“Does My Body Need It—Or Does It Want It?”

Part IV in a series on wisdom

Although we often discuss the health of our spirit and soul, little has been said about our physical health; therefore, it’s time to shift gears.

The physical health of our body can definitely play a role in our overall health—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s ironic…we have more fitness centers, more personal trainers, more books, and more articles written about fitness than ever before, yet health-related illnesses and problems caused from poor nutrition and obesity are increasing at an alarming rate.

Society’s view of nutrition often runs contrary to principles that promote “good health”; we must use wisdom in this area as well. For instance, as I was sitting in a popular café, a group of teenagers walked in before school and ordered extra large, chocolate coffee drinks topped with caramel and whipped-cream. No wonder many experience extremely low energy levels, attention-deficit problems, sleep disorders, anxiety, and mood swings, to name only a few. Regardless of what the culture promotes, choosing to follow a healthier lifestyle is the first step in making health a priority.

Health-related illnesses caused by poor nutrition are killing more Americans than anything else. Eating healthy is a constant challenge because temptation is always before us. The next time that you’re tempted to eat something unhealthy, try asking, “Does my body need it—or does it want it?” If it needs it, consume it. If it wants it, think twice. It’s generally not “if” poor nutrition causes damage, but “when.” What a sad commentary on the lifestyle of a nation that has such great potential to live in the blessings that God has so graciously given.

The purpose of food is to meet our nutritional needs, not our wants. That bears repeating: food was created to meet our body’s “needs” not our “wants.” Many of America’s most popular foods have little nutritional value, and contain harmful ingredients. Add to this the absence of fruit and vegetables for fiber and dietary value, and it’s obvious why cancer now affects one out of three individuals—we’re not feeding the body what it needs to fight cancer, heart disease, and poor health.

I encourage you to read food labels, and to know what you’re consuming; trust me, you will be shocked. Many of the additives found in food today are simply there to enhance flavor, color, and appearance, and to substantially increase the shelf life of the product. Unfortunately, this approach is far from healthy. We were created to consume living, life-sustaining, God-given foods that nourish and support a healthy body, not dead, life-depleting food from a factory. If you can avoid empty foods and consume more whole, life-giving foods, and limit caffeine consumption, you’ll be well on your way to better health.

Do you agree that it’s not if poor nutrition causes damage, but when? If so, how can you begin making health a priority? Use wisdom. Do not believe claims such as, “It only takes a few minutes a day” or “You can consume whatever foods you want, just take pill X before or after eating” or “Lose all the weight you want while you sleep!” These types of claims develop a false perception about weight loss. Again, use common sense. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Many people spend most of their lives trying to look different. They often rate their appearance by society’s standard and strive to look like a “perfect ten.” This false perception causes many people to remain unfulfilled, even the “tens.” When we compare ourselves to others, we are not using wisdom. You were not designed to be someone else; you were masterfully designed to be you. A perfect physique does not guarantee happiness anymore than a good mattress guarantees sleep. True happiness does not come from outer appearance; it comes from spiritual health. (Excerpted from What Works When “Diets” Don’t.)

Shane Idleman is the pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship. KTLW (88.9FM in Lancaster) features his radio program at 7am on Saturdays, and Sundays at 6:30pm beginning in February. Westside Christian Fellowship meets Saturdays at 5:30pm at 6015 W Ave. J-8. For more info., visit WCFAV.org, or call (661) 524-6610. Shane’s books, articles, & radio program can be found at ShaneIdleman.com.