NO FAIR PILING ON

thBack in the 70’s, when we lived in the Charlotte area, I use to love to listen to a radio program called “Murphy In The Morning.” It was a funny program that use to do satire on Jim and Tammy Bakker and the “pass the loot club.” This was the height of the Bakker’s in the nightly news coverage… just before this house of cards came tumbling down. A lot of people fell for this paradise scheme and lost money. I met a pastor friend in later years who lost a lot of money on Jim and Tammy. He really believed Bakker’s story, as did many others. The satire during the time was funny, but the reality of it all soon became tragic for all concerned and it ended up very sad indeed.

The second thing I like about old Murphy In The Morning was his traffic report. When there was a wreck in Charlotte (which there were many) you would hear the squealing of tires and metal hitting metal… then he would say “No fair piling on.” Piling on is what we do when someone is down or weak… we gang up and pile on the tragedy of others. He is right, it is not fair to pile on anyone in any circumstance.

Have you ever felt like they were piling on you? That is the way I feel about my health lately. I think everything was going well until I had a serious heart attack back in 1995. Since then it has been a roller coaster ride… up and down and out over some mighty scary turns. Since then the piling on has been: atrial fibrillation, more stents, type II diabetes, stage III kidney disease, three back surgeries, very low iron, and now I have been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. WOW, I guess the 6 glasses of wine I have each YEAR has really had an adverse affect on my health. Not really. Cirrhosis of the liver is caused by many things: medicines, high alcohol consumption, accumulation of eating fatty foods which cause your liver to become fatty, hepatitis, viruses and other things.

So now I am probably getting ready to have neck surgery again… some disc problems at C7 or C8 causing a lot of pain. Along with that I have to deal with helping my liver not get any worse but to give it a chance to do some healing. What is needed, according to the doctor, is to get more salt out of my system, and to reduce my weight by about 50 pounds. Easier said than done. My sodium intake must be 2 grams or less each day, and my caloric intake is to be 1,500 or less. Shirley and I have spent the last few days with our jaws on the floor as we come to the realization of how much salt is in EVERYTHING WE EAT. Do you know that there is 5mg of sodium in some bottled water?

So now we are finding ways to produce low salt menues that will help me stay below 2 grams of salt each day. It means that each day we must be intentional about what we eat, how much we eat, paying special attention to calories and sodium in each bite we take. This is a “give your liver a chance to heal” diet. My liver will only get worse if I don’t do something about this sodium and weight.

Needless to say… we are finding a way to make this happen. Looking at every label is time consuming but it is paying off. So far I have come under 2 grams each day. 2 grams is one teaspoon of table salt. It is very little but it can be done. Saturday I had 1101mg of sodium and 952 calories, while on Sunday I had 544mg of sodium and 1216 calories, and I have lost 2 pounds in the process. Yes, all this means that we have to pay more attention and spend more time concentrating on menus that work toward better health. I have found that a diet is really setting goals, meeting those goals and recording what we actually do each day. Recording is very important because you can see side by side the goal and the reality which shows if am I reaching the goal? Recording keeps us honest about what we are really doing daily, and warns us if we are straying from our goals. That warning will help us take steps to correct what we are doing wrong or forgetting to do at all.

This piling on has become a wake up call for me to take control of this problem and participate in making it better. I know that this diet is really a lifestyle change… I will not be able to enjoy the foods I once ate on a regular basis. Hot Dog with chili and cheese is 1264mg of sodium. Cheeseburger with mayo and tomato is 775mg of sodium and french fries are 326mg of sodium. We use to have two hot dogs and fries which comes up to 2854mg of sodium. WOW – OVERLOAD!!! If we are not intentional about fulfilling the requirements of this lifestyle change we can get into some real trouble very quickly. Restaurant eating will be from a low salt menu. Snack time will have to be more thoughtful rather than grab and eat. Everything I eat will be vetted first… meeting the salt & calorie test.

The way we do it is to check the nutritional values of each food before we go out to eat. This means we have an idea of what we are going to order before we get to the restaurant. Sometimes it means we don’t go to that restaurant because the menu is not one I can tolerate. Each time I eat or plan a menu I must think of why I am doing this… to give myself a better chance at living longer with a better quality of life. I can’t forget that thought.

Isn’t that what we do in our life of faith… each time I feast on the grace of Jesus Christ I am giving myself a better chance at living a grace-filled life. A grace-filled life is not just going to happen… just kinda unconsciously fall on us one day and we are changed. No. A grace-filled life is one we work at daily giving ourselves more to the love of God in Christ and intentionally seek to live in Christ each day. That is the Christian diet (lifestyle) living our lives, filling our lives with the good food of Jesus and not the unkosher fatty foods of the world.

So set your goals, meet your goals, record your goals, celebrate what God can help you accomplish… and live a good quality of life.

Grace and Peace

Steve


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