Let’s be honest. When we think about eating healthy, we think about diets. We think about people restricting themselves and hardly eating anything (or at least anything that tastes good) that way they can lose some weight. Then, when they hit their goal weight, they can stop dieting. Except, well, when you start eating all those foods you used to eat, you gain the weight back. I read a crazy statistic the other day that said 95% of people that diet never lose any weight at all, and 95% of the 5% that do, they gain it back later. If that’s true, that means 0.25% of people that diet lose weight and keep it off. You want more statistics? Okay, here we go. According to the CDC: 69% of adults in America are overweight (age 20+ and including obesity), 35% of adults in America are obese, and more than 1/3 of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. AND, this spike in obesity is all just within the last 20-40 years. Wait, what? You mean people weren’t always like this? Nope, they weren’t. And it’s more than just “we’re eating too much and not moving enough”. . . but more on that later.
According to the statistics, we’re not taking care of our bodies. We might go on a diet, but only because we care about how we look. And those statistics are just numbers on big people, what about the little people that fill their bodies with crap all day long? This is more than just needing to go on a diet. This is more than just weight and how we look. Honestly, those are the last things that matter. Being healthy is a lifestyle, not something you do just to drop a few pounds, and it matters. Why does it matter? Here is my list of priorities:
#1: We should bring glory to God in all things, including how we take care of our bodies.
There are some Christians that will get all fired up about tattoos and drugs and other addictions and you can’t do this and that because our bodies are temples (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), but not think once about the additions they have to the food they eat or how what they put in their bodies is affecting their insides or the fact that they haven’t even gone for a real walk in who knows how many years let alone gotten in other types of exercise. Smoking is not worse than eating fast food every week (day, hour, who knows with some people) or pouring acid . . . I mean soda . . . down your throat everyday. Either way, you’re not taking care of your temple, you’re not taking care of the wonderful gift that is your body, and you’re not honoring God. Abusing His gifts is the definition of sin.
#2: We can’t effectively love and serve other people if our bodies are not up to the task.
First, for those who are married and/or have kids . . . do you include eating healthy and exercising on your list of ways you can love your spouse or your children? If it’s not on that list, it should be. To me, taking care of yourself in this way is one of the most loving things you can do for your spouse and your kids. You’re preventing disease, potentially increasing your lifespan, lowering medical bills, taking care of your family’s health by feeding them healthy meals, and keeping active that way your family can continue to spend quality time together in fun and exciting ways. For parents, you’re leading by example and teaching your kids healthy habits that they will hopefully remember and practice throughout their lifetime as well. If you don’t have kids yet but you’re pregnant or want to get pregnant, you are loving your baby/future baby by eating healthy and exercising so: the baby already in your body can be born as healthy as possible; or to prepare your body and increase fertility so you are able to bring a healthy baby into the world. Even if you’re not married and don’t have kids, you are loving your future spouse and future kids by practicing healthy habits now, as well as loving your family and friends by taking care of yourself. More than all of that, we can better love and serve all people better, those we know and have yet to meet, if our bodies are able to get to all the places we need to get to and not be tied down by feeling sick, tired, lethargic, and without energy, or because we suffer from a disease. If you think Satan won’t use that, think again . . . he totally will.
#3: We will feel better, and be happier and more productive.
Obeying God always brings joy, doesn’t it? Joy despite circumstances. While this usually has to do with your mindset, it’s connected to the physical as well. Taking care of our bodies is something God tells us to do, and when we do it, we feel it. Eating healthy and exercising gives us more energy and lots of endorphins, which means we’re not falling asleep in the middle of the day and we just feel happier and positive and more excited about what lies ahead of us. When we eat bad things and don’t exercise, however, we are less likely to feel these things. A poor diet and lack of exercise are actually connected to depression (see http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120330081352.htm, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/inflammatory-dietary-pattern-linked-to-depression-among-women/, http://www.thebetterhealthstore.com/Newsletter/060112_Junk-and-Processed-Food-Linked-to-Depression_06.asp, and http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/07/11/7-foods-that-may-contribute-to-your-depression/), as well as many other diseases. This means diet alone can cure many things that are wrong with people today. (Note: most people don’t realize how awful they feel everyday until they start eating good things and can then feel the difference — don’t settle for “I feel fine”). We’ll also be able to complete our day to day tasks better, which is pleasing to God as well (Colossians 3:23).
#4: Yes… how we look.
This is really just a bonus, but eating healthy and exercising will also give us the body we want. If you suffer from acne, it can clear that up too.
If you’re a Christian, this means you should really care about your health just based on #1, not to mention the others. But even if you’re not a Christian, you should still care about loving and serving your family, how productive you are, how you feel, and how you look.
If you still think it’s not that big of a deal, well, the only way to convince you that it matters and makes a difference would be to show you. I challenge you: cut out processed foods and sugary things and anything that comes in boxes and packages. Eat real food, meaning meat (preferably grass-fed, free-range, etc.) , vegetables and fruits (preferably organic), nuts, and healthy fats. Throw in some healthy grains and starches if you must but only a very small amount (since they can be very problematic… more on that later), as well as a small amount of dairy. Do this for 30 days, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
*A note on how we look*
American culture is talking about body image a lot these days, mostly in reference to young girls and women, though of course not limited to the female gender. While this is clearly an important topic, I think it gets pushed in the wrong direction sometimes. Yes, young girls need to taught to love their bodies the way God made them. Some are short, some are tall, some are thin and some are curvy, and all are beautiful. But God did not intend for us to be unhealthy or overweight or obese. None of us were born overweight or obese. Yes, YES, God loves you and you are beautiful in His eyes no matter what, and yes, YES, love your body . . . but for those that are unhealthy or overweight or obese, loving your body is not saying “well, this is just the way it is . . . this is the way I was made”. No! LOVE your body and TAKE CARE of your body, of the gift God has given you. Your weight and your size and the way you look do not matter, but your health does. This is where much of what is said on body image falls short. Love your body and don’t wish for someone else’s, but make it the best body it can be. You can love your body and change your body at the same time.
Here is a great article that talks about loving your body: