Monday, December 15, 2014

'Tis the Season - and Still Going

Last week in my article on thankfulness, I touched on the struggles many of us face during the holidays.  It can be a depressing time for a number of people who would prefer to sleep through these jolly times.  I feel compelled to share, again, on another avenue to depression that is a major part of this holiday – what we eat. 

I know I have shared numerous times in the past about the power of sugar and how it causes depression in me.  Last week I discovered another food that gives me the same reaction – so it’s not just sugar.  I’ve known that any foods causing sensitivities or allergies can create inflammation in your body - the whole reason I started this food journey.  What I didn’t know was that inflammation depletes your serotonin levels which causes depression. 

I’ve been aware that nuts upset my stomach, so I eat them in very small amounts.  Last Sunday I bought some fresh-off-the-tree pecans that I couldn’t keep my hands off of.  I ate way too many for two days in a row.  My digestive system went crazy, and I found myself in my “funk” for two days and couldn’t figure out why.  I hadn’t had any sugary treats!

After some major denial as I wanted to continue my pecan binge, I started investigating nut allergies and sensitivities and low and behold, depression can be a symptom. (I still love you Brandi Hill and will STILL buy pecans next year!) I may not be allergic, per se, but I have a sensitivity where I can eat a little, but too much will cause a reaction.  There are numerous foods that do this to me.

I wonder how many people are on depression medications and dealing with side effects when it may be from some food they shouldn’t be eating?

If you are interested in knowing more, check out this website: www.alternativementalhealth.com.

This article starts out talking about a young woman diagnosed with manic depression.  She was given three different medications which settled her manic states, but the depression still occurred.  She went to a nutrition counsellor and discovered she had a wheat sensitivity.  When she stayed away from it, she had no depression.  She gradually came off all her medications.

I am not telling you that food is the cure-all for all depression (although I believe it’s high up there on the list).  It is worth a try, though, to discover if food is the culprit for this debilitating problem.

I may reiterate this discovery too often for many of you, but if I can save one person the devastation of dealing with depression, it’s worth the repetition.  I struggled with depression for 31 out of my 33½ years of marriage.  I blamed it on hormones, my husband, circumstances, moving around with the Air Force, the divorce of my parents, etc., etc.  I hid it from everyone but my husband; he took the brunt of it.  I wonder how many couples divorce because of a depressed person who never figures out that their spouse is not the reason for their depression. 

Once I turned my life over to God, at about the 10 year point of my marriage, I tried to deal with it spiritually.  I could never overcome it completely, though, and would only feel guilty that I must not have enough faith.  Good Christians shouldn’t struggle with depression, right?  Nothing I could do, no fasting or praying, would pull me out of my funk.  I didn't realize it was a physical issue and not a spiritual one.  Sure, God could have healed me, but He obviously had greater plans by allowing me to figure it out.

Discovering the foods that I’m sensitive to or allergic to has changed my life – and my marriage.  I no longer blame Rick – for everything!  We now understand that the problem is food related and will pass quickly if I stay away from the culprit.  

I feel such freedom from not struggling with depression anymore (as long as I carefully watch what I eat.)  If you silently struggle with this issue, start paying attention to what you eat.  The main foods that cause problems are wheat, sugar, nuts, eggs.  There could be many others too – if  I eat too many carrots I have issues.  Figure it out and change your life!

Now that I’ve probably added to your depression by telling you not to eat all the amazing treats we indulge in over the holidays, maybe you should wait until the New Year to make these changes.  Let it be your resolution to feel better and have a happier marriage in 2015!


Monday, December 8, 2014

'Tis the Season

'Tis the season - the season for many to struggle financially, emotionally and physically.  Christmas brings high expectations of an experience that many of us may never achieve. That “Hallmark moment” we see on television is not the norm for most families. With dysfunctional childhoods, divorce, loss of family members, and difficult financial times, this celebration season brings depression to a large number of people.  Rick and I always see an increase in our counseling sessions at this time as marriages are pushed to their limits.

We’ve propelled this once humble holiday into a money-making, commercialized, stress-filled time of pursuing the perfect Christmas.  Meanwhile, the true meaning of Christmas has been subtly pushed aside.

Now I know there are naysayers about celebrating Jesus’ birth on this day that started as a pagan holiday.  I say if we keep our focus on Jesus, the rest just doesn’t matter.  I choose to be thankful for the birth of our Savior and for what He has done in my life.  I try to stay out of the “hustle and bustle” of Christmas, the holiday.

Again, I come back to the notion of thankfulness.  It works wonders!  If I continually look at how God has richly blessed my life, I stay out of the self-pity party for what I don’t have or may not experience over the holidays.  We need to stay positive in our thinking.  Negativity brings a set of unnecessary problems.  It can affect our health.

It has been proven that thankfulness and a positive attitude in your daily living brings health to your body.  Stress is a leading cause of illness in our lives and is connected to heart problems, cancer and every other ailment known to man.  Thankfulness demolishes stress. 

It's no secret that stress can make us sick, particularly when we can't cope with it. It's linked to several leading causes of death, including heart disease and cancer, and claims responsibility for up to 90% of all doctor visits. Gratitude, it turns out, can help us better manage stress. "Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress," Emmons says.
From WebMD 

The best de-stressor I know?  God’s word. 

Matthew 6:25-27 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Philippians 4:4-8 “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near. 
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

Our minds have the power to make or break our lives.  Start thinking about what you have to be thankful for and focus on the positive. Get rid of those negative thoughts.  You will find that the stress will melt away.  Enjoy this holiday season.  May you find peace and joy in spite of your circumstances.


Monday, December 1, 2014

10 Things Men Can Do to Make Their Wives Happy

Mark Gungor (Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage) talks about the difference in keeping score between men and women.  Just for getting out of bed in the morning to go to work, a man may believe he earns 100 brownie points.  Giving his wife a dozen roses should easily earn him 500 points and hold him over for a few months without any other attempts to make points. (So he thinks.) Points equal doing your job as a husband. The more points accumulated account for a happier wife.

From a woman’s perspective, though, a dozen roses will earn him one point as would a single rose or even a new car.  Men can make their wives the happiest by taking the time to figure out exactly what makes her feel the most intimate towards him.  (Sorry guys.  It’s probably not anything from Frederick’s of Hollywood.  That’s your idea of intimacy.) It’s usually the simple acts, not the fancy cars or vacations, that will make us feel the closest to our man.  And by the way, gentlemen, more brownie points = more sex, too.

Since numbered lists of “to dos” seem very popular these days, I’ve come up with “10 Things Men Can Do to Make Their Wives Happy.”

1.      Speak positively to her.  Only say words that will edify her and build her up.  Compliment her often.  Never, never, speak obscenities to her or call her names.  That will cause scar tissue that remains for a long, long time(She will stop saying nasty things to you, too, once you master this.)

2.      Help with the kids without her asking you to help.  Raising children is exhausting whether you are a stay-at-home mom or work full-time outside of the house.  Even though the majority of women have jobs these days, they still do most of the work around the house and with the kids.  Nothing made me feel closer to my husband than having him help me in the mundane chores of dinner, baths and bedtime.

3.      Help around the house without her asking you to help.  Pick up after yourself.  Offer to fold the laundry.  Folding laundry does not require a lot of brain cell usage so you should be able to do it while still watching football.  If not, wait until the commercials. With all the commercials, you could probably empty the dishwasher, too.

4.      Entertain the kids for an hour or so and give her some time alone.  Kids need time with their fathers.  They thrive on it and so will you.  You don’t have to do anything mind shattering.  Tell them a story or help them with their homework.  Play a game or go outside and catch a ball.  There is nothing more important that you could be doing with your children than spending quality time with them. They will cherish every undivided moment you give them.

5.      Spend time alone with her.  She will cherish every undivided moment you give to her (and give you mega brownie points!). Spend 15 – 30 minutes a day just talking to her.  Make sure neither of you have cell phones, Ipads, laptops or anything else that plugs into a wall to distract you.  The electronic age is ruining relationships.  Don’t allow it to ruin yours.  Even better, take her out on a date once a week.

6.      Give her a pleasurable sex life.  A large percentage of women do not have a fulfilling sex life (they don’t have orgasms.)  If your sex life is one-sided most of the time, figure out what you need to do to change it.  Don’t be afraid to talk about it to each other.  Doing so will only make you feel intimately closer to each other (even MORE brownie points – which equals MORE sex!).

7.      Send her flirty little text messages throughout the day.  Every time you think of her during the day, send her a text message to let her know.  “I love you” will warm the cockles of her heart in the middle of a crazy, harried day.

8.      Find out what makes her feel the most intimate with you and do that all the time.  We all have certain intimacy needs that bring us closer to our spouse when they are met.  Many women just want undivided attention and conversation.  Again, helping around the house and with the kids can be an enormous intimacy builder. Whenever my husband would do the dishes I would tell him that was much sexier than having him bring me roses or turning on Barry White music.  Find out what makes her feel intimate towards you. (Women usually don’t desire sex until they feel intimate towards their partner.)

9.      Tell her you love her every day – and show it.  Actions still speak louder than words.  If you are saying those words without putting them to action, the message will be lost.  Prove it to her.  Hold her in your arms and kiss her without expecting to jump in the sack.

10.  Pray with her every day.  Prayer between a husband and wife can be very powerful!  It is a deep form of intimacy.  Make it a habit.  Keep God in the center of your marriage.  The couple that prays together stays together!  (On an Oprah Winfrey show a number of years ago, there was a study done that showed couples that pray together have a better sex life.)

It seems only fair that I also come up with a list for women to earn brownie points.  As I thought about it, though, I realized that we really don’t need to do a whole lot to earn them.  Men are pretty simple to deal with as long as we give them these three things - the remote, food, and sex.