Food for Thought, Day One
Monday, August 26th
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NRSV)
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.
Paul wrote these verses to encourage sexual purity among the Corinthians, but when we regard our bodies as precious gifts from God and temples of the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t we honor and care for them in all ways? We are called to be good stewards of this earth and all that God has made- including our physical bodies. When we care for our health, we honor God and what God has generously given us, but we also receive benefits for ourselves! We enable ourselves to live each day with greater wellness, efficiency, stamina, gratitude and joy.
The idea about blogging about self care came from several sources. In recent months several Facebook friends are dieting, exercising, and graciously sharing their journeys. It has been exciting to witness their successes and notice how they are inspiring others. Also, I am listening to an audio book, UnDo It, by Dean (M.D.) and Anne Ornish. I have been fascinated by the different studies that show so many benefits of healthy eating. Our diets affect our personal health and even the health of the world. I share a personal example at the end of today’s blog.
Another reason for this blog is that I have discovered the joys of eating well and caring for my body since my time with cancer four years ago. I cannot know with certainty if a healthier diet regimen is the reason I am still cancer-free, but this I DO know: I feel so much healthier, my quality of life is better, and even if my cancer should one day return, I am grateful to have enjoyed this new way of living. My digestive tract has especially benefited with increased regularity and less gas or bloating. (My family is grateful. 😀 ) But I also feel more energetic, more appreciative of my food, and more mindful of what I am consuming. This sense of gratitude is also beneficial for health!
If you’re interested in changing your diet, I encourage you to read books on diet and health to find a good fit for you. (My particular diet is at the end of this blog.) Changing our diets and ways of living can be difficult! Here are some things I learned along the way that I hope will encourage and help you.
~Understand that beginning is the hardest part. The initial start-up purchases and preparations, the feelings of self-pity and sacrifice, and the lack of immediate results are challenging hurdles. But you will find it gets easier as you keep going! Your regimen will eventually become your natural way of being, especially when you begin to see and feel results.
~Some suggest that we begin gradually, cutting out unhealthy choices a little at a time. This is better than doing nothing, but I suggest doing as much of your healthy diet plan as possible so you feel the benefits sooner. Tell yourself that you will consistently and thoroughly follow a plan for just a few weeks or a month, so that you won’t feel so overwhelmed. By the end of that time, you will most likely want to keep going!
~Initially feeling sorry for ourselves is natural. When I decided to change my diet with the hope of staying cancer-free, I wrestled with the idea that if my cancer returned, I would regret not enjoying myself with all of my favorite treats. Over time, I have discovered that the enjoyment I feel in nourishing my body with nutritious foods is greater than the joy of a temporary taste. There is a spiritual and physical joy in tending my body that blesses me so much.
~Consider saturation points. How much of a good thing do we really need in order to be satisfied? How much joy does each additional bite bring? Keep paring down portions. One bite of a sweet treat can be mindfully relished, savored and appreciated, perhaps even more than a larger portion.
We generally focus on our souls, spirits and minds when we think of our spirituality. And yet, our holiness includes our whole selves- our “wholiness” as I have seen it described. If you have been longing to make some healthful changes, I hope you find encouragement today. (Please be sure to check with your doctor before making big changes.)
See you tomorrow!
~Here is one personal example of how healthy food benefits us. After my chemotherapy regimen, I was given infusions of Avastin for about nine months. I don’t understand all of the science, but Avastin helps prevent cancer cells from creating new blood vessels which feed tumors. One of the side effects of Avastin is high blood pressure. (One of my chemotherapy friends was hospitalized because hers was so high.) Interestingly, I didn’t have the high blood pressure until a few months after I had finished. I went to the hospital with terrible headaches and was treated with blood pressure medicine for a few months. Once the Avastin cleared my system, my blood pressure dropped to its normal (low) reading.
The Ornishes write that antioxidants work much the same way as Avastin! Foods high in antioxidants work to prevent cancer cells from creating new blood vessels. I was nervous about stopping the Avastin, but now I know I am “continuing treatment” by eating strawberries, blueberries and other colorful fruits and vegetables. I enjoy this delicious “medicine” and its benefits- with NO headaches!
My diet consists largely of fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts. I don’t eat beef or pork, and very little chicken or turkey (about one serving per week). Studies show dairy products to be unhealthy, but I do use milk for my coffee (with a little Truvia) and eat cheese and plain Greek yogurt. Jim and I avoid sweets (desserts, baked goods, candy) and processed foods as much as possible. Fruits have become my sweet treats. At Christmas I allow myself cookies for a few days, and about once a summer I have ice cream for a special occasion. We have a purified water cooler with a monthly delivery service. I don’t drink alcohol but find that fizzy sparkling water satisfies well. The processed snacks I enjoy are Triscuits and whole wheat tortillas. Ezekiel English muffins are excellent and I have baked our own bread. I am working to avoid the white breads offered at restaurants but this has been challenging (I do feel so bloated when I eat them). Natural peanut butter is delicious. I take once-daily vitamins, probiotics, and a capsule of turmeric (which has been shown to help prevent cancer).