Tuesday, 30 April 2013

About My Building Contractor and Personal Security Guard

How often have we mistaken the means through which God has blessed us with what really is our source of success and defence.  Rehoboam had successfully fortified the cities, and probably felt impregnable and beyond defeat.  Little did he apparently know that his fortifications were but REPRESENTATIONS of God's all encompassing protection; outside of God we are easy pickings for the devil and his selected agencies.

There are times when we somehow feel that the good credit rating, the sizeable net value, the impressive academic prowess, our fame and connections are the things that guarantee our safety and success in life.  Well would we learn the lesson from Rehobaom's life though that, "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." Ps 127: 1.

This is based on 2 Chronicles 12.  To read or listen to this Bible passage Click Here

Monday, 29 April 2013

Keep Thy Heart….

Story 1
It’s always a ton of excitement to have family gatherings.  This last time was occasioned by the wedding of one of my nieces.  As I made the out of parish trip with my eldest brother who lived abroad it was a most engaging and enlightening ride.  He told me amazing things about my dad; things I had no clue of.  And as I had wished so many times before, I found myself wishing all over again, that I knew my dad.  You see, he died when I was only 2 years old – I have no recollection of him.

Dada, as he was called, died of coronary thrombosis; he went to bed one night and did not make it through.  I heard that when as a baby I heard that he was dead, instead of scooting over him as I usually did, I took pains that morning to go around him to exit the bed.  Although he was an obviously bright man, and a public health inspector no less, he is reported to have shown great ignorance in what constituted an appropriate diet.  He loved pork, it is said, and often when the meat was seemingly not enough to gratify his craving, he’d gulp down the residual oil (gravy).  Not surprisingly, He died at 40, leaving behind an unqualified and an unemployed mother of 8 children, the oldest (the brother mentioned earlier) being 14 years.  But thank God, He was true to the word, “When my father and my mother forsake me (die), then the Lord will take me up;” He remained our only father, and we have all been brought past the worst (as the expression goes).  But the premature death of our father did not happen without major consequences to all our lives.

Story 2
Her face wore a pain that was beyond the reaches of pretence; it was pronounced; it was palpable.  I had never seen someone go through so much obvious mental anguish.  Never in her wildest imagination did Olive see herself burying her larger than life husband.  He’d barely gone past 40 years old – still full of dreams and an insatiable passion for life.  The recollection of the story makes for a sad tale.

Not only was it the first day of the year, but it was also his birthday and their wedding anniversary. The day was off to an excellent start, and all things remaining equal, it was going to be a phenomenal day.  

They had just finished a refreshing family worship, and were about to break out into doing morning chores, when he suddenly gripped his chest.  By reflex action she gave him an aspirin and rushed upstairs to change her clothes; he had to be rushed to the hospital immediately.  No sooner had she gone up and there were piercing screams coming from the living room. The children were frantic from fright and fear.  “Oh God no,” her heart began to pounding with intensified anxiety.  There weren’t many options in assuming what must be happening downstairs. And sure enough as she made her way downstairs, there he was, sprawled on the ground, his life fearfully oozing out by every merciless second.  In short order, with the assistance of a neighbour they were on their way to the hospital.  Would they make it in time?

Alas the journey would prove treacherously long, and before they could reach the hospital, he breathed his last; he was dead.  In only a few horroring minutes of normal, happy family activities the family was wrenched from the joy and security of a husband and father.  Cause of death: a massive cardiac arrest.

Scripture says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Prov. 4: 23.  Although the primary spiritual application of this passage speaks to the care of the mind, it makes more sense when we understand that what the mind is to the human soul is what the physical heart is to the human body.  

Here are some tips on taking care of your heart:

Heart Disease Prevention
Treatment of heart disease can be difficult. That’s why it's better to try to prevent these health conditions, particularly in people with known cardiovascular disease risks. But how do you prevent heart disease? How do you maintain good heart health? 

It may seem simple, but for the most part, lifestyle plays a huge role in keeping the heart healthy and reducing cardiovascular disease risks. Many of these suggestions are probably familiar to most people. They include:
  • Managing your stress levels
  • Eating fruits, vegetables, and foods low in fat and cholesterol — maintaining a mostly plant-based diet
  • Becoming active (at least 30 minutes per day) and either maintaining your current weight or losing weight if you are overweight.
  • Monitoring your blood pressure. If it’s high, get it under control following your doctor’s guidelines.
  • Screening your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. If your numbers have increased, you may be able to reverse the trend.
  • Following treatment guidelines if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes
Eat right, exercise, don’t smoke, and talk to your doctor about any health concerns you have or any symptoms you notice. The earlier heart problems are detected, the better the chance you can begin treatment before any long-term damage has occurred. 

Oh No! Let Them Do What They Want

"You shall not go up or fight against your brethren... for this thing is from Me." 2 Chronicles 11: 4

Providing for Good
The battle between good and evil is for the occupation of the mind.  The contrasting actions of Rehoboam and Jeroboam illustrate the orientation of an individual who will provide for service either to God or to Satan.  The study of the Word of God, coupled with prayer and meditation constitute the erection of defences against the inroad of evil in our lives, and will make for the faithful worship and service of the God of Heaven.  Anything else is really making provision for the Devil - as Jeroboam did.

A word of caution: don't waste time trying to learn the ploys of the Devil (thinking that therein lies your safety), because surely when you think you have him figured out one way, he has a thousand other ways to get at you.  Spend time instead in the Word of God.  If you know the truth, the truth will make you free and will be a sure defence.

Remember: We Always Have a Choice
Why did God, knowing what Jeroboam was up to, refuse to allow Rehoboam to reclaim Israel?  I believe He simply did not wish to force Himself on the people.  The Levites and others who came across to Judah represent those who will always make God their choice.  As it was in Eden, and on Carmel, God always wants people to know that they have a choice.  So in every age, in every situation the call always goes out, "Choose you this day whom you will serve."  May the response from each of us to this charge be, "As for me and, my house, we will serve the Lord."  Amen.

This presentation is based on 2 Chronicles 11.  To read or listen to this chapter and to read other related blogs click here.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Oh Lord, These Many Caps We Wear!

Have you ever found yourself, or heard someone saying, "You can't lie, it's Sabbath," or "If it wasn't Sabbath I'd tell you something."
The Bible does teach that while some things are fine for six days, on Sabbath they are inappropriate. Working is one such example (see Ex 20: 8-11; Isa 58:13). There are some things however that notwithstanding season or the situation they are just not appropriate. The other nine commandments of Exodus 20 are examples of perpetual "Do nots."
There are some Christians who believe that they should lead compartmentalized lives; meaning they are at liberty to do things of vastly different sorts. There are others, however, who believe that their Christian principles should transcend all that they do... always. The latter Christians wear one consistent cap that says, "I'm a Follower of Christ"; the former set could with their many caps confuse you at points.

In today's text (1 Chron. 8) Solomon's decision to marry the Egyptian princess seems to put him in the mould of one who leads a compartmentalized life - where he literally puts her in a seperate accommodation than the house built by his father David (verse 11).  But as his life showed, that was a poor decision. Paul's counsel in 1 Cor. 10: 31 is, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
Is God only present in certain areas of your life, or is He everywhere? James tells in chapter 2 verse 10, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
Father in Heaven, today we invite to occupy us fully; let no part of us be in any way unconsecrated to Your cause and glory.  May we each wear just one cap, "I'm a Follower of Christ."  In Jesus' name, amen.
To read or listen to 1 Chronicles 8 and read other related blogs please click here.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Are artificial sweeteners causing you to gain weight?

Marsha N. Woolery, Healthy Eating & Diet

Sugar has long been known to cause weight gain if and when consumed in large amounts. But how is this possible? When more sugar than the body needs is taken into the body, the excess is stored as glycogen and fat. Too much fat in the body leads to obesity, which increases the risk of diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, heart disease, infertility and certain types of cancers. It does not matter whether sugar is in the form of sucrose (table sugar - white or brown), honey, high fructose corn syrup or molasses, the end result is the same.
Sugar in all forms also causes an increase in blood sugar and insulin levels which results in more triglycerides (fat in the body), more free radicals (substances that destroy cells) and increased inflammatory markers.
Because of these possible health problems, artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes have become a popular item in many homes, offices, restaurants and food manufacturing plants. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has, so far, approved five artificial sweeteners - Acesulfame Potassium (Sunette/Sweet one), Aspartame (Equal/Nutrasweet), Saccharin (Sweet 'n' Low), Sucralose (Splenda) and Neotame (made by Nutrasweet) and more recently Stevia, as a dietary supplement. All the products are 200 to 8,000 times sweeter than sugar and have an accepted dietary intake level.
Artificial sweeteners were intended to replace sugar or concentrated sweets and thus result in weight loss, but some researchers have found that some persons who use these artificial sweeteners gain weight. How come? Is it possible for an item or substance that has little or no calories to cause weight gain?
Here are some facts
Artificial sweeteners are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, so persons who use them may lose the taste for sweetness even from fruits and vegetables and choose carbohydrate-rich foods that are refined and of a lower nutrient quality, such as white bread, crackers, biscuits and sugar bun, which may lead to weight gain.
High consumption of artificial sweeteners may also cause persons to lose the sensation of sweet taste from naturally sweet and energy- or nutrient-rich foods, which may cause an increase in appetite and lead to the consumption of more food and result in weight gain.
Consumption of artificial sweeteners, along with sugar-containing food or drink, increases the response of taste receptors in the mouth and in the intestines (glucagon-like peptide-1), increases the speed of sugar absorbed in the cells, cause more insulin to be secreted, which increases appetite and blood sugar and results in weight gain.
The ability of the body to adjust to limited energy intake is more difficult in adults than in children; so weight gain is more likely in adults than in children who consume artificial sweeteners. This is because the food intake of an adult is influenced by social interactions and learned behaviour.
Many persons who use artificial sweeteners for weight loss believe the item is a 'magic potion' and tend not to limit their overall food intake, which may result in weight gain.
So what are the recommend-ations for the use of artificial sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners should be used as a transition from 'sugar' to 'no sugar' or less sugar in the diet.
Artificial sweeteners should be used in moderation, based on the acceptable daily intake.
Instead of 'diet' or 'sugar free' drinks and foods, use less or no sugars in preparation.
Substitute fresh or dried fruits for sugar when baking cakes, puddings, custards, etc, making porridge or having dry cereals
Brew fresh tea, chill and drink unsweetened (homemade ice tea)
Add lime, lemon, Seville (sour) orange or whatever fruit juice to water, chill and drink unsweetened (homemade flavoured water)
Let's sweeten up our food the healthy way. The natural way. It's your choice.
Marsha N. Woolery is a registered dietitian/nutritionist in private practice and adjunct lecturer at Northern Caribbean University; email:

Red or white ... and how dark for your Valentine?

By Marsha N. Woolery

Valentine's Day is the day for lovers, and love involves the heart. So, when we are in love, it is of utmost importance to take steps to take care of our heart and that of the loved one.
Research has shown that persons in France have less heart disease and it is claimed that the link is the high consumption of wine, especially red wine. How is this possible, and can non-French people have similar benefits?
Red wine has antioxidants such as resveratrol and flavonoids and alcohol that help to prevent heart disease by increasing the 'good' cholesterol (HDL), lowering 'bad' cholesterol (LDL), preventing blood clots and reducing damage to the arteries. Antioxidants get rid of free radicals that damage cells and cause heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Red wine has more resveratrol than white wine because during the making of red wine, the skin of the grapes is a part of the fermentation process, whereas it is not in the making of white wine. Resveratrol is found in the skin of the grapes. Resveratrol is also found in peanuts, cranberries and blueberries, and eating these foods and consuming red or purple grapes and drinking grape juice is a natural way of getting resveratrol.
Alcohol, which is formed during the fermentation of the grape juice with or without the skin, also increases HDL cholesterol, lowers LDL cholesterol and prevents artery damage that is caused by high LDL cholesterol levels. The consumption of too much alcohol increases the risk of high blood pressure, liver damage, obesity, certain types of cancer, accidents and weakens heart muscles.
Chocolate is made from cocoa beans and comes in various flavours - milk, white or dark - depending on the level of processing and the amount of sugar, cream, vanilla and, other ingredients such as spices that are added. Cocoa beans are high in the antioxidant, flavanol, which is a type of flavonoid. During the processing of chocolate, flavanol is lost. Therefore, the darker the chocolate (less processing), the more flavanol and white chocolate that are made from cocoa butter, sugar, milk and no cocoa solids (that give the chocolate its brown colour) has little or no flavonoids. The fat in chocolate is oleic acid (which is a monounsaturated fatty acid), stearic and palmitic acids. Monounsaturated fatty acid is also found in olive oil.
Flavonoids improve the blood flow to the brain and heart and lower LDL cholesterol. Flavanols are also found in peanuts, cranberries, onion, tea and red wine. Dark semi-sweet chocolates are high in flavonoids and low in sugar, unlike milk chocolate that is high in sugar and fat (cream and milk solids).
So in order to preserve the love that now exists in the heart, choose a healthy Valentine's Day gift. Here are some suggestions:
  • Fruit basket with berries and peanuts;
  • Non-alcoholic wine, red or purple grape juice;
  • Dark chocolates with or without nuts and without extra ingredients that add calories and fat.
Choose wines that are made in and are from cooler temperatures because they have higher amounts of resveratrol. Wine should be sipped slowly to ensure that resveratrol gets to the bloodstream.
Here's to you and your Valentine's heart health!
Marsha N. Woolery is a registered dietitian/nutritionist in private practice and adjunct lecturer at Northern Caribbean University; email:

Grocery shopping is stressful these days!

Marsha N. Woolery, Healthy Eating & Diet

Grocery shopping is now one of the most stressful tasks and persons may wonder why. There are two main reasons: financial constraints and not being aware of how to make healthy choices in the market, supermarket or wholesale stores.
Our dollar has less value today than last year, and less money is available to buy the same amount of food items. To be able to choose healthier foods, it is important for consumers to learn how to read labels and shop wisely.
Here are some shopping tips:
Decide on a shopping cycle. This should be based on payday and when shopping is convenient. A food budget should be decided upon and should be less than 50 per cent of income. A shopping list should be prepared based on menu and items that are in storage areas - cupboard, refrigerator and freezer.
Never go shopping when hungry or feeling 'peckish'. Persons tend to choose more convenience or ready-to-eat foods because they are thinking about satisfying their immediate craving or need for food. When shopping, one should not be in a hurry, so that labels can be read and prices can be compared for value. Shop with a calculator or simple 'pocket' adding machine to keep track of bill.
Take advantage of bulk buying - five pounds or more for less money. If bulk amounts are too much for your household, make purchases with a close friend and share the cost. Be on the lookout for specials in the supermarket such as buy-two-and-get-one-free sales. Please note that these specials are most times available on near-to-expire goods, so be careful not to buy too many and use them before the expiry date.
If purchasing in open market, compare prices and look at produce carefully for bruises, blemishes, extra dirt, freshness, etc. Observe sanitation in shopping areas for pools of water, garbage, flies or rodents.
Do not buy foods in dented or swollen cans. Contents may have harmful microorganisms that could cause illness.
Check labels for expiration. Use by or best before dates because some items may start losing nutritive value and quality after those dates. Labels should also be checked for number of servings per container and prices to ensure value for money.
Read the nutrition facts on label for the total fat/cholesterol/sodium etc., percentage of various nutrients in the item, number of servings per container, serving sizes and the calories per serving. Calories are based on servings and not on entire container. Read ingredient list to choose the appropriate item to purchase. For example, wholewheat bread, the first ingredient should be wholewheat flour and NOT enriched wheat flour (enriched flour is flour with vitamins etc added). In the ingredients list, the first five ingredients are most dominant in the product.
Foods should be purchased based on nutritive value. For example, canned mackerel is a good source of protein, calcium, omega-3 fatty acid, is convenient, inexpensive and can be served at all three meals.
Let us take advantage of having less money, and make healthier food choices by thinking nutrition when we go food shopping. 'Mek we tun we hand and mek healthier meals!'
Marsha N. Woolery is a registered dietitian/nutritionist in private practice and adjunct lecturer at Northern Caribbean University; email:

Fish for Lent your heart

By Marsha N. Woolery
During the Lenten season, some persons may choose to give up eating meat and consume mainly fish as their main source of protein. Seafood are classified as fish (cod, sardines, mackerel, yellowtail), molluscs (clams, oysters, conch, sea snails), and crustaceans (shrimp, crab and lobsters).
Fish with no added fat (such as margarine, oil, sauces or gravies) is low in fat and is an excellent source of high-quality protein (containing all the essential amino acids).
A high-fat fish such as mullet provides 120 calories, and cod, a low-fat fish, provides 75-80 calories per ounce. The protein content varies, depending on the feeding habits, sex of fish, fat and water content. The flesh of fish with fins contains about 18-22 grams of protein per three ounces. White flesh of fish such as albacore tuna has more protein than the darker flesh fish.
Unsaturated fat
Fish contains mainly unsaturated fatty acids in the form of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. When the fat content in fish is high, the water and protein content is low and when protein and water content is high, the fat content is low. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acid is needed for growth, reduction in the risk of heart disease by decreasing blood clots, lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol and triglycerides in blood. It also aids in reducing the stiffness experienced by persons with rheumatoid arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acid helps in the development of nerve tissue and vision.
Fish from salt water has more sodium and potassium than fish from fresh water. Calcium and phosphorus are needed for development and strengthening of bones and teeth and are higher in whole fish. Shrimp, crab and lobster have more calcium and iron and less phosphorus and copper than fish with fins. Copper and iron are needed for making haemoglobin (the red substance in blood) to prevent anaemia.
Natural source of iodine
Fish is the richest natural source of iodine, which is needed for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland and the prevention of goitre. Iodine is found mainly in the skin of fatty fish than in the flesh. A small amount of fluoride is found in fish to prevent brittle bones in children and the elderly. Sardines and mackerel have more vitamin D than yellowtail and flat fish. Vitamin B12 is high in fatty fish and shellfish. This vitamin is needed to prevent pernicious anaemia.
Large fish and fish high on the food chain such as sharks, king mackerel, swordfish and albacore tuna tend to have more mercury because they eat the smaller fish and the mercury builds up in their (larger) bodies.
Shellfish and caviar are high in cholesterol, which increases the risk of developing heart disease.
The Eskimos of the Arctic have less heart disease because of a diet rich in fish and omega-3 fatty acids, but those of us who live in the Temperate Zone and are experiencing a financial crunch may not be able to consume fish, especially fatty fish from the cold waters, every day. The dietary recommendation to get similar benefits is to eat at least six ounces of fish per week.
Marsha N. Woolery is a registered dietitian/nutritionist in private practice and adjunct lecturer at Northern Caribbean University; email:

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

'Educate people about having kids'

Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer

Head of the Behavioural and Social Sciences Department at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) and former president of the Guidance Counsellors Association of Jamaica, Dr Grace Kelly, said before any restriction is made on the number of children individuals are allowed to have, persons should be comprehensively educated on the implications such actions could have on them.

Head of the Behavioural and Social Sciences Department at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) and former president of the Guidance Counsellors Association of Jamaica, Dr Grace Kelly,

Her statement came after Principal of Jamaica College Ruel Reid urged politicians to be more decisive in enforcing family-planning strategies to prevent poor persons from having more children than they can afford.
She said: "While more policies need to be put in place, it is more a personal problem and persons need to be educated on the implications it can have on them, before there is any restriction in the number of children an individual should have."
Cannot support view
Kelly also pointed out that while she was aware that poor living conditions can have a negative impact on children, she could not support the view that children are worse off if they grow up under unfortunate living conditions.
"There is, in fact, a correlation between socio-economic conditions and the educational output, but there are many schools of thought surrounding the same issue," she said
"While I believe that parents should be blamed if they deliberately have more children than they can afford, which will pose serious challenges for the children, the bottom line is, you can have success from both sides of the spectrum," Kelly asserted.
"I do support the fact that proper family planning must be enforced because nutritionally, if children are not are not well fed, they will have challenges that will affect their learning ability and their ability to even remain focused in class. But I cannot support the notion that you cannot succeed if you don't have everything together," she said.
She, however, called on the relevant agencies to put programmes in place that are conducive to children's development.
"It's important, however, that programmes be put in place to meet their physiological and their emotional needs as we need our children to be brought up in wholesome environments," Kelly declared. 

Friday, 19 April 2013

Snacking ... the healthy way

Marsha N. Woolery, Healthy Eating & Diet

A snack is a small amount of food intended to be a 'filler' in between meals to prevent hunger. Those who may need to eat snacks to get all the nutrients and energy needed to be healthy include children, older adults, busy teenagers, persons with diabetes on insulin, persons with loss of appetite (not eating enough food at mealtimes) - maybe as a result of illness, such as cancer or cancer treatment or kidney disease, persons with unintentional weight loss because of the ageing process, persons who have lost a loved one, or persons who are stressed.
Snacks should be healthy foods, not junk foods. Junk foods provide little or no vitamins, minerals, protein or fibre, just mainly sugar, fat and sodium.
Healthy snacks should provide extra nutrients or complement the three meals that are eaten throughout the day. Snacks are eaten to get extra nutrients such as protein, calcium, calories, fluids and iron. Snacks can comprise leftovers from previous meals. For instance, a finger of green banana and a piece of sardine from breakfast can be eaten as a midmorning snack with some water about two to three hours before lunchtime.
A snack is not a meal and should not be used to substitute a meal, because a traditional snack does not have sufficient vitamins, minerals and energy.
Here are some recommendations for healthy snacking based on the nutrient needs:
For extra protein:
Low-fat milk;
Low-fat yogurt;
Nuts and nut butters, such as peanut butter, almond, hazelnut spread;
Fruit or vegetable smoothies made with milk;
Egg (plain) or egg dishes such as egg custards;
Peas and bean spreads or pastes (mashed seasoned peas and beans served on bread or crackers).
For extra fluids:
Fruit or vegetable juices (unsweetened);
Fruit or vegetable smoothies (unsweetened);
Fruit gelatin;
Popsicles or frozen bag juice ('suck-suck') - made from unsweetened juice;
Plain or flavoured water.
For extra energy or calories:
Crackers and cheese or nut butters;
Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, etc.);
Nuts (preferably lightly salted or unsalted);
Low-sugar, low-fat cookies, cakes, puddings;
Low-fat milk or yogurt or ice cream;
Canned fruit in light syrup or water;
Fresh fruits or unsweetened juices;
Dried fruits (raisins, prunes, dates, apples or coconut);
Cereal with milk.
Just to satisfy the feeling to munch, try:
Popcorn (plain or with light butter and salt);
Fruit gelatin (sugar free with fresh fruit);
Fresh fruit or raw vegetables;
Water (plain or flavoured).
To be healthy, we all need to get into the habit of not snacking or, if we have to snack, doing so healthily. Have a healthy snack, starting today.
Marsha N. Woolery is a registered dietitian/nutritionist in private practice; email: