Many people today hold to a form of the ancient teaching of Gnosticism. They believe the soul has great significance while the body is merely a useless vessel to be used or abused. But as Christians we see that there is much greater unity than this. To care for the body is to care for the soul. (Tim Challies)
Tim Challies has written a great article about the need for maintaining our health. He echos many of my long-held practices. After all, our bodies are a temple, and we have fellowship with God in a personal way (1Jn. 2.27). Living healthy will give more energy and boost immunity to environmental pathogens.
I want to give readers some tips on how to better maintain their bodies which God uses to accomplish His purposes of spreading the gospel of Christ’s love.
First, healthy eating takes priority since the body needs to be well-nourished. All functioning results from input and digestion of food. A balanced diet which is carefully planned and prepared is a solid beginning supporting all the other body processes. Physical activities are best performed when fueled adequately. Top athletes usually have a carefully designed diet as part their training. Also, the immune function which keeps infection and illness to a minimum derives directly from a sustained period of healthy eating.
Second, beware of using food as an emotional crutch (comfort food). Admittedly, eating consoles, but try not to “eat your nerves” (indulgence when uncomfortable around others).
Third, reserve going to restaurants for special occasions. Learning how to prepare foods will save money and, for the most part, will nourish you better. Think in a longer time-frame and invest in preparation utensils and your performance will increase by eating healthy foods.
Also, minimize most processed foods and start with basic or whole ingredients. Virtually all processed foods have hidden ingredients that limit performance: too much salt, refined sugar or corn syrup, and too much oil. These three ingredients are in a solution when combined with foods and not always obvious and often imbalanced. These three ingredients are all needed (salt, sweetener, and a good oil).
Use sea salt (Kosher Salt is a coarse grained sea salt and can be crushed by the fingers). Season to taste. Many processed foods are over-seasoned and will cause excessive thirst which wastes time and decreases performance.
For sweeteners, use honey or raisins (I buy raisins in bulk). Fruit, whether dried or fresh, supplies sugars also. Blackstrap molasses can be a good addition in some recipes such as homemade bread, which is very easy to make.
Extra-virgin olive oil is an inexpensive fat if bought in larger quantities. Only fats can supply certain nutrients and are necessary in regulated amounts daily. Other high quality fats can also be very nutritious but freshness and provenance need to be considered. Additionally, plastic and glass containers are usually best, but these should be stored away from light sources if the oil is not used immediately.
These ingredients and may cost more initially but they are actually much more cost effective when everything is considered such as improved health and performance. Processed foods, in the long run, are more expensive than preparing from good basic components.
Fourth, use good products. Additionally, buy spices in bulk from a health food store instead of the little jars which can degraded from light exposure. I buy spices by the pound in sealed foil pouches. Use brown rice, wheat berries, sweet and regular whole potatoes as starches for energy.
Frozen vegetables are very healthy and are washed, cut, and generally frozen right after harvest. Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually more nutritious than fresh if these fresh items have been overly handled, improperly stored, or old. Frozen foods save time and are at hand when needed.
Buy dry beans and lentils from a source with good product turnover. Dry beans should sprout as should wheat berries. If they sprout then you can be assured that all the nutrients are still present in the item. Processed foods, mostly, have added vitamins to replace what was lost. Why not have the original living food at hand and prepare closer to the time of consumption? God created seeds and grains with wonderful storage capabilities to sustain life.
This last point of sproutable grains was recommended in a book about keeping pet birds. The living whole grains, by nature, store all the original nutrients. I thought, if this is a good idea for keeping pet birds healthy, what about humans?
Fifth, reduce intake of meat, cheese, and eggs and use a freshly ground organic peanut butter and yogurt. I grind peanuts from the health food store. This is not like other peanut butter and tastes milder and is simply delicious. It will also need to be stored in the refrigerator to prevent rancidity. To make it even more palatable add your own salt to taste (or soy sauce), a little sesame oil for ease of spreading (or olive oil), and honey to taste if using as a dessert. Nuts also should be stored in the freezer or refrigerator to avoid them going rancid. You will need to find sources selling fresh nuts or a store with high turnover when buying packaged nuts. Some big box retailers actually serve very well in this regard.
Finally, manage stress levels and rest well. Maintaining good dental health has been shown to allow better performance of the whole body. Allow adequate recovery time after workouts. Eat slower and chew your food thoroughly. Take breaks, meditate and maintain good posture and breathe. All of these activities can be done without yoga and are just natural. Yoga is not needed and anyone can do these activities without the slightest mysticism. These activities help our emotional state and in turn our physical bodies. The end result is not ultimately about us but we are blessed in turn and glorify God who created our bodies and everything else.