Thursday, August 16, 2018

This Laywoman's Call to the Laity

What we're hearing about some of the men called to be our shepherds sounds diabolically disgusting. While a particular kind of rot is making headlines, I am convinced those sins are a gross manifestation of widespread denial of sin-as-sin, particularly in the realm of sexual ethics and morality, that has blinded most of our Church. Fortunately, that's not the end of the story and while I don't know when we'll get there, I can tell you what the Lord has been saying to me in this season.

In late June, I had a pivotal conversation with a friend, and during that conversation I had an image flash through my mind: an eagle-eye vision of the world and an accompanying feeling that we have an urgent mission to be prayer warriors for the Church.

In the weeks following this conversation, I asked the Lord what he wanted me to do; I don't struggle in this area, I don't have a public platform to speak for change, and offering up diapers and laundry and the mundane drudgery of housewifely work seemed insufficient for the depravity of which I was hearing.

He answered loud and clear, telling me to fast from something specific, and I was taken aback by my response: I put my fingers in my ears and said, "God, I can't quite hear you." This went on for about a month. A month. The news got darker, and I kept saying, "God, you just let me know what you want me to do, but how about something else? m'kay? great."

What he was asking me to fast from sounds small and insignificant: chocolate. But what I discovered in my stubbornness to let it go was that it didn't matter what it was, but its role in my life. I saw in my attachment to chocolate that it was a vice that I was enslaved to.

To fast from my vice - to admit that it was a vice - was penance which would bring me freedom, and because we are one body, I could offer this for the freedom of those caught in much darker vices.

On a recent evening, the Lord gave me two scriptures:
  • The parable of the rich young man: this man follows all the commandments, but when He asks the Lord what more he should do, Jesus points out his attachment to his wealth, and the man leaves saddened [because he is too attached to his wealth to renounce it for the sake of the Kingdom of God.]
  • My favorite reading from the Easter Vigil, Baruch chapter 3. Read it, it's timely and beautifully written.
Along with those scriptures, I felt him asking me to extend this offer to all of you:

Ask me to show you what you are attached to and offer it to me for the healing of your own soul & for the Church.

Fast and Pray.

And so I challenge you to respond to the invitation of the Lord. What are you attached to? Where are you not free?

....and, I'll admit, I've been astonished to discover that, so far, the chocolate fast that looked  monumentally impossible before I said "yes" appears now to be a baby step towards more.

(And if you are a lucky non-sinner who has no vices, by all means pick your fast and offer it for the rest of us!)

Monday, February 26, 2018

Eating to Thrive: the post for those who've asked

"Do graham crackers count as treats?"
Every morning for the last week or so, my four year old has asked me, "Is it still Lent? I don't like this part of Lent." We're not quite two weeks into this penitential season, and the removal of treats has been a millstone around her neck. I can relate; I have a sweet tooth the size of Texas, Alaska, North America.

I get asked frequently what I've changed, how I eat, and comments on the weight I've lost, so I thought I'd go ahead and write a post about it for anyone that wants to know. However, before I launch into that, I want to stress that I'm firmly in the 80/20 camp of healthy eating. For example, yesterday we celebrated the "mini Easter" of a Sunday in Lent by eating ice cream and Cadbury mini eggs. And do you know who ate the most? Me. But today, Lent or not, I'm back on the wagon.

I spent months researching nutritional science 1 and observing how foods, and when I ate them, made me feel 2. I discovered:
  • Eating to reduce the insulin released into my bloodstream made me a lighter, happier, mentally-balanced, energetic mom.
  • Discovering my own circadian rhythm of insulin release relative to the foods I was eating enabled me to time my eating of certain types of foods such that I didn't experience blood sugar swings and their negative effects: irritability, headaches, shakes and ravenous hunger.
  • Since insulin causes water retention, reducing the insulin released in my body caused me to lose a significant amount of water weight. Being free from the feeling of chronic mild inflammation caused by elevated insulin and water retention was a huge surprise and relief!

No relevance to this post, just a fun pic and a
common sight in our house.
What did I discover about myself and the food I was eating?

I can't eat added carbs before lunch. No matter the fiber content or amount of calories, they will make my blood sugar spike, causing a massive insulin release, followed by a blood sugar crash and a horrible case of the "hangries" (hungry/angry) and I'll have to eat again mid-morning.

In the morning I also avoid dairy products (aside from half and half) and lean protein - all of which also cause a rise in blood sugar. For whatever reason, my body is very sensitive in the morning and I need fat. 
  • Breakfast consists of: 
    • Coffee with about 1/3 c. of half and half
    • 3 eggs with butter (when I'm done nursing Sumo baby, I'll go down to 2)
By lunchtime I can add in some carbs; this is when I start in on the dairy, but I still avoid grains.
  • Lunch consists of any of the following:
    • Salad with avocado, bacon bits, cheese, creamy dressing
    • Cottage Cheese (fullest fat I can find - 4%)
    • Cheese with lunchmeat
    • Peanut butter (I use non-hydrogenated, sugar-sweetened peanut butter) with apple slices (about 2 TBS per 1/4 apple)
The afternoon always brings a coffee break, so that's another 1/3 cup or so of half and half. I'll also add a snack in at some point:
  • Snacks consist of any of the following:
    • Nuts - raw or roasted/salted (often with some mini choc chips)
    • a smaller helping of anything from the lunch list
    • if I *really* need a sweet something now that it's Lent, I'll add a few raisins to my nuts, but let's be honest, those things have as many carbs as chocolate. Be careful.
Dinner is a family affair in our house. I try not to short-order cook for each of our needs since we have various allergies as well, but I will often tweak individual dinner plates by adding or removing an ingredient. For me, carbs such as pasta are replaced with melted cheese or roasted veggies. I'll eat small servings of rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes (my fav!) and make sure they have a lot of butter! I try to keep my meal high fat, moderate protein, and low carb.
  • In terms of how carbs make me feel, evening is the best time for me to eat them. It's not unusual for me to eat a bowl of ice cream after dinner. I try to keep my desserts high in fat since this softens the blow of the sugar in my blood stream.
  • If I over-do it, or eat a dessert that's low in fat, I will feel particularly "hung over" in the morning: puffy, inflamed, headache, depressed...
What I don't eat at all:
  • Gluten. It's the ultimate way to mess up my progress, hormones, mood, digestion, inflammation levels, etc. I also find that 1 taste leads to more tastes. I just say "no".
  • Artificial sweeteners (the very occasional diet pop aside). If I'm going to enjoy a treat, I'll enjoy it whole-heartedly, sugar and all. Interestingly, artificial sweeteners still cause an insulin spike, even though there is no blood sugar spike. Because of this insulin release you set the blood sugar swing in motion, triggering "hanger" and all it entails. This doesn't even touch the potential health issues related to artificial "foods."
Alcohol? Yes. In moderation. It makes me puffy, so I bear that in mind, but I enjoy adult beverages. I avoid beer because a) gluten and b) there are tastier options.
 Sumo Baby! 7 months old and 23 lbs of pure happiness.
So, that's the not-so-short primer on how, when and what I eat. I'll admit, sometimes it gets a little boring, but that's where the 80/20 rule comes in. I just need to keep myself accountable and realize when it's creeping up to 70/30 or 60/40, a few strict days and I'm back on the wagon.

I'm happy and healthy, my nursing baby is fat as fat can be, and I'm 4 lbs below my wedding weight. It feels like freedom, and I hope to eat and live this way for a long time!

1. Among many other things, I read Gary Taubes' Good Calories Bad Calories. For a summary, click here. The insight into the role of insulin was particularly eye-opening, and allowed me to have a pregnancy virtually free of significant water retention - a first in my 6 pregnancies!

2. Because I am a busy mom of 6, I am most interested in feeling my best, and not being chained by negative emotions and negative reactions to children being children, fatigue, hunger, weight gain, etc. I make no claims that this is a heart-healthy way to eat although I suspect it is more-so than the way I ate previously (which I thought was the "right" way to eat). I also make no claims that this is a one-size-fits-all approach! This works for me, and your body may function entirely differently based on your own body chemistry, ailments, etc.