Christian Parenting and Family Resources with Biblical Principles

3 Simple Ways to Revolutionize Your Family's Overall Health

3 Simple Ways to Revolutionize Your Family's Overall Health

Growing up, the word “health” was so frequently associated with one’s physical health. As a young person I misconstrued “health” with looking fit, or an appearance of well-being. In my early 20s I considered myself very healthy. I have a small frame, a fair amount of energy, and hadn’t had too many major health concerns other than getting the occasional cold or flu.

Fresh out of college I earned certifications as a fitness instructor. I taught health and wellness classes, and while there certainly was an element of “health” beyond the physical body, I tended to really focus my energy on helping my students achieve their physical fitness goals. We rarely talked about health beyond these terms.

Pregnancy, postpartum and parenthood have completely revolutionized the way I look at health. My first pregnancy rocked my physical body, leaving me stretch-mark torn and with serious damage to my pelvis and low back with a diagnosis of SPD or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction—if you’ve never heard of it, and you’re a momma, consider yourself blessed beyond measure.

I left the hospital with my newborn baby and a walker to help me shuffle around the house. As I suffered through the physical pain of healing and restoring my broken body, my battle shifted to the mind.

I was healthy, physically healing, and yet was internally being ravaged by postpartum depression. Fear, anxiety and nightmares plagued me. It wasn’t until my husband watched me spiral into despair that I got help. My experience with postpartum depression transformed the way that I think about health and the way we work towards health in our home.

Health is not limited to our physical bodies, but rather is a crucial element of our physicality, spirituality and mentalities. If you’re realizing that you might be in need of a total health makeover for yourself and your family, read on for some helpful tips on prioritizing whole health today.

Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Ketut Subiyanto

  • 1. Understand that Health Is All-Encompassing, but Cannot Be Achieved Overnight 

    1. Understand that Health Is All-Encompassing, but Cannot Be Achieved Overnight 

    Let me introduce you to my children, Picky Eater #1 and Picky Eater #2. In my decade of motherhood, my children have bested me at near every turn when it comes to food. Just when I think I’ve discovered what foods they will eat and what foods they’ll reject, inevitably their tastebuds change and I have to start all over.

    The food fight in our home came to an all-out knockdown, momma-crying-in-the-kitchen climax before I finally had to hand it over to the Lord.

    I want my kids to be healthy. What parent doesn’t? I want them to grow and thrive and choose to eat all their fruits and veggies instead of gravitating towards junk. Yet, as with most things, I’m learning that this has to be something my husband and I model for them.

    Our pediatrician promised that our kids won’t starve themselves, nevertheless meal time in our home became an area of constant contention as I practically force-fed my son, all while goading him about his low-weight and slow growth.

    Oh my goodness, the repenting and apologizing I had to do. Yes, food and what we put into our bodies, is an incredibly important part of health, as is monitoring our children’s diets and intake. However, the way that we teach our children healthy diet needs to reflect an overall attitude of health.

    This is something achieved over time, and some of these battles—especially as it pertains to our children—are hard-fought.

    You know what was happening when I was becoming hysterical over food? I was leaning into fear and anxiety and my need to control. I was building a wedge between my son and me. I was damaging our relationship.

    In Ephesians 6:4, Paul writes, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

    This passage reminds me how to connect with and treat my children, as I am helping them develop, grow and think about health. If I respond to a situation in anger or fear then that’s what I’m modeling for them.

    Instead, I need to practice patience, my husband and I need to lead the way in health, and we all need to understand that developing true health is often a lifelong journey.

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes

  • bible verses about modesty

    2. Consider What Weighs on You Spiritually May Weigh on You Physically 

    When I was in Middle School I really wanted to go see a scary movie with several friends of mine. True to her character, my mom shut me down. “Why?” I cried, couldn’t I go see this movie? According to my mom, the subject matter wasn’t good for my spirit.

    At fourteen this line of reasoning made me roll my eyes, but now that I’m a mom I completely align with what my mom was trying to teach me.

    There are just some things that we shouldn’t consume, whether that be media, or food, or a specific product, or even a relationship. There are things, and sometimes people, in this broken world that just aren’t good for us. My mom was concerned with how watching a scary movie might affect my spirit, but her logic applies to the physical body as well.

    Consider the things that we allow in our homes, from movies to video games to the content of the books we read, to the products we use to clean our homes.

    Does watching that movie create a stress response in your body? Yes? Then I argue that maybe it’s not good for you. That news that you read right before bed, does it unsettle your spirit and then rob your sleep? Again, then perhaps it’s time to relegate news consumption to a specific time of day, other than bedtime.

    What about what we allow our children to consume?

    My husband calls himself a recovered gaming addict. In fact, his addiction to video games created tension and strife in our early marriage. When he became aware of the damage video games were creating in our home he quit cold-turkey. Now, as we raise our little people we consider the effects games can have our children and safeguard them accordingly.

    A couple years ago I—ignorantly—let our son start playing Minecraft. He was just enjoying building worlds in a creative mode, and while I think the game is pretty inane we did discover a subtle and then not so subtle shift in our son’s attitude. We realized that games and media can really affect our son’s spirit, and likewise when he is wound up internally he ends up having physical responses like loss of sleep and irritability.

    Ultimately, it is our duty as parents to assess what is coming into our homes, what we’re allowing our children to be in contact with and how we engage with the world around us. We can teach our children how to nourish their souls, bodies and minds by curating what we allow into our homes.

    Photo Credit: ©Kikovic

  • young family with little children playing with toy fishing poles by side of water

    3. Make Time for Rest and Sabbath

    One of the greatest gifts that we can give our children is teaching them how to self-regulate and rest. When our babies are little we help them nap: We create quiet and serene spaces for them to drift to sleep, we bounce them, swaddle them and do everything in our power to provide them rest.

    As if overnight, we have walking talking little humans in our homes and the whole idea of napping goes out the window. Naps become something that only “babies do.” Rest becomes an afterthought. Helping our children understand that rest is a vital part of their development is crucial.

    In faith-based homes, instituting the concept of sabbath can be a fantastic way to model rest for our children. Let’s be honest with ourselves though, if we can’t carve out time for sabbath, we’re probably not going to practice sabbath. In a world of demanding schedules and overcommitments taking a day a week to rest sounds like an impossible task doesn’t it?

    Nonetheless, sabbath is something our souls long for and our minds and bodies desperately need. If you’d like to incorporate sabbath into your family’s life here are two helpful tips to get you started: 

    1. Schedule Sabbath

    Grab your calendar and start small. Perhaps schedule a family sabbath one evening a week.

    Talk to your spouse and schedule the sabbath according to when you have an open window of time together. If your family is so overscheduled that sabbath is impossible, it might be time to consider shedding a few commitments. 

    2. Determine What is Best for Your Family

    Sabbath looks different for everybody. The intention behind practicing sabbath is to honor God, rest and connection. When we are in the throes of parenting, sabbath could look like ordering dinner out or relaxing as a family playing a game or sitting around a firepit and reading together.

    In our home, we have a pretty consistent routine on Friday nights of having Friday Family Movie Night, followed by a family slumber party, for the most part, we try to keep Saturday mornings quiet and work-free.

    This allows our bodies and minds to rest, which helps with connecting to God and to our family in a deeper way than we could if we were constantly stressed and harried.

    While the overall health of our families starts in our homes, this is not to say that we can control the total health of ourselves or our children. The reality is that sometimes sickness or mental health struggles come for us, no matter how much safe-guarding we do.

    Even so, the way that we approach these struggles and diagnoses can very much be a culture that we’ve created through intentional living and surrendering to God.

    In recent years I’ve struggled through my own health battles and mental health crises, likewise, I’ve sat with friends and prayed over children who have long uphill health battles. In these years I’ve observed that my friends deeply rooted in faith don’t battle in solitude. Through their faith there is a peace beyond comprehension, there is a trust in God’s provision and love, and there is a community surrounding them.

    Practicing and modeling healthy living in our homes and for our families is a beautiful way to show submission to God and express our stewardship over the bodies that house our souls.

    As we strive for health consider it an offering up to God and an act of gratitude for this life we have. When it feels hard, maybe even surrender it to prayer: “Thank you Lord for the gift of this life and this body. I surrender my health and well-being to you. Amen.”  

    Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Halfpoint

    Rachel Baker is the author of Deconstructed, a bible study guide for anyone who feels overwhelmed or ill-equipped to study the word of God. She is a pastor’s wife and director of women’s ministries, who believes in leading through vulnerability and authenticity. She is a cheerleader, encourager, and sometimes drill-sergeant. She serves the local church alongside her husband, Kile, in Northern Nevada. They have two amazing kiddos and three dogs. Rachel is fueled by coffee, tacos and copious amounts of cheese. For more on her and her resources to build your marriage, see her website: www.rachelcheriebaker.com or connect with her on Instagram at @hellorachelbaker.