We’ve all heard the phrase you are what you eat. If you are in the habit of eating salads and beans, you probably love that statement. It assures you that your body is made up of wonderful vitamins, nutrients, and energy. If you tend to enjoy fried, processed, sugary foods (like me), you are likely averse to analogizing that you are a Krispy Kreme doughnut, McDonald’s Big Mac, or Hershey chocolate bar. Sadly, I must admit that the previous statements, at least in part, are true. Our souls and personalities are obviously not defined by what we eat; but, our ability to function is greatly improved or impaired by what we put in our bodies.
When Eric and I went through premarital counseling, we did not cover the topic of eating habits. In fact, I’ve never heard of a premarital curriculum that covered eating habits (so, we were sure to add it into our premarital counseling curriculum!). When couples prepare for marriage, main focuses are on how to handle finances, how to get along with in-laws, how to adjust to sharing life with someone new, healthy sexual intimacy, and effective communication. These are all extremely important topics, but the longer I’m married, the more I think eating habits needs to join the top of the list. Gillian McKeith, author of You Are What You Eat, made the following statements:
We all have up to 100 trillion cells in our bodies, each one demanding a constant supply of daily nutrients in order to function optimally. Food affects all of these cells, and by extension, every aspect of our being: mood, energy levels, food cravings, thinking capacity, sex drive, sleeping habits and general health. If you feed your body junk and convenience foods it’ll simply lay down fat, lower your energy, even your brain power.
The longer Eric and I have eaten cheap, fat and sugar-laden convenience foods, the more we have experienced a lack of energy, mental clarity, and impaired communication. Based on what Gillian said above, many of the topics covered in premarital counseling could be worked through more easily if each couple began changing their diets to include less processed foods and more fruits and vegetables.
Let’s consider the topics listed above that are usually covered in premarital counseling. Finances, and the control of them, do require mental clarity. Often finances get out of control because we try to medicate ourselves with stuff. When we feel depressed, we will likely turn to food and merchandise. When you are eating well, and exercising regularly, you don’t need to turn to overeating or overspending to feel better. You turn to exercise and proper nutrition instead.
Getting along with in-laws and sharing life with someone new can be challenging. If your future in-laws are controlling, manipulative, or just plain odd, you are less likely to handle yourself well if you’re moody. When your mind is clear, your body is feeling good, and your moods and blood sugar are stable, you are less likely to lash out at your new spouse for making a mess in the kitchen, or at your in-laws for showering you and your spouse with unsolicited advice.
Healthy sexual intimacy and effective communication depend heavily on your body’s health. Before you are married, especially if you are waiting until marriage to begin your sexual relationship (which you should be according to the Bible), you may imagine marriage to be an endless honeymoon where you and your spouse are never satisfied, enjoying each other’s bodies three to four times a day with little need for contact with the outside world. Unfortunately, that is not quite as realistic as we may wish. Young married couples do have to work, pay bills, clean, and cook – and, you may find that you see your spouse less after marriage than you did when you were dating. After long days of adulthood, you may find yourselves too tired for fun in the bedroom if you have not been properly fueling your body (and getting the proper rest that you need). Sugar and excess fat makes your body crash. You may find that after dinner you fall asleep. Snoring at seven o’clock at night is not a turn on, folks.
Communication is the downfall of many couples. To communicate well, both parties have to have a clear mind and the ability to be understanding. Some of our biggest arguments come when we are tired and cranky. When we feel bad all over, we transfer it to those we see most often. Sometimes couples can begin arguing about nothing simply because they both feel terrible. As much as some people like to make fun of vegetarians, the ones I know tend to be happier and have more energy than the rest of us. It’s something to think about before making dinner.
Eric and I did not begin our marriage making wise eating choices. Looking back over the last several years, we can both see how our improper diet fueled many of our communication break downs and feelings of unhappiness. We are working on making some changes in our diet, beginning with a ten-day juice fast. After the fast, we will strive to put less junk into our bodies and more plant based foods. Yes, I’m nervous about the change, but I’m excited to see how much better we will feel.
If you are interested to changing your eating habits in preparation for your marriage, I recommend a few movies on nutrition for you and your future spouse to watch. Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead is an excellent documentary about how two men (plus others they’ve inspired) turned their health around. Forks Over Knives is a documentary debunking nutritional myths we’ve been fed in the USA for years. Both of these are interesting and full of excellent information!
How do you believe your diet has affected you up to this point in your life? What goals do you and your future spouse have for health and wellness?