Making high nutrient foods like spinach, arugula, collards and other greens, along with a variety of vegetables the main dish of each meal is making a choice to eat differently than most folks around us. We make this choice because it is backed by scientific evidence that a diet high in greens and vegetables is healthier to the body than a diet high in meat and potatoes.
There are several ways to cook greens and vegetables and not all of them are the same. Buying ready-made vegetables that have sauce and pasta with them can save us time but often contain a lot fat. Putting cheese on vegetables or other sauces to cover up the “vegetable” taste will also add unnecessary calories.
Sauteing foods in oil can add calories, but using broth can add salt. Steaming vegetables is best but also less tasty and who wants to eat tasteless foods? The margarine that everyone used years ago on vegetables is now suspected to be worse for us than butter. In twenty more years, what else will ‘they’ prove unhealthful that is now thought to be healthy? Sugar is better than all artificial sweeteners except stevia but a recent study proved that too much sugar in any form is bad for the body. Eating no meat at all can cause a deficiency in B12 and other important nutrients, but eating too much is not healthy either. Using a microwave kills nutrients and using oil past its smoke point is carcinogenic, as is roasting vegetables until they are black and crispy.
So many choices can bring us to a breaking point where we throw in the towel and eat what we like. Educating ourselves about our personal conditions can make some of these choices easier. For example, if we do not need to lose weight but want to gain nutrients, a little oil and nut butter sauces can help to brighten a meal of greens. If we are battling cancer, avoid blackened foods, sugars, and cooking with the microwave. If osteoporosis is our enemy, lowering salt and caffeine from our diet can help. We should try to do the best we can and remember that perfection is never the key and is rarely obtained.
Rather, moderation is the key to keeping on track. After all, we are in this for long haul. Changing our life’s eating patterns is not a diet. If meat is a delight to one with coronary artery disease, then one or two meals of meat a week can help us stay meatless on other days. A sugary dessert once a week will not be so harmful if it keeps us sugar-free the rest of the week. Soda or wine on the weekend may not be ideal but at least it is more healthful than drinking these sugary drinks all week. A cup of coffee a day is better than three.
Education and moderation can be spiritually healthy too. There are some spiritual beliefs and practices that seem right to us but are not sanctioned by Christ. Reading the Bible helps us to find out what pleases God. We cannot rely on our own direction which is like the blind leading the blind. We need God’s Holy Word to direct us.
But even when we do follow Christ’s teaching as best as we can, we can end up overindulging ourselves in repentance and completely miss Christ’s forgiveness. Or we can spend our day in religious practices like prayer and Bible study but become so judgmental of others that we miss out on the blessings of service to others or fellowship with other believers. Or we can live a harsh and stoic life but never know the joy and spontaneity of Christ’s presence in our lives.
Whenever we strive for perfection, we are setting ourselves up for a fall. Our only perfection is in Christ. He clothes us in grace and allows us to experience God’s perfect love. Embrace who we are now and put our hope and faith in God’s transforming love. If we keep investing in our spiritual and physical health, then the Holy Spirit is alive in us and we are sure to reach our goals. Since God loved us so much that he gave His only son, then we too should love ourselves and others, all our imperfections and failings, not because we are worthy of that love but because God has commanded it.
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galations 5:14