’ve missed the memo, this isn’t a post that is going to tell you what foods you “should” eat. Instead, I want you to pay attention to how certain foods make you feel and let that be your guide.

There are 5 questions you can ask yourself when considering whether or not a food option sounds good…1

  • In the past how has this food made my body feel while I was eating it?
  • Did I like this feeling?
  • How did I feel after I ate?
  • Would I choose to feel that way again?
  • Did this food or meal give me lasting energy?

After considering those questions, begin to pay attention to the message your body sends you.Listen to how you feel after eating the foods you choose. And remember, even though your taste-buds can guide your food choices it’s important to weigh everything.1

3 STEPS TO INTUITIVE EATING SUCCESS: LEARN, ENCOURAGE, PRACTICE

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Becoming an intuitive eater takes practice. Be patient with yourself and keep in mind, intuitive eating doesn’t come naturally for most people. It can take anywhere from a few weeks, months, or even longer! Everyone has a different background and experience with food, which plays a part in your eating patterns and behavior.

So give yourself a pat on the back, you got the first part down. By reading this article you’re learning and laying the foundation in your mind, which will help you become an intuitive eater.

Next, encourage yourself! Use positive self-talk and this blog as a guide to remember why you decided to become an intuitive eater. Refer to the posts, How to Become an Intuitive Eater and Diet Recovery

The last and final step is the most important. Practice, practice, practice!

With practice you’ll learn how to trust your body. To help you build that trust, don’t be afraid to try different food. Eating a variety of foods will help you determine what you like and don’t, healthy or not. That way you can use gentle nutrition by eating foods for enjoyment and nourishment.

THE GOOD NEWS

Trust me when I say, there’s light at the end of the tunnel! Here are some things you have to look forward to by becoming an intuitive eater…

Research has found that intuitive eaters are less likely to engage in behaviors that lead to weight gain (i.e. binge eating, eating due to boredom, eating as a coping response), have higher body satisfaction, and a lower BMI.Most importantly, intuitive eaters have body respect.

Reference

  1. Tribole E, Resch E. Intuitive Eating: A revolutionary program that works. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin; 2012.

Letter to a Younger Me: Guest Post

Letter to a Younger Me: Guest Post by Ngozi Ugwuegbu

You are stupid! You will amount to nothing! You don’t deserve to be loved! How could you be so stupid? I don’t belong. I’m lost. Maybe, he loves me. Maybe he loves me not. How could you not know? You should know this by now!

Dear younger me,

Should you? Be patient with yourself, my love. Remember when you were 8 or 9, and you were so scrawny and skinny? You thought to yourself that you must be sick because everyone your age had developed well but you. Do you remember? You even thought you had aids because you looked way too skinny. Do you remember? News flash! You weighed 150 pounds your second year in college. Guess what? You complained about that too. You went on a diet that got you down to 130 pounds, but you felt so empty and light headed. Ha-ha. Now, you’ve managed to keep your weight steady at 140-ish. Good, because you feel more like yourself. Oh, and fun fact, you don’t have aids by the way. The doctors never issued that verdict. Jeremiah 29:11 says, I know the plans I have for you, plans of good and not of evil, to bring you to an expected end. You worry too much, God’s got you. He has a plan for you, CHILL.

Be loving to yourself. Do you remember when you were obsessed with marriage? When you were obsessed with boys? You would daydream about them all day, and pretend you were married to them. Well, that still hasn’t stopped. It’s a daily struggle. But, it’s not your fault. As humans, we have a natural desire for sex, food, pleasure, etc. Don’t blame yourself, if you body desires these things. However, own up to it. Ask God for forgiveness and move on if you cave into these desires in an unhealthy way! God never intended for his daughters (yes, that means you!) to live in guilt. Love yourself enough to not live in guilt. Romans 8:1 says there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. You know who “those” are? That’s you, honey!

To love well is to be, sometimes, heart-broken. I mean that! With every heart break I experienced, I experienced even more. I am still not afraid to love though—to fall in-love again. I’ve got smarter on how to go about loving, but I still love helplessly. You know why? Because we have a Father who loves us with an everlasting love, Jeremiah 31:3. His love is deep. His love is wide, and it covers us. His love is fierce. His love is strong, it is furious. His love is sweet. His love is wild, and it’s waking hearts to life (Song by Jeremy Riddle). Love yourself well, so you know how to love your neighbor as yourself, Matthew 22:39. Love yourself anyways because God first loved you, 1 John 4:19

Be content, my love. Godliness with contentment is great gain, 1 Timothy 6:6. That statement has never been truer now than it was before. When I tell you, Jesus is all you need, I mean Jesus is all you need. Remember in high school, when you said to yourself that you will work hard in life so you can be rich and never have to be dependent on anyone? I know growing up with seven other siblings was hard, especially, when it came to splitting resources (food, money, clothes, etc.), but you had to, love. Didn’t your parents love you well? Oh yes, they did their best!

I’ve got to be honest. For a true Christian, you will always be dependent on someone. Matter of fact, that’s a blessing! First, we are to be dependent on God whole-heartedly, Proverbs 3:5-6. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves now. Tell me how the clay can make decisions without consulting with the potter? Honey, that clay ain’t got no life without that potter! Just read Jeremiah 18:1-10. You will get the picture. Stick to a life dependent on God, there’s so much fulfillment and contentment in that I tell you.

Then, there is dependency on your inner circle. These are your “go to” people; your confidants. You have 4 solid ones, they know themselves, and boy are they full of the word of God. They slap you into shape and are there to cry with you when you’re down. You need people, my love. Funny enough, they need you too. Iron sharpens iron, Proverbs 27:17.

One more thing about contentment. Nothing else satisfies, but God! I know you’ve been thinking, “when I get out of my parent’s house, and finally have my own tv and cable, then, I will live a comfortable life.” Sure, you did get that, but you were miserable still. You know why? You didn’t set boundaries. You let every show on the planet (exaggerating, but you get the point) capture your attention and mind. Girl, now you know your mom and dad would have placed a leash on that! They knew better. They were just trying to protect your mind, when they set boundaries on the shows/movies you could watch, and the length of time you could watch them. Because you didn’t set boundaries, your mind became polluted. It took the work of the holy spirit to erase that stinking thinking you picked up from TV. Now, TV isn’t bad, but everything in moderation, please! Renew your mind with the word of God, not the world, Romans 12:1-2. It pays off daily—you will be surprised at the clarity of your decision-making.

Moving on, let’s talk about education and studying hard! You graduated with a 3.999 in Accounting. You still felt empty. Remember when you laid out all your achievements on your bedroom floor in Louisiana, and just balled your eyes out? Do you remember? You thought your degrees and accolades would fulfill you. You didn’t even have much of a social life through your first degree. The library was your home, all that was missing was bed and breakfast. Now, I’m not saying do bad in school, but you could have done better at balancing your social and study life. Psalms 37:4 says to delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. When was the last time you delighted over God’s promises, my love?

Oh, and lastly, you are still not rich, by the standards you set for yourself. However, you were and are rich in Christ. Your inheritance is in Him, Ephesians 1:14. You still work hard, but smarter. You are now very dependent on God. Hey, you are even making time for friends, family, and the body of Christ.

Don’t beat yourself up! You are not stupid. You are as sharp as a serpent, but harmless as a dove, Matthew 10:16. You are fully known and yet fully loved by God, Jeremiah31:3. I love you!

-Older Me

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Ngozi Ugwuegbu is a group leader for Harvest Orange County’s women’s ministry, Virtue, and works as a CPA in a biomedical engineering firm. Her motto is “love God, love people.” Ng loves writing poems and letters to friends, and enjoys watching clean Korean dramas.

Why You Need Coconut Flour in Your Life and Pantry + Choco Banana Bread Recipe

During the summer, I jumped on the bandwagon and tried the whole 30. I know, I know… what was I thinking🙈

Let’s just say I’m glad that month of my life is over 😬 But, if you want to learn more about my experience check out this post, My Intuitive Eating Journey

If you’ve never heard of the whole 30, let me give you a little background. When you partake in this diet you CANNOT have any added sugars, processed foods, and grains. To my surprise, this meant saying goodbye to some of my favorite cooking and baking staples like honey, stevia, peanut butter (yeah, this one was seriously depressing), and oatmeal.

Because I didn’t want to give up my beloved pancakes too, I decided to purchase coconut flour from Amazon. Little did I know that I’d receive a whopping 4 lb. bag😳

So, what is a girl to do with a crazy amount of coconut flour? Bake her heart❤️out of course😜

But seriously, all joking aside, I’ve developed a new love for baking with coconut flour because of its health benefits. If you didn’t already know (which I’m assuming is the case since your reading this post 😉), coconut flour is loaded with fiber. What’s the big deal about fiber, you may ask?

High fiber intake, especially soluble fiber, has been associated with lower levels of insulin resistance in women.2  Basically, to avoid the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, the less insulin resistance, the better.Fiber also keeps you feel longer and enhances water absorption in your colon, which prevents constipation.

On top of that, coconut flour is a low GI food. This means your body will slowly digest your coconut flour based food, which equates to sustaining energy. When you compare coconut flour to white flour, which is a high GI food, there is a big difference. You ever notice when you eat a cookie, you get a nice little sugar rush accompanied by a crash?

Yup, that’s because your body quickly converted the white flour to sugar, which results in a sluggish food hangover. When you eat low GI foods, your helping yourself out and preventing a dreaded food crash.

Ready for another fun fact about coconut flour? It’s coming for you, ready or not👻

When you compare 1/2 cup of coconut flour to 1/2 cup of wheat flour, wheat flour has less fiber (10g vs. 5.5g) and more starchy carbohydrates (16g vs. 43g).2

Okay, since you’re practically a pro and know exactly why you need coconut flour in your life and pantry, let’s get to the best part…

Baking and Eating

With my enormous 4 lb. bag of coconut flour, a bunch of ripe bananas, and knowledge about coconut flour’s health benefits, I decided to put it to use.

I got a little crafty and decided to use my other favorite baking alternative, protein powder. Hence, the chocolate PROTEIN banana bread 🤗 Can I get a YUM?!

This recipe has no added sugar and can be enjoyed as a snack or dessert.

Serve with a generous amount of nut butter on top, for extra protein and deliciousness!

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Chocolate Protein Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 5 ripe bananas smashed
  • 2 scoops of Orgain whey chocolate protein powder
  • ½ cup of coconut flour
  • ½ tsp. of baking powder
  • ½ tsp. of baking soda
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

Add beaten eggs to mashed banana. Slowly add the protein powder, coconut flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Pour the mixture into a greased 9×5 loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted can be removed clean.

 

References

1.Trinidad TP, Mallillin AC, Valdez DH, et al. Dietary fiber from coconut flour: A functional food. Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies. 2006;7:309-317.

2.Breneman, C. B., & Tucker, L. (2013). Dietary fibre consumption and insulin resistance – the role of body fat and physical activity. The British Journal of Nutrition, 110(2), 375-83. doi:http://dx.doi.org.une.idm.oclc.org/10.1017/S0007114512004953

3. Wheat Flour Nutrition Facts. Eat This Much Website. https://www.eatthismuch.com/food/nutrition/wheat-flour,4838/

4. Coconut Flour Nutrition Facts. Eat This Much Website. https://www.eatthismuch.com/food/nutrition/organic-coconut-flour,552397/

Steps of Faith: Guest Post

Steps of Faith: Guest Post by the Strong Tower Ministries

In the spring of 2018, I was two months away from college graduation. Between the cap and gown pictures, graduation party planning, and days working an internship, it was a busy time filled with excitement.

At least it was supposed to be.

I’d had a realization earlier that semester. There was a wrinkle in my soul, a feeling of unrest. Truly, when I thought about the current career path I was walking, the peace of God was nowhere to be found.

I’d realized that the future I’d planned was simply not what I was meant to do.

Constantly, I wrestled with this unnerving feeling. When you work for four years toward a specific goal, answer everyone’s questions about your future with the same response again and again, put all your energy into one thing… It’s quite unsettling to suddenly know that it’s just not right anymore.

What would I do now? How would I tell everyone? And if I wasn’t supposed to do this, what was I supposed to do?

Those were all questions I asked myself on repeat.

But of course, God had a plan. A greater, more amazing plan than I could have ever imagined. He truly knows us better than we know ourselves.

I began seeking Him with everything I had. Praying for guidance, for wisdom to make the right decision. And slowly, but surely, He revealed to me little-by-little what I needed to do next.

God is so faithful that way.

But that’s where a lot of us get stuck. We go to God in times of need. We ask Him to do awesome things in our lives. He is faithful and reveals an answer. But then we stop right there.

We don’t do a single thing with what He’s told us, and then we wonder why nothing is changing. We wonder where God went.

This happened to me so strongly, the feeling of distance between me and God was almost too great to bear. The Lord had shown me what He wanted me to do next with my life, the beginning of a path He wanted me to take. I set my foot on it, but I didn’t truly commit to the journey.

It was almost as if I didn’t really believe that this could be what He had for me.

So I stayed stuck for months. I graduated college and went back to an old part-time job I had before, basically buying time and waiting on God to show me what to do. But the thing was, He already had. I was just too stingy, too afraid, too self-conscious to fully say yes.

I was reluctant to take a step of faith.

Living a life for the Lord isn’t a one man show. It isn’t all about what God is going to do for us. We have a part to play too. There are things we must do as well. If you feel stuck, distant from God, and like nothing is moving along…

Stop asking God what He’s going to do, and start asking God what you need to do!

He’s probably already told you. God is never silent. God is never out of reach. We are just not tuned in to what He has to say, or are unwilling to act on His plan.

Once I took the leap of faith and dived completely head first into what the Lord was calling me to do… That was when true peace and true fulfillment washed over me like a flood.

I felt unqualified. I didn’t know what I was doing. And I didn’t know what tomorrow looked like. But I knew what I needed to do today. And that was enough.

That should always be enough.

Learning to fully trust God’s commands even when it seems scary, crazy or possibly stupid, is what this relationship with Him is all about. That’s what He’s been teaching me through this last year, and I’ve grown deeper in Him than ever before!

Taking steps of faith is how God leads us into our calling. One step at a time, each day moving forward little-by-little, and then letting Him handle the rest!

 

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Cassidy is the founder of the Strong Tower Ministries, which is a God-centered community helping women grow strong in their faith.

To join Cassidy’s community, follow her on Instagram @thestrongtowerministries and subscribe to her blog by clicking here!