Psalm 139:14 is one of the most commonly repeated verses: “I praise you, because I am fearfully, and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your very works; my soul knows it well.” But in all honesty… do our souls really know it well? Do you BELIEVE that verse to be true? In today’s society, so much stress is put on girls’ outward appearances. This can be very taxing and overwhelming. It’s so, SO easy to buy into the mind games of comparing yourself to the girl beside you before you even realize it! I actually heard a quote recently which sums up this comparison game: “Envy is resenting God’s goodness in someone else’s life while ignoring His goodness in your own life.” As those negative thoughts creep up, we must immediately remember that what God says IS true! We are WONDERFULLY made, and we are made just as we are for a purpose!
These negative thoughts and striving toward the ‘perfect body’ has led to a rise in unhealthy eating and lifestyle habits such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia. Extreme obsession over every bite of food now also has a name, orthorexia, and a classification for those with exercise addiction / excessive exercise has also recently emerged. This is really sad! We are supposed to strive to be HEALTHY in order to take care of God’s temples (our body), but it is easy and tempting to overdo it. We must remember that first and foremost, setting our hearts on God and his development in us is what will bring us success and happiness. Why not trust your life plan to the man who designed it? Fulfilling His plan for our lives is only done through taking care of ourselves. How else can we be all that we are made to be without giving our bodies nutrients they need?
The verses of Daniel 1:5-20 (NIV) provide a great example of how we should take care of ourselves: The king ordered Ashpenaz, the chief of his court officials, to bring some of the Israelite young men without any physical defect who were qualified to serve in the king’s palace. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for 3 years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service. But, Daniel resolved not to destroy himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to destroy himself this way.
Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would have my head because of you.’
Daniel then asked the guard….”please test your servants for 10 days. Give us nothing but vegetables and water. Then compare our appearances with the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance to what you see.” So he agreed.
At the end of the 10 days, they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and wine and gave them vegetables instead. To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding and Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. The chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar and he found them non-equal to Daniel, (and the other three men who ate the vegetables and water). In every matter of wisdom and understanding, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.”
I don’t know about you… but I find it difficult to turn down junk food at a party when I’m tempted with treats galore! Could you imagine turning down the king’s offerings of Oreos, ice cream, and Doritos? Craazzzyyy! That takes guts!
There is actually a wonderful, healthy-lifestyle book based on these choices Daniel made to take care of God’s creation, his body. This book is called The Daniel Plan. It is an inspirational and informative book that focuses on reforming ourselves from the inside out by focusing on the five essentials: faith, food, fitness, friends, and focus. In this book, Rick Warren (founder of Saddleback Church), Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hyman bring to light how we live our lives telling ourselves “my body is mine to do whatever I want with it.” But God says, “No, you’re wrong. It’s not your body, because you didn’t create it. I made it, and I loaned it to you to live in while I put you on Earth and I expect you to take care of my creation.” Warren explains further by stating that “your body is holy because God made it, and everything God makes has a purpose.” In God’s eyes, we are worth dying for! So of course we should take better care of our bodies!
“If you saw someone vandalizing or damaging a temple dedicated to God, wouldn’t you consider that a crime? Of course! But you abuse and vandalize God’s temple, your body, when you deprive it of rest and sleep, overeat, put too much stress on it, and fail to take care of it.” –Rick Warren/The Daniel Plan.
But it’s not fun to eat well-rounded, nutrient dense meals, right? No sir-ree! It actually can be fun and easy to incorporate healthy ingredients and I’m here to show you how! God put things on this Earth for us to enjoy. And yes… this includes food! So let’s not focus on that which we “can’t have.” Let’s instead focus on the foods God gave us that are tasty and are also beneficial to our bodies!
I know it is way too easy to grab some quick and easy junk food from a gas station while on the run, after all the bible even explains that “there is pleasure in sin for a short time” (Hebrews 11:25). But with just a little bit of time, you’ll see that making healthy choices is just as easy and just as available as junk food! We simply must realize we can’t do this alone, and turn to God for his willpower and strength.
The top tips I could give in this first health-post is to start incorporating MORE protein and LESS processed, empty-calorie foods. This includes lean sources that can be either animal derived or plant derived: beans, beef, chicken, eggs, fish, lentils, nuts, salmon, seeds, turkey, tempeh… etc. There are so many benefits to adding protein to each and every meal. Protein is the building block of your muscles, cartilage, and skin. Yes ladies… that means eating protein can also help that hair grow long and nails grow strong! I witnessed this myself while preparing to compete at Miss USA when I was drinking lite protein shakes twice a day between meals.
My hair has never been so long and strong as it was then! Even better, a study in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism found that people who consumed 10 grams of whey protein before breakfast and dinner over 12 weeks lost 73% more fat than those who drank a control drink. This is due to protein’s awesome skill of signaling to your hormones that you’re full.
Additionally, the extra essential amino acids ignite protein synthesis to be at its best at each meal, which helps you retain muscle. And do you know what more muscle means? The more muscle you have the more fat you burn when you’re resting and enjoying movie night! Some people estimate that your body is made up of 80% from what you eat and 20% from working out! Therefore, if we don’t feed our body the necessary ingredients, we can work out all day without seeing as much as a difference as we would if we would just eat the right foods. This is something else I’ve also witnessed first-hand – every time I stop fueling my body with enough protein, I simply don’t gain muscle the same.
Adding protein is so much easier said than done. Believe it or not, you can even camouflage protein into some of your favorite meals! One of my favorite ways to do this is by making my oh-so favorite and absolutely delicious black bean brownies. Some of you may have had black bean brownies before, and some of you may be questioning my consciousness at the thought of putting ‘beans’ and ‘brownies’ in the same sentence! I’ve brought these brownies to countless cookouts and get-togethers where nobody complains or guesses beans are the hidden ingredient. This recipe incorporates a natural, zero calorie sweetener (stevia), protein, and healthy fat from coconut butter (which comes with a lonngggg list of its own benefits – but that should be saved for another blog post!)
I hope you enjoy these little bits of chocolate goodness as much as I do, and I hope they provide one step in the right direction to fueling your body as needed to feel your best! Come back soon for more health tips, recipe loveliness, and more!