Have you ever noticed that if you go to the Doctor who is on the heavy side he/she will probably not talk to you about your weight? I believe this is also true in the church. We, as a church BODY, do not really discuss this topic too much, other than an occasional diet group, as we might be called to change our own habits.
Now I have to advise that I am not some health nut or a stick figure. I am a person who has struggled with my weight since I was about 11 and have been able to maintain a stable and healthy weight that with the Lord’s help have been able to manage for many years. I could use to loose more but want to be careful about yo-yo dieting and doing major damage. I don’t think I will ever be a size 2. Even my Dad said that, and I had the notion that I would prove him wrong, but I never have. But the church has never been apart of a lifestyle or eating change for me. Now there is no perfect weight or body but I believe the church can be apart of making a difference in children’s, and all members, lives by being healthier.
I read an article from Parenting Magazine and it stated “A 2003 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that obese children “enjoy” a quality of life slightly less cheerful than that of kids on chemotherapy.” WOW! I don’t think I should be shocked though as this was my experience. I can also see it in the kids at my children’s school. Don’t we want to minister to these children?
It seems like everyone is concerned, as Doctor’s are about our weight, but we don’t want to change ourselves. Give up the donut hour at church? Offer kids less treats in a church and I think you would be breaking the 11th commandment “Thou shalt have tons of junk food while a kid and don’t withhold any yest ye shall be a bad parent (IWDWIWV -I want to do what I want version)” or something like that. At every church we attend there is a massive involvement of food. Kids eat dinner at the Wednesday night program with a dessert and one hour later, in their class, it’s junk foodpaloza with a bag of candy. Kids can regulate their own food most protest. Yes, we can see this at the local school playground.
Now I am not talking massive changes here. I would love to challenge the BODY OF CHRIST to commit to sharing the theology of our body as the Lord’s temple. We love to talk about abortion because we may have never been in that situation but don’t talk to me about my pastries! I think it would be great to make commitments not only financially but the giving of our bodies to the Lord as his.
So what kind of changes could a church do:
- 100% juices, milk or water. No soda machines on church grounds. I find it interesting that parents will complain that schools shouldn’t take the revenues from soda machines but what about churches?
- Make a commitment to no trans fats and use lean meats.
- Make better food choices when your church serves food such as low-fat or no-fat dressings and whole wheat bread instead of white
- Exercise for children during their extended classes. When my son attended Awana’s they played very active games.
- Bible studies around nutrition and exercise.
- Ask the congregation to make an effort to encourage healthy choices for potlucks.
- Fitness or nutritional pledges like we do financial ones
- Support groups for accountability
- Limit candy. Can I get a witness? This is the hard one for all the Grandma’s out there. People really don’t understand just how much junk children are exposed to in this day and age. For example a child’s week Monday -cafeteria lunch -chicken nuggets carrots thrown away, Tuesday – Went to the bank and they have to give the kids a treat, Wednesday– Junkpaloza at church after the cake they had for dessert, Thursday– It’s somebodies birthday at your son’s school and they brought goodies, Friday – Mom’s tired of cooking let’s get a pizza, Saturday – Jimmy’s birthday party and ice cream after the baseball game, Sunday – Donuts at church-yum! This is what I think a light week is. We didn’t even cover the soda’s, frosted flakes for breakfast, and the trips to McDonald’s.
- Encourage activities at church that are active like a hiking group instead of a pizza group.
- Don’t hand out food as a reward! Give out stickers, toys, certificates, bring the kids up in front of the congregation.
- Make sure fruits and veggies are served at meals held at the church.
- Hold a jump rope event contest
- Bring in speakers that will discuss these Godly principals
- Host health events that will bring in professionals to test blood pressure and other health issues
- Encourage families to have treats for treats. Everything is a special occasion. Kids have a special occasion 10 times a week instead of previous generations. Another generation it might have been special if Mom had cake for dessert. I think kids are too familiar with junk that it is part of their normal eating habits and are no longer special. Have bulletin inserts about these tips and other nutritional ideas. Keep it in front of the church members.
Why make these changes? “Obese children are nearly twice as likely to grow up to be obese adults. And a child who keeps the weight on through adolescence and into adulthood has a good chance of developing serious medical problems, according to Gerald Berenson, M.D., professor of medicine and pediatrics at Tulane University Medical School and a lead researcher of one of the longest-running studies on childhood obesity and heart disease. “By the time they’re teens, many have the beginnings of heart disease or diabetes,” he says. Early puberty — common among both overweight boys and girls — has been linked to breast cancer in women later in life. And cancer of the ovaries, uterus, colon, rectum, and prostate are also more common in obese adults. Studies also show that overweight kids ages 6 and older tend to have fewer friends, are less involved with extracurricular activities, are more depressed, and have lower self-esteem than their thinner peers.” -taken from Parenting Magazine, Preventing Childhood Obesity by Laura Muha.
This is a different world in which we have to make necessary changes to our habits. It seems when you make these types of changes there is much opposition because helping the children means changing ourselves. Other opposition might come as “People won’t come to church because we don’t offer this kind of food”. Well then let’s make sure we don’t tell them Jesus is the Way, Truth, and Life either then. This is God’s vessel and we are in charge of taking care of it.
Debbie aka The Real World Martha