New titles geared toward women are applying a faith-based lens to mental and physical wellness. These books mine the Bible for body-positive messages and offer a holistic view of health in an effort to help readers with issues related to self-worth, confidence, fitness, nutrition, and more.
“Christian culture has done a great job of helping people care for the soul, but along the way, I fear we’ve neglected the body,” says Jennifer Dukes Lee, acquisitions editor at Bethany House. “Yet scripture is clear that God created us as embodied beings, and that we should take care of our bodies, even comparing them to temples. Thankfully, there is a growing understanding, especially among Christian women, of the role that faith can play in addressing health and wellness.”
Bethany is publishing The 40-Day Body Image Workbook: Hope for Christian Women Who’ve Tried Everything by Heather Creekmore (Dec.). It features quizzes, activities, guided questions, quotes from the Bible, and tips for healthier living intended to bring readers “freedom to accept, appreciate, and make peace with your body,” Creekmore writes. She dedicates the book to “every woman who’s ever ordered a salad when she really craved a burger; watched an infomercial, made the payments, and hoped for a miracle; bought an overpriced bottle of product that made her hair worse; or believed that pounds, inches, or skin elasticity defined her worth,” telling them, “You are seen, you are valuable, and you are loved.”
At the Good Book Co., Beautiful Freedom: How the Bible Shapes Your View of Appearance, Food, and Fitness by Stacy Reaoch (May 2024) addresses cultural norms, media-driven expectations, and “damaging narratives” around appearance, according to the publisher.
“We may be at a bit of a cultural crossroads with narratives around body image, as well as around food,” says Katy Morgan, an editor at the Good Book Co. “The rise of the wellness industry is making people think differently about beauty as well as health. There’s an increasing awareness of the impact of our diet on the rest of our well-being, for example, and self-care is on the agenda in a way it didn’t use to be.”
Morgan says she hopes readers of Beautiful Freedom gain “a more biblical perspective on issues around food, fitness, beauty, and aging.” She adds, “What Stacy is trying to do is to help readers to step back from their own assumptions and those of the culture around them, and really reassess their own attitudes in the light of what God says in scripture.”
Janis Long Harris, executive publisher-at-large and publisher at Tyndale Refresh, says women today are suffering from the “stress of trying to live up to unrealistic cultural ideals, including those about beauty.”
Out now from Tyndale Refresh, Well to the Core: A Realistic, Guilt-Free Approach to Getting Fit and Feeling Good for a Lifetime by Robin Long aims to take the stress out of diet, exercise, and weight loss with what the author calls a “grace-over-guilt mindset”—one in which shame can be released and healthy habits are formed. The book also comes with workout instructions, mindfulness and breath exercises, and recipes.
“As Robin observes, from childhood, women in our society absorb the message that their worth is measured by the size and shape of their bodies,” Harris says. “Too often, they’re putting pressure on themselves to exercise more, eat less, and pursue the latest health fads in the pursuit of a smaller waist, skinnier thighs, and smoother skin. The result is even more stress. But it doesn’t have to be that way.”