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COVID-19: Stay at Home, Stay Healthy Part 1: Nutrition

04.16.20 | Life Application | by Clara Norfleet

COVID-19: Stay at Home, Stay Healthy Part 1: Nutrition

    Most of us have been told, at one time or another, about the importance of healthy eating. For some, this is an exciting topic, while for others, it’s reminiscent of a boring high school health class, a nagging parent, or a well-meaning doctor. But what exactly does “healthy eating” mean? Why should it matter to the Christ-follower? And how is it possible in the face of a pandemic?

    In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul tells the Corinthian believers that our bodies are “a temple of the Holy Spirit,” and therefore, we should glorify God in our bodies. Practically, this means taking care of ourselves physically. With that in mind, here are three tips to help you glorify God in your body by eating healthy – regardless if you're facing an unprecedented pandemic or just your typical day to day routine.

    1. Limit intake of sugar and highly processed foods

    I know, I know…. "but that’s all the good stuff,” right? While foods like pizza, french fries, soda, etc. may taste good, they lack essential nutrients and are much higher in sugar, sodium, and fat. Unfortunately, these foods are also what most of us consider comfort food. While these foods may provide comfort in the moment, we can often lean on them to provide comfort that can only come from the Lord. 

    I get it, these foods are quick and easy to prepare, and often taste really good. To encourage you to never eat them again would be unreasonable. Just remember that these foods don’t support our overall health and wellbeing, and they tend to leave us sluggish, tired, and increasingly stressed and anxious.

    1. Aim to consume mostly whole, unprocessed foods like veggies, fruit, protein, and healthy fats

    Go for fruit and veggies with a wide range of color (these foods get their color from phytochemicals, which have antioxidant properties that help fight disease). Try to include at least five different colors of fruits and vegetables every day! Bonus: fruits and veggies are also high in several key nutrients that support the immune system (Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin D, Probiotics). These are important year-round, not just during a pandemic!

    Protein and healthy fats both play an equally important role in a healthy diet. Go for proteins like fish, chicken, eggs, turkey, pork, beef, beans, lentils, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, tempeh, tofu, edamame. Aim for grilled, baked, or roasted options most of the time. Go for fats like extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, butter, coconut oil, ghee, peanut, almond or cashew butter, avocadoes, olives, coconut, chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flaxseed, pumpkin seeds.

    As many of our grocery stores are low in stock of our normal items, here are some healthy pantry and freezer staples to consider: Dried or canned beans without added salt, whole wheat or gluten-free pasta, no sugar added marinara sauce, natural peanut or almond butter, canned salmon or tuna, canned diced tomatoes, unsweetened almond or soy milk, whole nuts and seeds, old-fashioned oats, quinoa, wild rice, lentils, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, and frozen fruits and veggies.

    1. Make sure you are staying hydrated

    This means water! A good recommendation is to drink as many ounces of water as half your body weight in pounds. Conversely, aim to limit your intake of soda, sweet tea, fruit juices, sports drinks, and sugary coffee beverages to less than 8 ounces per day.

    If you’ve never tried to eat healthy before, start small! Don’t go for “perfect” because perfect doesn’t exist. Begin with simple swaps, like adding in a serving of fruit with breakfast, or replacing a can of soda with a bottle of water flavored with a squeeze of lemon. Notice how you start to feel. Is your thinking clearer? Are you sleeping better? Do you have more energy to do daily activities?

    Glorifying God in our bodies isn’t something we do for a little while to achieve specific results before promptly reverting to the habits you had before. Healthy eating is a lifestyle to adopt and embrace that is both good for our bodies and honoring to God.

    So, use this as a time to get back into the kitchen and get creative. Pull out a cookbook, search for recipes on Pinterest, or come up with something new on your own. Enlist the whole family; Facetime a loved one while you cook, and have fun! You just might come out of this pandemic with a new appreciation for healthy eating and feeling better than you have in years.