Our bodies are “temple[s] of the Holy Spirit…which you have from God” as St. Paul tells us in his first letter to Corinthians. That being the case, we have a duty to care for our bodies. One of the most important things that we can do to care for ourselves is to eat well, which helps us to be the people God wants us to be! Being the best versions of ourselves is not just an individual concern, either. When we are acting as temples of the Holy Spirit, our personhood, body and soul, can participate in bringing Christ to the world.
Research shows the importance of fueling your body with healthy and nutritious options to give you the energy to flourish. Processed and sugary foods can make us lethargic and even depressed (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/depression-and-diet/faq-20058241). Luckily, we know a good bit about what foods can help us to flourish through positive affects like better energy and mental wellbeing.
Foods or supplements containing probiotics, which is healthy live bacteria that supports your digestive system, have been shown to decrease anxiety (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31516094/). Probiotics can be found naturally in foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and Kombucha.
Complex and healthy carbohydrates, such as whole grains, oatmeal, and quinoa, assist with serotonin production (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/expert-answers/coping-with-anxiety/faq-20057987) in the brain. This can lead to feeling happier and calmer. Simple carbohydrates such as white bread, sodas, and corn syrup should be avoided and replaced with healthier alternatives.
Another relatively easy habit to increase is the amount of water you consume! A 2014 study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3984246/) showed how restricting water intake decreased contentedness, calmness, positive emotions, and vigor in participants, while increasing water intake decreased fatigue and confusion.
Caffeine is one of the most widely used drugs in our modern society. High levels of caffeine intake cause symptoms (https://www.healthline.com/health/caffeine-and-anxiety#symptoms) like nervousness, restlessness, and a fast heart rate, to name a few. So how do we still get our morning energy without the negative side effects? For many, completely eliminating what some jokingly call the “Eighth Sacrament” may be quite difficult. Instead, you may think about limiting your intake gradually, or substituting coffee for green tea, which is high in an amino acid (L-theanine) that can reduce anxiety.
Eating well is an essential component to our flourishing as temples of the Holy Spirit. With that in mind, let us embrace healthy eating so that we can go out to the world with joy, knowing, “Christ has no body now but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours, yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.”
For an actual meal plan, please contact your doctor and/or a registered dietitian.
Stress and anxiety are factors that are not caused and cannot be solved by changing eating habits. For the purpose of this article, we are addressing ways to help manage and ease symptoms to aid in the healing process.