Developing a Healthier Lifestyle
by Rebecca Mueller, MS, RD
Genesis 1:31 tells us that, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” As we leap into another year and experience a fresh start to the calendar, Scripture provides us with an abundance of simple truths that remind us where we came from, what we are created for, and how we have been knit together.
Likewise, our culture offers a plethora of literature commonly known as “self-help.” The self-help book industry grossed an estimated $600 million last year alone. It’s fueled by a continual strong interest in diet books. A lot of these books are sold in the month of January, because many people are still focusing on their New Year’s resolutions.
To stay informed, I read through some popular “self-help” books. I noticed a common theme. Many of them are rooted in the concept of finding happiness. One particular book began with a touching testimony about a woman’s struggle with emotional eating and her battle to overcome this health challenge in her own power. By the end of her gripping story, she noted that it takes consistent effort to live a good & meaningful life. Most of us can’t bring about change alone. If we could, all we would require is a simple set of rules - a law perhaps? Sound familiar?
By our nature we struggle when we live by a list of rules. Exercise and dietary rules have been around since the beginning of time, but they have not made us a healthier society. One possible reason might be because so much of what we do and consume is wrapped up in our relationships. Well-known Christian author and counselor, Gary Smalley, wrote a book called Food and Love. In the book he outlines the connection between food, relationships, and physical and emotional health. As he draws the link between each of the four traits, he shows how a positive or negative cycle can be formed from our food and exercise habits. God created it this way! He desires to protect us and keep us healthy for His good work.
Our lifestyle choices are left in our hands, and a majority of these choices are influenced by our relationships. We can set ourselves up for success when it comes to healthy eating by intentionally consuming fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and healthy snacks. We can also accomplish this by setting aside time for activity – ideally with a friend, family member, or pet. As often as possible we should challenge ourselves to get caught in the “positive cycle” of healthy living.
Some of you may be trying to do that already, but it’s difficult to find time to cook and exercise, and buying healthy foods can be more expensive. Time and money are the two most common barriers when it comes to a healthier lifestyle. So how do we go beyond that? First, pray. Remember, God created us with a need for food and movement. Call upon God in the day of trouble. Next, schedule time for meal preparation and physical activity because God is honored when we care for His temple, our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19).
When shopping on a tight budget, outline exactly how much money you have to spend on groceries. Then, seek out a list of seasonal produce. This will help you stay informed of the most cost-effective fresh foods. Consuming fresh non-processed meals is best, but not always convenient. If you are on a time and budget crunch, explore frozen fresh vegetables and fruit blends. Canned fruits and vegetables (in their own juice) are also a cost conscious healthy option. I firmly believe that if someone has a desire to eat healthy it can happen on any budget.
Each year is an opportunity to start fresh, as is each day (Psalm 118). So start your day with the Lord and a healthy breakfast!