Learning to glorify God in the choices we make about food
(From the April - June 2018 issue of VOX)
Nutritional Therapist Linda de Courcy MSc. is passionate about encouraging Christians to be healthy so that each of us can fulfil the calling God has placed on our lives. She spoke to VOX editor, Ruth Garvey-Williams, about the importance of nutrition and self-control.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
I live in Dublin and attend All Nations Church. I have been in Christian circles all my life and always loved Jesus, even as a young child. I have a diploma in nutritional therapy, a degree in complementary medicine and a Masters in Personalised Nutrition as well as being a qualified Pilates Instructor. I am passionate about helping people to make healthy choices. For me, seeing Christians become healthier is what gets me up in the mornings!
WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT FOR CHRISTIANS TO THINK ABOUT WHAT THEY EAT?
Going to Bible School in Texas in 1993 was a real eye opener. At the time in Ireland obesity was very rare and I was genuinely shocked not only at how overweight so many people were but at how much really cheap food was available ($4 all you can eat buffets for example and free soft drink refills). While the prevailing attitude there was “alcohol was of the devil” it seemed pretty clear to me that excessive amounts of food was just as destructive as excessive amounts of alcohol.
Jesus Himself both drank and ate but was neither a drunkard nor a glutton. Too often as Christians, we say we can’t smoke, we can’t drink or have any fun, but we can eat. Research from the USA shows that the Christian population is significantly less healthy than the rest of the population. We talk about our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit but we think that it doesn’t matter what we put in them.
Today, we are reaping the consequences of that in Ireland, as well. We are cutting our lives short because we are not looking after our bodies. When I was growing up, Type 2 Diabetes was called “adult onset diabetes.” Today, children as young as five are being diagnosed with it. There is an increase in heart disease, respiratory problems and allergies. When you look at what we were eating in the 50s to 70s compared to what we are eating now, you realise that diet plays a significant role.
It starts with babies. When I was being weaned, I was given egg yolk, which was the norm at the time. Egg yolks are rich in nutrients. They contain vitamins A and D, all the B vitamins, choline, amino acids, iron and other minerals, all essential for growing brains. People stopped eating eggs because of various health scares and now babies are given “baby rice,” which is just starch. That is one example of how our health is being affected by not getting the right nutrients, even at the earliest age.
HOW CAN CHURCHES ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO MAKE HEALTHIER CHOICES?
I believe God has called each of us, we all have a purpose and a destiny. He wants us to live long and productive lives. God has a purpose for my life and it is a bit like running a marathon. A great thing as you get older is that you get a lot more perspective. There is an awful lot of wisdom to be gained from a lifetime of reading the Bible and walking with God. When someone goes to heaven that wisdom is lost to the Church. Older people can have a vital role within our churches and we want to stay alive long enough to fulfil the calling that God has for us.
Paul talks about “buffeting” his body, like an athlete training to win a prize. We need to show self-control and look after ourselves, not in a legalistic way, but so that we can fulfil what God wants us to do. There is a reason and purpose in me being healthy that is not “all about me.” The world is very narcissistic but our focus for being healthy is for the glory of God. What a great testimony it would be if Christians were healthier because of the choices we make to live a self-controlled lifestyle.
Everything we do should be for the glory of God. So, you don’t eat five slices of cake, not for primarily yourself but for the glory of God. This actually makes it easier as you realise that God is on our side. He sees the end from the beginning and He is coming back for a glorious Church, not one that is diseased and dying prematurely. This means enjoying our food but not being controlled by that can of cola or chocolate bar.
WHAT FOODS SHOULD WE BE AVOIDING?
It is vital to avoid refined sugar and added sugar. Excess amounts of sugar are stored as fat and can cause inflammation. We know the effect on children when they drink a can of cola and become hyper and then crash and become cranky. We need to avoid these highs and lows. Insulin is the master hormone and we want to keep it regulated. This is one of the reason so many people are becoming diabetic - the pancreas is being worn out even at younger and younger ages.
We have been told for half a century to cut out fat and eat low fat foods (which are often high in sugar). Today we know that the amount of sugar that is being consumed is destroying our bodies and our minds.
Another thing to avoid is vegetable oil (sunflower oil, margarines, etc.) These are highly processed, also inflammatory and are devoid of any nutrients.
SO, WHAT CAN WE EAT?
Try to eat things that are as close to their natural source as possible rather than processed foods. Buy local food. You will be supporting the local economy and the products are fresher and healthier. If products are organic, then that’s even better still. Frozen vegetables are almost as good as fresh and handy to have in stock.
If you are cooking, the best thing to use is butter. Over 20 times in the Old Testament, God said He was bringing His people into a land flowing with milk and honey. Butter fat from milk contains vitamins A and D, as well as several fatty acids, which protect against pathogens and cancer, plus it makes everything taste really good! In our obsession with cholesterol, we have turned away from nutritious food.
CAN YOU HELP?
I have found that it is hard for many people to make dietary changes on their own. If you start swapping your margarine for butter, then people often question what you are doing. But if you have a group of people, you can form a community growing in health. I would love the opportunity to work with churches or church groups to empower people to improve their diet and lifestyle so that we can fulfil all He has called us to do.
To find out more or to contact Linda, visit her website at www.nutritionforlifeireland.com.