A Stretch and a Prayer with a Side of Sweet Potatoes

Friends, enjoy the refreshing voice of  Ingrid Peschke  from Massachusetts, www.masshealthblog.com/author/admin/

We returned to the tucked-away pub on Beacon Hill for another taste of their sweet potato fries. The perfect complement to their lunch garden salad topped with grilled chicken.

The first time we split this modest side dish was an unexpected delight. But my foodie friend and I weren’t dreaming. The slender terracotta fries were equally delicious the second time around. Piping hot and perfectly salted, these strips of culinary heaven were too tasty to leave leftovers in the basket.

At the risk of sounding like I’m writing a food blog, let me explain what this has to do with health. Besides the fact that we chose sweet potatoes over their tough cousin Idaho, I’d say it’s about consistency and finding a routine that works.

Stretch with me to the topic of nutrition and fitness. Don’t we all want permanent, good health in our lives? We want to wake up and know that nothing has changed. Our health is just as good as it was yesterday.

Forming habits of good diet and exercise is one place to start. I’ve noticed more doctors and healthcare plans including these preventative care practices on their list of patient do’s to avoid conditions they don’t want to treat down the road. With the ever-rising cost of healthcare, preventative care is more important now than ever.

I’m all for good food and exercise. They’re part of my daily life. But I’ve found it’s best if these things are informed by what I’m learning in my spiritual practice. Because prayer is preventative care, too.

When I was in high school I became obsessed with eating right and exercising–to the point where it was almost unhealthy. But I’d also begun a habit that resulted from regular attendance at my church’s Sunday school: I was spending time reading my Bible andScience and Health with Key to the Scriptures (Mary Baker Eddy), a book that opened up the Bible’s meaning for me and taught me how to pray for myself more effectively.

It was during a church member pot luck that I suddenly realized I spent too much time and energy thinking about what I ate and whether I’d had my daily run. Jesus’ instruction to “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink” occurred to me in a brand new way. I realized I wanted my thoughts to be filled with things that didn’t start with “me” and I wanted to trust Jesus’ instruction that my “father knows what I need and is providing it” (see Matthew, Ch. 6).

As I gradually moved away from over-attention on exercise and eating, I actually felt healthier and happier. I still ate nutritious foods and enjoyed exercising outdoors in moderation, but I paid more attention to my spiritual daily intake and watched for how God was giving me exactly what I needed.

Today, my prayer habit continues. Since my job involves a lot of sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen, I often listen to a recorded version of my scriptural study while I’m out walking our dog. It’s a stretch and a prayer that combines spiritual discipline with regular exercise.

It’s not too unlike something I came across in the news recently about a church that’s offering a “Full service fitness center as an incentive to stay fit” while mingling with friends and even taking in a scriptural quote or two. One church member says it’s helping them to get their thought off their bodies and onto how they’re a “temple” for God.

We don’t have to eat to live or live to eat. (Unless of course, it involves those sweet potato fries.)

Ingrid is a health blogger, the legislative liaison for Christian Science and spirituality in Massachusetts, and a Christian Science practitioner.


  1. says

    To say that Jesus accepted the inevitability of poverty and that we should therefore accept it as inevitable is one of the most un-Christian things anyone could say. As you know, we have the ability to feed 12, 13, 14, 20 billion people. Yet we are dismantling our existing food supply, such as the Murray-Darling Basin which provides 60% of Australia’s food. Why is the Anglican Church not speaking out against the genocidal takedown of the Murray-Darling food bowl?