Registered dietitian Ashley Nicholas speaks to participants on the grocery tour of Loblaws at Faith Connections’ Keeping the Temple Healthy event. Photo by Vanessa Santilli

Nourishing body and spirit with healthy foods

  • April 18, 2012

TORONTO - Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you that you have from God and you are not your own, Faith Connections program director Vanessa Nicholas-Schmidt told participants at the Keeping the Temple Healthy event April 14.

“Glorify God in body and spirit,” said Nicholas-Schmidt, quoting Corinthians. “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are beneficial. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything.”

Registered dietitian Ashley Nicholas led six participants on a grocery store tour at Loblaws focused on healthy eating as part of Faith Connections’ Eat, Pray, Share series exploring food and spirituality.

“Don’t look at the front of the package,” said Nicholas. “The front of the package is misleading.”

It’s all marketing and advertising and doesn’t provide consumers with the information they need, she said. Instead, always carefully scrutinize the nutritional information.

“Even if it says low in fat, that doesn’t mean anything to us,” she said. “It’s not in comparison to anything.”

As well, it’s important to be aware of the background of the health check symbols on packaging, such as the Heart & Stroke Health Check, she said.

“Those companies have paid the Heart & Stroke Foundation to assess their products. So yes, their product has to meet a certain criteria but the no-name brand on the shelf may be as healthy or even healthier.”

It’s estimated that about a million Canadians have high blood pressure just because they eat too much salt, said Nicholas, as the group walked through the deli meats section.

“It just goes to show you that your diet has a huge impact on your health.”

We should be consuming less than a teaspoon of sodium every day, she said, to the disbelief of many participants.

And to avoid the excess sugar and general lack of nutrition found in packaged snacks which time-strapped students and young professionals usually grab, Nicholas recommended eating snacks that combine two of the food groups, such as yogurt and fruit or hummus and whole wheat crackers.

Nicholas-Schmidt ended the event by sharing a variety of Gospel passages about health including, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ ”

“The quotes found in Scripture about health and the body are a rich resource for reflection and growth,” as they help us to see the connection between our faith life and overall health, said Nicholas-Schmidt.

The event drew on our call to health because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit while also remembering that each of us is lovable just as we are because we are created in the image and likeness of God, she said.

“Our faith is not just relegated to the realm of the spirit, our faith is also an embodied reality.”

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