Imagine the next time your car got low on gas, you decided to fill up by dumping a 2-liter bottle of Coke and a melted gallon of ice cream into the tank.
You know your car needs a certain kind of fuel to run correctly. But what about your physical body? We fuel our bodies every day. Many people, however, think about “filling up” with whatever tastes good and fail to consider whether it is actually the right kind of fuel.
Why is good nutrition important? Why should we study it? Why practice good nutritional habits? Here are several physical and spiritual benefits of ensuring that you’re fueling your body with the right nutrition.
1. For Yourself
One of the most obvious reasons to get good nutrition is to feel better. Good nutrition leads to being more productive and more efficient, doing things faster, thinking more clearly, being more alert and energetic. It can also help you look better—having good coloring, shiny hair, whiter teeth, brighter eyes, clearer complexion, appropriate weight, better muscle definition.
These benefits can contribute to still more benefits: more focused prayer and study, fewer sick days, a better job, higher wages, greater achievements.
Herbert W. Armstrong listed good health as the third law of success in The Seven Laws of Success. “If the bellows we call lungs do not keep inhaling and exhaling the oxygen-containing air, man won’t live to achieve any goal,” he wrote. Failing health can limit you in accomplishing your goals (though God can use health trials to accomplish great things spiritually).
In that booklet, Mr. Armstrong stressed the importance of right diet, as well as other laws of health such as sufficient sleep, exercise, plenty of fresh air, cleanliness and proper elimination, right thinking, and clean living.
2. For Your Family
It’s important to be educated in how to feed our families. For the most part, it is the wife’s responsibility to feed her husband and children. Many wives and mothers cannot feed their families well simply because they don’t know how. Others may know intellectually but have never practiced it, so generally they simply do what they’re familiar with.
The sooner in life we can learn and practice good habits, the better. Even if you are single, it is still important: If you are blessed with family later in life, the good habits you establish as a single will be a blessing to your future family in a multitude of ways, having a huge impact on their health, happiness and future success. The more you learn and practice now, the easier it will be to establish your future family on a good foundation.
A wife providing good nutrition for her family means she’ll have a healthier husband. If he feels good, he is likelier to remain actively engaged with the family, to be better able to fulfill his role as a protector and provider, and even to be more playful and fun. How many men have been limited in how well they can provide because of sickliness, exhaustion or injury? How many men have lost jobs because of poor health?
This is a great responsibility. Every child’s foundation of health is laid before pregnancy, and continues through pregnancy and childhood. Eating healthy when young prepares the female body physically for pregnancy and bearing children. Pregnancy takes a lot out of a woman. Much of what a baby takes while in the womb is from the mom’s reserves—bones, organs, etc. Having a foundation of healthful nourishment is of prime importance, and the sooner that preparation starts, the better.
As your children grow, your example will do much to establish their eating habits. Did you know that many “hereditary” problems are not actually hereditary? They simply occur because children eat the same way their parents do.
The blessings of healthy children are immeasurable. Caring for sick children consumes a lot of time and money, and it is exhausting. Anything you can do to give your children the best start in life is well worth your investment. And that is exactly what it is: an investment.
3. For God
The physical body of a true Christian is actually the temple of God’s Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16). Think of the care and detail God put into His instructions concerning the tabernacle where He dwelled in ancient Israel. God wanted that physical, temporary structure built precisely right so He could dwell in it.
Our bodies are also temporary, but they house God’s Spirit. Think of the care God took to create our bodies, then to provide just the right foods to ensure they grow properly and are sustained with strength. Think of the effort He and the Word took to ensure that when the physical laws they created were obeyed, this “house” would function beautifully so His Holy Spirit could dwell in it and flourish!
If we think of ourselves as a house for God, we will live our lives and care for ourselves differently.
Following good health will also set us apart from the world. We should eat differently from the world. Following God’s physical laws not only improves our health and happiness, it is a way we can glorify God: by showing other people what God is like and what they can be like if they obey God. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Physical laws are laws. People commonly think of them as suggestions, but the reality is that the way we fuel our bodies really does demonstrate our obedience and submission to God. We may have a variety of reasons for trying to eat healthy—to fit into those pants or to have better skin, for example. But if those are your only motivation, then what happens if you don’t get the results you’re hoping for? For some people, it means giving up and allowing themselves to eat whatever they feel like eating.
Sometimes, our motivation to eat healthy must stem from the fact that we need to do it to obey God.
4. For God’s Work
With good health, we can serve God’s Work more fully. Mr. Armstrong knew he could not successfully serve God and fulfill his God-given responsibilities unless he was in good physical health. In fact, God made it a part of his initial training to educate him on health and nutrition (see Chapter 23 in the Autobiography). God saw to it that he received this crucial information, not only to prepare him physically for the grueling job ahead, but also so he could educate His Church.
In his article “What Are the Secrets of My Youthful Vitality, Energy, Drive and Long Life?”, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “I make it part of my education to study the factors that maintain good health. I learned that we humans are just what we eat. We came out of the ground. We are maintained by food that grows out of the ground. I learned that some famous doctors say that approximately 90 percent of sicknesses and diseases are caused by faulty diet. So I studied, many years ago, to learn about nutrition and diet” (Worldwide News, November 1982).
We have a big Work ahead of us. We need our health to finish that Work! The Bible is clear that the time ahead will be challenging, even physically. We need stable minds and strong bodies to withstand the pressure.
5. To Follow Christ
Jesus Christ never sinned. This means He perfectly obeyed the laws of physical health, including nutrition. If we are following His example, then we will strive to obey these physical laws as well. If He is living in us, we should be following the laws of physical health.
Obeying the laws of nutrition also helps us build godly character. We build character by going against the pulls of the flesh and making better choices in our diets. In this world where so much food production is corrupt, we have to work hard and be vigilant to eat healthy. God uses those choices to build character.
We cannot tell if we are breaking God’s spiritual law unless we know what the law is (James 1:23). Similarly, we can’t know if we are breaking God’s physical laws unless we understand those physical laws. Nutrition is a major part of those physical laws.
6. For Healing
The conditions for healing are faith and obedience. If we are striving to obey—including eating God’s way—then if we do get sick, we can approach God more boldly when we ask for healing.
We might pray: I’ve been trying hard, Father. I know I’ve let down here or there (not getting enough sleep, or not exercising—it could be a number of things), but I have really been trying to eat healthy. It’s impossible to eat perfectly in this day and age, and I need you to make up the difference. But I’ve been really trying to do things right with what I have to work with. Please, have mercy on me, and please heal me! Surely God is much more eager to heal when we have been doing our part to obey Him.
7. As an Example
Our example can impact others. Note that example does not mean preaching or doling out snide remarks. Nothing turns people off like having fingers pointed at them and hearing, You shouldn’t be eating that! If someone asks, you might help as best you can, exercising wisdom. But if they don’t, generally, just let your own example do the talking. Set a good example in humility.
These physical and spiritual benefits provide excellent reasons to strive to live healthfully. Thinking deeply on them will motivate you to study this subject and practice it in your life!