All Made of Hinges
By Carolyn Allen


As we sat at the feet of President Monson, his newly organized Presidency and the other general authorities this past weekend, did you find personal guidance in the conference messages? Were you able to hear the whisperings to encourage you to take proper care of yourself to build the strength needed to better serve the Lord and those within your realm of influence?

To me, one of President Monson’s true gifts is the ability to lay wide the paths of exaltation through his simple stories, remembrances and little checklists. His words and voice create a glowing power that act like a key turning the ignition of my own desires for increased righteousness and personal strength.

For each of us, whether we’re battling our weight or other carnal temptations, a goodly portion of that personal strength and power comes through mastering our physical appetites. The connection between strengthening our spirits as we strengthen our bodies through resisting unhealthy healthy choices is always a complete and continuous circuit.

Today’s Quote : “It has been said that the gate of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives. The choices we make determine our destiny.” (President Thomas S. Monson to BYU Students, 6 November 2005)

I am the Sunbeam teacher in our ward. One of our favorite wiggle songs is “Hinges.” If you don’t know this one, the children stand up and bend their heads, elbows, knees, as they sing:


I’m all made of hinges cause everything bends
From the top of my head, way down to my ends
I’m hinges in front and I’m hinges in back
And I have to be hinges or else I would CRACK!
Primary Song Book
Page 277


For those of us reading this column, healthy living is all about flexibly finding satisfying alternatives as we “eat to live rather than live to eat” so that we won’t CRACK! These alternatives are literally the hinges that open the doors to a healthy weight.


hingeThere’s no doubt how important hinges are to this door.

Perhaps today’s thoughts will provide some healthy hinges for the next time you go to the movies: It’s critical that you don’t arrive at the theatre hungry! People don’t make smart choices when they’re hungry.

On a recent Saturday we headed off to the theatre and got away without filling what my children call “Mom’s Saddle Bag.” I bought it years ago at a thrift shop. It’s a very large leather official looking “purse” that no ticket-taker would dream of looking into that we use just for the movies. I fill it with:


  • Sugarless gum,
  • Tootsie pops,
  • Water bottles or small juice boxes
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Crunchy baby carrots in a zip-lock bag

Others I know include a pair of disposable plastic gloves to help them keep their hands out of other people’s popcorn. It’s also enormously satisfying to focus on the pleasure of holding hands with your sweetheart at the movies, instead of using them to eat.

On this particular Saturday we had hoped to stop at a little market to buy a few lo-cal healthy treats for the saddle bag, but a traffic snarl made us late. We decided to be brave and do the movie snack-less.

You’ll be pleased to hear we got along just fine. Imagine! We proved for ourselves and our posterity, it IS possible to thoroughly enjoy a movie without food in your mouth. The movie itself ( Enchanted – so good!) was treat enough. We bought our snack at the market afterwards and enjoyed it much more when we could really concentrate on it.

The little store also offered “nostalgic” candy and gum. Bob’s dad had always bought him “Black Jack” – remember? The licorice flavored one? I bought it for later and it got me through a bad stretch of the munchies later in the day. Such a fun 8-calorie treat!

Are you a gum chewer? If not, you may become one after reading this:

According to a research study done by Mayo Clinic, you can burn calories by chewing gum! Chewing sugarless gum at 100 chews per minute burns an extra 11 calories per hour. That’s not that much, but if you like to chew gum anyway, why not use this freebie calorie burner.

If you chew sugarless gum 2 hours per day, every single day of the year, you will burn a total of 8032 extra calories per year. This translates into a weight loss of 2.3 lbs – just by chewing gum! Who would have thought?

If this seems a little silly and far fetched, maybe the following won’t:

  • Chew gum to fight the impulse to snack as the result of stress or boredom
  • Enjoy a low-calorie piece of gum instead of a high-calorie snack
  • Chew new and different flavors of gum to fight the craving for a sweet snack
  • Chew gum while cooking to avoid snacking on the meal you are preparing.

And when was the last time you were able to enjoy chips, candy, cookies, donuts, bread or anything carb-y with gum in your mouth? That’s right – never.

Though these things seem small, they add up and they are the decisions that, as President Monson says, determine destiny – perhaps not of one’s eternal life, but definitely that of your health and weight.

In another one of President Monson’s memorable address he says:


How fragile life, how certain death. We do not know when we will be required to leave this mortal existence. And so I ask, “What are we doing with today?” If we live only for tomorrow, we’ll have a lot of empty yesterdays today. Have we been guilty of declaring, “I’ve been thinking about making some course corrections in my life. I plan to take the first step-tomorrow”? With such thinking, tomorrow is forever. Such tomorrows rarely come unless we do something about them today (Thomas S. Monson, “Now Is the Time,” Ensign , Nov 2001, 59).


With those thoughts, it’s time to see smart eating as hinges that open wide the doors to eternity and sing:


There are chances for HEALTH all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, “Sometime I’ll try,”
But go and do something today.


Today’s Empowerment: “I do not need food in my mouth to enjoy life around me. I find substitutes so that I am not eating more than I need to.”

Today’s Recipe: Bob’s Barley Soup

My wonderful husband very much enjoys meatless dishes. Here’s a good one.

Bob’s Barley Soup
(Serves 4 at 170 Calories)


  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup medium-size barley
  • Dash of black pepper


Place all ingredients in a Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Lower to a gentle bubble. Partially cover and let simmer for 30-40 minutes until the barley is done.

(3 g Dietary Fiber; 170 Calories; 1 g Fat; 37 g Carb)

Optional: Substitute celery or zucchini for the carrots.


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