Health and Holiness by Monsignor Ferrarese

In the last essay (Under Our Noses, 8/13/17), we outlined the reasons why what we eat is important to God. In the history of revelation, God has taken an extraordinary interest in what we eat. It is the subject of this article to chart a path of responsible nutrition that will serve the purposes of our calling to do the will of God. In this, we are protecting the instrument of our bodies so that we can serve God for as long as He wills. To eat just for pleasure or as exercise of vanity is not worthy of the Christian. We eat so that we are in the best position to serve God in the long run so that, when He calls us in death, we may hear Him say, “Come to me good and faithful servant!”

I have read much on this subject and I want to share some simple things that I have learned that may be helpful to ensure that we live in our bodies to the honor and glory of God, and that we do not waste the health and the purpose that God wants us to have.

Here are some simple rules that I have found helpful in constructing a healthy diet that will serve God’s purposes by enabling me to serve him as long as He chooses to give me on this earth:

  1. Make water my primary choice of beverage. The real enemy here is soda that is filled with negative things like sugar and sweeteners. Occasionally, I will have a beer or a glass of wine since they are both products of the earth. Our diet has too many sugars, and soda has tons of it. Even the artificial sweeteners are problematic as many studies show.
  2. Choose products of the earth rather than of other animals as the primary source of nourishment. I am not a vegan or a vegetarian. I do eat meat, fish and dairy, but in limited quantities. When I used to fill my plate, the largest part went to my meat or fish with the vegetables as a surrounding accompaniment. Now I fill my plate with vegetables and take a small amount of meat or fish.
  3. Less is more. I try to cut down on quantity. Being bloated at the end of a meal is not a good thing. I found that after limiting the amount of food that I eat, my stomach shrinks and I feel more satisfied with less. Visitors to our country are amazed at the portions that are given in our restaurants and the many people that suffer from obesity.
  4. Fresh rather than processed foods are always better. The processing of food means that a company does things to the food to preserve it on the shelves to make it commercially viable for a longer time. Therefore, a simple food like bread does not have just flour and water etc., but many ingredients that sound like they are medicines. When we put these things in our bodies, they accumulate and interact in ways that are not always healthy. However, natural foods cooked in a natural way have a plethora of benefits. Very often, processing removes the ‘roughage’ necessary for proper digestion. This alone is cause for concern.

In talking about plant based diets, one often hears the warning about protein deficiency (i.e. that limiting or eliminating animal food products may cause an unhealthy loss of protein). People warn about loss of strength. They forget, however, that all protein originates in the plant world! The strongest animals on earth are plant eaters (gorillas, rhinos, elephants)! Our steaks come from cattle that exclusively eat the produce that comes from the earth!

Since this is a complicated area of nutrition, it is always advisable to consult a physician or a nutritionist before embarking on any change of diet. I personally think that a careful, balanced approach is necessary. I do still eat meat, fish and dairy, but as I said before, the proportions are different. Prudence usually counsels against extremes; but in embarking on such a dietary journey, we must realize that even doctors may be unheedful of the big picture.

We want to serve God in this life. And we do not want to unnecessarily shorten the time we have to serve him by an unhealthy diet that may lead to illnesses, which may not be God’s will; but may be caused by my lack of prudence that can very easily have been changed—not by medicine or surgery, but by simple choices about what we put into our bodies.

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