10 Natural Solutions for Catholic Families

Health is the bedrock of our human experience that allows us to move toward God and draw others to Him. I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of seeing so many wonderful mamas sick and tired. Of course suffering is a catalyst for holiness and we can’t escape this valley of tears, but some valleys we descend into that are of our own making. It is speculated that nearly 80% of chronic health problems are preventable by practicing daily health habits. WOW! Where then is our Catholic conversation around the “Theology of Caring for the Body”? It seems that this is a space we have danced around in a falsely pious way out of fear of the “cult of the body” or a mixed up idea that God wants us to be miserable and martyrs. And it is easy to rationalize the negative consequences of our neglect as an authentic way of asceticism. It’s not and deep down we know this! But, I feel that way many a day. I am with you mamas who struggle with the same thing! I know how hard it is to make the good food choice when you have been pregnant and nursing off and on for 15 years. I know how hard it is to get out and move your body when all you really want is nap. So here are 10 tips to healthy living that I actually try to manage to employ and hope you will as well.

Stretch - Consecrate your day and stretch as you do. This is the “Fiat” moment of our day and our bodies are likely to be more joyful as will our souls if we move and stretch and get the blood flowing as we get our spiritual blood flowing. Why not incorporate the sign of the cross into this practice? Reaching to the heavens, bowing deeply and stretching our arms to the cross. Allow the infusion of the Spirit into our movement (actually into all that we do). 

Hydrate - I know it has been said a million times, but drink water for life. Seltzer, purified or just plain spring water…just down the ounces throughout the day. As you do this picture the inner spring of life welling up within us through the grace of our baptism, watering the garden of our soul. Figure half your body weight and then convert that number into ounces of water. This the your goal. 

Oil up - Use effective natural supplements and oils to boost immunity and support the cellular needs of your body. Hormones, inflammation, disfunction, mood, immunity, etc., are all determined at the cellular level which means we need whole foods, micro nutrients, probiotics, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins and yes, essential oils to help maximize our body’s function. Get some coaching here on how to afford quality supplements and how to really put them to use (catholicoilmom.com). Get this learning through the lens of a wellness coach steeped in our faith and knowledge about the distinctions between effectiveness and pseudoscience.

Park Tag - Get fresh air and burn off that crazy kid energy by taking your kids to the park and don’t sit on your phone. Chase them and play…up, over, under and around. You will be so out of breath without even thinking about it. Natural intervals are good for the body and support heart health and metabolism. 

Sun Walk - Walk in the sun and give your skin some daylight. I am not advocating immodesty, but bear your arms and legs when possible and soak in the Vitamin D for a good 7-10 minute stretch at a time. If you're going to be out longer, of course use your brain and protect your skin. The benefits are innumerable to physiology but also to our emotional health. It’s a time that offers us a chance to encounter silence and adore. 

Cut out Sugar and add GOOD Fats - Reduce and control your sugar intake as much as possible. This is an essential step toward health transformation. We have to begin to see sugar as the unhealthy and addictive additive it is. Work to omit sugary soda, yogurt, juice, candies, backed goods and other carbohydrates that turn into sugar in the body. We even need to be aware of how much natural sugar we are consuming. 50g of of carbs in a given day is a super star approach to healthy living. In the mean time, add in all the good fats in much higher quantities…avocado, coconut oil, good nuts, MCT oil and healthy animal fat. One of my favorite habits is “bulletproof” coffee (check it out here). Remember it doesn't work to move you toward health if you just add in the good fats, you have to make room for them by getting rid of the sugars. It’s just like our faith we can’t pour new wine into old wine skins!

Intermittent Fasting - Work to combine your food consumption window to an 8 hour period. This takes some discipline, but it's not really that hard once you try it out. Either push breakfast back to 11am and finish eating by 7pm or start earlier and end earlier. You get the idea. Make a timing system that works for you and your family. This is both an opportunity for your body to switch from glucose metabolism to fat metabolism, but you also can offer it up and win souls.

Plank and Pray - Get down on your knees and hold a plank while you pray your rosary. Begin by alternating rest and hold every 5 Hail Marys. As you get better, hold for a whole decade and eventually lift off your knees and hold a true plank. This really can be difficult at first, but don’t give up. Modify if necessary, bring in other ab positions if you get bored, but the key is to do something that is a little bit difficult but not distracting to your meditation. If anything, the goal is to enhance our focus and hone our bodies so that our souls can soar.

Dance - Turn on praise music and let go of your “Catholic stage-fright” and allow yourself to authentically and joyfully move to the music…balance, hold, reach, leap, sway, spin. Engage your core as the center of your strength. There is nothing so freeing as moving to wholesome music and feeling life pulse though your veins.

Sleep Hygiene - Practice a realistic routine of sleep hygiene. Turn off the screens, diffuse oils by your bed, examine your conscience, read a book, soak in a salt/essential oil bath, pray night prayer. Any and all of these suggestions should be in play regularly so that your sleep is considered a highly valued part of your wellness. Fight the temptation to busy yourself late and if you wake up, resist turning on the screen. Instead, get out of bed, go bless your children with holy water, drink some water, move your body gently, speak intimately with the Lord in the silence and then get back in bed and sleep will come back quickly. 

Our bodies are meant to be our vehicles to heaven and the temple of the Lord, either in life or death, sickness or health. But let’s not burden ourselves with unnecessary crosses by living a life that is neglectful, stagnant and imprudent. The Lord wants us to thrive and that means we have to address our mindset first and recognize that when we care for ourselves, we have more of ourselves to give away. Besides, this space of wellness is cutting-edge evangelization territory. If we don’t know how to engage with the world here, then we forfeit the field and the enemy will win making wellness all about vanity and glamor and self-centeredness. Health and wellness is a Catholic ideal and one we have promoted and enhanced and innovated around since the time of Christ’s healing mission began — and even before. Let’s not drop the ball or run away in fear. We can be holy, healthy, and free!

Chantal Howard