Spirit-Led Woman

Want to receive SpiritLed Woman by email? Sign up here
kids eating

The SpiritLed Woman podcast is empowering women weekly to follow their purpose in Christ and boldly walk in faith. Listen at charismapodcastnetwork.com.

To develop good health and nutrition practices, children and young people need responsible adult examples.

Sarah was a patient of mine for 11 years. She had talked of being a missionary or a Bible translator. She loved the Lord, and she loved life.

Unfortunately, her life was cut short. She didn't die from a car accident, drowning or a gunshot wound; she died from obesity.

I first saw Sarah for her 3-year-old well-child visit. She was already overweight. Her baby bottle was filled with a soft drink.

Through the years I coaxed, cajoled, encouraged, pleaded with, beseeched, implored and appealed to her parents and family to change their nutritional and exercise habits. They simply did not.

Sarah's first hospitalization for diabetes occurred when she was only 8 years old. She developed high blood pressure at age 10. Her family's lack of attention to these problems led to asthma, heart problems and scores of hospitalizations. Finally, at age 14, Sarah's body gave out. Her last trip to the hospital was for a diabetic coma that led to a massive heart attack and death.

I was with Sarah when she took her last breath. When she died, I cried.

When my wife, Barb, and I were approaching middle age and our children were approaching adolescence, we all realized our readings on the bathroom scales were higher than we cared to admit. One night we sat down to discuss the issue.

We knew we weren't exercising enough, that we ate out at fast-food restaurants more than we should, and that our diets were higher in sugar and saturated fat than was healthy. We had also gotten away from eating together as a family and were eating some meals in front of the television.

We knew we needed to improve, but instead of making changes, we decided to keep a daily diary of what we ate. At the end of one month, we had another family discussion.

We discovered we had eaten only nine dinners together as a family. All of us had avoided breakfast more times than not and had consumed a surprising number of soft drinks and an unexpected amount of snack food. Our meeting ended with a decision to do some fact-finding.

As concerned parents, Barb and I were continually reading and learning how to be better in this role. We realized that if we wanted to improve our children's nutrition, we needed some education--and we needed to improve our own nutritional habits.

During the next two weeks, we read books about how to improve our family's nutrition. We learned the difference between good and bad fats, carbohydrates and proteins. We learned about our children's varying nutritional needs. We learned how to select snacks low in "bad" saturated fats or trans fats and "bad" sugars. All we read convinced us that nutrition, exercise and sleep were essential to our health as well as our children's health.

Moreover, we became convicted by the Holy Spirit of the sin of gluttony in our home. We suspect we are not alone in this sin. Kenneth Ferraro, a professor at Purdue University, has published a study that showed that increased levels of religious participation predict a higher body weight.

Ferraro says, "Overeating may be one sin that pastors...regularly overlook. And as such, many firm believers may have not-so-firm bodies."

In addition, there is now evidence of the harm of obesity among faith communities. As an example, the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas has reported that the top two medical claims paid by the denomination's health insurance program in 2002 were for obesity-related ailments, including back problems and high blood pressure. And only the Lord knows the impact obese bodies have on our witness for the Lord.

Nutritional habits are not taught to children as much as they are "caught." Barb and I came to the sober realization that we needed to demonstrate good nutrition before our children would practice it. As we came to understand the necessity of good exercise and activity habits for our kids, we realized we needed to do those activities, whenever possible, right along with them.

Armed with facts and ideas, we were prepared to make some key decisions at our next family meeting--decisions that have positively influenced our family's health ever since. We changed our nutrition and exercise habits. As a result, we felt better, had more energy, slept better and lost weight--as a family.

Barb and I wish we had made these changes when our children were younger--and we're not alone in this desire. A national survey of parents indicated that almost 70 percent want their children to have good nutrition and eating habits. However, only 40 percent said they've succeeded in this area of parenting.

Why this discrepancy between desire and success? Most parents aren't willing to practice what they preach. Only 51 percent of parents rate exercising and being physically fit as absolutely essential to impress on their children. In addition, more than nine out of every 10 parents say they let their child eat junk food. And 20 percent of parents let their children eat junk food constantly.

The startling statistics in this national survey pinpointed what I saw in my practice and in my own family: We parents are failing to teach good nutrition and exercise habits. If we want our children to be highly healthy, we must model good nutrition and eating habits. Furthermore, we must teach these principles to children when they are young rather than waiting, as Barb and I did, until their teenage years.

National surveys show that obesity is epidemic in teens, children and even toddlers. Studies tell us infants and toddlers are being fed poorly--with too much fat, sugar, and salt, and too few fruits and vegetables. One-third of these children are fed no fruits or vegetables--and for those who are, fries are the most common selection.

Most kids spend too much time in front of the TV and too little time sleeping at night and playing outside during the day. Most families don't spend significant time walking and talking together. All this leads to sedentary, overweight families.

It may surprise you to learn that the vast majority of the factors leading to overweight or obese kids are not genetic factors but lifestyle factors. Simply put, overweight and underactive couch potatoes are not born; they are raised.

There's no better time than before age 5 to make a lifelong impact on a child's nutritional habits--an impact that will contribute to disease prevention for years to come. If we do not model healthy nutrition, exercise and sleep habits, our children (and their children) will likely suffer grave consequences--physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually.

Walt Larimore, M.D., has been a family physician for nearly 25 years and is listed in The Best Doctors in America, Who's Who in Healthcare and Medicine, and the Guide to America's Top Family Doctors. Visit www.DrWalt.com for more information on this subject and many other health-related topics.

Draw closer to God. Experience the presence of the Holy Spirit every month as you read Charisma magazine. Sign up now to get Charisma for as low as $1 per issue.

Get to know the Holy Spirit and how to interact with Him on a daily basis. Learn to enter God's presence and hear His voice clearly for yourself! Go deeper in your faith with Life in the Spirit and change your life and destiny. Are you ready to start your journey?

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Hillary Clinton

    What if Hillary Clinton Wins the White House?

    Polls have Mrs. Clinton leading by 11 points. The church must be prepared.

  • Holy Spirit prophetic

    7 Ways to Cultivate Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit

    Too many of God's people are led by fear, doubt, man-pleasing, presumption, assumption, idols ...

  • What if You Could Save $500 This Week?

    What if You Could Save $500 This Week?

    Start saving for emergencies today with the $500 Savings Challenge by brightpeak financial. It's chock-full of inspiration, great savings tips and the motivation to make a dent in your savings—for real! Go to 500savingschallenge.com to sign up!

  • Guarding the gates of your heart will keep the demonic and evil out of your life.

    Keep the Demonic Out of Your Life With This Oft-Overlooked Spiritual Warfare Strategy

    The enemy knows his limitations. Limit him.

  • Highway exit signs

    Prophetic Word: Watch for the Exit Signs to Light Up This Season

    Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty in the harvest fields. The "barnyard anointing" ...

  • There Are Times in History...

    There Are Times in History...

    While who becomes president is significant, the truth is, the change America desperately needs does not begin in Washington, D.C.

  • Finger pointing

    The Accuser vs. Donald Trump—and Us All

    This isn't a political persuasion piece, but a current-event case study in the strategies of ...

  • Passivity can be a real relationship killer.

    One Toxic Temptation Many Men Face—And How to Overcome It

    And no, it's not pornography or adultery.

  • Daily scripture reading, meditation and prayer can seem elusive with your busy schedule.

    10 Small Steps to Deeper Intimacy With Holy Spirit in Your Quiet Times

    If deep quiet times seem just out of your reach with your busy schedule, try one of these ...

  • Jezebel puppets

    10 Ways to Spot Jezebel's Spiritually Slick Undercover Con Artists

    It's time to stop tolerating Jezebel in all its many manifestations.

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit