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FIRST-PERSON: Eating healthy, staying active part of Christian stewardship

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Developing a healthy lifestyle in a world of fast food and little physical activity can be difficult. Health statistics tell us we’re not doing a good job. As Christians, we are called to be good stewards of every area of life and that includes our health. By making simple eating choices and adding fun activities into your lifestyle, you can “sneak” in healthier habits and be on the road to a healthier lifestyle that honors God.

Choose healthy food

1. Eat at home. Eating in fast-food restaurants or ordering pizza may be the most time-efficient dinner option, but it isn’t the healthiest choice. Food prepared by restaurants is usually higher in fat, sugar and salt than food you prepare at home. Portions at restaurants are also larger than necessary. With a little pre-planning, you can enjoy fast, nutritious food at home. Check out the “Fit 4 Wise Choices Cookbook” (LifeWay Press) for menu suggestions and more than 100 quick, healthy recipes and ideas.

2. Use low-fat and nonfat diary products. Lowering the fat content in your milk will lower your overall fat intake, calories and cholesterol. When you use nonfat (skim) milk instead of whole milk, you save 8 grams of fat and 70 calories per cup. Other options include low- and nonfat sour cream, cheese and cottage cheese. These substitutes will lower the fat and calories in your favorite recipes without sacrificing flavor or texture.

3. Provide healthy, ready-to-eat snacks. To increase the nutrition of your overall food intake, limit your intake of cookies, chips and candy and use as substitutes fresh fruit, raw vegetables with low-fat dip, low-fat popcorn, low-fat crackers and cheese, or graham crackers and peanut butter.

4. Avoid frying as a method of cooking. Frying can change a normally healthy, low-fat food to a high-fat, artery-clogging fare. Use broiling, steaming, baking, grilling and stewing as healthier methods of food preparation.

5. Eat a nutritious breakfast every day. Studies have proven that adults have more energy, are more alert and are more productive when they’ve consumed a balanced meal within two hours of waking up. Breakfast also helps maintain a healthy weight and avoid overeating later in the day. Make breakfast a priority. Whole grain, low sugar cereals with milk, oatmeal, toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter, homemade muffins, small bagels and fresh fruit are all quick and energy-packed foods to choose from in the morning. Other healthy breakfast ideas can be found in the Fit 4 Wise Choices Cookbook (LifeWay Press).

Sneaking into action

Our bodies were designed by God to move. Yet, our technology-based culture allows for much of our work to be done with minimal movement. Lack of movement results in everything from stiff joints and week muscles to heart disease. Consider the following suggestions to get moving:

1. Hit the trails. These could be in the forest, park or around your city. You could walk, hike, bike or skate depending on the area you choose to visit.

2. In warm weather, find water to help cool you off. An ocean, lake, river or swimming pools all offer unlimited physical opportunities for all ages and fitness levels. Swimming, wading, walking along the bank, hitting a big beach ball back and forth and throwing a Frisbee are great calorie-burning activities. Remember to plan for safety. Include sunscreen and life jackets and use each properly.

3. Take a walk around your neighborhood after dinner. Pray for your neighborhood as you walk past the houses, schools and parks.

4. Find movement options indoors. Climbing stairs, walking in the mall, exercising to a workout video, taking a fitness class or using exercise equipment are all great indoor fitness options. Utilize the gymnasiums of larger churches in your area to play basketball or walk the perimeter. The Fit 4 Fitness Study is designed to help you develop a balanced active lifestyle. Find out more at www.fit4.com.

Having a healthy lifestyle won’t just happen. Incorporate healthy food and lots of movement into your regular routine. Then you will reap the many benefits of better health.
Polk is the health ministry specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Fit 4 is a biblically based health and wellness LifeWay resource that helps people understand the benefits of a healthy lifestyle that honors God.

    About the Author

  • Branda Polk