Author Archives: Pooja

The Passover Lamb

A Poem for Good Friday

From a far country, I travelled

 down the Jerusalem road;

Yet another Passover,

but a lamb I could not afford.

To celebrate our deliverance from bondage

and the Lord’s covenant of old

with Jacob and Joseph and Moses

and the stories I was told-

of the ten plagues sent on Egypt,

because of pharaoh‘s hard heart,

of the lamb’s blood on the doorpost,

that caused the angel of death to depart.

To celebrate my people’s victory,

and our Lord’s covenant with Abraham,

I too wished to partake,

of the blessed Passover lamb.

I hastened to the temple

with the same hope as every year,

that some kind folk would adopt me,

and include me in their Passover cheer.

The narrow streets seemed narrower still,

as the crowds pressed in unusually that day,

with a large number of Roman guards,

lined up along the sides, all the way.

“Is Caesar coming?”  I asked one of them,

He replied, “Sir, where have you been?”

Do you not know that this is the day,

we crucify Jesus the Nazarene?

Of Jesus, in my far country,

quite a fame had spread,

for we had never heard of another

who healed the sick and raised the dead.

While in contemplation, I heard a soldier shout-

“You get out of the way,

the procession is coming about!”

I stepped aside to make way,

 and looked up ahead

to see a man so badly flogged,

he might as well be dead.

A crown of thorns on his head,

 he was bound with a rope

a Roman soldier dragged him around,

much like the cattle or goat.

A weak frame so battered,

such as I had never seen,

could he really be the one?

Jesus the Nazarene?

The one who made the blind men see

 and the mute men talk,

Look at him now-

he can barely walk.

Two criminals trudged behind him,

bearing their cross all the way,

while Simon helped carry Jesus’ cross,

he was from Cyrene they say.

Outside the city they pierced him,

nailed him to the tree,

on the mound of the skull-

the mound of Calvary.

The chief priests hurled insults,

the soldiers, they mocked-

“He said he is the messiah,

a bunch of nonsense talk!”

If he is the Son of God, let him use his power,

let him call upon the Lord to save him at this hour.

To my uttermost amazement,

I saw affection in his eyes,

He lifted his heart to Heaven,

Father forgive them!”1 he cried.

One thief hurled insults at Jesus,

The other thief asked, “why this assault?

We deserve what we are getting

but what is this man’s fault?

Remember me when you establish

 your kingdom, my Lord!”

“Tonight, you will be with me in Paradise”, said Jesus,

“you have my word.”

“The stripes, the nails, the crown of thorns,

all for you I wear;

My blood is shed this day for you,

give me your darkness, your cares.”

The wicked thief died in peace,

and Jesus bowed his head,

“Into your hands I commit my Spirit2 

Father God,” he said.

The earth shook, the curtain of the holy altar

in our temple, was torn in two;

In my heart, I heard God whisper,

This is the lamb for you.

His body that is bruised,

the blood that flows from his side,

cleanses you from a guilty conscience,

that in freedom you may abide.

Many Passovers would come and go,

but no lamb would I ever need,

for the blood of Jesus Christ is

my atonement indeed.

 1 Luk.23:34; 2 Luk.23:46

Mathew 27:32-56

Copyright (c) 2018 Once There Was Jesus- The Greatest Stories Retold, Pooja Chilukuri

Mathew 27:32-56

A Good Friday Reflection by Jesus’ Mother Mary

Nothing Could Have Prepared Me For That Day

I will never forget that night when I received word:

“Mary! They have taken your son away

to try him before the chief priests and temple officials,”

Nothing could have prepared me for that day.

I had helped Jesus take his very first step,

yet he walked on the waters of Galilee’s sea;

I had danced with joy when he uttered his first word,

but it was he, who made the mute man speak.

He is the Lord’s chosen Messiah,

as the angel and the prophets have foretold;

I always treasured their words in my heart

which today, with fear, grows cold.

Signs and wonders followed my son,

He was filled with God’s spirit and power;

Yet, a foreboding I sensed deep within,

Was this that very hour?

The hour when my soul would be pierced

with too great a sword?

Apprehension seized my mind,

I remembered the prophet, Simeon’s, word.

We were in Jerusalem for the Passover,

the feast of the unleavened bread,

I felt my knees give way as I trembled,

with anticipation and dread;

What would they do with Jesus?

What were they plotting now?

The officials had planned his murder in times past,

but he escaped every time, somehow.

His disciples had brought word to me-

“He has allowed himself to be willingly bound,”

Could this be the plan of God, his Father?

In this mother’s heart, no peace could be found.

I heard they were taking him before Pilate,

What charge were they plotting to bring?

They were envious of my son,

for the masses had hailed him as their king.

They produced many false witnesses,

with whom, even Pilate could not reason;

“This rebel opposes Caesar, they cried,

charge him with blasphemy and treason!”

Under pressure from chief priests and elders,

Pilate ordered his crucifixion;

My heart ripped into a million pieces

at the announcement of this conviction.

They beat him most violently, spat and mocked,

to Mount Calvary, outside the city, they led him away,

half dead and unable to bear his cross,

Nothing could have prepared me for that day.

We followed him at a distance-

The other Mary, John and I;

My heart grew faint with each passing moment,

my son was going to suffer and die.

“O God of our Fathers give me strength,” I prayed,

“To be by Jesus’ side,

this burden is too great to bear,

let your strength, in me, abide.”

The nails that pierce his hands, his feet,

the crown of thorns on his brow,

I cannot bear to look upon his cross, O God,

pray give me all his agony somehow.”

Even in his hour of testing,

he looked with deep affection into my eyes;

pointing to John he said, “from now on this is your son,”

then he gave up his spirit and died.

My tears, which flowed ceaselessly,

dried up as my spirit grew numb;

I went with others, to where they laid him,

in the garden, in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb.

The following day being the Sabbath,

I could not perform his burial rites, that day;

On the morning after, when I rushed to his tomb,

the stone to the entrance had been rolled away.

His body was missing, I saw angels,

“He is risen from the dead!” they declared,

My disbelief gave way to joy,

nothing could have prepared me for that day.

Luke 23; Mathew 27, Mark 15, John 18

Copyright (c) 2015, Pooja Chilukuri, Once There Was Jesus- The Greatest Stories Retold.

Pooja’s Story

I was a devout Hindu, a sincere God seeker, a dutiful follower of rituals and traditions and committed to raking up good karma for my next life. A series of miraculous events led me to Christianity. Constant prayers, following Bible principles and seeking after God’s will for my life characterized my Christian life. So far, so good. However, as my religious striving and commitment to my church leadership increased, my vision of Jesus slowly faded away into darkness. I felt deeply disconnected from God, resulting in a state of spiritual “bankruptcy”. Thus ended my Christian life. What (or who) followed next, was outside the scope of my wildest imagination. His name is Jesus. 

By making my very personal and private spiritual journey public through my memoir, And Then There Was Jesus, I want to reach out to all those who have been spiritually damaged in their soul and disillusioned by God. I believe that there are many today who are disappointed and deeply hurt by the God whom they have served in spiritually “toxic” religious groups. Many of us have given up on religion and therefore given up on God, but God has not given up on us. I know that because He did not give up on me. My story is also a love story- A love story that is not for me alone. I wrote this book to let you know that you too are loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3)

To read the book review, click here.

To purchase the book, click here.

Healthy Eating Made Easy-Nutrition 101

Healthy Eating Made Easy

The subject of healthy eating can get very complex, given the shift in dietary trends, and changing nutritional guidelines. Regardless of nutritional beliefs and dietary preferences, using the 5R rule can help make eating well simple and easy. The 5 Rs of eating well are as follows- Keep it Real; Reduce Exposure to Chemicals, Reduce Sugar Intake, Remove Trans Fats and Ramp up the Phytos.

Healthy Eating Rule #1- Keep it Real

Whole foods are nutrient dense foods from nature. These are foods whose nutritional value has not been diminished by refining or processing. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and minimally processed dairy, eggs and meat. It is best to consume animal products from animals who were free to roam on grass and exposed to sunshine as opposed to the ones raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO)

Processed foods lack the enzymes that are found in fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruit juice that has been pasteurized, and fortified with artificial Vitamin C is different from fruit juice from a fresh squeezed orange. Fresh squeezed juice retains not only the natural Vitamin C but also all the synergistic flavanoids needed for the proper absorption and assimilation of Vitamin C.  Processed foods are laden with chemicals and artificial ingredients along with added sugar and salt. These play a major role in contributing towards chronic illness such as Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Obesity.

Dr. Hyman has rightly observed- “Why do we believe that we can feed our bodies manufactured, nutrient depleted, food like substances, empty of all life and yet remain healthy? How did we come to believe that industrial chemicals and processing could replace what nature produces?”

Shopping at a Farmers Market, or the produce section of the grocery store will help keep most of your meal menu real.

Healthy Eating Rule #2- Reduce Chemical and Pesticide Exposure

The easiest way to eat well is to eat clean. Reduce processed, artificial, and chemical laden food-like substances and pesticide exposure. The complications of overly busy lifestyles tempt us towards convenience- the bait used by the food industry.  So, what can we do for those times when avoiding processed foods is not an option?

If we know what to look for, we can avoid the onslaught of chemicals commonly found in foods by becoming an avid label reader. Some brands are opting out of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives. The list of dirty dozen additives to avoid  has been published by the EWG and you can access it here-http://www.ewg.org/research/ewg-s-dirty-dozen-guide-food-additives#.WZgyMCiGO1s .

While grocery shopping, the simplest practice to adopt is to read the ingredient list always. Remember to avoid the food product if sugar is listed as one of the top three ingredients, if the ingredient list is long (more than three or four ingredients) and if it is hard to pronounce the ingredient names.

The best way to avoid high levels of pesticide exposure is to buy local, seasonal, and organic when possible. The dirty dozen produce list (published by EWG.org) are the ones with the highest levels of pesticide residue and are better purchased organic. The list for 2017 includes – Strawberries, apples, potatoes, grapes, nectarines, spinach, peaches, pears, cherries, celery, tomatoes, and hot peppers. For meats and dairy eggs choose organic or pasture raised as much as possible. Avoid processed meats which often contain nitrates and nitrites, which increase the risk for developing cancer.

Healthy Eating Rule #3- Remove or Reduce Sugar

Weight gain and insulin resistance, and other complications that arise from diabetes such as kidney failure, and blindness, can all be attributed to higher blood sugar levels. However, this is not the only problem that sugar poses. Did you know that post high sugar consumption, the immune system can remain depressed for up to 5 hours, making us more prone to infections?

Sugar can sneak in to our diets very easily. It turns out that condiments and sugary beverages-sodas and fruit juices are the major culprit. A can of soda alone (39g or ten tsp) exceeds the allowed dietary sugar intake per day (9 tsp for men and 6 tsp for women) for non-diabetic adults. Consider replacing sodas with kombucha drinks which are both fizzy and digestive tonic, loaded with gut friendly probiotics. Consider diluting fruit juices with water. If you have diabetes, please consider removing these completely or consult with your nutritionist for options. Always read all labels on cereals, breads and condiments and salad dressings, fruit yogurts-choosing <5grams per serving when possible. Avoid artificial sweeteners, although stevia and honey are ok to use sparingly.

Healthy Eating Rule #4- Remove Trans Fats

Trans fats aka partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils are commonly found in chips, cookies, fried and packaged foods. The FDA does not require trans-fat labels if the food contains less than 0.5gram/serving. Therefore, reading the ingredient list on packaged foods is important. Remove any foods from your kitchen cabinet that contains hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils- margarine and coffee creamers being the worst offenders.

According to a recent Harvard Health publication, “there never was any good evidence that using margarine instead of butter cut the chances of having a heart attack or developing heart disease. Making the switch was a well intentioned guess, given that margarine had less saturated fat than butter, but it overlooked the dangers of trans fats.” (https://www.health.harvard.edu/nutrition/butter-vs-margarine) Indeed, butter from grass fed cows, can be a very nutrient dense food. However, just like any other fat, portion control is always a good idea.

Extra virgin cold pressed olive oil is still the oil of choice for sautéing. For high temperature cooking coconut oil, grass fed cow butter, ghee, sesame oil, peanut oils and more recently avocado oil may be better choices.  It is best to avoid high temperature cooking, such as frying, as it produces free radicals which are agents of inflammation. Refined vegetable oils are also best avoided as they have not only been stripped of nutrition value but often produce higher levels of free radicals when heated.

Healthy Eating rule #5-Ramp up Phytos

Phytos also known as phytochemicals or phytonutrients are compounds found in plants that protect the plant from disease and have the same effect on humans when consumed. These compounds are key in fighting inflammation and are your single most ally in warding off disease and delaying degenerative ageing processes.

Phytos give fruits and vegetables their deep rich colors and these natural colors.  The easiest way to include these in your diet is to remember 3S- Salads, Smoothies and Spices. If you have diabetes, consuming fruit smoothies can cause a spike in sugar levels. Consider adding some fiber or healthy fats like nuts or flax or pumpkin seeds to your smoothies, along with greens and apples.

In Conclusion

“Every time you eat or drink, you are feeding disease or fighting it.” -Heather Morgan. The food we eat is intimately tied to the quality of our life and health. What is going to be at the end of your fork today?

An egg A Day- How to Read Egg Carton Labels

An Egg a Day and How To Decode Labels on the Carton

Barring any allergies, an egg can be a very nutritionally dense food. A recently published study, out of the University of Finland may bring some hope for egg-lovers. The study shows that an egg a day did not have a significant effect on blood cholesterol levels of genetically susceptible individuals. You can read the study byclicking here.

If you are on a egg-restricted diet, we suggest you check in with your physician, nutritionist or other healthcare provider. Otherwise, go ahead and enjoy this nutritionally dense food. If you are introducing this into your diet for the first time, do not forget to check with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure it does not interfere with your medications.

Egg Labels

When buying eggs, the labels on the cartons can be very confusing ranging from Farm Fresh to Cage Free to Free Range. Additional labels include All Natural, Organic, Certified Humane, Pasture-Raised and Pasteurized…the list goes on. There is an excellent article ion NPR.org breaking down the different labels and the details of what each one means.You can read it here.
So which one should you buy? My preference is to buy Organic or Certified Humane or Pasture-Raised (different from pasteurized) or better yet, from your  local Farmer’s Market. Many regular grocery stores (not just Whole Foods:)) carries these with prices anywhere from $4-$6/dozen. The extra$$ it costs to avoid the hormone/antiobiotic containing eggs from conventional brands,will pay for itself over time:) There is also the chance that you may fall for the taste of these “non-conventional/industrially raised” eggs. Who said healthy cannot be yummy? So enjoy that egg but know what you are getting.

Epigenetics- How Food Impacts Your DNA

What is Epigenetics?

Epigenetics is the study, in the field of genetics, of cellular and physiological phenotypic trait variations that are caused by external or environmental factors that switch genes on and off and affect how cells read genes instead of being caused by changes in the DNA sequence. (wikipedia)

How Does Food Impact your DNA?

Your DNA can be impacted by the food you eat. To find out more watch the video interview below with Dr. David Perlmutter, renowned neurologist.

What we put in our mouth can have a far greater impact than we realize.

Hope you enjoy this video. Another great resource to check out is the book, Pottengers Prophecy : How Food Resets Genes for Wellness or Illness by Gray Graham.

Cheers to healthy eating:)

NSAIDS and Your Heart

NSAIDS and Heart Attack Warning

NSAIDS can cause heart attacks. The FDA has recently strengthened its warning against ibuprofen/NSAIDS now stating that they indeed increase your chances of having a heart attack or stroke as opposed to their previous stand that it may cause the same.

Watch this Video to find out more!

What Can You Do?

If you suffer from chronic pain, please consult your physician to determine the lowest possible dosage for the shortest possible time. These medications are common over the counter but need to be taken with caution and discretion. Using other wellness modalities like nutrition, exercise, acupuncture etc can also help reduce chronic pain flare ups.

In general always consider using at least two lifestyle modifications for every pill that you take. This will help cut back on how many pills you need and lower your medical costs as well. You can refer to my blog post on pills and skills. Always work closely with your doctor when it comes to medications!!

 

 

 

Calories or chemicals

Are you counting Calories or Chemicals? As health conscious individuals, we have been conditioned to count calories only, but are we paying attention to chemicals that are sabotaging our health and well-being?

Among other issues, food additives have been linked to obesity, digestive problems, ADD and cancer. How many of us are paying attention to food labels, ingredients lists?

I am not a fan of processed foods and would advocate never eating anything for which you have to read the label but there are times that we may need to (not a perfect world, right?) The busy holiday season is a perfect example.  Even with the best of planning and cooking, we may be tempted to grab some stuff “out of a box” or buy precooked thanksgiving/ Christmas meals. It is for those times we need to be armed with education to make the right decision. When preparing your own meals, for fruits and veggies choose, locals, seasonal and organic as much as possible. For meats choose pasture raised, organic when possible.

For any “food like” food out of a box please make sure to read labels and choose the brands with the shortest possible list and ingredient names you can pronounce.

How to Lose Weight in 5 Simple Steps

Do you want to learn how to lose weight and keep it off? Have you starved yourself, lost some weight and then gained it all back? Tried yo-yo dieting and failed? Are you tired of counting calories? What about trying a bunch of different types diets and then plateaued? Although some of these diets work well for some people, when it comes to weight loss, there is NO magic bullet that can substitute for a healthy lifestyle.

In this post I will show you how to lose weight in 5 Simple Steps   using a holistic approach to weight loss that also brings the additional benefit of overall health and well-being.

  1. Avoid Processed Foods and Eat WHOLE Foods

The chemicals and additives in processed foods add up quickly. These toxins if not eliminated successfully, are stored in fat cells leading to weight gain. High fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners like aspartame (found in diet foods and drinks) found in many processed foods, also contributes to weight gain. You can click here to read about HFCS and its associated risks and link to obesity and diabetes. The surest way to gain weight is to rely on fast foods and convenient foods even if you are counting calories. The chemical additives are enough to make you gain weight and to create a cycle of constant eating (some of these chemicals keep us from satiating creating a constant feeling of hunger). Avoiding processed foods is possible with the help of meal planning. You can read about it in my blog post here. If you need additional help with meal planning you may also contact us at info@paushanik.com

 

  1. Avoid Sodas and Fruit Juices and Hydrate Yourself

Ensure proper hydration by drinking clean filtered water not from a plastic container, if possible We need to drink at least half (in oz) our body weight (in lbs.). Although drinking water is good for you, do not over do this. Some people have been known to actually dehydrate from drinking too much water (it affects your body’s electrolyte balance). Chugging down your daily quota of water intake at one time is not going to help either. Sip it throughout the day.

Avoiding plastic containers will also reduce your exposure to BPA which has also been implicated in weight gain. Avoid sodas and packaged fruit juices both of which lead to huge insulin spikes which result in subsequent weight gain. A can of soda contains ~39g of sugar. The allowed amount of sugar per day by the World Health Organization is less than 25g. A can of soda is almost double that and results in huge insulin spikes. Additional contribution to both obesity and diabetes from the High Fructose Corn Syrup, often used to sweeten sodas, does not help. Ditch the soda! Try to drink water flavored with organic berries instead. Many people are taking to Kombucha and sparkling water to help control their cravings for soda. I like to drink water with lemon instead of soda. If you cannot drink plain water, try these for now. Whatever you do, ditch that soda! Properly hydrating is key to controlling sugar cravings that contribute to excess calories and insulin spikes.

 

  1. Balance Your Blood Sugars

Eat Low on the Glycemic Index (http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/healthy-diet-is-glycemic-index-the-key)- avoiding foods that are high on glycemic index will help control insulin spikes that lead to both diabetes and obesity. The Harvard Medical School lists the GI for most common fruits, veggies and other foods. You can click here to find out more.

  1. Eat Healthy Fats and Avoid Low Fat and Trans Fats

Eat healthy fats like organic grass fed butter, coconut oil, avocados, organic extra virgin cold pressed olive oil, walnuts and almonds and other organic nuts and seeds like flax seed and wild caught salmon (omega 3). Low fat foods are laden with sugar and in fact contribute to weight gain. Avoid cooking with vegetable oils which turn into trans- fats upon heating. Even packaged foods that say zero trans fats have at least 0.5 g or less trans fats per serving. An excellent resource on how healthy fats promote weight loss is the book by Ann Louise Gittleman, “Eat Fat Lost Weight” and the “Fat Flush Plan”. Healthy fats help satiate and chewing your food well has the same effect-optimizes digestion to provide proper nutrient absorption which has a role in controlling cravings and hunger (among other benefits, I can do an entire blog post on the benefits of chewing your food). For our weight loss purposes, properly chewing is a helpful tool. At least 30 chews per bite but at least do half of that!

  1. Sleep, Relax and Exercise

Don’t forget the importance of adequate sleep and exercise and to keep stress at bay. The stress hormone cortisol can pile on belly fat. Meditating and praying, deep breathing, journaling, talking to your best friend, going on nature walks will all help reduce stress.

All the above lifestyle changes will provide your body with all the raw materials it needs to keep you healthy and at an optimum weight. Skinny is not healthy either. You can find our the % body fat that is optimum for healthy individuals by accessing this comprehensive guide from Sports Fitness Advisor by clicking here.

Ideally the waist circumference should measure <40inches for men and <35 inches for women.

Most of us can benefit from following the above lifestyle recommendations. Some people will notice a huge difference just from giving up the sodas and sugary snacks alone. Because of our unique individual body types, some people may see results in as little as a week where others of us may not get past the point that we would like to overcome in our weight loss journey. If you feel like you have put your best foot forward and are not seeing the results you want, it may be time to consult with a practitioner that can guide you better. Often times, there are hormonal imbalances that need to be addressed. However, there is no substitute for a adopting a healthy lifestyle. It can only help!

If you need additional help with implementing these lifestyle skills, do not hesitate to contact us at (919) 964-0363 or e-mail us at (info@paushanik.com). We will be happy to serve you by tailoring out health coaching to best meet your needs.

I would love to hear your thoughts, any additional tips you have to share! Let us know how these suggestions work out for you!

Cholesterol and Statin Drugs

If you are on statin drugs for lowering cholesterol, it may behoove you to consider supplementation with CoQ10 according to a recent research study. You can click here to read more. This study describes How Statin drugs stimulate atherosclerosis. The FDA has also expanded advice on statin risks. Also, while considering supplements, pay attention to quality. The list of inactive ingredients often contain colors and dyes as well as preservatives (especially questionable is the polysorbate class of additives which are probable carcinogen). Steer clear of these.

Given the risks associated with these drugs and the fact that high cholesterol levels are often due to lifestyle factors, it makes sense to commit ourselves to a lifestyle that supports healthy cholesterol levels. If you are on these medications, please consider implementing the following “skills” to help reduce your need for these statin drugs.

-a diet rich in fiber and low in sugars ( ironically “low fat” foods are often laden with sugar)

-eat whole foods which are as close to nature as possible. Eat organic when possible. You can get a “Guide to buying organic fruits and vegetables” by either entering your e-mail on our home page, optin section or from the Environmental Working Group.

-quit smoking and avoid second hand smoke

-replace vegetable oils with healthier alternatives like organic extra virgin olive oil for sauteing. Avoid fried foods altogether.

-avoid processed foods and fast foods

-exercise

-stress reduction through whatever strategy works best for you-meditation, journalling, sitting or walking in nature, spending time with your best friend etc.

If you are on statin drugs, please do NOT simply quit cold turkey. You must work with your physician as you begin to modify your lifestyle and have your cholesterol levels checked periodically (you and your physician can determine how often). Let your physician adjust your dosage as they deem fit. Your part is to commit to a healthier lifestyle and work closely with your physician.

Any lifestyle modifications, when consistently followed, may lead to reduction (or elimination) of your medication.

Invest in self care and which has the wonderful side effect of lower medical bills and a improved quality of life.

 

 

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