“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8
Anything that the Bible says “is of some value” is worthwhile. Also, physical training (which includes a healthy lifestyle) will affect “the life to come” because an unhealthy body takes time, money, energy and perhaps desire away from spreading the gospel.
The most important thing we can do for a healthy body is love and serve Jesus:
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:7-8
“My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.” Proverbs 4:20-22
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22
Eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising are important. Following is my story of pursuing health:
I grew up in Northfield, Minnesota, USA. In 10th grade English we had to read a book from several different categories, one of which was science. I asked the teacher to help me find a science book. She asked if I would be interested in science fiction. When I said no, she directed me to a whole section of nonfiction science books. One of the first books I looked at was on health. That looked interesting so I began to read.
I read that sugar was harmful to the teeth and was a factor in diabetes. That was the first time I had heard this, and it really made an impression on me. I hated going to the dentist having many cavities. My grandmother on my father’s side and great grandmother on my mother’s side had both lost a leg because of diabetes. I later learned that my grandmother on my mother’s side had diabetes, but could control it by limiting sugar. My mother cut the sugar in recipes in half.
I started to change my eating habits. I stopped having sugar on my cereal and grapefruit. My mother had various places for foods – crackers, cookies, candy, fruit, etc. and we could usually serve ourselves for snacks. Before shopping she would see what food group was low and buy more. It was easy for me to switch from cookies to fruit, for instance. We ate fairly well at home having a large garden, but also many processed foods. I remember my mother being excited because homogenized milk was available (now I only drink raw milk or a milk substitute). We had mainly unhealthy foods for birthdays and holidays like most other families.
I wrote my term paper on “The Proper Diet”. Maybe not the most imaginative title, but it was research which I wanted for myself.
Even before that time I started walking the 2 ½ miles to school instead of taking the bus. I also walked home and had a three mile paper route. At that time girls didn’t have paper routes, but this one ws officially my brother’s (I also played boy’s basketball after school with other girls who weren’t satisfied with the modified girl’s basketball). Every Wednesday I walked 3 miles back in to the other side of town for ballet lessons and home again. I walked more in the summer.
During the next several years I didn’t learn much about nutrition. During that time I had a brain tumor which left me blind in my right eye and deaf in my right ear. I took tap dancing in order to regain my coordination on my right side. As far as I can remember I ate fairly well.
At one time when my husband Jim and I lived in Toronto, Canada we had little money. I tried to buy the least expensive food, buying cans of beans and fruit on sale. I was sick at one time, (realizing later it was mostly because of a weakened immune system due to lack of nutrition). Jim’s cousin pointed out reading labels on food – the most prominent ingredient is listed first, the second is listed second, etc. I realized the fruit I was buying was in a heavy sugar syrup!
Later, after our son Scott was born, I started reading books about nutrition such as Sugar Blues by William Duffy. I devoured them for several months and came to the conclusion I was not giving our children any sweet sugary food so their taste. When there was opposition to my decision, I reread some of the books before reaching a firm conclusion so stick to my course.
It is one thing to eat entirely healthy yourself and another thing to have your children do so. First, the local grocery store was giving candy to children. I said no thank you, I didn’t want my children eating candy, just like I had said no thank you to some company giving out cigarettes in college.
There was family. On my side, they wanted to please me but were puzzled that I didn’t want my former favorite foods given to my children. On Jim side, his mother was especially concerned when I didn’t want them to eat much salt, but after doing some research herself she cut down on the salt for Jim dad’s health, She gave oranges to the children as a treat at least when I was there. Jim’s grandmother insisted Scott and Jill needed some sugar and gave them sugar cookies. I let them eat them while we were there (which wasn’t often) but threw away those she gave us to take home.
Then there was Jim. He thought it was great the children weren’t having sweets, but he wanted the sugar bowl on the table for himself. Also, I had to make cookies for him without wheat germ and whole wheat flour. I made some for him and some for me and noticed when his were gone he started on mine. I prayed that he would change his mind before Scott was old enough to be influenced. He did! He read an article on fiber and changed his way of eating. In fact, at one time hot dogs were on sale. I was in conflict because we didn’t have much variety and needed something fast and easy, but they contained sodium nitrate. I asked Jim’s opinion and he said to buy them. Later he researched sodium nitrate and told me to throw them away!
We moved from Montreal and rented a small farm in Nova Scotia. I milked a cow (unfortunately Scott and Jill didn’t like the milk) and later we had our own meat. We had vegetables from our garden and from Jim’s parents and brother who raised apples and vegetables. We lived six miles from town and seldom went to a store, although Jim work was in a larger town twelve miles away so he bought feed for our cattle and could buy other things.
At Jim’s brother’s wedding there were all kinds of delicious nutritious choices, but Jill (3 or 4 years old) wanted some candy. I told her no and tried to convince her to eat one of the many other foods. We argued about it awhile, then I thought, “I am the mother”, so I just said no and walked away. I visited with someone else glancing to see what Jill would do. Suddenly I didn’t see her. Then she was hugging me around the leg. She had made up her mind to obey.
At church, usually they didn’t have the same nutritious choice. I offered to bring the snacks for the Sunday School and worked hard finding nutritious delicious snacks. Our church improved, hopefully I helped influence them.
It was encouraging that Jim’s cousin and his wife were also “health nuts”. I was a leader with La Leche League and their statement on nutrition has been our guideline “Eat a variety of foods in as natural a state as possible”.
Later, we moved into town. We said Scott and Jill couldn’t buy junk food (or ungodly books, music, magazines, etc.) with their allowance and they didn’t (perhaps occasionally they did when we didn’t know).
People had said that if we were too strict our children would rebel. I listened to a tape from La Leche League after my children were grown – make only rules that keep your children from being affected negatively physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually. That’s what I had done. Jill once said when she was in her later teens, “Mom, you don’t have more rules than any other parents, just different ones.”
Thankfully, Scott and Jill have written and mentioned often how much they appreciate the way they were raised. They eat well now and have influenced their spouses and children (our grandchildren) to do so. They don’t have the same standards as I do, not even Jim does, but they are good. I won’t eat anything that I know isn’t good for me (but sometimes I do eat too much of a good thing).
After I had a mini-stroke in June 2004 I have become even more health conscious, doing research and eating organically when possible.
I am constantly learning and changing. Thank God for the internet. Thank God for many other blessings – we have our own meat and my neighbor and I order bulk items, many of them organic. I have a small garden and can buy from her because she sells produce from her organic garden. I also order some items from iherb.
Jim and I run a summer Bible camp and try to plan nutritious meals, although not organic because of the expense, I want to live the fullest life I can, influence others for good and not die because of my own foolishness, although ultimately we die when God has ordained:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31 (See Luke 12:6-7)