Food and Fitness Through Faith

Nutrition and food play a huge role in a person’s life – but especially a runner’s! And since we are women of faith, we wanted to explore how that could play a part in fitness AND food. So we asked Chelsea of The Catholic Kitchen to write a guest post for us. Read all about being intentional in your food choices below, then check out Chelsea’s website for a special recipe just for our community!

Photo by  Gaelle Marcel  on  Unsplash

When Catholic Women Run asked me to write, I knew I wanted to focus this piece on the rhythm of the liturgical calendar and how it should be the center of our fitness and food lifestyles. There are days of fasting and feasting, and if you pay attention to the bible at all, there is a lot of focus on food. I mean, Jesus did give us bread and wine to remember him by. He chose something for us to eat and drink versus lighting a special candle or wearing a certain type of clothing. Food has been shown to be important not only for nourishment, but for our spiritual health as well. So, my question for you is, how can we use this to benefit us as runners and fitness enthusiasts?

Running is not the easiest form of exercise. I really like to compare it to being Catholic. It takes constant practice and application. It can be a struggle, but immensely rewarding. The process might be painful at times, but the end result is a feeling of accomplishment and gratitude. If we are applying the same principles of our running life into our Catholic life, the food thing should be pretty easy to tackle, right? Eat healthy foods and your overall health improves. Exercise every day and your cardiovascular health improves. Practice your faith on a daily basis and just about everything improves! See the pattern? Constant application is key!

Think of it this way too- when we run, we do it for a purpose. We don’t just run to robotically put one foot in front of the other until we feel tired. We typically set running goals and try to meet them within a certain time frame. These goals vary on an individual basis, and they can range from wanting to improve our health to wanting to win races. Some people run because they want alone time to catch up on a podcast or audiobook (I see you moms and dads). Think about food in the same way. What you are putting in your body should be done with a purpose. Don’t eat just because you’re bored (at the end of the day, gluttony is still a sin), eat because you want to fuel your body to serve a purpose.

If you are a practicing Catholic, you should be familiar with the liturgical rhythm. While preparing to go grocery shopping, I encourage you to spend a few minutes to look ahead and discern how the food you will eat over the next week will not only affect your body, but how will it be pleasing to God? Do your food choices align with the liturgical calendar? Are there any fasting or abstinence days ahead? Have you prepared nutritionally dense foods in order to meet your fitness goals? Making healthful choices that are in line with the Church, as well as with what our bodies need for nourishment, can really benefit us deeply.

An example of this comes from my own life. My family abstains from meat every Friday. This small choice has encouraged us to learn more about what foods we can substitute outside of fish and other seafood options. This alone has lead us to learn more about vegetarian diets, which has introduced us to many new people and recipes. We also host dinners with friends who are practicing Catholics. This builds a sense of community and  reminds us that there are other people putting their faith first. There can be a positive growth experience from each and every decision we make.

Taking care of ourselves should be a well-rounded and intentional process. We should enjoy planning our meals and taking care of our physical health. If you feel overwhelmed about it, I encourage you to seek out information that might correct what you feel is going wrong.

There is an incredible amount of misinformation out there about diets and exercise. I am 35 days away from graduating with my degree in Public Health. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that there is more bad information out there than good. There are fad diets popping up left and right. Before you hop on the bandwagon, try and find peer-reviewed articles, as well as information from credentialed professionals.  An example can be found herethrough the National Institutes of Health. The idea is to find information that is unbiased and current within the last five years. I know, listening to Dr. Oz is quite tempting, but he is not a reliable source of information.

I hope my incessant rambling has made its point. Thank you for sticking around and reading what I have to say on this topic. I love health, and any way that I can connect my faith to my lifestyle is really a win-win for me! As a bonus, I put together a special homemade granola recipe just for Catholic Women Run. It is nutritionally dense, no added sugar, and easy to make! Now, get outside (or in the gym) and do good things for your body!

Lots of love and many blessings,